Fisher Management in New York
After the completion of the New York State Fisher Management Plan, regulations were adopted to: (1) reduce the fisher and marten trapping season from 46 days to 30 days in select Adirondack Wildlife Management Units (WMUs)in the Northern Zone; (2) establish a 6-day fisher trapping season in selected WMUs in Central/Western New York; and (3) require a free special annual permit for all fisher trapping.
The special permit allowed DEC biologists to collect biological data on harvested fisher and trapping effort data, information necessary to ensure sustainable harvest opportunities for this popular furbearer. After 5 years of data collection, what did we learn?
Since 2016, DEC issued a total of 9,785 permits for trapping fisher and/or marten in New York, an average of 1,957 each year. Based on activity logs submitted by trappers, between 60-70% of permittees went afield each year. Overall, 1,305 trappers successfully harvested at least one fisher since 2016: 303 in the Adirondacks, 781 in Northern/Southeastern New York, and 440 in Central/Western New York.
Since trapping participation and harvest can vary based on weather, pelt prices, and other factors, an activity log is the best technique for understanding the relationship between trapping effort and animal abundance by estimating the take per-unit-effort (TPUE, expressed as “take per 100 trap-nights”). Overall, the highest TPUE was in the Central/Western zone, where the 6-day season was initiated in 2016.
One of the permit conditions was that trappers must submit the lower jaw or tooth of all harvested fisher. It is possible to age fisher by counting the cementum rings on the teeth. We found that nearly 50% of New York’s fisher harvest is comprised of juveniles and over 90% of harvested fisher are under 4 years old. The oldest fisher harvested in New York since 2016 was between 9 and 10 years old and was harvested in Central/Western New York.
DEC biologists are continuing to analyze the data collected and compare results between regions. These data are crucial to our understanding of fisher populations in New York and will be used to reevaluate harvest opportunities for this species. All of this would not be possible without the help of New York’s dedicated trappers!
Note: At press time, regulations were pending to remove the requirement for the free special fisher trapping permit. Under the proposal a trapping license and pelt sealing would still be required for fisher. Be sure to check the DEC website before heading afield for fisher. A free special permit is still required for trapping marten in Adirondack WMUs.
Permit Requirements for Marten
A free special permit is still required to trap marten in New York. To receive a permit, contact the DEC Region 5 Wildlife Office in Warrensburg at 518-623-1240. You must provide the following information:
- Mailing address
- DEC ID # (from your trapping license or backtag)
- Phone number and/or e-mail address.
You can also apply by email to: email@example.com, type “Marten Permit” in the subject line. Please be sure to include the information listed above.
DEC wants to learn more about the occurrence of various furbearers throughout New York such as bobcat, otter, fisher, weasel, and snowshoe hare. Your observations help biologists understand the distribution and abundance of these elusive or inconspicuous mammals.
You can report your observations online, and you can even include photos!
Thanks for your help!
Adopt Trapping Best Management Practices (BMPs)
- Learn practical traps and techniques that improve efficiency, selectivity, & welfare of trapped animals
- Find out about specifications for traps that meet BMP criteria for each species
- Instill public confidence in and maintain public support for trapping
Visit www.dec.ny.gov and search “Trapping BMPs”