Biologists: Fishers show signs of recolonizing Ohio after nearly 175 years

Female mammal collected as roadkill in 2023 was pregnant, ODNR says.

Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

The fisher, a medium-sized mammal related to river otters and weasels, is showing signs of making a comeback in Ohio after nearly 175 years.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife on Monday confirmed that a female fisher collected last year as roadkill in Ashtabula County was pregnant. Although the fisher did not successfully give birth, the results are a sign that fishers are colonizing Ohio, the ODNR said.

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A fisher is a forest-dwelling carnivorous mammal that was extirpated from Ohio in the mid-1800s.

In 2013, Ohio’s first modern-day fisher sighting was confirmed. Since then, there have been 40 confirmed fisher observations across nine northeast Ohio counties — Ashtabula, Columbiana, Geauga, Harrison, Jefferson, Lake, Mahoning, Trumbull and Tuscarawas. Two-thirds of those sightings happened in the last three years.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife collects roadkill fishers found in Ohio, when possible, to determine age and test genetics.

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In February 2023, biologists collected two roadkill fisher carcasses from northeast Ohio. Recently received laboratory results showed that one was pregnant.

The Division of Wildlife said it anticipates natural reproduction in fishers will be confirmed in the coming years or may already be occurring as fishers move westward from established populations in Pennsylvania.

The Division of Wildlife relies in part on public reports to monitor Ohio’s growing fisher population, as well as black bears, badgers, weasels and bobcats. Report observations of these species, including photos or videos, to the Division of Wildlife via the HuntFish OH mobile app or at Contact your county wildlife officer to report roadkill fishers. It is not permitted to collect roadkill carcasses.

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