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Fisher Scat

1-21-15  fisher scat-crayfish 012For seekers of animal signs, tracking a fisher is a most rewarding endeavor. Fishers are constantly marking their territory – rolling on and breaking limbs of conifer saplings as well as urinating and defecating on or near saplings or on prominent, elevated stumps or rocks.

More than other members of the weasel family, Fishers can control the amount of scat they deposit, so that there can be a minuscule amount, or a full-size scat (2” – 7” long). Perhaps because of their predilection for marking with their scat frequently, they often use this medium sparingly.

The color of Fisher scat is usually dark brown or black, but once in a great while one happens upon fisher scat that is bright orange – a sure sign that the fisher has lived up to its aquatic name and has dined on crayfish in the recent past. Fishers primarily prey on snowshoe hares, porcupines, ground-nesting birds and smaller rodents. However, they do frequent streams that remain open in the winter, where they hunt for crayfish and, very rarely, fish.

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14 responses

  1. Fascinating as always.

    January 22, 2015 at 8:58 am

    • I’m so intrigued by their ability to control their scat markings!

      January 22, 2015 at 9:02 am

  2. On a snowshoe trek on Tuesday, I just happened on a stump that a fisher had urinated on–and then, of course, I wondered whether I’d misidentified the tracks leading up to it, because I hadn’t been aware of their using stumps before. So this post is right on time, reminding me to trust the evidence of my eyes (again). 🙂

    January 22, 2015 at 9:52 am

  3. Debbie Petrie

    What does a fisher look like?

    January 22, 2015 at 10:23 am

    • Like a very large brown weasel, Debbie.

      January 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm

  4. Cecelia Blair

    My sense is that the hysteria about fishers killing all the free-roaming house cats seems to have quieted down. Maybe people are gaining more acceptance of the forests where a lot of us live. Your books, blog and teaching, Mary, all are helping re-acquaint people with the wild after, in many cases, generations of absence.

    January 22, 2015 at 10:48 am

  5. April

    So, they never eat cats? Should we assume it’s coyotes who are the cat-eaters?

    January 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

    • No, they do eat cats, but they (cats) make up such a small percentage of a fisher’s diet I didn’t include them!

      January 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    • Here is a great article on cats and fishers: http://scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/do-fishers-really-eat-cats/?_r=0 . One quote from article: “There is one study on fisher diet from Massachusetts that recorded two observations of a fisher eating a cat, but found no cat hair or bones in 226 physical diet samples. “

      January 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      • April

        Fisher information is elusive and contradictory it seems to me. Thanks for this clear-eyed article!

        January 23, 2015 at 8:06 am

  6. Nicole Cormen

    Very cool find, Mary!

    January 22, 2015 at 3:20 pm

  7. Would a Fisher ever eat vegetable matter? I have a photo of some unusual scat left on a tree branch in my yard- how can I send you the photo?

    January 23, 2015 at 11:58 am

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