Animals -> Mammals -> Furbearers -> Fisher


Fisher were seldom consumed. Cultures reported to have eaten fisher in small quantities or in times of scarcity include the Nuxalk [1], Tahltan [2], Salish of Middle Columbia River [3], Plains Cree [4], Round Lake Ojibwa [5], Red Earth Cree [6], Omushkego Cree [7] and Mistissini Cree [8]. The Spokane, Kalispel and Yukon Kaska are also reported to have trapped fisher [9-11] and it was reported to be present in Chipewyan territory [12]. The Tahltan, Red Earth Cree and Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto are reported to have trapped fisher for fur [2, 6, 13]. The Yukon Kaska and Kalispel reportedly used deadfalls to capture fisher, while the Spokane used traps and snares [9-11].


1.         Thommesen H: Telling Time With Shadows: The Old Indian Ways. In: Bella Coola Man: More Stories of Clayton Mack. edn. Edited by Thommasen H. Madeira Park, B.C: Harbour Publishing; 1994: 24-45.

2.         Emmons GT: The Tahltan Indians, vol. Anthropological Publications Vol. IV No. 1. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania: The Museum; 1911.

3.         Miller J: Middle Columbia River Salishans. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 12: Plateau. edn. Edited by Walker DE, Jr. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1998: 253-270.

4.         Mandelbaum DG: The Plains Cree: An Ethnographic, Historical, and Comparative Study, vol. 1st edition. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center; 1979.

5.         Rogers ES: Subsistence Areas of the Cree-Ojibwa of the Eastern Subarctic: A Preliminary Study. Contributions of Ethnology V 1967, No. 204:59-90.

6.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

7.         Berkes F, George PJ, Preston RJ, Hughes.A, Turner J, Cummins BD: Wildlife Harvesting and Sustainable Regional Native Economy in the Hudson and James Bay Lowland, Ontario. Arctic 1994, Vol. 47 No. 4:350-360.

8.         Rogers ES: Subsistence. In: The Hunting Group-Hunting Territory Complex among the Mistassini Indians. edn. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada Bulletin No. 195; 1963: 32-53.

9.         Honigmann JJ: The Kaska Indians: An Ethnographic Reconstruction. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1954.

10.       Lahren SL, Jr.: Kalispel. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 12: Plateau. edn. Edited by Walker DE, Jr. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1998: 283-288.

11.       Ross JA: Spokane. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 12: Plateau. edn. Edited by Walker DE, Jr. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1998: 271-282.

12.       Smith JGE: Chipewyan. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6: Subarctic. edn. Edited by Helm J. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1981: 271-277.

13.       Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of animals and plants by the Micmac Indians of New Brunswick. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1951, 41(8):250-259.


The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a medium-sized mammalian carnivore occurring south of 60 ºN, from one Canadian coast to the other, except in the Prairies. They were once more widespread, especially in United States, where they are now limited to a few states along the Pacific coast and Rocky Mountains and some northeastern states.

The fisher is a member of the mustelid family and are most closely related to the American marten (M. americana), being in the same genus, but are larger and darker coloured with no paler chin or chest patch. Like other mustelids, fishers have dense fur, highly prized in the fur industry, long canines, rounded ears, short limbs, and a long, slender body. Adults typically weigh 4 kg, with males often twice the size of females. They are dark brown, with glossy black tail, legs, and rump in the winter.

Fishers are mostly solitary and defend individual territories. They mate in early spring, and like many other weasels, female fisher can delay the implantation of the embryo to give birth in a more favorable season. In this case, the delay is close to 1 year long and young are born the next spring. Unlike most other weasels, but similarly to the American marten, fishers are not only traveling, foraging, and resting on and under the ground, but also in trees, especially in the summer. They have a generalized diet feeding on mice, squirrel, hares, porcupines, birds, and carrion.


Wilson DE, Ruff S: The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press; 1999.


Images provided below were obtained from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - North American Mammals. Available from
Fisher - dark, winter coloration
Credit: painting by Consie Powell from Kays and Wilson's Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002) 
Credit: Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy — Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International — CABS, World Wildlife Fund — US, and Environment Canada — WILDSPACE.