Fisher (Martes pennanti)

Description
Fisher

Size

  • Can reach five kilograms (12 pounds) in weight.
  • Body length can range from 90 to 125 centimetres (35 to 50 inches).
  • Male fishers are larger than females.

Appearance

Distinguishing characteristics include:

  • Fox-like face with long snout and large ears
  • Grey to black colouring on upperparts
  • Dark brown colouring on underparts, tail and legs
Distribution
  • The fisher inhabits the forests of the boreal and Rocky Mountain natural regions.
Natural History

Food

The fisher's diet varies widely and can include:

  • Small birds
  • Rodents
  • Lynx
  • Fox
  • Raccoon
  • Porcupine
  • Young deer and bighorn sheep, usually in the form of carrion

When Active

  • Is a nocturnal hunter and is active all year.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Mating occurs in April and a litter of two to three young is born.
  • The female will breed again about a week after her first littler are born, but the embryo won't implant until January of the following year.
Conservation and Management

Status

The fisher is classified as Sensitive in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Issues

  • The species is uncommon to rare in occurrence; population status is unknown and distribution uncertain.
  • Fisher harvest by trappers has declined since 1985, perhaps as a result of reduction of forest habitat.

Current management

Trapping

Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Related Species
  • American Marten
    Both marten and fisher live in the same areas and are similar in appearance. The fisher is darker and larger than the marten.

What's that name, again?

Though also known as "Fisher cat," "Pennant's cat" and "Pecan", the fisher does not fish nor is it a cat. The Chipewyan First Nations knew it best and called it Tha-cho or "Big Marten."

Fast fisher

The fisher is possibly the swiftest and most agile of the weasel family. Although the marten can overtake the red squirrel, the fisher can overtake the marten and can outrun the snowshoe hare.

Due to its agility, both on the ground and in trees, a fisher has virtually no natural enemies.

 

Page Information

Updated: May 14, 2010