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Friday, February 25, 2011

Setting Fisher Traps

Sasha and Elaina prepare a trap

We spent the majority of our time in the field setting seven box traps for fisher. These are live traps. They are essentially a wire cage with a door that closes behind an animal once it enters and stands on the trip plate. For bait, we used meat scraps. The traps are covered in a plastic garbage bag to keep the contents dry. They they are lined with wool so any animal caught will keep warm. All of that is then camouflaged with pine boughs which are themselves covered in snow to keep them in place. To help lure in fisher, there are two more components of the process. First, the traps are pre-baited for several days. To accomplish this, the trap is left closed and the meat is left in front of the trap, but under the pine branches. In this way, fisher are lured into returning. Secondly, a scent is added to a nearby tree to give the fisher's keen nose something to cue in on from a distance. They were using a skunk scent mixed in with Vaseline (to keep it water resistant and lasting longer). Our job was to stir up the scent spots to release some of the scent.

Here is Danika stirring up the skunk scent. A smelly job, but someone had to do it!

Danika took this photo of me placing the meat in the back of the trap. To give you an idea of how large the trap is, my right arm is completely extended and I still cannot reach the back of the trap. My job was to make sure the meat was in the back of the trap, there was nothing underneath the pan or foot plate and wool was tucked into the wire trap sides. We found fisher tracks at every one of the seven sites, but we also found fox, coyote and bobcat at some of them. Those animals are not likely to enter into the long trap, so this method is selective.  

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