Fisher Cats on the Rise in Northeast


Fisher Cats are on the Rise

Cat owners beware! Fisher cats are spreading like wildfire. Here in CT, they have been re-populated and spreading for the last 15 or so years, ever since the DEP re-introduced them to Connecticut. Historically, fishers were native to the area, but in the 1700’s and 1800’s agriculture wiped them out.

Now that forest regions have been repopulated, the Department of Environmental Protection decided to re-introduce them. Except now, with human and pet populations far higher than ever, fishers have become not a beloved renewal but a complete and utter nuisance.

Fisher Cats are NOT cats! They are the largest member of the weasel family and they are vicious. They can do a job on chickens and cats. They are deadly critters — tough, fearless members of the weasel family. And they have no natural enemies. Even a coyote won’t take them on because they are so vicious — so quick and lethal!

Now Fisher Cats are moving onto Cape Cod. Marion Larson, who is an information/education biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife states in a local interview, “They finally made it to Cape Cod 3-4 years ago,” said Larson, who stressed these animals are called “fishers, not fisher cats.”  But, the name most people know them by are ‘fisher cats.’ Not that the name matters. As Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name …” You get the rest. Except in the case of fishers, there’s no sweet smelling rose.

A few months ago I wrote about the fisher that killed my fancy pigeons. It came onto a secure porch through an open doorway, while people were up and lights were on, and broke into the cage. These weasels are nasty devils that take no prisoners. In Boxford, MA, a woman interrupted a fisher cat attacking her pet cat on her doorstep. Boxford Animal Control Officer Helen Phillips described fishers as “very plush grey or dark brown fur, webbed footed with a small white triangular patch of fur under its chin.” They are mostly found near swamp lands where they do their hunting and fishing, although Phillips said she’s never seen a fisher fishing.

And neither have I. Nor do I live near any swamps. And yet fishers have taken neighborhood pet cats, small dogs and do damage to local wildlife. When the fisher (who hunt alone and tend to have a particular territory they call their own) was in my “neck of the woods,” so to speak, missing cat signs started cropping up all over the place.

To keep fishers at bay, animal control officials urge pet owners to keep cats inside at all times. If fishers are seen in your back yard, homeowners can blow an air horn or use a jet spray to discourage the animals from returning. Though, if you have anything good to eat, I doubt that will work.

Keep Cats Indoors!

Division of Fish and Wildlife is reporting more and more sightings of fishers are occurring in the suburbs. There’s a lot of food in the suburbs (besides pets, they will eat any small mammals, birds and rodents).

Veterinarians stress that cats are happier when kept inside the house. Cats are out there hunting songbirds and other small mammals, which contributes to the list of predators near houses. For more information, please see my book, HOUSE CAT; How To Keep Your Indoor Cat Sane & Sound (Wiley Publishers).

Not only are fishers predatory, they are scavengers as well and will eat road kill or anything they can get their little paws on. Rarely do they go after humans, but if cornered or provoked they will defend themselves in the most critical way. So, be careful. If you have chickens, keep them in a barn or safe coop at night. Though fishers will also hunt in the day, night is their most active time.

Leaving food outside is a no-no if you don’t want to attract these nasty animals. Though many would think a secure rabbit hutch will keep a fisher out, my experience has been they are wiley and will find a way in if desperate to do so! Keep rabbits close to home or in a secure building, house or barn.

Though I personally do not condone any sort of hunting or trapping, fishers are now on the list of game species. Trapping is generally legal in November for fishers (but, once again, you are putting cats, small dogs and other animals in danger as well).