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BC Conservation Data Centre: Species Summary


Pekania pennanti
Fisher


 
Scientific Name [Author]: Pekania pennanti [(Erxleben, 1777)]
Scientific Name Synonyms: Martes pennanti
English Name: Fisher
 
Classification / Taxonomy
Scientific Name - Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal Species of the World: a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Second Edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Classification Level: Species
Taxonomy Comments: April 11, 2013 - Changed from Martes pennanti to Pekania pennanti following Sato et.al (2012).(LRR). This will align with NatureServe (DDW).
Species Group: Vertebrate Animal
Species Code: M-PEPE
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae
   
Conservation Status / Legal Designation
Global Status: G5 (Nov 2005)
Provincial Status: S2S3 (Dec 2006)
BC List: Blue
Identified Wildlife: Y (Jun 2006)  
Provincial Wildlife Act:
COSEWIC Status:
SARA Schedule:
General Status Canada: 4 - Secure (2005)
   
Ecology & Life History
General Description:
Global Reproduction Comments: Reportedly breeds late February-April or March-May, peak in March (late March-April in Manitoba); females mate probably within days of giving birth. Gestation lasts l year, including an 11-month period before implantation. Litter averages about 3 throughout the range. Births occur primarily from March to mid-April (sometimes in February or May in some areas). Young are mobile by 8 weeks, weaned in 2.5-4 months; separation from the mother occurs in the fifth month, in late summer or early fall. In Maine, young are weaned from mid-May to early June, independent probably in late August or early September (Arthur and Krohn 1991). Sexually mature in 1-2 years; not all adult females breed in a given year. Apparently promiscuous breeding. Very few males live more than 4 years, and less than 10% of females live more than 4 years.
Global Ecology Comments: Solitary except during the breeding season.

Home range has been estimated at 10-800 sq km by snow tracking, 7-78 sq km by telemetry using minimum convex polygon model; generally the ranges of adults of the same sex do not overlap. In Maine, home ranges of females were stable between seasons and years, but males moved extensively in late winter and early spring and their ranges shifted between years. In New Hampshire, mean annual home range was about 15-25 sq km, with daily movements usually were 1.5-3.0 km. In southern Quebec, mean home range size was 5.4 sq km for females and 9.2 sq km for males (Garant and Crete 1997). Has been recorded moving 90 km in 3 days (see Nowak 1991).

Population density in favorable habitat has been estimated at up to about 1 per 3-11 sq km in summer, 1 per 8-20 sq km in winter (Arthur et al. 1989). In southern Quebec, density was estimated at about 3 individuals per 10 sq km; the high density was atrributed to the absence of trapping (Garant and Crete 1997).
Migration Characteristics:
(Global / Provincial)
 
    Nonmigrant:
    Local Migrant:
    Distant Migrant:
    Within Borders Migrant:
Y /
N /
N /
na /
Global Migration Comments: See Zielinski et al. (2004) for information on home range characteristics in California.
Habitats:
(Type / Subtype / Dependence)
Alpine/Tundra / Krummholtz / Facultative - occassional use
Forest / Conifer Forest - Dry / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Conifer Forest - Mesic (average) / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Conifer Forest - Moist/wet / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Deciduous/Broadleaf Forest / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Mixed Forest (deciduous/coniferous mix) / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Gravel Bar / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Riparian Forest / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Riparian Herbaceous / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Riparian Shrub / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Bog / Facultative - occassional use
Wetland / Fen / Facultative - occassional use
Wetland / Marsh / Facultative - occassional use
Wetland / Swamp / Facultative - occassional use
Global Habitat Comments: Fishers inhabit upland and lowland forests, including coniferous, mixed, and deciduous forests. They occur primarily in dense coniferous or mixed forests, including early successional forest with dense overhead cover (Thomas et al. 1993). Fishers commonly use hardwood stands in summer but prefer coniferous or mixed forests in winter. They generally avoid areas with little forest cover or significant human disturbance and conversely prefer large areas of contiguous interior forest (see USFWS 2004). Powell (1993) concluded that forest type is probably not as important to fishers as the vegetative and structural aspects that lead to abundant prey populations and reduced fisher vulnerability to predation, and that they may select forests that have low and closed canopies. Several studies have shown that fishers are associated with riparian areas (see USFWS 2004), which are in some cases protected from logging and generally more productive, thus having the dense canopy closure, large trees and general structural complexity associated with fisher habitat (Dark 1997). Riparian areas may be important to fishers because they provide important rest site elements, such as broken tops, snags, and coarse woody debris (Seglund 1995).

Fishers are regarded as habitat specialists in the western United States (Buskirk and Powell 1994), occurring only at mid- to lower elevation in mature conifer and mixed conifer/hardwood forests characterized by dense canopies and abundant large trees, snags, and logs (Powell and Zielinski 1994). In contrast, fishers in the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region inhabit areas with a large component of deciduous hardwood forest containing American beech (Fagus grandifolia), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and other broadleaf species (Powell and Zielinski 1994). The majority of conifer forest habitat in Canada is characterized as boreal forest, which is different from the relatively dryer environmental conditions associated with Washington, Oregon, and California. In the Rocky Mountains of north-central Idaho, certain all-conifer habitat types, which include grand fir and Engelmann spruce appear to be important to, and preferentially selected by fishers (Jones 1991).

Fishers are adapted for climbing but are primarily terrestrial. When inactive, they occupy a den in a tree hollow, under a log, or in the ground or a rocky crevice, or they rest in branches of conifer (warmer months). In Connecticut, Kilpatrick and Rego (1994) found that tree with a dbh of 32 cm or more may provide cavities for rest sites in hardwood-dominated forests.

Young are born in a den in a tree hollow (usually), or under a log or in a rocky crevice. Large snags (greater than 50 cm dbh) are important as maternal den sites (Thomas et al. 1993). Of 19 tree dens documented by Truex et al. (1998) across three study areas in California, the average diameter was 115 cm for conifers and 63 cm for hardwoods. Of 16 maternal and natal dens located on managed timberlands in northwestern California, nine were in cavities in hardwoods and seven were in conifer snags: diameters of den trees ranged from 62.5 cm to 295 cm (Simpson Resource Company 2003). See USFWS (2004) for further details on dens used by fishers in California and British Columbia.

West Coast Distinct Population Segment:

The key aspects of fisher habitat are best expressed in forest stands with late-successional characteristics. Fishers use habitat with high canopy closure, large trees and snags, large woody debris, large hardwoods, multiple canopy layers, and avoidance of areas lacking overhead canopy cover (see references in USFWS 2004). Fishers also occupy and reproduce in some managed forest landscapes and forest stands not classified as late-successional that provide some of the habitat elements important to fisher, such as relatively large trees, high canopy closure, large legacy trees, and large woody debris, in second-growth forest stands (Klug 1997, Simpson Resource Company 2003). However, intensive management for fiber production on industrial timberlands does not typically provide for retention of these elements. It is unlikely that early and mid-successional forests, especially those that have resulted from timber harvest, will provide the same prey resources, rest sites and den sites as more mature forests (see USFWS 2004). Late-successional coniferous or mixed forests provide the most suitable fisher habitat because they provide abundant potential den sites and preferred prey species (Allen 1987). Forest structure of good quality fisher habitat should provide high diversity of dense prey populations, high vulnerability of prey to fishers, and natal and maternal dens and resting sites (Powell and Zielinski 1994). Younger forests in which complex forest structural components such as large logs, snags, and tree cavities are maintained in significant numbers, and which provide a diverse prey base, may be suitable for fisher (Lewis and Stinson 1998). [from USFWS (2004), which see for further details on habitat in California]

See also Zielinski et al. (2004) for information on habitat characteristics in California.
Food Habits: Carnivore: Adult, Immature
Global Food Habits Comments: Diet consists primarily of mammals (small rodents, shrews, squirrels, hares, muskrat, beaver, porcupine, raccoon, deer carrion); also birds, other small animals, carrion, and fruit.
Global Phenology: Circadian: Adult, Immature
Diurnal: Adult, Immature
Nocturnal: Adult, Immature
Global Phenology Comments: Active both day/night. Mainly nocturnal/crepuscular in summer and diurnal in winter. In south-central Maine, most activity occurred shortly before sunrise and after sunset; activity was reduced in winter (Arthur and Krohn 1991); females caring for weaned offspring showed increased diurnal activity (Paragi et al., 1994, Can. Field-Nat. 108:52-57.
Provincial Phenology:
(1st half of month/
2nd half of month)
Colonial Breeder: N
Length(cm)/width(cm)/Weight(g): 103/ / 8200
Elevation (m) (min / max): Global: 
Provincial: 
   
 
Distribution
Endemic: N
Global Range Comment: Fishers range from Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, and New England west across boreal Canada to southeastern Alaska, south in the western mountains to Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and California, and formerly south to Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Recently the species has expanded its range in the eastern United States, and it has been reintroduced in areas from which it was extirpated, including West Virginia, with some of the latter individuals wandering into Virginia (Handley 1991). The species is relatively abundant in the eastern provinces of Canada, with low populations in British Columbia (USFWS, Federal Register, 1 March 1996).
 
Distribution UnitOccurrence StatusOrigin Status  
Biogeoclimatic Unit   
BAFA - Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineConfident or certainNative or natural  
BWBS - Boreal White and Black SpruceConfident or certainNative or natural  
CDF - Coastal Douglas-firConfident or certainNative or natural  
CMA - Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineConfident or certainNative or natural  
CWH - Coastal Western HemlockConfident or certainNative or natural  
ESSF - Engelmann Spruce - Subalpine FirConfident or certainNative or natural  
ICH - Interior Cedar - HemlockConfident or certainNative or natural  
IDF - Interior Douglas-firConfident or certainNative or natural  
IMA - Interior Mountain-heather AlpineConfident or certainNative or natural  
MH - Mountain HemlockConfident or certainNative or natural  
MS - Montane SpruceConfident or certainNative or natural  
PP - Ponderosa PineConfident or certainNative or natural  
SBPS - Sub-Boreal Pine - SpruceConfident or certainNative or natural  
SBS - Sub-Boreal SpruceConfident or certainNative or natural  
SWB - Spruce - Willow - BirchConfident or certainNative or natural  
    
Ministry of Environment Region   
2- Lower MainlandPossibleNative or natural 
3- ThompsonConfident or certainNative or natural 
4- KootenayPresumed extirpatedNative or natural 
5- CaribooConfident or certainNative or natural 
6- SkeenaConfident or certainNative or natural 
7- OminecaConfident or certainNative or natural 
8- OkanaganPresumed extirpatedNative or natural 
9- PeaceConfident or certainNative or natural 
    
Forest District   
100 Mile House Forest District (DMH)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Arrow Boundary Forest District (DAB)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Campbell River Forest District (DCR)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Cascades Forest District (DCS)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Central Cariboo Forest District (DCC)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Chilcotin Forest District (DCH)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Columbia Forest District (DCO)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Fort Nelson Forest District (DFN)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Fort St. James Forest District (DJA)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Headwaters Forest District (DHW)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Kalum Forest District (DKM)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Kamloops Forest District (DKA)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Kootenay Lake Forest District (DKL)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Mackenzie Forest District (DMK)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Nadina Forest District (DND)Confident or certainNative or natural 
North Coast Forest District (DNC)Confident or certainNative or natural 
North Island - Central Coast Forest District (DNI)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Okanagan Shuswap Forest District (DOS)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Peace Forest District (DPC)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Prince George Forest District (DPG)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Quesnel Forest District (DQU)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Rocky Mountain Forest District (DRM)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Skeena Stikine Forest District - Bulkley (DSS_B)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Skeena Stikine Forest District - Cassiar (DSS_C)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Squamish Forest District (DSQ)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Sunshine Coast Forest District (DSC)Confident or certainNative or natural 
Vanderhoof Forest District (DVA)Confident or certainNative or natural 
    
Regional District   
Bulkley-Nechako (BNRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Cariboo (CBRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Central Coast (CCRD) Possible Native or natural  
Central Kootenay (CKRD) Presumed extirpated Native or natural  
Central Okanagan (CORD) Presumed extirpated Native or natural  
Columbia-Shuswap (CSRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
East Kootenay (EKRD) Presumed extirpated Native or natural  
Fraser-Fort George (FFRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Kitimat-Stikine (KSRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Kootenay Boundary (KBRD) Presumed extirpated Native or natural  
North Okanagan (NORD) Presumed extirpated Native or natural  
Northern Rockies (NRRM) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Okanagan-Similkameen (OSRD) Presumed extirpated Native or natural  
Peace River (PRRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Powell River (PWRD) Possible Native or natural  
Skeena-Queen Charlotte (SQCRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Squamish-Lillooet (SLRD) Predicted or probable Native or natural  
Stikine (SKRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
Sunshine Coast (SCRD) Possible Native or natural  
Thompson-Nicola (TNRD) Confident or certain Native or natural  
    
Municipality   
ArmstrongPossibleNative or natural 
ChetwyndPredicted or probableNative or natural 
Dawson CreekPossibleNative or natural 
EnderbyPossibleNative or natural 
Fort St. JohnPossibleNative or natural 
Hudsons HopePredicted or probableNative or natural 
LillooetPossibleNative or natural 
LumbyPossibleNative or natural 
LyttonPossibleNative or natural 
Northern RockiesPossibleNative or natural 
PembertonPossibleNative or natural 
Pouce CoupePossibleNative or natural 
SpallumcheenPossibleNative or natural 
TaylorPossibleNative or natural 
Tumbler RidgePredicted or probableNative or natural 
   
Regional District Map
This is not a range map.

This species is known to occur somewhere in the shaded regional district(s). The actual range of the species within each regional district may be much smaller.
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Authors / Contributors
Global Information Author: Hammerson, G., and USFWS (2004)
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2010
Provincial Information Author:
Last Updated:
   
References and Related Literature
Allen, A. W. 1983. Habitat suitability index models: fisher. U.S. Fish and Wildl. Serv. FWS/OBS-82/10.45. 19 pp.
Arthur, S. M. 1988. An evaluation of techniques for capturing and radiocollaring fishers. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 16:417-421.
Arthur, S. M., and W. B. Krohn. 1991. Activity patterns, movements, and reproductive ecology of fishers in southcentral Maine. J. Mamm. 72:379-385.
Arthur, S. M., W. B. Krohn, and J. R. Gilbert. 1989. Home range characteristics of adult fishers. Journal of Wildlife Management 53:674-679.
Baker, R. H. 1983. Michigan mammals. Michigan State University Press. 642 pp.
Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 438 pp.
Berg, W. E. 1982. Reintroduction of fisher, pine marten, and river otter. Pages 159-173 in G. C. Sanderson, editor. Midwest furbearer management. Proc. Symp. 43rd Midwest Fishand Widlife Conference, Wichita, Kansas.
Buskirk, S. W. 1992. Conserving circumboreal forests for martens and fishers. Conservation Biology 6:318-320.
Buskirk, S. W., et al., editors. 1994. Martens, sables, and fishers: biology and conservation. Cornell. 496 pp.
de Vos, A. 1952. Ecology and management of fisher and marten in Ontario. Tech. Bull. Ontario Dept. Lands For., Wildl. Ser. 1. 90 pp.
Fontana, A.J., and I.E. Teske. 2000. East Kootenay Fisher Reintroduction Program. P. 693 in L.M. Darling, ed. 2000. Proc. Conf. on the Biology and Manage. Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, B.C., 15-19 Feb., 1999. Vol. 2; B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC, and Univ. College of the Cariboo, Kamloops, BC. 520pp.
Forest Practices Code. 1997. Fisher in Species and Plant Community Accounts for Identified Wildlife: Vol. 1. B.C. Minist. For. and B.C. Environ. 184pp.
Garant, Y., and M. Crete. 1997. Fisher, MARTES PENNANTI, home range characterisitcs in a high density untrapped population in southern Quebec. Canadian Field-Naturalist 111:359-364.
Godin, A. J. 1977. Wild mammals of New England. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 304 pp.
Hall, E. Raymond. 1981. The Mammals of North America, Vols. I & II. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. 1181 pp.
Hamilton, W. J., Jr., and J. O. Whitaker, Jr. 1979. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 346 pp.
Handley, C. O., Jr. 1991. Mammals. Pages 539-616 in K. Terwilliger, coordinator. Virginia's endangered species: proceedings of a symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.
Jones, J. K., Jr., R. S. Hoffman, D. W. Rice, C. Jones, R. J. Baker, and M. D. Engstrom. 1992. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, The Museum, Texas Tech University, 146:1-23.
Kilpatrick, H. J., and P. W. Rego. 1994. Influence of season, sex, and site availability on fisher (MARTES PENNANTI) rest-site selection in the central hardwood forest. Can. J. Zool. 72:1416-1419.
Leonard, R. D. 1986. Aspects of reproduction of the fisher, MARTES PENNANTI, in Manitoba. Can. Field-Nat. 100: 32-44.
Nowak, R. M. 1991. Walker's mammals of the world. Fifth edition. Vols. I and II. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore. 1629 pp.
Powell, R. A. 1982. The fisher: life history, ecology, and behavior. University of Minnesota Press. 217 pp.
Powell, R. A. 1994. Effects of scale on habitat selection and foraging behavior of fishers in winter. Journal of Mammalogy 75:349-356.
Powell, R.A. 1981. MARTES PENNANTI. MAMMALIAN SPECIES. AMERICAN SOC. OF MAMMALOGISTS. NO.156:1-6.
Ruggiero, L. F., K. B. Aubry, S. W. Buskirk, L. J. Lyon, and W. J. Zielinski, editors. 1994. The scientific basis for conserving forest carnivores in the western United States: American marten, fisher, lynx, and wolverine. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report RM-254.
Spahr, R., L. Armstrong, D. Atwood, and M. Rath. 1991. Threatened, endangered, and sensitive species of the Intermountain Region. U.S. Forest Service, Ogden, Utah.
Stevens, V., and S. Lofts. 1988. Species Notes for Mammals. Vol. 1 in A.P. Harcombe, tech. ed. Wildlife Habitat Handbooks for the Southern Interior Ecoprovince. B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Wildl. Branch. Tech. Rep. R-15. 174pp.
Strickland, M. A., et al. 1982. Fisher MARTES PENNANTI. Pages 586-598 in J. A. Chapman and G. A. Feldhamer, editors. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore.
Thomas, J. W., et al. 1993. Viability assessments and management considerations for species associated with late-successional and old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The report of the Scientific Analysis Team. USDA Forest Service, Spotted Owl EIS Team, Portland Oregon. 530 pp.
Thomasma, L. E., T. D. Drummer, and R. O. Peterson. 1991. Testing the habitat suitability index model for the fisher. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 19:291-297.
Thompson, J. 2005. Fisher Conservation in the Pacific States: Field Data Meet Genetics. US-FS PNW Res. Stn., Sci. Findings Issue 70.
U.S. Forest Service (USFS), et al. 1993. Draft supplemental environmental impact statement on management of habitat for late-successional and old-growth forest related species within the range of the northern spotted owl. Published separately is Appendix A: Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team. 1993. Forest ecosystem management: an ecological, economic, and social assessment (FEMAT Report).
Weir, R. D., and F. B. Courbold. 2000. Fishers in British Columbia: options for conservation of a blue-listed species. Pp. 691 IN L. M. Darling (editor). Proceedings of a conference on the biology and management of species and habitats at risk, Kamloops, B.C., 15 - 19 February, 1999. Volume Two. British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Victoria, B.C., and University College of the Cariboo, Kamloops, B.C. 520pp.
Weir, R.D. 2003. Status of the Fisher in British Columbia. B.C. Minist. Water, Land and Air Prot., Biodiversity Branch, and B.C. Minist. Sustainable Resour. Manage., Conservation Data Centre Victoria, BC. Wildl. Bull. B-105. 47pp.
Weir, R.D. and P.L. Almuedo. 2010. British Columbia's Interior: Fisher Wildlife Habitat Decision Aid. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management 10(3):35-41.
Weir, R.D., A.S. Harestad, and R.C. Wright. 2005. Winter Diet of Fishers in BC. Northwest Nat. 86(1):12-19.

Weir, R.D., and F.B. Courbold. 2000. Fishers in British Columbia: Options for Conservation of a Blue-listed Species. P. 691 in L.M. Darling, ed. 2000. Proc. Conf. on the Biology and Manage. Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, B.C., 15-19 Feb., 1999. Vol. 2; B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC, and Univ. College of the Cariboo, Kamloops, BC. 520pp.
Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal Species of the World: a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Second Edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
 

Please visit the website http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cdc/Reports/summary_data_fields_08.htm for definitions of the data fields used in this summary report.

Suggested Citation:

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2014. Species Summary: Pekania pennanti. B.C. Minist. of Environment. Available: http://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/eswp/ (accessed Oct 21, 2014).