Fishers have long, slim bodies with short legs, rounded ears and bushy tails.

Fishers are larger and darker than martens and have thick fur. Fishers are agile, swift and excellent climbers, and despite their name, fishers do not hunt or eat fish. Rampant loss of forest habitat due to historical aggressive logging remains a problem, and unsustainable logging continues to impact fisher habitat.

Abnormally large and severe fires as well as poisoning by rodenticide used in illegal marijuana growing operations on public lands are also contributing to the decline of this rare and charismatic critter. 

Defenders' Impact

In both the northern Rockies and their West Coast range, Defenders is working to secure adequate federal protections for fishers and their habitats, actively influencing policies and decisions affecting them — such as trapping in Montana and logging important habitat in the species’ highly isolated population in California’s southern Sierra Nevada — and preparing for changes to fisher habitat caused by climate change.

Defenders has advocated for protecting the species and its West Coast territory under both the federal and California endangered species acts. We have also worked on the ground to introduce fishers to Olympic National Park in Washington State. 

Threats

Over-harvesting for pelts and loss of forest habitat due to logging and road building has significantly reduced and fragmented the fisher's range. Climate change could increase the frequency of fires throughout the fisher’s range, removing the older, cavity-bearing trees they need for denning.

Protection Status
Endangered Species Act
IUCN Red List
CITES
 Threatened
 Least Concern
 Not Listed

Fishers have been proposed for listing as threatened.

What You Can Do

Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and help fight climate change.  

Facts
Latin Name
Pekania pennanti
Size
Fishers are generally the size of a domestic cat. Male fishers can be 6.5-13 pounds and 35-47 inches long, while females weigh in at 3.5-6 pounds and are 29-37 inches in length. In their West Coast range they are slightly smaller.
Lifespan
Up to 7 years in the wild
Range/Habitat

Fishers live only in North America. In the U.S., they’re found from New England south to Tennessee; northern Great Lake states; northern Rockies; and several small West Coast populations in southwestern Oregon, northwestern California, and the southern Sierra Nevada. Reintroduction efforts have added populations in Olympic National Park, central Oregon and the northern Sierra Nevada.

Population

Fishers are common in the Northeast and Midwest, but rare in the northern Rockies and Northwest into California’s southern Sierra Nevada, where they are one of the rarest carnivores. Researchers believe there may be fewer than 300 adult fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada population.

Behavior

Fishers prefer large areas of dense mature coniferous or mixed forest and are solitary animals. They are mainly nocturnal but may be active during the day. They travel many miles along ridges in search of prey, seeking shelter in hollow trees, logs, rock crevices, and dens of other animals.

Reproduction

Mating Season: April
Gestation: Egg implantation is delayed until February or March of the next year, following which is a 30-day gestation period
Litter Size: 1-4 kits born mid-March to late April

The kits are dependent on their mother until the fall and usually disperse to find their own territories at 10-12 months old.

Diet

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.

News

Washington, DC

Despite False Claims, Trump’s Environmental Agenda is the Worst in Recent History

Today, President Trump will hold a White House press conference to greenwash his terrible environmental record. The Trump administration has attempted to roll back, undermine and obliterate our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, like the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and National Environmental Policy Act among others in an effort to appease the oil and gas industry and other extractive industries making it easier to develop on our nation’s public lands.