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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Laura: "Hey, I brought some chicken home from work. It's in the van."
Me: "Excellent.", as I imagine chicken tenders or even (dare I dream?) wings. But what I find is much different. You see, my wife teaches high school seniors that plan to go into the medical profession. I have written about her program in the past as she conducts a deer heart dissection each year. On this day, the students practiced sutures by sewing up cuts made in chicken thighs. The lesson was taught by Dr. Sinclair who works in the ER at Geneva General Hospital. I carefully removed the stitches from each piece and cut the thighs into smaller portions.
Fisher
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)
Since I only have one camera trap deployed at the moment, I used the chicken as bait there. Our very first capture was the fisher that only recently showed up on our property (see my previous entry). I was excited to see him back and in the day time to boot!
Fisher are members of the weasel family. They are sometimes called "fisher cats" but they are not felines at all. I think that name comes from the long cat-like tail they sport. I am fairly certain this is a male due to the size. Females are about a third smaller. Below is the same photo but cropped down to have a closer look at him:


Fisher are essentially creatures of the forest. As I mentioned in my last post, they were eliminated
Close up of fisher
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)
from our part of the state many decades ago and are only recently making a comeback. When a mammal species expands its range, it is the males that are the pioneers. That makes sense. The males are the ones that disperse farther from their birthplace Who knows how long it will take for the females to catch up with this guy? Time will tell... Most weasels have a short snout (think otter) but the fisher has a bit longer of a nose than most. Not as long as a red fox or coyote mind you, but longer than any of the other weasels we have in NY.
I put out the chicken on March 23rd in the evening. I obtained these the following morning.
Here is the best shot from an artistic perspective:


Fisher
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)
During the morning visit the fisher did not take a single piece of chicken and I do not know why. At 7:09 PM he was back and this time he grabbed some of the bait. In all, he made five visits in a few minutes, taking some chicken each time. There was not enough time for the fisher to have eaten all the pieces so he must have been caching them.








Well, I have to admit he is looking pretty catty in this photo. These are the last photos to date of the fisher. That doesn't mean he isn't still around. Fisher can range over a large area and I have hopes that this guy will be a permanent resident.
With only five pieces of chicken missing, there was still plenty left. What would be the next species captured?







Red fox. The following morning, a red fox showed up. This first photo shows a nice fox in its winter coat eyeing up the chicken.
Red fox
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)
However, this next photo reveals a problem. This fox has mange. That bare spot on the tail is where the mites have burrowed into the skin. The mites cause hair loss and itching. The itching causes the fox to scratch which causes more hair loss.
Red fox with mange on tail
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)
The red fox made seven trips to cache chicken. Now, these bright sunny photos notwithstanding, this was a cold morning and although I had carefully cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, many of them froze together into a giant mass. Well, on the fox's final trip he grabbed the whole pile and dragged it away.
Red fox
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)
It took less than two days for all the chicken to get grabbed up by two very different carnivores. It wasn't all eaten of course and who knows if any of it changed hands again as caches sometimes get raided by others. The evening after this photo was taken, one more carnivore was captured by the camera. Perhaps this coyote smelled the chicken because it seemed to wander in front of the camera a bit and sniff around. What started as a classroom project ended as meals for at least two predators and some great photos for the blog. :)
Coyote
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/15)