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Sue Bush
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Early Morning Caller Not Human

By Susan Bush
04:22PM / Saturday, June 23, 2007

A fisher and its' sharp teeth
Pownal, Vt. - Police responding to an early morning report of a possible burglary in progress did encounter a suspect on a second-story porch but the interloper was not human.

Vermont State Police received a report of suspicious noises that sounded as though someone was trying to get into the house from outside the home at about 12:45 a.m.. Town Constable Joel Howard had just completed a night of town patrolling and heard a state police dispatcher relay information to state police officers. Howard said he contacted state police officers about the report and the officers asked him to go to the Barber's Pond Road address.

The residence, located between Hidden Valley and Niles School roads, is a double-wide mobile home situated along the western end of Barber's Pond Road. Howard said he arrived at the home and saw movement on the porch.

"I turned on the spotlight and got out of the car with the flashlight," Howard said.

After exiting the vehicle, he was able to see that the noises were being made by a large animal that may have been a fisher, Howard said.

"At first, I did think it was maybe a bear," he said. "It was a good-sized animal, much bigger than any kind of a house cat I've ever seen, but when I saw the tail, I knew it wasn't a bear."

The animal stared into the bright lights momentarily before it leaped from the porch and ran off into the woods, Howard said.

"It didn't want to stick around for tea and conversation, that's for sure," Howard said.

He notified VSP officers who were en route to the home that the "perpetrator" was an animal, he said.

Howard and VSP trooper Eric Howley investigated the scene and discovered a large paw print, Howard said. The animal investigated some garbage left outdoors and apparently ate some of the trash as well as suet used to stock an outdoor bird feeder, Howard said.

"How it got up onto that porch is something," Howard said, and noted that there are no stairs, ladders, trellis sections or beams that allow outdoor access to the porch. The animal most likely clawed its way upward along the building's exterior walls and then maneuvered over about two -and-a half feet of porch rail to get onto the porch.

The racket made during the climb is most likely what alerted the home owner.

Calls about the animal and the incident were made to a Bennington region game warden. VSP Trooper William Devineaux accompanied Howley to the scene.

Fishers, or "fisher cats" as they are sometimes dubbed, are not felines but, like weasels, are members of the mustelid family.

Fishers are nocturnal and are noted for uttering a very high-pitched, shrill shriek during their mating season. Fishers are among the very few animals that can kill a porcupine. Fishers can be 32- 40 inches lon in body and have an additional 12 to 16 inches of tail.

Male fishers are described as being considerably larger than females. The animals have sharp, retractable claws that are used for climbing. Fishers have been blamed for attacks on pet cats and also the disappearance of small pets such as cats.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.
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