Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fisher using alternating walking pattern in deep powdery snow?

Dan writes:
I spent a number of hours tracking over the last weekend, and I'm
puzzled by something I observed in two different locations. We were
following what I decided were fisher tracks, but the trail pattern was a
bounding offset 2x2 weasel pattern about 10% of the time, and the
remainder of the time was an alternating step pattern, very similar to
gray fox. This was in about a foot of powdery snow, and it was
pretty-much impossible to count toes or determine much from the actual

In some places there was belly drag, but in others, just an alternating
pattern of leg holes.

It's possible that we were switching between the tracks of two different
animals, as the entire area on day two was criss-crossed with dozens of
deer trails. Or, perhaps this was a gray fox that liked to bound like a
fisher on occasion.

If you've ever come across an alternating fisher walk pattern, I'd like
to hear about it.


  1. Yes, I think fishers sometimes use an alternating walk, unless I've been totally misinterpreting what I see out there. See Lars' post 12/29 What a Drag Part 2. I thought the 2nd photo was an alternating walk.

    When I went out to Heath Hen to find Lars' mystery trail (fisher), conditions were deep, soft snow, as was the case for you last weekend. The animal was changing gait often, and sometimes using what looked like an alternating walk, though often a 2-2 or a 3-4 pattern. I don't think the alt. walk is uncommon for them. My impression is that they change gaits often, as they slow down and speed up, winding their way amongst the trees.

    A gray fox has much smaller feet than a fisher. Did you take any photos?