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Fisher Slide

2-5-14 fisher slide2  082Otters aren’t the only members of the Weasel family to engage in sliding on snow and ice – fishers and mink do, as well. The fisher that made these tracks had travelled down the frozen surface of a stream for at least half a mile before deciding to flop down on its belly and slide about 15 feet or so before resuming its loping gait.

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9 responses

  1. janetpesaturo

    Hi Mary, did you see the fisher do this, so you are certain it was not an otter? Their tracks are very similar, and otters sometimes lope for a long distance without sliding, even in snowy conditions. Never once have I seen a fisher slide like that, except when it appeared to have slipped unintentionally. In that case, the “slide” was very short, and it looked like the fisher was struggling, not moving smoothly. Also, how wide was the slide?

    February 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    • Janet, see my reply to Al. I have followed a lot of fisher tracks and a lot of otter tracks, and I know they are similar, but I’m as sure as one can be that this was a fisher sliding (which I have seen before). I appreciate your question and point taken!

      February 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm

  2. AlStoops

    I have the same question as Janet. If I’d seen that slide, I would figure that I had fisher tracks for sure. Just checked in Elbroch’s “Mammal Tracks and Sign” (p 185) and he writes that he’s only seen fisher slides where it’s very steep (and he was also sliding). Were the footprints clear enough to be sure?

    February 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    • Al and Janet,
      Good for you for questioning my i.d., but I can assure you it was a fisher! Very clear tracks which I followed forever. I know Mark Elbroch says he’s rarely found fisher slides, which really surprised me, as I have seen several. Granted, the woods around me are loaded with fishers, so I have frequent opportunities to see sign. Otter and fisher tracks are certainly very similar, but from both scat and tracks there is no question in my mind that this was a fisher. (The fisher slides I have seen before have also been on flat ground.) I appreciate your asking!

      February 6, 2014 at 5:56 pm

  3. janetpesaturo

    If there were characteristic fisher scats associated with the tracks and slide, I can’t argue that, but one other thing I notice in the photo is what looks like a 2-2 lope pattern coming in towards the slide from the upper left. If those are the same age as the slide, it could imply more than one animal, and since otters are social and fishers generally solitary, it would support a diagnosis of otter.

    Otters really can lope through snow for a long time in the woods before you ever see a slide, and their scats are not always splats, and don’t always contain fish scales or crayfish parts.

    February 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

  4. Mark

    I was out walking in the Wood’s recently and found sliding tracks. There was only about 2 to 3 inches of snow . The slides went all around the woods, I followed them a bit and never saw where he actually walked. Just two foot prints and roughly six to eight feet of sliding. I’m sure it was a Fisher. Don’t believe an otter would be out in the middle of the woods sliding around. There is no river nearby,and snow wasn’t deep.He was just plain sliding all around the woods. Wish I had a pic.

    November 30, 2014 at 1:03 am

    • Fantastic. I’ve heard other naturalists question whether fishers slide, but I, too, have seen severasl fisher slides. Would love to have seen yours!

      November 30, 2014 at 2:03 am

    • Al

      If you saw lots of slides, with just the two tracks, I suspect it was actually an otter. It’s not at all uncommon to see otter tracks away from water, as they often take shortcuts over uplands to get to another watercourse. I’ve followed them up and over Oak Hill in Roxbury, NH, and elsewhere. Same with mink–once found some on the top of Beech Hill in Keene, next to Chapman Rd.

      November 30, 2014 at 3:09 am

    • janetpesaturo

      Agree with Al, it was most likely an otter. Otters do indeed travel quite far from water at times. I, too, have seen their slides up on hills at Quabbin Reservoir area in MA. If you track them for long enough, though, they eventually get to water.

      November 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

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