Winter Food Habits, Responses to Snow Cover
and Movements of Fisher
(Martes pennanti)
and Marten (Martes americana)
in Southeastern Manitoba

R. Michael Raine

Department of Zoology,
The University of Manitoba,
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
R3T 2N2

 

Present address: Golder Associates, 10th Floor, 940 6th Ave. SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 3T1

 

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Raine, Michael. 1981. Winter Food Habits, Responses to Snow Cover and Movements of Fisher (Martes pennanti) and Marten (Martes americana) in Southeastern Manitoba. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Manitoba. 145 pp.

 

Abstract

A trailing and radiotelemetry study of fisher and marten was conducted from August, 1978 to August, 1980 in the boreal forest of southeastern Manitoba.

Snowshoe hares composed 81% of the winter diet of fisher and 53% of the diet of marten. Marten displayed more subnivean and arboreal activity, and ate more microtines and squirrels than did fisher. Fisher ate marten twice. Both fisher and marten were found to pursue hares actively for distances of up to 1 km.

Fisher were found to be restricted by the soft, thick snow cover that was present during midwinter. Fewer tracks were observed at this time, and fisher travelled upon snowshoe hare trails and their own trails to a greater extent than in either the early winter period of thin snow cover or the late winter period of crust conditions. Fisher were also found to walk through the snow cover and leave a body drag in mindwinter.

Marten did not appear to be hindered by soft snow cover to the degree that fisher were. Marten tracks were encountered with equal frequency thoughout the winter and they never left a body drag in the snow cover. They did travel upon hare trails and their own trails to a greater extent in the midwinter, but never as much as did fisher.

Two juvenile, female fisher had winter home ranges of from 15.0 - 20.5 km2, while other juvenile females and males dispersed from the study area after their release.

One juvenile, male marten had a home range of 9.6 km2 in early winter, while another wandered at random in late fall and early winter, but appeared to have a permanent home range of 8.1 km2 by the following spring. A juvenile, female marten had seasonal home ranges of from 6.0 - 8.4 km2.

A fire that swept through the study area in May 1980 caused one male marten to disperse 61 km, while a female marten did not alter her home range during the 2 months that radio contact was maintained.

 


 

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