Mystery Animal Identified As A Rat-Eating Weasel In the Bronx

June 25, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Spotted by a police officer near the Bronx Community College, this large animal was a mystery, until a biodiversity lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences identified it as a fisher. A member of the weasel family, fishers populate forest areas from Virginia to Quebec, but a rare to the New York City area. The last sighting of a fisher in New York likely occurred in the 1600s, in Manhattan.

The fisher has no natural enemies, has wide feet and claws, and can consume mice, squirrels, rabbits, and even porcupines, leaving just the bones. Zoologist Ronald Kays thinks there will be more fisher sightings in the Bronx, as the species is being driven to adapt to urban environment.

“No predator keeps a lower profile than fishers; if they can use their tunnel-running to hunt rats, and tree-climbing to get squirrels, they could make a nice living in New York City,” Kay writes. “Fishers pose little threat to people.  Although they are rumored to kill cats, there is little evidence to support this idea.” The sighting “highlights the adaptability of wildlife if given a chance. (Image: Derek Lenart/Natural Sciences Research)