Hikers save fawn from fisher in Lewiston

Posted June 22, 2011, at 10:49 a.m.
Last modified June 22, 2011, at 1:37 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — Stanley Crowley was walking in Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary on Monday evening with his wife, daughter and a friend when a blood-curdling scream pierced the air.

“It sounded like a kid screaming,” he said. “The screech was unreal.”

The cries were coming from close by, he said. Following the sound, they discovered a 2-week-old fawn being attacked by a large, hungry fisher about 25 feet from the trail.

Not wanting to see the baby animal suffer, the group wielded sticks and forced the fisher back from the fawn. “She came back at us, like she wanted to attack us, too, to scare us off the deer,” Crowley said. “They’re pretty vicious.”

With the fisher still stalking the fawn just out of reach of the well-meaning hikers, Bonny Chabot called her brother-in-law, Dave, a Maine game warden.

Generally, “we’re not big on people interfering with wildlife,” Dave Chabot said. “You have to learn to respect nature.”

But with the hikers flustered and others coming to see what the commotion was about, Chabot told them to pick up the fawn and take it home, where he would meet them and pick it up. In the meantime, he told them to leave the fawn alone — “nobody touch it, nobody look at it, no pictures. Which is what they did.”

After he retrieved the injured fawn from the hikers, Chabot took it to the Animal Emergency Clinic on Strawberry Avenue in Lewiston. The clinic treated the fawn’s wounds, which consisted of bite marks and scratches to its throat, Chabot said. On Tuesday morning, he picked it up and took it to an animal rehabilitator in Turner, who in turn took it to a deer specialist in Norway to recover.

Fishers, also known as fisher cats, have a reputation for being fierce hunters. They are the only predators that eat porcupines, Chabot said. There are several reports of fishers attacking humans, including a 2009 incident in which one attacked a 6-year-old waiting for a bus in Rhode Island.

Seeing either a fisher or a fawn that close is unusual, said Crowley, an accomplished hunter. “Fawns will lay right down and hide.” Noting the irony of a hunter rescuing a deer, Crowley said, “It was pretty cool. We saved the deer’s life.”

“I’d never suggest that people interfere with nature,” Chabot said. He added that with so many people around, the incident’s outcome was best for all involved — except the fisher.

“That fisher was probably trying to feed her young back at her den,” he said. “That fawn deer would feed a lot of mouths.”

“It’s hard to see,” Chabot said. “You feel bad for both animals.”

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