Martes pennanti 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Martes pennanti (Erxleben, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English Fisher
Taxonomic Notes: Molecular phylogenetic results (e.g., Koepfli et al. 2008) indicate that the Fisher should in the future be classified in a monospecific genus Pekania Gray, 1865.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-03
Assessor(s): Helgen, K. & Reid, F.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W.
This is an amended version of the original assessment that was published in 2015, with some corrections to the distribution map included.

This species is listed as Least Concern because although habitat loss and trapping are major threats, protective regulations and reintroductions have recovered the past decline. In addition, the species is widely distributed and occurs in many protected areas.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Fisher has a large range in northern North America: from Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, and New England west across boreal Canada to south-eastern Alaska, south through the western mountains to Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and California, and formerly south to Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Extirpation from southern portion of range, mainly because of habitat loss, has been counteracted by recent natural and human-aided range expansions in the eastern U.S.; adequate population data are unavailable for much of the range, but the species currently is regarded as secure.
Countries occurrence:
Canada; United States
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Densities in preferred habitat are about one Fisher per 2.6 to 7.5 km² (Coulter 1966, Kelly 1977). The total population size is unknown but probably is at least in the low hundreds of thousands; for example, the harvest in North America during the 1983-1984 trapping season was about 20,000 (Novak et al. 1987), and the average in the 1960s and 1970s was about 13,000 (Strickland et al. 1982).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Fishers inhabit upland and lowland forests, including coniferous, mixed, and deciduous forests. They occur primarily in dense coniferous or mixed forests, including early successional forest with dense overhead cover (Thomas 1993). They generally avoid areas with little forest cover or significant human disturbance. The Fisher is adapted for climbing but is primarily ground-dwelling. It is a generalised predator with major prey of small to medium-sized mammals and birds, and carrion (Powell 1981).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: For information on use and trade, see under Threats.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): During the 19th and early 20th centuries the Fisher declined over most of its range because of excessive fur trapping and habitat destruction through logging. Aubry and Lewis (2003) stated that over-trapping appears to have been the primary initial cause of Fisher population losses in south-western Oregon. The high value of the skins, the ease of trapping Fishers (Powell 1993), year-round accessibility in the low to mid-elevation coniferous forests, and the lack of trapping regulations resulted in heavy trapping pressure on Fishers in the late 1800s and early 1900s (Aubry and Lewis 2003). Timber harvest can fragment Fisher habitat, reduce it in size, or render the forest structure unsuitable for Fishers.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently efforts underway to implement a conservation strategy to reintroduce the Fisher into its former range along the Pacific Coast. Genetic data indicate that British Columbia would be the most appropriate source population for translocations that may be necessary to recover populations in Washington and portions of Oregon and California (Drew et al. 2003). The species is protected in large tracts of habitat in areas well distributed throughout the range. The primary conservation measure necessary is to prevent excessive harvest.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

Bibliography [top]

Aubry, K. B. and Lewis, J. C. 2003. Extirpation and reintroduction of fishers (Martes pennanti) in Oregon: Implications for their conservation in the Pacific states. Biological Conservation 114: 79-90.

Coulter, M. W. 1966. Ecology and management of fishers in Maine. College of Forestry, Syracuse University.

Drew, R. E., Hallett, J. G., Aubry, K. B., Cullings, K. W., Koepf, S. M. and Zielinski, W. J. 2003. Conservation genetics of the fisher (Martes pennanti) based on mitochondrial DNA sequencing. Molecular Ecology 12: 51-62.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Kelly, G. M. 1977. Fisher (Martes pennanti) biology in the White Mountain National Forest and adjacent areas. University of Massachusetts.

Koepfli, K.-P., Deer, K.A., Slater, G.J., Begg, C., Begg, K., Grassman, L., Lucherini, M., Veron, G. and Wayne, R.K. 2008. Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation. BMC Biology 6: 10. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-6-10.

Novak, M., Obbard, M. E., Jones, J. G., Newman, R., Booth, A., Satterthwaite, A. J. and Linscombe, G. 1987. Furbearer harvests in North America, 1600–1984. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto, Canada.

Powell, R. 1981. Martes pennanti. Mammalian species 156: 1-6.

Powell, R. A. 1993. The Fisher: Life History, Ecology, and Behavior. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, USA.

Strickland, M.A., Douglas, C.W., Novak, M. and Huzinger, N.P. 1982. Fisher Martes pennanti. In: J.A. Chapman and G.A. Feldhamer (eds), Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Economics, pp. 586-598. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Thomas, J. W. 1993. Viability assessments and management considerations for species associated with late-successional and old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The report of the Scientific Analysis Team. USDA Forest Service, Spotted Owl EIS Team, Portland, Oregon.

Citation: Helgen, K. & Reid, F. 2016. Martes pennanti. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41651A101161196. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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