Is a fisher cat prowling Pennsauken?

Misnamed fisher cat - doesn't fish and isn't a cat.
Misnamed fisher cat - doesn't fish and isn't a cat. (National Park Service)
Posted: June 08, 2014

Is it a critter making a South Jersey comeback or just Internet innuendo making the rounds?

It's hard to say, but Pennsauken has posted on its website that the township has had "a handful of reports" that a creature known to some as a "fisher cat" had been sighted in the last few days.

"While this animal's natural habitat is much farther north than Pennsauken, the Township is currently looking into this matter to confirm or deny this claim's validity," the website says, adding, "Any issues regarding animal control in Pennsauken Township should be directed to 856-663-3058."

So far, township animal control officer Nancy Welsh said she didn't have much to go on.

"I have gotten no reports except for one woman who said she saw one in the area, but hung up and didn't leave a number," Welsh said. "She screamed."

A Facebook posting by what appears to be a Pennsauken woman that has been distributed through social media but that could not be verified contends the animal has attacked pets in Delair and was sighted on Browning Road in Merchantville.

Welsh said she also had gotten no reports of pets being attacked.

Despite their name, fisher cats don't fish, and they aren't cats. Members of the weasel family, they have wolverinelike temperaments, bushy tails, and lush coats for which they were hunted relentlessly in the 1700s and 1800s, according to a Rutgers University article.

Though fishers are more common north of here, there have been confirmed sightings in New Jersey in the last several years, suggesting something of a comeback, the article states.

Tail included, they can be up to four feet long and weigh 20 pounds, according to the article. They are adept at climbing trees. They can make loud, creepy noises, judging by recordings on YouTube.

And if any of them actually are around, you probably want to bring in the shih tzu: Fisher cats hunt other animals. According to the Rutgers piece, it is the only creature that can consistently prey on the heavily armed porcupine.


856-779-3893

rgiordano@phillynews.com

@ritagiordano


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