Mammal Tracks: Fisher

A Fisher first got me hooked on tracking.  Seven years ago, I was out wandering in local woods after a fresh snowfall, when I came across what I deemed to be a Fisher trail. I could see the impression of five toes in the tracks and the bounding 2X2 trail pattern (in this pattern, front legs land together, usually with one slightly ahead, and hind legs then follow and land in the same spots, as the front legs move forward to repeat the process). I'd read that Fishers use this gait frequently in deep snow – as it's efficient for their body type. Following the trail a ways, I saw where the animal had climbed up a tree and leaped out, leaving a body size impression in the snow, showing tail and all! So cool!

Photo of Fisher body print in snow

At the time I found it hard to believe I was tracking a mammal who I had only recently learned even existed.  Not only were Fishers real, they were in my home town!

Following the animal's trail eventually led to an Eastern Red Cedar at the edge of a meadow. The trail appeared to end. I looked around for another body print, but found none. Then, silly me, I looked up. And who was in the tree but the Fisher, quietly looking back at me.

Photo of Fisher in Eastern Red Cedar

That experience was the first of many memorable tracking moments that would occur over the following years. Now, when I cross the path of a local Fisher, I'm taken back to that meadow, to that moment when I first encountered one of these elusive mammals.

Photo of Fisher diagonal lope

After the recent blizzard, I found a fresh Fisher trail at the Plainville Cemetery, a place I've taken to visiting often. This time, following the trail didn't take me to the animal, but it did take me on a meandering journey. In addition to the 2X2 gait, I saw places where a distinctive diagonal lope (see above) was used, as well as a 3X4 lope (below) and walking gaits.

Photo of Fisher 3X4 Lope

As you venture out in the snow, be on the look out for signs of Fisher near you.

5 thoughts on “Mammal Tracks: Fisher”

    1. Thanks for your comment, but I feel quite certain of the identity of the pictured mammal. For one thing, the range of the American Marten (Martes americana) does not extend into southeastern Massachusetts, where this mammal was photographed.

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