Fishers have been Lured South

Fishers are said to attack porcupines in a particularly grisly manner.

May 3, 2011 | | Environment

The porcupine, or rather what was left of the porcupine, lay near the base of Murphy’s Pinnacle just north of Primrose. It was a recent kill. The predator had been fastidious; every scrap of flesh had been consumed.

The killer? As you would expect, few predators attempt to tackle porcupines. That is why porcupines have evolved into such plodding, myopic beasts. Little reason to invest scarce resources in speed and acute senses when your body bristles with needle-sharp quills.

No defence is impregnable, however. All creatures, regardless of how effective their defences are, have enemies.

Predators evolve alongside their prey, matching refinements in defence with their own refinements in attack. The particular nemesis of the porcupine is the fisher, a large variety of weasel.

Fishers are said to attack porcupines in a particularly grisly manner. They apparently bite the porcupine repeatedly on its unprotected face. After the porcupine succumbs to this frontal assault, the fisher works its way underneath the porcupine and opens up the quill-less belly.

The plodding porcupine

So was the Murphy’s Pinnacle porcupine killed by a fisher? Or was it simply a victim of one of our numerous coyotes, desperate with late winter hunger?

Fishers have been moving south into our region and they have been seen by some Headwaters folks. So I didn’t discount the possibility – a possibility that suddenly became more credible as I was driving home that March day.

I noticed a road-killed animal north of Camilla on Highway 10. Dark, grizzled fur covered a body the size of a house cat. It had a long, luxuriously furred tail – a fisher!

Porcupines have long been common animals here and prey abundance is, of course, a predator magnet. Fishers have been lured south.

The plodding porcupine’s halcyon days are over. Its nemesis has arrived.

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Driving away from my home towards hwy 89 and a big dark brown black animal running in day light in a zig zag along a drainage ditch in a field and I was like “is this a wolverine?” But did some research and without a doubt it was a big bushy tailed fisher cat / pekan or whatever. This is kind of amazing that in 37 years on earth I had never seen this animal in this area a few kms North of the Luther Marsh. Now I am on the lookout and camera always with me ready to shoot a pic. I love Dufferin county and the wildlife it attracts!

    Delo on Feb 24, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for this Delo! I think more and more Headwaters residents will be seeing fishers in the years to come. They are recolonizing our area after having been pushed out decades ago. For me this is exciting news – but not so for the porcupines that fishers like to eat! Let me know if you ever take a photo of one. I wanted a picture for this blog, but all I had were gruesome images of the road-killed fisher I found along Hwy 10.
    Don Scallen

    Don Scallen from georgetown on Feb 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Reply

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