Despite their name, they rarely eat fish; instead, their primary prey is porcupines and snowshoe hares

Pacific Southwest Region USFWS



Despite their name, they rarely eat fish; instead, their primary prey is porcupines and snowshoe hares

Population 100,000

Commonly known as fishers, these are species of medium-sized mammal native to the forests of North America. Despite their name, fishers seldom eat fish; instead, they are named after the Dutch word “fisse” or “visse,” which was likely used due to a similarity in their pelt to the European polecat, also known as “fitch.” They belong to the mustelid family, which includes weasels, otters, and minks, and are known for their agility in trees and on the ground and their versatility in hunting.

Fishers boast elongated bodies that keep them low to the ground, aiding their stealthy movement through dense forest underbrush. Their dense and glossy coats, which vary from deep brown to black in the winter, serve as excellent insulation against the cold. In summer, their fur lightens, helping them blend into the dappled sunlight of their woodland habitats. The underside of a fisher displays a distinctly brown color with occasional white or cream-colored patches, adding to their camouflage. Their large feet are another adaptation to their environment, distributing their weight effectively to move atop snow without sinking, similar to snowshoes.

Omnivorous in nature, fishers have a varied diet that includes small mammals, insects, nuts, mushrooms, and berries. The dietary overlap with other predators, such as bobcats, results in competition for food resources, showcasing the dynamic balance within their ecosystems.

Fishers are solitary animals, typically only coming together for mating. They utilize a range of shelters within their territory, including hollow trees, logs, ground holes, and stumps. A permanent den becomes essential when raising their young, providing a safe and warm environment for the kits. The reproductive cycle of fishers involves delayed implantation, meaning the fertilized egg does not immediately implant in the uterus, allowing the birth of kits to coincide with optimal environmental conditions for their survival.


Population est.
United States

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No