I enjoy observing wildlife, and living in Otsego County is almost like living in an episode of Wild Kingdom. I've been guilty of sitting on my porch and breaking in to my best David Attenborough impression to describe what the animals are up to.

Watching local critters for me is almost like a kid playing Pokemon Go, when a new species appears, it's very exciting. One species I have heard legends about, but have never seen is the Fisher, sometimes referred to as a Fisher Cat. I was recently at a pizza joint in one of the Outer Rim towns in Otsego County, and overheard two seasoned hunters chatting about their brushes with this elusive creature.

What is a Fisher?

Wikipedia describes the Fisher as:

The fisher (Pekania pennanti) is a small carnivorous mammal native to North America, a forest-dwelling creature whose range covers much of the boreal forest in Canada to the northern United States. It is a member of the mustelid family (commonly referred to as the weasel family), and is in the monospecific genus Pekania. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as a fisher cat, even though it is not a cat.

Saveafox Mustelids via Facebook
Saveafox Mustelids via Facebook

How do you know you're about to see a Fisher in Oneonta, New York?

These are very shy creatures, and encounter with one is pretty rare. They are carnivorous, and usually eat small animals. They prey on everything from rabbits to birds and will eat forest carrion from time to time.

There are colloquial accounts of sightings in the area. Folks who raise chickens have made claims on Facebook that Fishers have plundered their flocks. From the accounts of the aforementioned hunters and their encounters, you're more likely to hear a Fisher than see one. This is what a Fisher sounds like:

No wonder early colonists thought demons lived in the woods!

What should I do if I run into a Fisher?

Fishers definitely live in the woods in Oneonta and Otsego County, New York. They've been heard and spotted around the area. A Daily Star column from 2017 contained an anecdote of an encounter and sighting at Gilbert Lake.

If you encounter a Fisher, be a good human and leave it alone. The animals are not prone to attack humans, but will voraciously defend itself if it feels threatened. Keep your distance and stay as still as possible.

Personally I suggest shooting it - with a high quality camera lens so you can brag to the whole world about seeing this shy and elusive critter!

Have you caught a Fisher on your cameras? Send us the footage and we'll share it!

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