Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers
"People were upset because their cats were being taken in broad daylight in the city. I remember in one instance they had a window down low and the screen removed. A cat was just sitting there in the open window and that was all the fisher needed to take the cat."
-- John Hall of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Wildlife officials have come up with an ingenious new plan to kill cats and it involves the reintroduction of a weasel-like animal known as a fisher to the densely-populated northeast.
Martes pennanti weigh between four and fifteen pounds and are between two and four feet long; the disparity in size, called dimorphism, is accounted for by sex with males being approximately twice as large as females. They have dark-brown pelts with black legs and tails. Some of them have white fur on their chests. (See photos below.)
Their real advantage as predators comes from their hind paws which can be rotated one-hundred-eighty degrees; this allows them to descend trees headfirst which is something that even cats cannot do. They also have razor-sharp teeth and are known for their eerie cries which are reminiscent of a child screaming.
They have traditionally preyed upon mice, shrews, rabbits, and porcupines but since their reintroduction to the northeast they have acquired a taste for cats. As the result, hundreds of house cats and probably thousands of feral cats from Maine to New Jersey have fallen victim to these rapacious predators in recent years.
Although their traditional habitat ranged from the Sierra Nevada to the Appalachians as well as New England, southern Alaska, and most of Canada, fur trappers during the nineteenth century eliminated just about all of them from the northeast with the exception of parts of New York and Maine. In the 1960s, wildlife officials transplanted one-hundred of the animals from Maine to Vermont and by a decade later they had migrated into Massachusetts.
More recently, wildlife officials have reintroduced fishers into Connecticut and Pennsylvania and the animals are now found throughout the Garden State. It is unclear whether they have wandered in on their own from the Keystone State or have been reintroduced on the sly by devious wildlife officials.
They were ostensibly reintroduced at the behest of fur trappers as well as to check the porcupine population. They kill porcupines by repeatedly biting them in the face until they bleed to death after which they turn them over and eviscerate them. It is unclear just what crimes the porcupines committed in order to deserve such a ghastly fate.
There is no denying, however, that wherever they have been reintroduced cats have begun to disappear shortly thereafter. For instance, in 2004 fishers were killing cats in the center of Rutland, Vermont.
"People were upset because their cats were being taken in broad daylight in the city," John Hall of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department told the Boston Globe on August 25, 2005. (See "On the Wild Side: Once Nearly Extinct, Weasel-Like Fishers Thrive in the Suburbs, Where Their Ravenous Feeding Habits Threaten Family Pets.") "I remember in one instance they had a window down low and the screen removed. A cat was just sitting there in the open window and that was all the fisher needed to take the cat."
In the Bay State, fishers are now found from Westford to Worcester and from Lowell to the Cape. Of the ten to twenty cats that are reported missing each week in Boston's northwest suburbs several are thought to be the victims of fishers.
In New Jersey, they have been sighted in the northern part of the state and as far south as Hopewell, near Princeton. Par exemple, Hopewell resident Diana Cooper strongly suspects that injuries sustained by her cat, Fortune, on two separate occasions last year were inflicted by fishers. (See photo at the top of the page of her and Fortune.)
Erika Templeton, another resident of Hopewell, recently witnessed her cat, Penny Lane, being chased by what she believes to have been a fisher. Her neighbor, Kate Dresdner, also saw what she thought was a fisher last month while she was walking her dog. An unidentified man living seven kilometers away in Pennington believes that two recent attacks on his cat were also perpetrated by fishers.
As is their usual modus operandi, wildlife officials are oscillating between ignorance and downright callousness. After first stating that it was unlikely that fishers were even in the Garden State because of the level of development and volume of vehicular traffic, Mick Valent of the New Jersey Division of Wildlife was forced to make a clean chin of things after he was shown a photograph of one of them on the prowl.
"I think it's kind of neat that they're coming to New Jersey," he finally admitted to The New York Times on July 4th. (See "A Cat Fight? Sort of, Only Louder and Uglier.")
Valent also downplayed the threat posed by fishers to cats. "There's more to be concerned about with bobcats and coyotes, and even dogs that run around," he said. Earlier, Julie Robinson of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department had the audacity to tell the Boston Globe that attacks on cats by fishers were "folklore."
Valent's and Robinson's callous disregard for the lives of cats and the feelings of their owners is seconded by Trina Moruzzi of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife who told The Times, "There are a lot of threats to cats." She went on to utter the non sequitur that a single fisher was unlikely to terrorize an entire town's feline population. Being a biologist, she is acutely aware that where there is one fisher there are bound to be plenty more of them.
Of course, it is entirely predictable that wildlife officials would take the side of fishers since trapping them is big business in Massachusetts and elsewhere. On its web site, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife wholeheartedly endorses the diabolical American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors campaign.
Hopewell Animal Control Officer Belinda Ogitis is not even ready to admit that fishers have moved into southern New Jersey. "We would be losing cats. We would be losing small dogs" if that were the case, she told The Hopewell Valley News on June 28, 2007. (See "Nocturnal Cat-Eating Predator Stalks Valley.")
Like Valent, Robinson, and Moruzzi, she is instead inclined to blame hawks, owls, raccoons, and skunks for the recent spate of attacks on cats. Moreover, she has announced that she will not act until she is either shown photographs, feline corpses, or trapped fishers.
The glee expressed by wildlife officials over the deaths of so many cats at the hands of fishers is nothing new. Last autumn, wildlife personnel in Washington State were in ecstasy after raccoons and coyotes invaded the backyards of residents in Olympia and Everett and killed dozens of cats and even a few dogs. (See Cat Defender posts of August 28, 2006 and October 2, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Marauding Pack of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene" and "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State.")
To fully comprehend the magnitude of the duplicity of wildlife officials it is important to keep in mind that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) exterminates tens of thousands of raccoons (10,518 in 2004) and coyotes (75,674 in 2004) at the urging of farmers and ranchers. Yet when residents in Washington State last year requested that cat-killing raccoons and coyotes be humanely trapped and relocated elsewhere wildlife officials refused.
To put it succinctly, wildlife officials do not have any qualms about killing the animals that they are sworn to protect so long as financial interests so dictate but when it comes to protecting the interests of homeowners they insist that wild predators have an absolute right to invade their backyards and to kill their cats and dogs.
As far as bird lovers are concerned, it almost goes without saying that they break out the champagne every time that a cat is killed. The New Jersey Audubon Society, for example, has repeatedly praised coyotes for the "excellent job" that they are doing by killing cats on Higbee Beach in Cape May.
As thoroughly reprehensible as their attitude toward cats is, wildlife officials, both state and federal, treat wild animals even worse. In addition to raccoons and coyotes, they also exterminate millions of birds, rabbits, foxes, beavers, opossums, prairie dogs, bears, cougars, wolves, snakes, and any other animals that either get in their way or becomes a hindrance to the financial interests that they represent. (See Cat Defender post of September 5, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at Behest of Capitalists.") These killings are in addition to the millions of wild animals that hunters kill each year with the blessings and assistance of wildlife officials.
Wildlife officials also slaughter with impunity animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. Most prominently, since 1998 the USFWS has gunned down eleven Mexican gray wolves. (See photo above.) It has killed an additional twenty members of Canis lupus baileyi while attempting to trap and radio collar them and removed another twenty-two of them from the wild. Consequently, only fifty-five of the animals remain in the wild.
"The greatest threat to the Mexican gray wolf today is the USFWS," Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a July 10th press release. (See "Hundreds of Scientists Warned Against Wolf Killing Before Feds Shot New Mexico Wolf.") "The Bush Administration has turned the agency into a wolf-killing machine. No wolves were shot by government agents until 2003; killings escalated to five in 2006 and are already at three this year. Two-thousand-seven is on a trajectory to become another record killing year."
The USFWS and state wildlife officials are also killing hundreds of wolves in Alaska and the Rockies either with guns, poison, or through their tagging initiatives. Hunters are also expected to be allowed in on the killing spree in Idaho and elsewhere out West almost any day now.
Wolves, like all animals, have become guinea pigs of both the scientific community and wildlife officials who view them as inanimate matter to be manipulated at will. Consequently they are forcibly bred in captivity, transported from one locale to another, trapped and tagged repeatedly and, ultimately, exterminated on the whims of morally-warped scientists and bureaucrats. (See photo above of caged Mexican gray wolves being bandied about by wildlife officials on horseback.)
When it comes to manipulating and killing animals for profit, fun, and ego enhancement, the United States is far from being the sole practitioner of these sinister arts. For instance, only last week Chris Dickman of the University of Sydney proposed that dingoes be reintroduced into New South Wales in order to prey upon cats, dogs, and foxes. (See photo below.)
While proclaiming this to be a measure aimed at protecting native wildlife, Dickman simultaneously proposed that sheepherders abandon their flocks and instead start slaughtering indigenous kangaroos for their meat. (See Sydney Morning Herald, July 10, 2007, "Fox on the Run as Dingo's Day Dawns.")
If implemented, this will be just one more in a long series of half-baked immoral conservation measures undertaken by the white imperialists that have ended in unmitigated disaster. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2006 entitled "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie.")
Once all the facts are examined a picture slowly begins to emerge concerning the true motivations and objectives of wildlife officials. They are first of all the pimps of farmers, ranchers, trappers, and hunters. Secondly, they have certain animals, such as cats, that they hate and want to eradicate.
Thirdly, like the scientific community, they want to play God by deciding which species are to be allowed to live and under what circumstances. (See Cat Defender post of May 4, 2006 entitled "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")
Like all other species, fishers are merely pawns in the life and death games that wildlife officials play with all animals, both wild and domestic. Nowhere in any of their actions is there any genuine appreciation or love for animals.
With the introduction of fishers, wildlife officials have scored a coup by presenting cat lovers with a fait accompli. As clever as they are, they have not, however, obliterated the right to private property and it is highly unlikely that property owners are going to tolerate for long fishers invading their backyards and killing their cats. Consequently, wildlife officials will eventually be forced to trap and remove the animals lest homeowners take matters into their own hands.
Fishers belong in rural areas where they are not a threat to cats. The trapping and killing of them for their pelts should also be proscribed by law.
Finally, the machinations of wildlife officials should be exposed and their authority to play Russian roulette with the lives of animals should be taken away by Congress and the state legislatures. By their actions they have proven themselves unfit to operate even a public toilet, let alone to decide the fate of millions of animals.
Photos: Laura Pedrick of The New York Times (Diana Cooper and Fortune), Anna Wojtowicz of Wikipedia (fisher), Wikipedia (fisher climbing a tree), USFWS (Mexican gray wolf and wildlife officials transporting wolves on horseback), and Joern Brauns of Wikipedia (dingo).