Rare wildlife sighting for Ottawa


I was surprised to find these rare images on my ‘back field’ trailcam after checking it this weekend.

This little guy passed through on New Year’s Eve just a couple of hours before the arrival of 2013!

Of the over 500, 000 trailcam images I have taken since moving to Ottawa 14 years ago, I have never captured an image of this particular animal. In the forests north of town they are certainly more common, but within City Limits I would say they are a rare sight indeed.



With most of the deer gone from around my property for the winter, this little guy is a sight for sore eyes.

Soooo, can you guess what fur bearing animal this is?? Here is a close-up shot:




50 thoughts on “Rare wildlife sighting for Ottawa”

  1. It’s a fisher….my namesake, LOL. He’s probably feasting on some of the porcupines in your neighborhood.

    1. Hey fishr, I thought for sure your namesake had more to do with actual fishing..hehe.

      So you think its a fisher then?

      Anyone else??


    1. I’ll let you guys go then I’ll share my theory on this later…

      Its always fun to capture new things on the trailcam..I also discovered today that the cottontail rabbits have learned how to jump-up into my deer feeder for food. That’s at least 2 feet in the air even with snow on the ground and, thanks to my (year round) ‘feeder’ cam, I have the pics to prove it!


  2. It looks a little small to be a fisher. I had a fisher in my back yard and it like a small bear cub with a very long bushy tail. I say it is a Martin.

    1. Tks Lynn!!

      That makes the count so far: 2 for fisher and 2 for marten.

      It’s a tie!!!

      Still waiting for the big guns to show-up with their opinion….i.e. Rick..Trapper…

      But before then I will share my theory. My first thought was a marten as its features seemed too ‘dainty’ to be a fisher – until I zoomed-in closer. Also the chances of actually seeing a marten this close to town would be like snowball in hell. I would say with almost 100% certainty that it is a fisher…and most likely a small female since the females are generally about half the size of the males. From a trapping perspective, these are the fisher you want to see as their pelts are much more valuable. From my perspective, though, since I no longer trap…it was just nice to see one in my back field.

      What Lynn saw was undoubtedly a large male fisher as I would too describe them as being a bit ‘bear cub’ in appearance. I know there was a fisher problem around town in the past…with family cats being snatched. Im not sure that a small female fisher like this one would take down a cat but you never know.

      And of course, as ‘fishr’ pointed out, they are the main predator of the porcupine..although you don’t see too many porkies around at this time of year.

      So, I guess with my vote..that makes it: 3 for fisher and 2 for marten


  3. I’ll go with fisher. Have seen a few in the area. Didn’t the ministry bring them in to get rid of the Porcupine’s?

    We where up at the cottage over the holidays and two of my boys where walking across the lake, on the way back they witnessed close to 30 coyotes coming of a nearby island, single file. By the time we got organized they where gone. There was a deer killed Friday night on the lake, It was as if the coyote’s skinned it with a knife. The hide was all that was left.

    1. oh and Imacdon, that’s an incredible story about the coyotes! Talk about ‘wolf-like’ behavior!!


  4. Fisher! I get a number of local fisher to mount every year – mostly road kill. Fisher are surprisingly common around Ottawa.

    The only martin I have mounted were not local. I know of no local records for martin. At least on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River.

    1. Ok, so with Rick and Imacdon’s vote that makes it:

      5 for fisher and 2 for marten

      To be honest, the real reason my thoughts turned to fisher was the fact, as Rick pointed out, seeing a marten around here would be near impossible.

      Even at our deer camp area in the Laurentians near Tremblant where my Dad and I used to trap, we only ever caught 2 marten in all those years. Of course, the further north you go, the more prevalent the marten becomes.

      Oh, and to answer Imacdon’s question…I’ve heard so many friggin rumours about MNR releasing aniamls in an attempt at ‘Biological Control’..ie. cougars, turkey vultures, fisher..but I’ve never known what to believe.


  5. Its hard to tell but by pictures with the round ears that appear big for its head i would say martin .. nice to see the whole body .. . dark time photos are hard to tell.. its a 50 50 chance lol

    1. Tks Chess, and yes it’s very difficult to id something from nighttime shots as there is no real indication of colour.

      Now it seems marten is starting to catch up:

      5 for fisher and 3 for marten


  6. opps forgot .. in my opinion the title gave it away and so did ricks comments.. fishers are quite common in the area and your title says RARE siting so either your lying or rick is lol

    1. Ok Chessy, I guess the really rare part was capturing the images on trailcam…within City Limits. I have seen other trailcam pics of fisher around but none within Ottawa.

      And to be honest, in my part of town these animals are rare…in the west and south I have heard reports of them, but not so much out my way.


  7. I KNOW they haven’t been known for their sightings but any chance it could be a mink..i remember as a kid they were quite plentiful around on the quebec side near luskville/quyon/shawville

    1. Well Mike, I did think of that too since they are also Mustelids – although you don’t often see mink up in the hardwoods that far away from water…and judging by its size in the second photo, it appears much too large to be a mink.


  8. This is a great way to learn more about animals… reminds me of the Lynx/Bobcat deabate we had a while ago.
    I have to put my vote on the Fisher simply because it is more common in this area. However, it’s ears and what appears to be a lighter coat makes it difficult to identify.

    1. Man, look what crawled out of the snowdrift right behind the mystery animal…its GPG!!

      Where the heck have you been, I was gonna send a search party after you?!

      Ok, so now we stand at:

      6 for fisher, 3 for marten, and 1 for possible mink


  9. Hey Jeff, I would guess this is a fisher but I have not seen many so not an educated guess, but rather going with the odds. I believe that I saw a Pine Martin on my cottage road quite a few years ago, at least my Indian buddy said that is what it was. I think your animal is too big for a mink based on the one I tangled with many years ago.
    I saw what I believe to be a fisher on the way home from work Friday night. Had to stop to let it cross the road. I think it might have been a fisher, but it ran funny (not like it depends on ground movement if that makes sense), then tried to slide on it’s belly on what little snow there was at the side of the road. Would a fisher do that? I thought maybe a small otter the way it humped across the road, but I thought they were dependant on water their food.

    1. johan, I would bet what you saw was an otter. That ‘sliding’ action is exactly what they do when travelling on land during the winter. They slide almost like a toboggan..neatest thing, if you’ve ever seen it!

      Oh, an apparently the marten we have here in North American are called American martens and not the Pine marten..which is its European cousin..


  10. HAHA Thanks for the welcome back!!

    I’ve been… well, lost in the urban jungle… but I have been checking the board from time to time. Glad to be back!

  11. To me it a fisher that was born this past spring. Hence the confusion with a Pine Marten as it hasn’t filled out to true adult size. About 15 years ago I called in a Pine Marten while calling coyotes just east of Calrlsbad Springs so I know there was at least that one in the Ottawa area at that time. At our huntcamp near Bancroft we often see both fishers and marten so I have no taht it was a marten I saw.

    1. Ok JMan, that does add a bit of intrique to all this…my house is prob no more than 15 KM from Carlsbad as the crow flies, so I guess it could have potentially been a marten.

      Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get a daytime pic which would certainly help.


  12. I don’t have any educated guess or input as I do not know enough about identifiying the difference between a fisher, marten and mink but I do see alot of these kind of animals when out trout fishing near Ompah or Calabogie. I must have seen at least half a dozen in a few outings last year alone. Speedy buggers. It’s great that you were able to catch those shots on the trail cam. Keep the sweet animal pics coming!

    On a side story my parents have a little dog (in Kanata) and the other day my mom looked out their window and there was a giant owl sitting in the tree just eyeing the dog. Safe to say now they stand near the dog when they let him out. The same day my brother took the dog out for a walk in the small forest across the street and there the owl was sitting under a tree eating a rabbit, fur everywhere. My brother was able to walk within a few feet of the owl before it picked up the carcass and flew off. I was cursing him for not getting pictures of that ordeal. Amazing what you can capture on those trail cams!

    1. Well Brad, if you think those images are goood, wait till you see the shots I have of ‘bionic bunnies’ who can jump 2 feet up into my deer feeder..hehe

      Sounds like you have your share of wildlife around too…time to go get yourself a trail camera!

      An old buddy of mine was an owl expert…and I was suprised to learn how many different species we have in this region. A few winters back, the Great Greys will all over the place. Had something to do with lack of forage in the usualy winter areas…I actually found a Great Grey hit by a car that year. If I recall, we got the proper paperwork and Rick mounted it for him.

      I even swear I saw a barn owl on my road one very early morning years ago, but my expert buddy claims they are extremely rare and it was unlikely I saw one. They are incredible animals that’s for sure more than capable of taking a small dog…and not sure I’d ever capture a trailcam image of one. I do, however, have pics of another rare noctural beast – the flying squirrel.


  13. My vote is Fisher. Based on the thick neck and darker fur. (It’s just a guess however)

    According to Author A.L. Karas in “North to Cree Lake” Fisher are called “Thatcho” an Indian name that means “big Martin”

    1. Trapper, I agree the fur does appear to be ‘blackish’ or at least darker than brown, although as many have said its hard to tell in a nightime image.

      Speaking of fisher, from a fur management perspective..what was the highest they went for last winter, and what is the average price difference between an average male and female pelt?


  14. Definitely a fisher and I saw one on trail cam consistently at a buddy’s land near Munster.

    1. Hey Keebler, Munster is technically outside of City limits, right? Special yes, but not as impressive as within town..hehe


  15. small fisher jeff , lots of them around north gower area as well ive got loads of trail cam pics of them

  16. I would say fisher also.In the Stittsville area we have lots of them. I probably saw 6 different ones this fall.The closest one was one that almost ran across my boot that was propped on a log that he decided to run along.They are truely remarkable little guys.Weather it be a dog or a cat i would not want those meat hooks they got confronting me.The smallest i saw was maybe a foot long(tail not included).And the biggest was about 21/2 to 3 feet long(without tail) and he was a beauty.

    1. Trapper, I assume that $115 pelt was a nice dark female?

      Man, almost getting back to prices of days gone by!


  17. Jeff, in the Renfrew area Trappers there enjoy an open quota on Fisher there’s so many there. I’m not surprised to see them down your way. My prediction is that they will one day be as common in urban environments as the Raccoon. On a good note they do keep stray cats under control.

    1. Hey Iggs, welcome back..hope all is well.

      Love to see a pic of your mounted fisher…is it a male or female?


    1. hehe Iggy, was more just wondering about its overall size..the fisher I mean..like is it a lot larger than the one in my photos?


  18. no my Fisher is not a big one, I came across a huge one, dead in the middle of the road once going to the hunt camp, wish I’d kept it, it would have made a dandy mount

  19. 🙁 Saddens me know people treat animals as such. They are living, breathing, feel pain, have families, and feel emotion. what makes it okay to trap(horrifying) kill, skin them for fur??? and they are lucky if they are killed before skinning.. 🙁 horrible..horrible..

  20. I moved to Calabogie late last January, and have saw one living fisher and one dead one. We moved from Chatham Kent where there are no predators. We are careful with our dogs, but our cat is still living. He comes and goes, we can’t keep him in. We have had bear at our door, coyotes and fox in our yard. Also the nicer critters like deer and turkey. A different way of life up here for sure, and we are adapting. Still worry about our pets. We have our fire arms license and hunting. Enjoyed reading all the comments.

  21. i live in the lanark highlands where we have an extreme abundance of fishers and a decent population of pine martins. a pine martin has a weasel like slenderness to it and also has a cape of yellowish biege around its neck. at the cottage on a small lake off the big rideau we have a colony of martins in a tree plantation. what you caught in this picture is 100% fisher. whether its a young juvi or a small female im not sure but fisher all the way.. also if you look at the ears they are not robust enough or spread apart enough to be a pine martin.

  22. also when i lived in ottawa in the south end i would often see fishers in the macarthy forest scurry up trees as i would walk the dog past. lol.

  23. There’s a road kill of a similar animal I passed on Gregoire near 400. And saw another crossing 8th Line (3km due west) about 3ft long and 8inch in diameter from head to tail. Martin​ is out. Vote Fisher.

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