Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 20th, 2010
(Photo by Luis Ascensao)
Luis Ascensao snapped this picture of two fishers in the backyard of his Tyngsborough, Massachusetts home.
Recent sightings in the Boston area of dark-colored catlike animals are not black panthers, but fishers, the larger relatives of weasels and minks.
The Boston newspapers have caught up to the situation in recent news stories.
After the Globe ran a story in the Metro section Aug. 4 about a recent spike in reported fisher sightings, e-mails poured in from readers in Greater Boston and beyond who say they have seen the animals.
The fisher, a relative of the weasel, grows to 3 feet snout to tail and can weigh 8 to 16 pounds. It has long, retractable claws and a pointed head with round ears tucked tight against its skull, squat legs, and fur that runs from rich brown to black. It latches onto a meal with the help of razor-sharp teeth. Sometimes called a fisher cat, its normal prey are rodents and small wild animals, but fishers will also attack house cats.
By James O’Brien, Globe Correspondent
In Jamaica Plain, one day early last month at about 3 a.m., Margaret Connors and her 10-year-old daughter heard “a screech, a scream, a cry” in the backyard of their house on Westchester Road. Carrying flashlights, they went into the yard and saw what she said were two fishers overhead in a tree.
“Two sets of eyes, and an outline — long slender bodies with long bushy tails,” said Connors. “Just staring at us like, you know: ‘what are you going to do?’ ”
Connors said she also heard what she believes were squirrels in the tree, which may have been the draw for the fishers.
Like Connors, some say the animal emits a high-pitched screech, but John Organ, wildlife biologist and division chief with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in Hadley, disputed that.
“They will growl and hiss, chirp and chatter” Organ said. But, he said, “I’ve never heard [a screech] from a fisher.”
Hissing is what Marjorie Lyden, of Wellesley, heard one Sunday in May.
Read the rest of James O’Brien’s article, here.