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Fisher Cats

My neighbor called me today and told me of an animal he saw in his backyard yesterday around 3pm in the afternoon.  At first glance, he thought that it was a ferret, as it moves very similarly.  However, it was the size of a raccoon.  My worst fears were confirmed.  I had seen them in the night but never in the day.  I never thought that I would have to worry about them during the day, but apparently, this one was out hunting bunnies in my neighbor's yard.  It was a fisher cat in broad day light in the middle of the day.



Known to be vicious members of the wolverine that can even eat and kill porcupines, the only real threat to this animal is man.  They tear through chicken wire with their sharp claws.  Eat through wood and love poultry.  My worst nightmare has come true.  I am a nervous wreck.  I wonder if an electric fence would work?


For more information about fisher cats, click here.



Photo Credit:  catcustomer, funny cats gallery

54 comments:

  1. Wow! I didn't know they had anything that viscous on cape. What about welded hardware cloth with the little holes? Would that work?

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  2. OMG.....I feel my coop/run are predator proof but you can never tell. I'm always fearful of an invasion. It would be devastating. Thank you for letting know that a fisher was so close to home.

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    1. I am a biologist and I also have chickens. I understand how attatched you can get to a flock of hens. I will also say, however unpopular as it may seem, that chickens are not native wild animals and actually have no proper place in the native ecosystem. To a wild animal they are an easy prey item. We domesticated and keep them for this reason as well we prey on their eggs and some folks raise them for meat. Fishers are important to the ecosystem. They control squirrels and other rodents and they are one if not the only control for porcupines. Porcupines are cute but also potentially damaging to forests if no fishers are around. Fishers react to a well stocked chicken coop the way that many people react to a well stocked all you can eat buffet. You can hardley blame them. Try killing and eating a wild animal like a porcupine (yum) with nothing but your teeth and claws and you might better understand why they like to eat chickens.
      Fishers were severly endangered at one point and almost went extinct. They were trapped for fur and their habitat was severly logged. I believe you are fortunate to have such a rare wolverine cousin living in your yard and should perhaps try to see the wonder in that, even as you reinforce your coops and protect your hens. Almost any predator will eat a chicken. The biggest violator of this is the domestic dog which kills more chickens than all the others combined.

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    2. It has been almost 2 years since I wrote this post. We coexist with the Fisher Cats and did all that we could to predator proof against them. We are huge naturalists and do not believe in harming wild animals, such as Fisher Cats, that are just doing what comes natural. We have foxes and coyotes too. Cape Cod is abundant with a vast array of chicken predators. That being said, it is very important for chicken keepers to know what predators are in their area and for them to educate themselves how to keep their flocks safe.

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    3. I'm very glad to hear that you are tolerating your predatory Fisher Cats. I was both surprised and somewhat elated to hear that fishers are making such a come back. A tv show called Wild America with Marty Stouffer had a fascinating two part episode about him handraising two of these high strung creatures and then preparing them for release. The mother had been hit by a car and the brother and sister cubs were very demanding, wonderful energetic creatures. It might be on You Tube. Thanks again for your article and for your tolerance for your predatory neighbors. I'm currently having a coopers hawk buzzing at my chickens in my chicken tractor. Luckily thanks to the many articles on this site I used hardware cloth not chicken wire. Mr. coopers hawk has to look but not touch.
      Thanks again

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    4. The most definitely are making a comeback. I see them about once a month or so. Hawks are difficult. They make me feel the worst about not letting the girls out to free range. We live right near a wildlife sanctuary and they breed there every year. We also are right in their migratory path. I am glad that the blog has been helpful to you. That makes me very happy.

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  3. OMG I won't sleep a wink tonight? Can they tear through hardware cloth???? Those things look so vicious. I showed my husband the picture and he wants to get a German Shepard to live out by the coop!!

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  4. If they fear man...get human urine in cans from Academy...deer hunters use it...Also human hair...from beauty shops...and spread this around your coups.This might work. How about trapping them? I would be calling around and asking what can be done..before he hurts a child are family pets..whether they are chickens are dogs.
    Good luck.
    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

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  5. Sorry, Major Typo there :O

    Thank you everyone for your advice and thoughts. I am going crazy to say the least. Especially since the girls are my babies! I have the hardware cloth on all open parts of my coop and I have it buried in the ground 10" all the way around. I don't know if they can tear through hardware cloth, but I don't want to be their guinea pig either!

    Thank you Cindy for the tip on the urine and I am getting my hair cut tomorrow. I am not sure that they would trap them. My neighbor did call animal control. They were not too concerned. I am going to make another call tomorrow. Wish me luck!

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  6. If you have hardware cloth, your girls are safe. We have fisher cats here in Upton, too -- they're fascinating mysterious creatures. ...but I hear ya ---my henhouse is very secure, but I sometimes lie in bed wondering what monsters lurk out there, waiting to get my precious ladies!

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    1. yes, chicken wire is not strong enough - must be hardware cloth or turkey wire.

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  7. Predators are not fun. We have a LOT.. and I am so with ya on the "hard to sleep" moments worrying about them.

    Possibly another hair source... pet groomers. Our dog sheds ungodly amounts all year. I've been brushing him and putting it around to deter some predators.

    LOL human urine.. first thought was "Here honey.. a 6 pack. Now don't come back inside until you've marked the yard."

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  8. Thank you so much Lauren for answering that question! Thank GOD!! I did not sleep much last night thinking about them :(

    Thank you too Anne, for the smiles about the six pack! I really needed that after this stress :)

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  9. ACK! That's awful. I don't know what I would do. Hawks are my big threat. I had the girls out in the big yard two nights ago, went into the garage and came right back out w/ a broom. And up on the telephone in my neighbor's yard was a Coopers Hawk (aka: Chicken Hawk) eating a rat! OMG, was he up there eying my girls before he found his meal?

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  10. We have those nasty chicken hawks here too Flock Mistress. Keep those girls safe, those hawks are very stealthlike. You are a good chicken Mama, they're lucky to have you!

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  11. Oh my, I've never seen or heard of this animal before but they sound NASTY. I hope you found a way to keep them away xx

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  12. Hi Charlotte, we have heard and seen Fisher Cats over the past 3 years here. Amazingly, one was killed on a road nearby our home. We have known that they were here all along, but they were never officially documented as part of the Cape Cod landscape until then! I am only hoping that the one that they found dead was the one that we have seen over the past 3 years.

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  13. Wow!! I can't believe there are Fisher Cats so close to my girls!!! I am in Barnstable Village and adopted a flock last fall, they are currently in a coop made with chicken wire, I plan on building new runs this spring but will definitley use hardware cloth!!!

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    1. I know Kyle, I was shocked to find out about them too. The hardware cloth seems to be doing a very good job. I might also suggest doing some predator proofing around your coop and run to also prevent digging, if you haven't done so already. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  14. Well get yourself a good Australian Cattle Dog - they are courageous gardians against varmints and predators. My old dog (now deceased many years) protected my birds fearlessly and even treed a fisher cat in Williamsburg MA - and lived to tell the tale. I saw her pull a young rooster from a hawk's talons once, leaping into the air after the raptor grabbed the bird - he survived (the rooster) but if looks could kill, my dog would be dead! That hawk flew onto a nearby branch and glared at her when she rescued dinner from his sharp talons.

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    1. Wow! What a story! Thank you so much for sharing this with us and your experiences. So glad to hear how amazing these dogs are!

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  15. We had a fisher cat get into our coop a couple of year ago. It was during the summer and the windows in the house were open. I heard something in the coop but nothing I thought I should be alarmed by. I took my flashlight out and I was shocked when I opened the door and a fishercat had made his way inside and had a young chick in his mouth. I was able to scare her away but she stood her ground for awhile. I was so angry and felt violated. The fishercat managed to take a bantam hen and 6 of her chicks. Also took 2 large cochins. The awful thing was everyone was asleep. The fisher cat would take a bird, go hide it and then come back for another. They take more than what they can eat and store it for later. We now have goats and their pen is next to the chickens. They are large enough where I think other animals stay away.

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  16. These creatures sound horrible! Does anyone know if they are found in Kentucky? I had never heard of a Fisher Cat.

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  17. Hello, I am saddened to report that on Easter Sunday, our little flock was desimated by what we think a Fisher Cat. out of 9 hens, we have only 2 left, all the birds were beheaded, no meat was damaged excecpt on one bird, that was found 24 hours later, 2 are still unacounted for. this is our second hit, last year, we lost all 7 birds and they were in the coop, we reinforced fort chicken coop, but at 0900 on Sunday morning, they had been released to free range. They did not show up for their usual treats and I went looking for them, that is when I started finding dead chickens.
    What I find most disturbing is the method of killing, just tearing the heads off, one really nice layer, actually laid an egg in death, the killer did not take or bother the egg. The birds were obviously affraid as they scattered into the woods, probably no where safe to hide. but I found them in a semi circular pattern about 200 feet apart and about 300 feet from the coop, I dont know if this is marking teritory or not.
    I have to say, this was really our first encounter at raising chickens and it always amazed me at how attached we became to them, each one with a different personality, each one with its own special character. to loose 7 PETS is just heart breaking. we loved the fresh gifts that they left us, green, blue, orange, even a red here and there, big brown ones and cute white ones. we will miss Speckels, Spazie, Multi, Muffin, Buffy, Oreo, and Hydrox. we hope that Cupcake and Crow will survive now that I have reinforced the coop and quarintined them to the pen. I so want revenge on this thing.
    P.S. McNaughton, Moultonborough NH

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    1. How awful and I am so sorry to hear of you losing seven of your sweeties. It is devastating to say the least.
      It does sound as though it can be a Fisher Cat. They are elusive and hunt in the day as well as the night. So far at our place, they have not been able to get through the hardware cloth that we use on the run and we have added extra protection by digging the wire down into the ground around the run 18 inches. Still, I do get nervous. We recently added one more layer of protection, NiteGuards-blinking lights that deter predators. So far, so good.
      Fishers are solitary animals who do not live in groups. Perhaps you could try and trap whatever attacked. I hope that you are able to get some answers and rebuild your flock again. Spring time can offer many new beginnings. I am thinking of you all and wishing you the best. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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    2. Sorry to hear about your flock.....so sad. I bet it was a raccoon, though. They are known to behead chickens (just for the fun of it, I guess) and leave the meat behind. My daughter's flock was attacked twice and she saw 2 raccoons leaving with one of her hens after it got dark and everyone was in bed for the night. Unfortunately, 4 hens met their demise before my son-in-law sturdied the coop & now the girls & 3 roosters are safe from harm.

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  18. Our first Summer back here in MA ( we live near a lake and Fishers like water) our dog Teddy came out of the edge of the woods from doing his business with a huge wound in his side when I rushed him to the vet and they shaved him it was a huge mouth and fang imprint in his side, When I told the vet where we lived the first thing she said is a fishercat. We think it was in the woods above him and he spooked it and it jumped on his back and bit him. The bite was 1/4 inch from going through his chest wall and hitting his heart. He recovered but I have never been the same. So I am using hardware cloth, electric fence and Teddy as protection.

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    1. Poor Teddy :( Wow, they are vicious that is for sure. Glad to know that you are able to take the extra precautions that you need to keep everyone safe.

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  19. I am sorry to hear all of these stories. We have them in Canada as well. We had 4 beautiful barn cats. Each of them had a wonderful personality. We now only have one left. He came home 3 weeks after having gone missing. He was starving and severely wounded. His tail is gone. He has scars and tears on his ears and nose. He survived a horrible ordeal. We are thankful that he is still with us. But he has suffered. I hate to think about what happened to the others. Breaks my heart every time I think of them. We are extra cautious now.

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    1. Poor kitty :( It is so amazing that he survived after the ordeal that he must have been through. I am so glad that he returned home to your loving home. He must know that you can help love and nurse him back to health.

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    2. That sounds like a coyote to me. I worked at a ranch in California and coyotes ate nearly 12 cats that used to live there

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  20. Hello, just saw my first fisher cat last night. (ma.) They look mean.
    I never let my animals outside but some neighbors do. I will try to inform them about the fisher cat as we also have small dogs running around the neighbor hood.
    You can trap them but u have to take a course, get a license and report to the state if u kill one.
    All the rabbits disappeared around August.
    If I see one in my yard, he is one dead sucker.(illegal)
    Good luck to all.

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    1. I wouldn't worry about the law. What they don't know. I'd live trap and shoot them. We ahve did that with coons, possums, and ground hogs.

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  21. Oh...What a frightening animal. Your chickens need extra protection. I hope electric fencing will deter this critter.
    So sorry you are having to deal with this.
    Blessings,
    Carolynn

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  22. OH!*shiver* scary

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  23. Oh wow I never knew of anything like that! haha I'm glad there are none of those where I live! haha

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  24. I often come across these animals at Indonesian zoo, and the animals happy takes a kind of insect, but I am not sure whether this animal is that I have seen, but it is very similar, breeding animals may be unstable and not extinct. but, where these animals come from?

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  25. thanks for your sharing its very amazing

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  26. Wonderful post. I am searching awesome news and idea. What I have found from your site, it is actually highly content.

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  27. Amazing publish. We are browsing remarkable press and plan. A few located in the web page, it is really incredibly content and articles.

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  28. Oh...What a frightening animal. Your chickens need extra protection. I hope electric fencing will deter this critter.

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  29. that's right.. it's awesome to read your article

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  30. We have those nasty chicken hawks here too Flock Mistress. Keep those girls safe, those hawks are very stealthlike. You are a good chicken Mama, they're lucky to have you!

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  31. teeth looked very sharp, very scary -_-

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  32. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information?

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  33. OMG, I won't sleep a wink tonight? Can they tear through hardware cloth?? Those things look so vicious. I showed my husband the picture and he wants to get a German Shepard to live out by the coop!

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    1. I do not believe so. We always lock our girls up every night and we have yet to have the hardware cloth damaged in any way.

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  34. your blog is such a wonderful place to socialize, you have a lot of well written and fun to read articles no wonder you have a good following in your website. I will definitely bookmark this and make sure to regularly check for updates Thank you for this article. I am going to bookmark this page for future reference.

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  35. great post, animals should be protected by the state action...

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  36. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

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  37. Many years ago I kept a small flock of guinea hens, and their coop was on the edge of the woods. (My first mistake!) If you aren't familiar with guinea-habits - they don't typically lay eggs in a box, they HIDE them. It was not unusual to empty the bedding from the coop and find dozens of eggs. Typically, I'd empty all of the shavings and then moved them to compost bins. One afternoon, before I got the soiled bedding moved, I spotted FOUR fishers romping through the shavings eating eggs. I'm guessing it was a mother with three youngsters. I dashed out, the guineas remained blissfully unaware of the visitors, to take some photographs. The fishers disappeared into the woods, and slowly came back in to check ME out! I couldn't keep an eye on all four, so I decided to back out of the woods and make my way to the house! At that point I thought this was the end of my poultry keeping days - but I never had a problem!

    Now .. HAWKS, raccoon, coyote, fox, and stray dogs .. that's a different story.

    While we dote on our flock, they aren't really equipped to survive the predators of New England (or anywhere). Chicken keeping comes with much heartbreak, but I suppose that is a necessary balance for all of the love and entertainment!

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    1. Wow! That is really some story. I would have been so nervous if the fishers were looking at me like that. I have always thought about raising guineas. I find them intriguing.

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  38. It's frightening, big cat I would say. I never look at such cat at my home around. I

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Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I look forward to reading them with each and every post that I write and I also love hearing from you.