The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the release of a fisher “management strategy” that reduces the trapping season in the northern part of the state by 16 days and establishes a new six-day season in the central and western parts of the state.
The fisher plan is expected to guide the agency’s approach to the species for the next 10 years. The plan attempts to advance two of DEC’s stated goals: to maintain or grow fisher populations where suitable habitat exists and to provide trapping opportunities.
Fishers, a member of the weasel family, can weigh up to about 13 pounds. Their diets range from small and medium-sized mammals and birds to acorns, apples and berries. They are also one of the few known predators of porcupines, having been known to consume the entire animal, leaving nothing but a quilled hide and a few bones.
Historically, their numbers experienced a severe decline during the late 1800s and early 1900s due to over-trapping and loss of forested habitat. DEC established a fisher trapping season in the 1950s in northern New York and in the 1980s in southeastern New York.
According to DEC, over the past 20 years fisher populations have expanded into central and western New York.
The plan defines specific objectives and strategies for each of the following fisher management zones: Northern; Southeastern; and Central/Western New York. New York City and Long Island are excluded as DEC argues that fisher populations have historically not existed there.
The plan proposes the following adjustment to current fisher trapping regulations to begin in the fall of 2016:
- Reduce the fisher trapping season from 46 days to 30 days in select Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in northern New York, with a season start date of November 1 to address population declines in this area;
- Establish a limited six-day open trapping season in selected WMUs in central/western New York to provide new opportunities for sustainable hunting as populations have expanded.
The proposed changes to trapping regulations will remain in effect for three years.
The management plan, and an Assessment of Public Comment is available on the DEC website. Proposed regulations to implement the plan are expected to be released soon for public comment.
Photos: Above, a fisher in its winter coat (forest by Forest Wander); and below, a fisher climbing a tree at night (photo by NYSED).
I have never been a big fan of “harvesting” native predators whose populations ebb and flow based on the availability of prey species and who also keep those populations healthy. But whatever sells licenses..
I feel compelled to reply….at least they are reducing the kill season!
I think my main concern is opening the season in western NY where they are beginning to recover. But I do have different views on harvesting prey species vs. predator species. Prey species need to be culled since we have wiped out most predator species in the past. I don’t understand culling the few predators we have as their populations are self-limiting and slower to reproduce. But at least DEC supposedly keeps a close eye on populations of predators and prey.
Predators manage themselves. They do not need “management” by the state. All predators, including fishers, should be protected, not hunted or trapped. Further, trapping of any species should end.
Exactly… Unlike humans – predators tend to regulate their breeding based on available prey. Mot enough prey – they starve.
Thank you David for your thoughtful and just comments on this issue. To think of the manner in which these beautiful animals are taken is depressing,the steel jaws of a trap clamping down on them,the suffering they must endure while waiting for the crazy ape man to come along and finish it off.It’s depressing thinking about it! And for what? To hang its pelt on a wall? . Those who take pleasure in this sport are most certainly missing a link or two if you ask me. Who would take part in such savageness? One who is lacking in spirit is who. One who is unresponsive when the question is put to them “Does anybody here possess an ethereal spirit?”
How some people sleep at night is beyond me.
Public opinion s clearly against trapping and n most places against predator management…but the management agencies care not.
Maybe that’s because there’s money in the licences to kill them WrenHawk…a source of revenue. I’m probably wrong on this but it wouldn’t surprise me. Or maybe there’s a trapper lobby whom the DEC caves to.
Trapping has been around for thousands of years, in one form or another. Only the population growth of man has put pressure on these species. Yes, the DEC should allow it, and yes it should be regulated. No, I do not trap, myself.
Yes, it has been around “forever.” Beating your dog has also been around “forever” and was also quite acceptable until recently. Slavery was written into our Constitution. Women were considered second class citizens for most of our country’s history. Just because something has been going on for a long time doesn’t make it credible or ethical. Trapping is the reason so many species vanished from eastern forests in modern history, including the fisher.
Oh, also, the use of the word “man” to refer to all humans has been around forever and really needs to stop. So insulting and symptomatic of the rampant sexism endemic to our culture.
Sexism Brittany? Really? Relax. We’re talking about trapping here. We have enough to worry about in this world without looking for trouble.
Obviously the majority of folks commenting haven’t had the pleasure of runaway beaver populations flooding their property and/or cutting down their fruit trees, not to mention coyotes “harvesting” their lambs on a nightly basis. With few exceptions, the comments above are unbelievable and display gross ignorance of trapping’s role in wildlife management.
Fisher are unique apex predators that are indeed fascinating to study and appreciate in their role within the Adirondacks and elsewhere. They do not limit their prey to “wildlife” as many a small pet owner has sadly learned. Contrary to some statements herein other than disease their numbers have to be managed by hunting or trapping.
Just because someone doesn’t have your point of view doesn’t make them ignorant of trapping and hunting policy.
Runaway beaver populations are due to lack of predators and disease, wouldn’t you say? Coyotes are typically not apex predators either – they should be preyed on by wolves. Lambs are not native species, nor are kitties or small dogs. Coyotes kill these animals because they are readily available, which is why coyote populations enjoy proximity to humans. It is this proximity that throws both prey and predator species out of control. My land is overrun with deer because of lack of predators. Hunting doesn’t seem to be effective, as they reproduce so quickly.
As long as there is sufficient prey, predators will be plentiful. Take away their food and they won’t. Their population doesn’t need to be “managed” in a healthy ecosystem. Wildlife being “managed” by humans for hunting and trapping and fishing is just another factor in the equation.
Brittany says: “Just because something has been going on for a long time doesn’t make it credible or ethical.”
> Amen sister!
“Trapping is the reason so many species vanished from eastern forests in modern history, including the fisher.”
> Just read the Adirondack history alone.Back in the day they shot and killed every thing that moved.Were it not for laws there’d be nothing left.Even the laws cannot stop everyone from bringing out their barbaric natures which seems to be in many of us.
“the comments above are unbelievable and display gross ignorance of trapping’s role in wildlife management. ”
> Wildlife management is fine and dandy Tim,but trapping? It is cruel,inhumane,sad and proves the primitive nature in us. People who trap! Surely an overflowing absence of warmth is predominant in their dispositions.
“Back in the day” we used to blow up beaver dams with 1/4 sticks of dynamite. You’d just walk or climb out on it, set a charge, and get your @ss back to shore before it blew. Somewhere along the line this became frowned upon, 1/4 sticks became hard to obtain, and trapping became the preferred method of control.
Interesting to note is that fishers will pray on juvenile beavers. They are bold animals and will find their way into lodges to attack their pray.
Glad to see a limited season. But for me a Steel Trap is the absolute most horrific death and animal can face. Trapping in any form should be eliminated. Causes the deaths of so many pets and often these jerks who are cruel enough and heartless enough to do it in the first place have no care if the animal suffers. So they do not check the traps all the time as they are supposed to. No one enforces this…its hard to prove it anyway…. they never get caught and the fines are tiny anyway if they do. They let the animals die in the traps struggling and frantically trying to chew their feet off to live…! These killers often do not ask permission to use land. and they are sneaky, only checking and harvesting at night in some cases to not get caught by the land owners, so this promotes poaching…in its design. Your going to end up causing the death of one of these guy’s and if the poor bastard that kills him gets caught a prison sentence for him… I know how mad I’d be if I lost a dog that died in a trap.. and then I caught the guy doing it out in my back woods..! Stop this archaic cruel game of death. No one needs to sell furs to survive. This ain’t the 1850’s… No killer needs to feed his family on deer meat.. Lest face it. Hunting is just killing for fun. it is an expensive weekend game for guy’s who like to kill and animal. Beef is cheaper.. and if your actually so poor you need to eat deer to survive they have welfare you can sign up for. so again.. NO “reason” for it. it is a way of life .. a fun weekend hobby.. I say bring back the wolves and let the bears populate more… they will not bother humans if they have deer to eat. And if humans want to wander the woods it should be mandatory that they carry mace and horns and bells. Or a gun if you have one… We are 7.3 Billion. soon to be 10 Billion..! Animals have no where to go anymore. We have to stop looking at the woods like they are all ours to go walk in anytime we wish! We need to give some protection and some thought to not traveling and using every single inch of this planet.. !
“Trapping in any form should be eliminated. Causes the deaths of so many pets and often these jerks who are cruel enough and heartless enough to do it in the first place have no care if the animal suffers. So they do not check the traps all the time as they are supposed to. No one enforces this…its hard to prove it anyway ”
Shep did not come home one day.She was my brothers beautiful sweet dog who lived on his farm in Ulster Heights down in Ulster County. Jerry searched high and low in his woods but no Shep. Very unusual for her not to come home. I forget how much time went by but my brother was in his woods one day and he found Shep. She was dangling from a limb that had a snare attached to it. Some idiot hunter set a snare illegally in my brothers woods and never went back to check on it. Jerry says it looked like Shep struggled quite much to try to get undone from that snare……………..
All these years later writing this I almost want to cry!
“I know how mad I’d be if I lost a dog that died in a trap.. ”
It happens I attest!