Pa. fisher population on the rise
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A lot of wildlife species once all but gone from Pennsylvania have come back over the years.
Coyote populations have exploded. Black bear and turkey numbers have improved dramatically. Eagles and ospreys are back.
Now, you can add fishers to the list.
"We've seen a rather dramatic expansion of fisher populations in recent years," said Matt Lovallo, furbearer biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Sightings, incidental captures of fishers by trappers pursuing other species, and observations of fishers by hunters have all increased, he said. As a result, the commission's still-developing fisher management plan will call for them to eventually be a game species, Lovallo said.
"It should surprise no one that that plan will include fisher seasons," Lovallo said. "Such seasons are liberal and widespread in other states."
Tom Boop of Northumberland County, president of the Game Commission, seemed glad to hear that.
"I'm hearing a lot of concern from sportsmen about fisher predation on squirrels and turkeys," he said.
The Game Commission has radio collars on 22 fishers -- 10 males and 12 females -- on game lands 26 in Cambria County, Lovallo said. He's hoping that project will tell him more about fishers' dietary preferences, he said.
In the meantime, though, he agreed that fishers are very adept at climbing trees and could impact squirrel populations in localized areas. They're capable of taking porcupines, too, though, and will prey on raccoons, goshawks and other birds, a limited number of fawns, and even domestic pets if given the chance.
"Fishers are opportunistic, omnivorous and aggressive," Lovallo said. "We should never underestimate its prowess as a predator in Pennsylvania's forest ecosystems."
Very few things -- other than perhaps bears, coyote or man -- prey on fishers, however, which is why the day when a fisher season will be necessary is fast approaching, Lovallo said.
Members of the weasel family, dark in color and about the size of house cats -- they stretch between 30 and 47 inches from nose to tail and weigh from four to 12 pounds -- fishers were common in Pennsylvania when the first European settlers arrived. They disappeared when the forests they need to survive were clearcut, however.
They started showing up in Pennsylvania again in the 1970s when migrants from a reintroduction program begun in West Virginia moved north. Pennsylvania released 190 fishers of its own in the northcentral part of the state in 1990.
If there's one species that could suffer from that expansion of fisher populations, it's the bobcat. Both compete for the same prey, so studies have shown that where fishers increase, bobcats can often decrease, Matt Lovallo said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Trade for Winnik gives Penguins competition among bottom six
- Snow sculptors have a ball with Iceburgh, Einstein
- Rossi: Pirates better with Maz on scene
- Problem with gas line forces evacuations in California Borough
- Lincoln tries to rejuvenate career in second stint with Pirates
- Company claims Carnegie Mellon University defrauded it on Tartarstan venture
- 8 shot to death, including gunman, in Missouri rampage
- Fast-growing Americans for Prosperity opens location in Greensburg
- Penguins notebook: No discipline for Capitals’ Wilson
- Easter Seals merger in Pennsylvania raises ethics concerns
- Pennsylvania House pushes liquor system privatization bill through