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Monday Reads: The Pacific Fisher Edition

A quick primer on the Pacific fisher

The Pacific fisher.

The Pacific fisher.

U.S. Forest Service Photo

Question: What animal combines perseverance and tenacity with pro-wrestling moves to dine on porcupines?

Answer: Read on…

Last Thursday, we heard from Earthjustice’s California regional office on their success in protecting the rare Pacific fisher. Monday Reads was wondering, just what might be a Pacific fisher? Though its name may conjure up images of kingfishers and the like, this fisher doesn’t fish: it’s a close relative of the otter and the mink.

Meet the Pacific fisher

The cuddly image of the fisher should be immediately qualified with the statement that wolverines and weasels can also be found among the fisher’s relations. Secretive and nocturnal, the fisher has also been characterized as "snarly"—he likes his meat and is quite good at acquiring it.

Which brings us to the porcupines.

As the only predators specially adapted for taking down porcupines, the fisher frenetically circles the porcupine, attacking its prey’s unprotected face. After exhausting or killing the porcupine in this manner, the fisher performs a move worthy of pro-wrestling, flipping the porcupine and exposing its quill-less underbelly to start the meal. Accidentally eat a few of the quills? No problem; the fisher’s stomach is quite capable of softening up the spines.

The fisher plays an important role in regulating the population of its prey species, and is known for launching sneak attacks from high above on its unsuspecting dinner. The fisher’s ankle joints are capable of turning 180 degrees, allowing them to clamber headlong down a tree towards said dinner.

Unfortunately, logging and historic fur-trapping have resulted in the Pacific fisher’s disappearance from all of Washington, most of Oregon and half its range in California. Last week’s success defeated an attempt by a timber mill and anti-wildlife group to ensure that the fisher would never be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Now that you and he are acquainted, be sure to keep an eye on e.Brief for more developments on the future of this feisty fisher.

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