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Fisher Hunting Strategy

2-20-13 fisher hunting technique IMG_2988I have never heard of this particular fisher hunting technique, nor have I seen or read about it before, but there’s no denying that a fisher made these marks in the snow and that they tell the story of how it captured a mouse or vole. It’s likely that the fisher could hear or smell that the rodent tunnel in the subnivean layer was occupied. It looks as though the fisher methodically scraped snow towards the center of the circle, going completely around the tree in an attempt to trap and/or expose the mouse or vole within the circle. It succeeded in opening up the rodent tunnel (the hole is in the dead center of the photograph), and if the tiny droplets of blood on the snow near the hole are any indication, was successful in capturing its prey.

4 responses

  1. Cindy

    Neat find!! And good detective work! It does make perfect sense – a frantic, circular scooping into a contained mound verses outward scraping where it might toss the critter clear with just enough time and distance to escape. I think I’ve seen dogs do this.

    We think we are so smart, but animals know all they need to know (except, of course, how to deal with the problems humans create – but that’s another, depressing issue. Not one for such a fantastic site as “Naturally Curious”.) Very much appreciate all that you give us, Mary.

    February 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm

  2. Dawn Dentzer

    Yet again, this parallels our experience in Metrowest Boston!

    For the Science Fair this year, we’ve been documenting backyard wildlife with a trail cam and have many amazing shots of “our” fisher in deep snow. Last week we followed its fresh tracks to a very similar “flower” pattern (my photos not nearly as good as yours but clearly depict the same behavior!) adjacent to what we suspect is a squirrel burrow. No blood discovered, but our 5th grade girls have been routing for the squirrels this winter 🙂

    Thanks for your scientific insight, Mary!

    February 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    • Fantastic to hear of this being seen elsewhere! More power to you for getting your students outside and curious about things such as signs of animals! They’ll thank you for the rest of their lives.

      February 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm

  3. That is so cool! I love tracking fisher. You never know where their tracks will lead you or the stories they will tell!

    December 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm

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