A recent ride to work along Battery Street in Burlington was a bit unusual for Jeff Botas. "I do that drive every morning. I don't normally see anything like that -- it was definitely an odd occurrence," he said.
What he saw ran by on four legs. "I saw a strange-looking, fury, black animal crossing over on College Street," Botas said. The next morning Botas' partner and their two dogs had a similar sighting from their Woodbury Road backyard. "The dogs were very distracted by something on the other side of the fence and whatever it was jumped up onto a tree and she got a good look at it," he said.
The two shared stories and went to the web looking for answers. "At first we thought -- we tried to rule out other things like raccoons or beavers or weasels, but none of the photos matched. We saw these photos of what looked like a small black bear with a long tail and it turned out to be a fisher cat," Botas said.
Field biologist Susan Morse works with the non-profit group Keeping Track and said the sightings could in fact have been a fisher. "They have a long tail that strikes people as being cat-like, but actually they are members of the weasel family and they have a long tapered face and short powerful legs," Morse said.
Vermont's Department of Fish and Wildlife is not reporting any recent fisher sightings in the Burlington area but Morse said she's not surprised to hear they may have been spotted on city streets. "Fishers have proven, in recent decades, to be very cosmopolitan, very adept at exploiting any number of habitat and food opportunities," she said.
Food opportunities like fruit and small rodents, and on occasion -- cats. "It's an opportunity kind of a thing. They'll go after what they can. They're not going to starve, so if a house cat is out there in the woods where it does not belong, it could very well become prey to a fisher," Morse said.
Botas is not too worried. It's just his dogs, Sisco and Tahoe, who regularly call his backyard home, and he says they do a good job fending for themselves. "They're two fifty pound dogs that always travel together, so I think they will take care of one another," he said. But it doesn't mean they'll stop circling the yard just in case their unwelcome guest returns.
Morse said the fishers are well suited to help control the porcupine population, and that efforts by the state to boost their numbers in Vermont have been successful.
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
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A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:31 AM EST2014-03-08 13:31:36 GMT
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. His office says Governor Peter Shumlin will be at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. While theMore >>
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:17 AM EST2014-03-08 13:17:30 GMT
We have some ideas for your Saturday. IRISH FESTIVAL The 19th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival kicks off today. There is a lecture about the role of Irish immigrants in the Civil War at theMore >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:28 PM EST2014-03-08 00:28:44 GMT
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there. More >>
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there.More >>