We don’t really know what sounds these rare predators make-

The Silence of the Fishers. By Roland Kays. New York Times.

Do fishers scream? Just what kind of noise or noises do they make?

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

15 Responses to The Silence of the Fishers

  1. JimT says:

    They “scream’…heard them often in the Vermont woods around our house. Lost one of our cats to them….

    • william huard says:

      That scream is like nothing else. They have the attitude of a wolverine and will take a house pet in a second. I hear them at night, they have been around my property for years. One night I saw a confrontation (more like a staredown) between a fisher and a raccoon. They circled each other but did not attack-

  2. jon says:

    They are neat little creatures.

  3. Ken Cole says:

    The only one that I’ve ever seen ran across the road at Lolo pass a couple of years ago. I was very excited about it. Kinda like winning the lottery for a wildlife junkie like me.

    There was another time while doing redd counts on the South Fork of the Salmon River where I came across a log jam. I looked down into an opening and there was a dead female chinook salmon that looked like it had been freshly opened because the eggs were oozing out of it’s belly. As I reached down to pick her up for measurements and to check for tags I heard ferocious growl come from inside the log jam. We waited a little while to see if anything would come out but I never saw what made the noise. If I were to guess I would say that it was a small predator like a fisher, otter, wolverine, bobcat, or lynx but I’m guessing one of the first three. It couldn’t have been anything smaller because it would have had to be big enough to move that salmon carcass. I don’t know if the salmon was dead or alive when the critters got it. I wish I knew. Lucky to still have my hand.

  4. Jon Way says:

    It is bizarre that these cool animals are threatened out west b.c they are common and expanding their range in the suburban areas of the east where gray squirrels (among others) offer plenty of food. I have captured over 20 in box traps (while trying to catch eastern coyotes/coywolves) and they do indeed make a weird chuckle like sound in the trap and it is pretty constant while I watch them in the trap before releasing them.

  5. Immer Treue says:

    Saw one cross a gravel road in Nothern, MN last year. It’s always a moment to remember when you see new(to you) wild life for the first time.

    • JimT says:

      First time I saw one moving across our backyard I thought it was an otter, which were also in the area. Neat animals, good predators. They also take their prey up into trees, and stuff them into the branches or crevices for later….They are one of the few that will take on a porcupine; they are vanishing in the eastern woods these days, along with chippies and gray squirrels…

      • Jon Way says:

        Actually Jim,
        they seem to be increasing and expanding their range in the NE… Less trapping, more forest regeneration has helped.

  6. Salle says:

    I don’t know much about this animal so I looked it up on Google and found this web site, from the Canadian Red List, (their version of the ESA) that has a lot of info and photos.


    Are they bigger than a pine marten? Pine marten is about the size of an adult house cat.

  7. Craig says:

    I’ve seen 3 of these in my 39 years in the woods! The last one was 2 years ago in the Frank Church, he was dragging a Elk leg from a bow kill. Growling like all hell, he wasn’t happy I walked upon him. Cool little critters, I watched him for 20 minutes and he got the leg down to a down fall and pulled it under some logs and I left him to his spoils. Wish I had my camera that was a real neat experience..

  8. Ken Cole says:

    It’s kind of weird but my wife and I saw another fisher along the Lochsa River last night on our way to Missoula. This one seemed bigger than the last one we saw a couple of years ago up on the Lolo Summit.


February 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey