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May 13, 2013

Orphaned Fishers Saved Just in Time

Baby fishers' nest discovered in tree at lumber mill -- workers rescue them from wood chipper

  • The fishers arrived at Cape Wildlife Center scared, dehydrated, and hungry. Deborah Millman/The HSUS

  • One of the orphaned fishers takes a break from playing to stare curiously at the camera. Deborah Millman/The HSUS

  • Each of the three fishers has received vaccinations, and is eating well and gaining weight. Deborah Millman/The HSUS

Three infant fishers, rescued from being killed by a wood chipper, are thriving at Cape Wildlife Center.

“They had a very close call,” says Cape Wildlife Center Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation Lynn Miller. “The tree in which they were born was cut down and was being processed at a lumber mill. Fortunately, workers heard their cries and saved the trio.”

Watch this video to learn more about their miraculous rescue

The fishers, who were so young their eyes were barely open, were first taken to New England Wildlife Center. Veterinarians stabilized the infants and then contacted Cape Wildlife Center, which has cared for several fishers in the past, to provide the necessary follow-up care and rehabilitation.

Upon arrival at Cape Wildlife Center, the fishers, two males and one female, were dehydrated and very hungry. They are now eating well and growing as expected for their age. According to Miller, the fishers will be released into an area close to where they were rescued when they reach six months of age. In the meantime, they will be housed in a habitat at Cape Wildlife Center that replicates as closely as possible their natural habitat.

Learning about Fishers

“Not a great deal is known about rehabilitating fishers,” says Cape Wildlife Center Director Deborah Millman. She adds, “Forging treatment plans for wildlife species is part of Cape Wildlife Center’s vision of advancing wildlife rehabilitation from an art to a science. Collaboration is key to the success of this initiative.”

It is with this in mind that Miller has consulted with international experts to determine the best standard of care for fishers and is creating written treatment protocols that will be shared with other wildlife rehabilitators. “The more we know about a species’ natural development, diet and habit, the better we can prepare them for their return to the wild, healthy and able to continue their species,” says Miller. “It is essential that we provide the highest quality care while still maintaining each patient’s wild nature.”

Fishers are members of the weasel family. Full grown males typically weigh between 8 and 13 pounds; females average between four and six pounds. They are predators whose diet is principally porcupine, although they will also consume birds and small mammals. With the exception of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, they are found throughout Massachusetts and in other northern fringes of the United States.

Although fishers are wary of humans, pet owners living near wooded areas in which fishers might reside are advised to keep their cats indoors, small dogs attended and poultry in secure coops. “Knowing about the species with whom we co-exist enables us to take appropriate measures to live harmoniously with them,” Millman says. “Cape Wildlife Center does all it can to advance this knowledge, creating a mutually-beneficial experience for people and wildlife.”

To see the growth of the three fishers and other animals in various stages of rehabilitation at Cape Wildlife Center, join us on Facebook.

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