Your Wildlife Habitat
Living With Fishers
There is a lot of misinformation about the problems fishers were causing; everything from stealing babies to eating a whole cow! Our group soon realized that we needed a better way to get all kinds of information into the hands of rural landowners. Fishers are an excellent example of an animal that has responded to a changing landscape. As marginal farmland was abandoned and allowed to return to forest, it provided suitable habitat for fishers. They prefer a landscape that is at least 40 percent forest cover.
The main reason for the fisher’s vicious reputation stems from the fact that it is the only animal that preys regularly on the porcupine. It does so by attacking its face and neck and flipping it on its back to gain access to its unprotected belly. More typically, a fisher will eat rabbits, rodents and birds with its sharp fangs and claws.
This member of the weasel family is found in wooded areas across eastern, central and northern Ontario. In more populated areas, it is common to hear complaints about fishers attacking household pets or chickens, most often in late winter when their regular prey is harder to find. Hopefully the following links will dispel some of the other myths about fishers and help you better understand this animal.
The Spotlight on Fishers is an article prepared for the Ontario Woodlot Association that clarifies some of the facts about fishers. Although only licensed trappers can kill fishers in Ontario, a landowner and/or his or her immediate family members have the right to destroy fishers under the authority of the protection of property legislation, if they believe the animal has or is about to destroy their property (e.g. livestock).
A Fisher Fact Sheet, prepared by the Ontario Federation of Fur Managers, describes the fisher as a shy, solitary night stalker with excellent hunting ability that preys on small mammals. This fact sheet says that fishers will occasionally kill domestic cats so it would be best to keep your pet indoors at night if you live in a forested area where fishers have been seen.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada provides this fact sheet about fishers. They suggest that restricting access to garbage, pet foods, pets and domestic fowl (especially at night) will help avoid negative interactions with these animals.
The Ontario Federation of Fur Managers has information about fishers on its website. Trapping of fishers is restricted to licensed trappers and is limited by quotas. If you are having issues with fishers on your property, a licensed trapper would be the best person to assist you.