Fishers by nature do not like open spaces and prefer tree cover or coniferous forests to dwell in. heavily wooded places like New England make an ideal habitat for Fisher cats.
New England Fisher cats are one of the largest members of the Mustelid family, which includes species like the mink, weasel, otter and skunk. These are noted nocturnal animals and therefore very hard to observe. They are however active during both daytime as ell as night time and that too, mostly during the time just before sunset and just before sunrise, when it mainly searches for food. Their cry is similar to that of a high pitched one of a child’s and therefore can sound very eerie in the nights.
The fisher cat second in size only to the river otter, and ranks amongst the largest members of the weasel family ever, to dwell in Massachusetts. These animals were displaced and their numbers dwindled many years ago, when the farmers cleared the forests and surrounding areas for agriculture. Fishers who are susceptible to trapping and logging were badly affected during this time and were forced to move out into other neighboring areas such as scattered locations in Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Virginia. However due to their departure from the aforementioned area, the porcupine population started swelling; and in order to control this menace, the people of New England re-introduced the fishers to curb the porcupine numbers. Nowadays, fishers can be found in virtually all areas or communities in Massachusetts, with the exception of Cape Cod and the Islands.
Until very recently, only rare reports of fisher sightings have been reported by the Massachusetts Audubon Society; however, since 2000, these sightings have increased substantially in number especially in areas of eastern Massachusetts. Reasons for this increase in number have been attributed to reforestation of land, which was previously reserved for farming.
There have been many wildlife laws in place which dictate the manner in which these fishers are to be captured in required to control their numbers and humanely destroyed. These laws have helped keep a check on their habitat and numbers.
Fishers are reserved by nature and are solitary in their mannerisms. They are not known to hunt in groups and are only seen in groups during the mating season. These animals will never den near human dwellings and normally keep their distance from humans.
Even thought their numbers have increased in New England area in US, fishers are hardly a threat to humans even thought they are known carnivores. Fishers prefer snowshoe hares, mice shrews, carrion, etc, and have been known to eat fruit and berries too. It is one of the few animals, which can attack, kill and eat a porcupine!
The population density is known to be one per 2.6 – 7.5 sq. km, but can be as low as 1 per 200 sq. km. The daily movement is observed to be 1.5 to 3 km in a day, but this distance is known to vary given the weather conditions. Fishers walk on the soles of their feet and can climb and swim very well. The fisher paws, have, on its soles large surfaces to help it run on snow without sinking in easily. If its disturbed by any creature or anything, fisher cats tend to arch its back like a cat and is known to hiss, growl, snarl or spit as well as give off an offensive odor!
The fishers are known for their thick fur coats, which provide good insulation against the cold and inclement weather.