SciSun: So that’s where my missing sock went   1 comment

Scientists with the University of California are researching the quality of forests in the Sierra Nevada. One of the most hard-to-find animals living in the Sierra is the Pacific Fisher (Martes pennanti pacifica), a cat-sized relative of weasels and otters. Despite its name, the Fisher doesn’t particularly live near water (although it won’t pass up a fish dinner if invited); in fact, Fishers live deep in the forest, among older pine trees and dense overgrowth. They are generalist predators; meaning they hunt small and medium-sized wildlife but will also eat birds, eggs, berries, and even dead animals if they happen across one. And they aren’t afraid of what other predators usually avoid; the Fisher is the only known animal to catch and eat porcupines!

Pacific fisher UnivCA

Food in a sock. Coming soon to a restaurant near you!

Pacific Fishers are such an important part of the established-old-growth forest that they are an excellent animal to try and determine the overall health of the forest, and this is where the socks come in. Fishers are very smart, and you can’t just set some food out and hope a Fisher will come by with-no-questions-asked. So scientists place the food bait in a sock; then hang the sock on a tree; then place a camera nearby that only takes a photo if an animal tries to take the sock-bait. This way the Fisher is working for his food, so he thinks it’s worthwhile and he’s getting away with a free meal; the scientists can photograph every Fisher possible; and from this research determine if the forest is healthy enough for all the animals to survive and thrive. This work if even more important now, because the Pacific Fisher is in danger of becoming extinct.

So thank you to the UC Science Team, including scientists and researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the University of Minnesota for their work to help the Pacific Fisher, and the Sierra Nevada. And for these great photos.

Fox at Pacific Fisher bait station UnivCA

New forest sport: Sock Vaulting. This guy's pretty good....

Bobcat at Fisher bait station UnivCA

...but there's always some show-off. What a photo-hog.

There’s a lot more to learn about the Pacific Fisher and Sierra Nevada! You can start here, or your local library:

http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/ES_Kids/Fisher/es_kids_fisher.htm

http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/fishers.htm

http://www.fs.usda.gov/sierra

One response to “SciSun: So that’s where my missing sock went

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  1. I really like the sock acrobats.

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