Fisher 1FE60, a 1 ½ year old male who was first captured last October, has been notoriously hard to walk-in on. It isn’t that the area he is generally in is especially remote, but has more to do with the fact that he seems to always run away when you start to get close to him. So I was pleasantly surprised today when I was able to get right on top of his signal without him bolting from the area. There were, however, a couple of things about this walk-in that were a little strange.
First, I had heard this animal a few hours earlier from a point about three miles south of where I currently was, and the bearing did not point in the direction of where I was now. Next, the signal I was getting while doing a triangulation (before walking in) was much weaker than I expected, and was going in-and-out like the animal was moving even though it seemed like he was stable. Finally when I got close, I found myself standing in a rocky area where none of the trees in the immediate area were over 15 feet tall, and I felt the signal was emitting from around one of the rocks.
Because of these factors, I was starting to wonder what I was going to find here. I have heard of fishers using rocky areas for resting, but I had not encountered it in our study area before. I looked into the most obvious areas around/under the rock and didn’t see anything. After about 20 minutes of searching in vain for any sign, I was starting to think that there were a couple of other likely possibilities instead of me finding a resting fisher:
- There was a test collar (radio-collar not on an animal put out to test our accuracy for triangulations) in the area that I wasn’t aware of which was close to the frequency of 1FE60.
- 1FE60 was dead and I was looking for remains and an implant.
Both of these things were not what I was hoping to find. As I searched around the rock some more, I found a small hole that I had overlooked which went down under the rock. It was definitely big enough for a fisher to fit in, but it was too dark to get a good look into, even with a headlamp. This left me with a bit of a dilemma. I didn’t want to leave the area without finding out what was going on, but I sure wasn’t going to stick my arm into a dark hole where there was possibly a fisher dwelling (probably good advice to live by). I thought about poking a stick into the hole, but I couldn’t help but picture a pissed off male fisher lunging out and attacking me. With ideas running out, I decided that I would lower my camera down and try to take a picture to see if anything was in there. With a bit of apprehension I reached down and snapped a picture.
I guess I made the right decision! He was probably less than 3 feet away from my camera (and fingers) as I took this picture. From what you can see of him, it looks like he’s doing all right for himself.