News

September 27, 2014

Fisher expert to visit Hawk Mountain

Mink-like mammal is back in a big way

Photo courtesy of John Jacobsen

Fishers are back in a big way across Pennsylvania and Dr. Thomas Serfass of Frostburg University will share more about this interesting come-back kid of the weasel family during a FREE lecture on Saturday, October 11 at 5:30 p.m in the Visitor Center. Dr. Serfass's slideshow and talk will provide an overview of fishers, cover their disappearance from Pennsylvania forests, and their road to recovery.

“The restoration of fishers is among the great achievements in the history of wildlife conservation in Pennsylvania,” says Professor Serfass. He notes that unfortunately the species has always been vulnerable to human disturbances.

“Consequently, those interested in conservation must not forget past mistakes that contributed to the fisher’s disappearance and work diligently to ensure that newly established fisher populations persist in the woodlands of Pennsylvania for the enjoyment of future generations, ” says Serfass.

Fishers (or fisher cats) are a North American mammal closely related to the weasel. They are usually nocturnal and can be typically found in forests, as long as the threat of deforestation is not present. Fishers have few natural predators, but they have a history of being hunted for their fur. Because of this, fishers had reached near extinction in the 1930’s before being listed as an endangered species in 1998 by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since then conservationists all over North America have made efforts to reintroduce fishers to their natural habitats. 

Fishers were reintroduced to Pennsylvania in 1994 by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Since then, the species has reclaimed over a quarter of Pennsylvania and their numbers have risen from 56 in 1999-2000 to 983 in 2007-2008. The P.A. Game Commission estimates between 2,500 to 5,000 fishers now call southeastern P.A. home.

Serfass is a professor of wildlife ecology at Frostburg University. Most of his research focuses on the restoration of wildlife programs, especially for carnivores. He has published dozens of articles and was the 2008 recipient of The Professional Award for outstanding contributions to the management and conservation of wildlife in Maryland.

Celebrating 80 years, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the world's first refuge for birds of prey and an international center for raptor conservation. The 2,500-acre Sanctuary, 8-mile trail system and Visitor Center is open to the public year-round. A trail fee or membership dues supports local to global conservation programs, including public education, professional training and scientific research programs. Visit www.hawkmountain.org to learn more.

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Berks County