Fishers in Massachusetts (aka Fisher Cats)

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Fishers (often incorrectly referred to as "fisher cats") are extraordinary animals. With the exception of Metro Boston fishers can now be found in most rural and suburban areas across Massachusetts. These animals often live in close proximity to residential homes and when left alone pose very little threat to humans.

I saw my first fisher on the edge of a  maple swamp in December of 2000. At the time I had no idea what type of animal it was and I had to search the internet to find out. After doing a lot of research I became fascinated with these animals and began spending a lot of time in this area studying them. Every winter I would make dozens of trips to this area in an effort to photograph them and study them further. Over the years my sightings/encounters with fishers increased as they thrived in this area and their population exploded. I went from seeing one animal for every 10 trips to seeing one animal for every 5 trips into the woods.

I have personally seen fishers in Andover, Bolton, Weston, Westwood, Sudbury, Freetown and Lakeville Massachusetts.


Pictures of Fishers

Photographing fishers in the wild is VERY difficult. Fishers are nocturnal animals. 90% of their activity is at night. The only chance that you have for a daylight photo is to catch one either at dawn or dusk either on its way back to its den or emerging from it. Fishers also move very quickly through the woods and they have a very keen sense of smell. Most times I am trying to photograph these animals running through the thick swamp during an encounter that lasts only a few seconds. Most of my pictures of fishers taken from a digital camera look like this one-

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I had also tried using motion-activated trail cameras to photograph them but due to the fact that I rarely saw one in the same spot twice I never had any success.

In the winter of 2005 while following their tracks in the snow I finally located one of their dens. The den was a large rotted tree that had blown over in a storm. When it blew over it exposed a large hollow cavity that stretched far up inside the tree. Fishers were using this tree as a den and from the tracks I could see that there was a lot of activity here.

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Fisher Den

I setup some trail cameras and finally got some pictures of these incredible animals. I was curious as to how they would react to the flash of the camera. Surprisingly  they seem to pay no attention to it at all. The pictures below have all been taken at this den which is only about 120 yards behind a subdivision in a maple/hemlock swamp.

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Rare Daylight Photo

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Entering Den

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Exiting Den

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Fisher with a Gray Squirrel

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Fisher with Gray Squirrel

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Daylight Closeup

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Entering Den

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Raccoon stops by the den

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Doe checks out the camera

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Fisher with Gray Squirrel

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In November of 2007 I shot this video of a fisher chasing a gray squirrel through the trees just after daybreak - Fisher Video

CT Fishers

A homeowner from CT sent me these great photos of some juveniles fishers. He discovered a fisher den in a hollow tree in his backyard. Sneaking up with a camera he took these pictures of two juvenile fishers inside the den. If you look closely you can see the remains of a gray squirrel carcass that they had been eating.

Fisher 1 Fisher 2

Fisher 3

Fisher Characteristics   

Fishers are keen predators. They feed on small rodents and dead animals such as deer but seem to prefer gray squirrels. Fishers are one of the most ferocious predators in Eastern Massachusetts second only to the coyote.

I have found fishers to be very wary during the daylight. They spook very easily and will run for cover at the slightest noise or foreign odor in the woods. On the other hand they seem to be very brave and curious at night. I once had a large male fisher walk to within 10 yards of me while I was walking into the woods before dawn with a flashlight. I first spotted him at about 30-40 yards and he made his way over to me as if he was curious of my flashlight.

Fishers seem to be solitary animals. Only once have I seen two fishers together.

I once watched a fisher and a gray fox (binoculars) chase each other through the swamp for 10 minutes one morning. They seemed to be playing as they moved through the woods. They would chase each other up and down blow-downs and even up trees.


I will add both pictures and content to this page in the future. Be sure to check back for more info and pictures of these fascinating animals.