Another Addition to the Family

There’s a lot more wildlife here now than there was when I was a boy.  Then it was rare to see a deer, a hawk or a turkey, but now they’re abundant.  There are more otters, beavers and herons now than there were then.  And now we have animals that weren’t here at all 40 years ago–bears, rattlesnakes, eagles and bobcats, for example.

Over the last couple of months I’ve spotted a strange creature four times, at four different places on the farm.  Once we made eye contact for a few seconds, before it raced away as I fumbled for my camera.  It was feline, but not a cat.  It had a weasel-like face and a long tail.  It reminded me of a mink, but was much larger.  But I’ve been stumped trying to figure out what it is.

I looked at every mammal in the North American field guide.  The one that seemed most like the animal I’d seen was a fisher.

fisher

But I realized it couldn’t be a fisher, as there are no fishers in our part of the country.

Per Wikipedia, the red area is where fishers can be found.

Per Wikipedia, the red area is where fishers can be found.

But then yesterday I saw THIS ARTICLE in the Lynchburg paper, saying there have been confirmed sightings of fishers in several counties west of us.

So it seems we have one more addition to the wildlife family here now.

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33 comments on “Another Addition to the Family

  1. EllaDee says:

    You must be doing something right 🙂 I think it’s wonderful that something else, especially a Fisher, has decided it likes the neighborhood enough that you’ve encountered other four times, and comfortable enough to make eye contact.

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    • Bill says:

      I was relieved to see the article. I knew it wasn’t anything I’d seen before and but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Cherie and I both researched it, and both of us considered and dismissed fishers since we were so far out of its range. Or so we thought.

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  2. Joanna says:

    I’m not sure whether to be pleased for you or not 😀 It is good to know that the environment is once again supporting a range of God’s creatures, not so nice when they help themselves to our land or livestock. I hope you are happy neighbours in that respect 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      Yeah when I realized what it was one of my first thoughts was that we now have yet another creature on the farm that likes to eat chickens.

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      • Joanna says:

        One of ours disappeared while we were away for the afternoon. We suspect a fox, as the chickens would have been more nervous if it had been a hawk and hiding. I think a fox must have snook up on one without the others realising.

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  3. BeeHappee says:

    This is getting exciting, you will have to carry the camera on your sleeping outside adventures! Indeed, even in the more highly populated Chicagoland area than ever, now we have more hawks, owls, and foxes than a decade ago. Especially seems to be a big increase in raptors and herons. By the way, whatever happened to that deer that used to hang out with the goats?
    ” In the 1920s, when pelt prices were high, some fur farmers attempted to raise fishers. However, their unusual delayed reproduction made breeding difficult. When pelt prices fell in the late 1940s, most fisher farming ended.” Seems like you could bring back the fur farming. 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      I just realized I left out the most significant addition to our wildlife family–coyotes. There were none here until recently, and now they’re here in abundance. I think they even live in urban Chicago too now.

      As for fisher farming, it’s all I can do to keep up with what we have going on now. So I don’t think that will be happening. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        Yes, plenty cayotes here, we get e-mail reminders to keep neighborhood dogs and kids safe.
        I miss little European hedgehogs, they used to come in on my grandmas farm and we would give them a dish of milk to drink. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Trust me when I say that those cute little mink are vicious enough that you don’t want to be anywhere that close to a Fisher. Coyotes and Fishers? That oughta knock down the rodent population… After that, well… ):

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Annie says:

    Oh wow! I’ve never seen one in person but I hear their screams from the woods up here in New England. They are really neat animals. Just make sure your chickens are secured…..

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    • Bill says:

      You’ve reminded me that I need to go shut the coop door for the night. 🙂
      I’ve read that they sometimes eat cats too. Our Mr. Fabulous will need to be extra careful I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Farmgirl says:

    Oh, they are beautiful! You have a farm and animal sanctuary! Thanks for using sustainable practices.

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    • Bill says:

      I don’t know if that had anything to do with them settling down here, but I do know that when we implemented chemical-free farming here the wildlife population boomed. When we first came here there were few birds for example. Now they are in abundance. 🙂

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  6. Buffy says:

    I have never heard of these.

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    • Bill says:

      I had never heard of them either. I passed over them quickly when researching what I’d seen, since they’re not supposed to live this far south. I just hope they turn out to be good neighbors.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, as civilization crawls over the land the birds and animals are pushed farther and farther away from their natural habitat. They have had to adapt to civilization and now the biggest predator to their existence is man. Man fears the wild and is bent on eradication of all wild existence whether a threat or not. My garden deep in the heart of the inner city has wild turkeys, possum, raccoons, deer, ground hogs, rabbits, and the list goes on with squirrels, snakes, and a plethora of birds. Feral land on both sides of Terra Nova Gardens gives them all sanctuary. I mentioned a few posts ago about a mountain lion that was found about a mile within the city boundaries. Animals are faced with the biggest threat of their existence …. civilization.

    So what does a Fisher eat. Diet. Despite their name, fishers do not hunt or eat fish! Fishers eat snowshoe hares, rabbits, rodents and birds, and are one of the few specialized predators of porcupines. Fishers are effective hunters, but are also known to eat insects, nuts, and berries when prey is not available.

    Have a great Fisher day. Where there’s one, there’s usually two, don’t you know. 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      I just hope the Fisher family finds plenty to eat without considering our chickens. 🙂

      There are several factors I think that have led to the increased wildlife population here. Retreating from human “development” is one of them, I think.

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  8. rhondajean says:

    That’s wonderful, Bill. I thought it was a little wolverine when I first saw the photo. I’ve never heard of a fisher. Fancy that. Yet another thing I had no clue about. :- )

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    • Bill says:

      It was new to me too Rhonda. My impression when I saw it was that it was an over-sized weasel. I was stumped and didn’t really consider the possibility that it was a fisher. But now I’m sure that’s what it is.

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  9. avwalters says:

    We’ve had sitings of them as well. Our DNR won’t confirm them, so they are like an unacknowledged ghost species. They can be fierce, so it’s part of nature I’d just let be.

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    • Bill says:

      That’s what’s happening here with cougars. We’ve seen one, as have many people in our area. There are even some photographs. But officially they say they’re not here and that any sightings must be of “escaped exotic pets.” A lot of us think they’re reluctant to admit it because of the additional bureaucratic responsibilities that will come with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a beautiful animal. Hope he doesn’t acquire a fondness for chicken dinner!
    What do you attribute the increase in wildlife in the last 40 years to?

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    • Bill says:

      Good question. It’s been a long day and I’m too tired to give an adequate answer, but some of the reasons seem to be that as the natural habitat is reduced they retreat to undeveloped areas, less chemical-based agriculture, wildlife protection acts, etc. I think a major reason is the increase in deer population. That has happened largely because humans have abandoned their natural roles as predators, choosing to rely on factory farm grocery store meat instead. As the deer population increased, that attracted deer predators like coyotes, and a new ecosystem is emerging. Nature will eventually find a balance, but it seems we’re in transition. That’s my theory at least.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. My kids grew up in the wilds of NW PA. They had the run of the woods and streams of about 150 acres. (The intersection of several farms and woods). They came back one day from adventuring with the story of a black creature that looked like a little bear only with a tail. My son — who is now a biologist– spent the next few days poring over our resources to decide it must have been a fisher even though they weren’t supposed to live in our area. Your post brought that to mind. Thanks for jogging my memory! Great photo too!

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    • Bill says:

      How interesting! So similar to our story. That was my reaction too. The animal I saw was jet black with a bushy tail and a pointy face. According to what I’ve read fishers are not really black, but they appear to be, especially in their winter coats.

      By the way, I didn’t take that picture. I aimed my camera/phone at the animal and tried to get a picture but without my reading glasses on I can’t see a thing up close. I missed the shot. I chased it through the woods trying to video it but got nothing on film. I’ve seen it up close 3 times and from a distance once.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. shoreacres says:

    I just laugh and laugh every time I come across one of these stories that chronicles the gap between what’s “supposed to be” and what actually is. One of the greater underlying lessons is that we need to claim our own experience, and trust our own ability to sort out the nature and meaning of that experience.

    “Experts” of every sort certainly have a place — and a wealth of knowledge to share. But if we take only their word for what is and is not possible, we may fail to see what’s right in front of us.

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    • Bill says:

      If the map had extended even to Maryland or Pennsylvania I might have considered the possibility. But the southern range was so far north of us it didn’t seem to be an option. We have cougars here too, but the state’s official position is that they’re not here and anything we see is just an “escaped exotic pet.” Eventually they’ll concede of course. I’m amazed at how nature is responding to things like climate change and human development sprawl. Adaptability ensures survival.

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  13. I’d never heard of a fisher until I read your post. Today I was at a wildlife conference and saw a turkey vulture for the first time, named so because their faces resemble turkeys. The variety of species always amazes me!

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  14. Leigh says:

    Yikes! I learned about these from more northerly bloggers who find them to be, well, not such good neighbors. Until you learn more, be sure to lock up all fowl and small animals at night!

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Leigh. We do lock up the chickens at night. I’m assuming they wouldn’t move here unless there is an adequate food supply. But I will make sure they weren’t counting on chicken as part of their diet.

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