fisher cat versus badger dog.

A few days ago, we were woken up in the middle of the night by a dreadful sound outside.

It sounded sort of like a cat, but it also had an eerie aspect to it, like a little kid crying.  The dogs woke up and dashed into the garage to start their whole defend-the-homestead routine.  When the dogs started barking, the strange yowling stopped.

Someone at Robin’s work mentioned that we have fishers in New Hampshire (locally called “fisher cats”), so it could have been one of those.  Fisher cats are mustelids, like martens or wolverines.  I did some reading on them, and the general consensus seems to be that they can be a danger to small house pets–they consider cats a prey animal, and they’ll kill house cats they come across on their nightly sojourns.

Does anyone out there in Intertubes-Land have experience with fishers (or similar mustelids), and the danger they’d pose to a standard-sized dachshund?  Ours can roam the area around the house, and I want to know if a solitary fisher would tackle a 25-pound dog.  Dachshunds are bred for going after European badgers, so a fisher cat would fit squarely into their natural target profile, and ours generally roam together anyway…but I’d rather not run the risk of having a disemboweled dog in front of the garage one morning.


31 thoughts on “fisher cat versus badger dog.

  1. LabRat says:

    I would actually be less worried that a fisher would see a Dachshund as prey than I would be that the Dachshund would chase the fisher- like most mustelids, they’re fearless and pissy well beyond their size, and could quite possibly kill a pursuing dog.

    Me personally, I’d limit unaccompanied canine explorations after a certain hour. Around nine seems to be when the nocturnal predators first really start to roam ’round these parts.

  2. LabRat says:

    ETA- I don’t know what your dogs’ bloodlines are, but even a working terrier or teckel from immediate working parents needs experience with its prey, the more dangerous the more needed- fishers and other mustelids are not exactly a beginner’s game.

  3. Snake Eyes says:


    I guess I never knew there was more than one size Dachshund and the idea of one weighing 25 pounds is making my brain ‘splode. Could you post a picture of these critters, please? (I did a web search, but didn’t *easily* find suitable images)


  4. Paul Simer says:

    I’ll second what LabRat said about experience. Just because your domesticated dog was bred to deal with a certain type of enemy does not mean that they will properly engage it when the time comes. They may go after it, but I’d be worried about the outcome of that fight, since the wild enemy has undoubtedly been in a few scraps before.

  5. vinnie says:

    The one I had as a kid would have had no problems with a fisher.

  6. William the Coroner says:

    I would err on the side of caution. Not only are there fishers in New Hampshire, there’s the odd bobcat, and that other mustelid, the skunk.

  7. theflatwhite says:

    If you continue hearing the martens, my suggestion would be to set a few traps after dark when the dogs are inside.

    Since you’ve expressed a squeamishness in the past for dispatching even “domestic” insects, you may want to stick with a box trap (and relocate them) – especially so if they aren’t in season. I believe fishers do have a limited season in NE, and their pelts aren’t worthless.

  8. steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) says:

    Well, this article is about as clueless as you would expect for a city paper, but it’s got a little info.

  9. Marko says:


    I may leave the spiders in the hallway corner to their business, but I’m not squeamish at all about killing anything that poses a threat to my kids or pets.

    If Mr. Mustelid/Bobcat/whatever gets into rifle range around the house at dusk or dawn, I’ll do my best to turn him into a pair of gloves, trust me.

  10. Tam says:

    More than one indoor dog of a hunting breed has been sent to the vet by an 8-lb feral alley tom simply because it had no experience with anything more dangerous than a rawhide bone or its master’s sock.

    …and an 8-lb feral alley tom is a cream puff compared to a 10-lb fisher or a 25-lb ‘yote.

    • Sabbie says:

      Most peeps don’t realize the anatomy of a weasel, fisher cat, or even a cat is so much more devastating pound for pound than a dog breed. A 12 pound fisher cat would easily hold its own.

  11. Mark Pixler says:

    Don’t take any chances. Having lost two cats to unknown predators (from the looks of things, feral cats) recently, I don’t let my animals out of the house unless I’m watching them. Sounds like a job perfectly suited for something chambered in .223 Remington loaded with hollowpoints.

  12. theflatwhite says:

    Sorry. I …err… sit corrected.

    Just be careful about turning the critters into hand-wear when they aren’t in season. I believe NH trapping for fishers is Dec 1-31…

  13. Mithras61 says:

    I grew up in northern Wisconsin. Fishers were hunted to extinction in that area, reportedly because they are aggressive to any and all animals up to about 3 to 4 times their own size (roughly up to 60 lbs, as I recall) that they come across in their range.

    The Wisconsin DNS has recently reintroduced fishers to the region resulting in a few cases of lost pets attributed to them, and much hue & cry about it, including rumors of toddlers being attacked by them. DNS claims reports of attacks on small children are merely rumors and are unsubstantiated.

    I have seen stuffed fishers on display since I was a young boy, and the size listed in many online info sites for them is pretty small compared to the ones I’ve seen (I know of a stuffed one that was about 24 inches tall when standing upright on its rear legs and was reported to have weighed close to 25 pounds – a large one, and probably an outlier on the size charts for them).

    My parents have an Australian Shepherd, a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Basenji, and they will not let the Basenji out by itself because they believe there is evidence that a fisher lives and hunts in the area, and they don’t want to lose her to it. The shepherd & the ridgeback are big enough that they don’t worry about them.

    Sorry for the reports on this with little to back it up other than the verbal histories of the region. I’d keep the dachshunds inside after about 8 p.m. if I were you.

    • katzenjammer says:

      I currently live in No. WI and spend a goodly amount of time wandering about the ‘wild places.’ I have never seen a fisher face to face but have seen their tracks. They are part of the eco-system just as wolves, bears, fox, eagles, geese etc etc are. Just what is the point of shooting/trapping everything that moves? Sounds pretty sick to me. If it’s all that difficult to see to the safety of companion animals, perhaps it’s best not to have them. I have seen to it that my cats know the rules eg no leaving the yard, and they abide by them. All except one that is. He was semi-feral when I rescued him off the streets. He keeps protesting that he knows how to take care of himself. I live in a small town and a fisher has been reported just across the river. I worry less about him than about any and all humans. They’re the killers on this planet.

  14. OrangeneckInNY says:

    How about getting a bigger dog to protect the smaller ones, say, a Border Collie??

  15. lenf says:

    Marko, I live here in NH and have seen Fishers, wolverines, bobcats, grey & red fox, and coyotes since I was a teen and spent a good deal of time in the woods. There’s a fisher living around the house right now. We hear him in the spring and summer at night sometimes. A hoarse sort of coughing, hooting and barking. Hard to describe to someone that hasn’t heard it. Unmistakable when you do. I have seen tracks within 25′ of the house. I had a good look at one late last winter. I was out early looking for red squirrels and saw this guy 20′ up in a maple tree about the same time he saw me. We looked at each other for a few seconds and he started climbing down the tree. Head first. He was big. Easily 25 pounds and probably more. When he was about 5′ from the ground he looked at me again “what are you lookin at punk?” He sized me up and went on his way. I was loaded with #4 shot and at the 50′ or so that separated us could have taken him easily, but saw no need. He walked off toward the neighbors. You won’t often get a chance at a shot. They are territorial and that would probably pose the greatest threat to the dogs. The stories you hear about them killing for pleasure or out of cussedness I think are baseless and are probably due to their protecting their territory. On another tangent, I have shot over a hundred red and grey squirrels within 300 yards of my house in the last three years. I leave the bodies where they fall and none of them lasts more than two days. Most are gone the next morning and a few the same day, all without a trace. Season is from 1DEC to 31JAN, no daily limit, 15 per year. You will need a license if you leave your property, otherwise, bang away. I don’t want to even think about live trapping one. I’ve trapped loads of raccoons in box traps. The little ones are dumb and playful. The adults are big, steady, and angry. I can’t imagine a fisher in the same box.

  16. MedicMatthew says:

    The only knowledge that I have of fishers is that they are merely fur wrapped around vicious.

  17. OrangeNeckInNY says:

    You can thank PBS tree-hugger from the 80’s, Marty Stouffer, for reintroducing Fishers back into Wisconsin. He handraised a mating pair to maturity before releasing them back into the Wisconsin wilds.

  18. E says:

    Hm, freaky, that projo article. I live in southern rhode island (no jokes, please) which is relatively rural and haven’t seen/heard any yet. The local outfitter has one stuffed inside the store. I do worry a bit about my cat, but there are actually quite a number of cats in the neighborhood now, so it probably seems like already-claimed territory to a wild weasel. At least that’s what I keep telling myself…

    Not long ago, there was a local problem where a rabid fox attacked some homeowner with a weedwhacker. The homeowner had the weedwhacker, that is. That fox must have been REALLY rabid to go after such a large critter who was carrying such a nasty weapon.


  19. Al T. says:

    I don’t think it was a fisher – from your description it sounds like a bobcat or perhaps a lynx.

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  21. lenf says:

    Was that ‘bang’ or ‘bong’?

  22. BobG says:

    We have some of those in our mountain areas; they can be vicious little buggers if provoked. They are fairly quick (most of the mustelids seem to share that in common), and will protect their territory if they feel threatened.

  23. crankylitprof says:

    I’d be wary. Fishers are aggressive little bastards and generally (like chihuahuas) sixty-pounds of pissed off in a ten pound bag.

  24. Avenger29 says:

    If you trap, and I think that’s the most efficient way of dealing with nocturnal pests (feral cats, raccoons, etc)…I like to throw a tarp over the cage and run a pipe from a car exhaust under the tarp and idle the car for a little while and gas the animal.

    Many people submerge the cage into water and drown the trapped animal, but I prefer gassing them with CO because it’s painless and humane. And not messy.

  25. Vaarok says:

    Connibear, fish guts. Fishers are probably about the meanest animal in the northeast, like a siberian-death-badger or a war-ferret embiggened with rage. However, by the sound of it, that was not a fisher, it was more likely a bobcat.

  26. Dawn says:

    Fishers WILL KILL ALL PREY THEY CATCH!! I have an 11 pound dachshund and I watch her like a hawk as we have fisher problems. As of right now I have one in my live trap which was set up to help get rid of the coons. In the past we have released but now we are “recycling” them. Reintroducing them into Northern WI was just a thoughtless plan to reduce the porcupine population. I know this for a fact. I was working for the Nicolet National Forest at the time of release and I protested fiercly. Fishers have now become my worst nightmare (and have way over populated themselves…DNR says that is a good thing). I never want to hear my dog being hauled off screaming in agony until the final bite is presented. Recycle is the best way to go for fishers!!

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