Fisher at the
In early November of 2001, a local High Prairie resident
with the last name of Martin contacted the Fish and Wildlife Office
to report a fisher that had been killing chickens. An officer attended
and set a live trap in an attempt to capture the varmint. A couple days
later we had him. Officer Mirus, RCMP Corporal Pierson and I retrieved
the fisher and the trap and ventured off in search of the perfect location
to release and photograph our critter. We thought for sure that we had
the front cover of the Alberta Game Warden magazine all wrapped up.
With a fresh snowfall, the trees were covered and
the ground glistened in the early morning sun. We could see the headlines
We positioned our vehicles for the sun to be at our
backs. Officer Mirus was wearing his best pressed shirt and a fresh
haircut. There wasn't much we could do with his looks so we made do
with what we had. I cleaned the lens of my point-and-shoot and got into
position. Officer Mirus reached into the box of my truck to remove the
trap, but instead lifted the sliding door. In a lightening bolt flash
our varmint had his head out of the trap with a flurry of teeth and
nails. Everyone bailed for cover and watched our dreams of stardom dash
off into the beautiful snow-covered spruce. Officer Mirus hardly heard
another word about it.
That's an SUV, not a playground!
Fast-forward one year. It was late October 2002 and
the High Prairie Fish and Wildlife office had received a call from a
local area resident advising of an infestation of fishers. We were a
little apprehensive to believe the story of three fishers being such
Upon our arrival it was a little shocking
to see three fishers bounding from the front porch of the residence.
The resident explained that she could live with the critters occasionally
tearing the garbage bags apart or even the threat of attack, but she
had to draw the line when they began sliding down the windshield of
her 2002 Jeep Cherokee, scratching the hood in the process.
We went into action and within 24 hours we had our
first culprit. Again, we dreamed of a perfect picture for the cover
of the Alberta Game Warden magazine. But we didn't learn from our mistakes
so we sent Officer Mirus to retrieve the critter. It wasn't more than
30 minutes later that I received the dreadful phone call.
"You won't believe what happened,"
exclaimed Mirus. He went on to explain how our slippery culprit chiseled
his way through the floor of the transport trap and escaped, unphotographed,
Father-in-law to the rescue
The next capture occurred a few days later at approximately
8 p.m. I received a call at home informing me that we had captured another
member of the fisher trio. The outlaws (read in-laws) were in town visiting
and I asked my father-in-law Pete if he wanted to go along for the ride.
I loaded the trap and headed back to town to store the varmint in the
warehouse until daybreak, to get that elusive front cover photograph.
We arrived at the warehouse and I unloaded the trap and butted it up
to the holding cage. The father-in-law piped up to inform me, "That
cage will never hold him. He'll go right through those bars!"
In my wisdom I replied, "Pfffft, of course it
will hold." I lifted the trap door and in the critter went. I closed
the door and wired it shut. Done!
Within seconds the varmint had his head pried through
the bars, then one leg, then the other and then he was gone across the
warehouse to disappear into a pile of lifejackets. Beautiful! I went
back to my truck, got my catchpole and tested the loop. Returning to
the warehouse, Pete asked, "Where's mine?"
"Sorry, only got one," I replied.
We began the stalk. I occasionally caught a glimpse of black between
the lifejackets, hip waders and action packers. I snaked my catchpole
in and attempted to lure him into my trap; however, the next thing I
saw was the critter exploding from the pile in attack mode. I retreated
for cover only to discover the father-in-law had the exit blocked with
the box from our ice-fishing tent. Things really got tense when Pete
jumped from behind the box, banging an aluminum shovel and waving a
pair of orange coveralls. I never thought anything could climb sheer
aluminum siding but I witnessed it and can vividly remember the sound,
similar to nails on a chalkboard... times ten!
After scaling the wall the varmint dove back into
the pile. Trying to block out the heckling from the background, I resumed
the hunt. This time he entered the loop and I nabbed him. I started
to drag the miniature Tasmanian devil back to the cage when he grabbed
the front tire of one of the quads. I finally pried his grubby little
paws off and stuffed him back into the live trap.
The following day, Officer Rudneski and I picked up
our little friend and managed to snap some photos. Maybe, combined with
the pity this story should generate, the photo might make it to the
cover of the magazine. One day you may even see Officer Mirus on the
cover, if we can find something that doesn't involve handling live wildlife.
Steven Cross is a member of the Alberta Game
Warden Association in High Prairie.