The hunting cat knew what she was doing by wandering around the yard of Wellesley resident and photographer Shedd’s house. Shedd can make anyone look their best in front of the camera, as you can see in 11 seconds of glory for ‘Freddy’ Posted on social media this week (And we were allowed to participate).
This video is right there watching the 2018 movie Otter vs.Eel in Wellesley.
Hunting cats, or more accurately ‘hunters’ are famous for being ‘elusive’ – that’s the word everyone seems to use when describing this member of the weasel family. The only person I saw in the wild was skiing across Pond Road in Wellesley at dawn a few years ago while I was running. Pretty sure I quickened my pace when I saw him.
“This was our first time up close and personal, but we’ve seen it under bushes in our garden setting years ago,” Shedd said.
Jenny Smith, Wellesley’s animal control officer, says the only car she’s seen in town since she started in early 2021 has unfortunately been hit by a car. “Other than that I was only notified of this once, as a resident overheard one in their area,” Smith said.
Fun facts from Smith about animals is that they “remain active all year round and do not go into hibernation. Their preferred habitat is mixed forests with heavy cover, where they tend to avoid traveling in large open areas. They typically use hollow tree trunks, stone walls, tree hollows, and brush piles for comfort Hunters are carnivores. Their staple foods include small rodents, squirrels, rabbits, birds, eggs, fruit, porcupines, and carrion… Although they are accomplished climbers, most of their hunting is done on land.”
Lisa Moore, environmental education, outreach and compliance coordinator for Wellesley’s Natural Resources Commission, describes them as “one of the most misunderstood animals here.”
I’ve learned about it while working at Mass Audubon over the past 10 years, plus spotted it in her yard on occasion. One of its fun facts is that hunters can climb the tree first.
“It’s often called the Fisher Cat, which is a misnomer,” Moore says. “Belonging to the weasel family, they are neither a cat nor a hunted. These small mammals range in size from 4 to 16 pounds, and the females are smaller than the males. Males tend to be about three feet long and females about two feet long, in both sexes the tail makes up a third body length.
While I bought into the idea that hunters’ screams are among the creatures that keep me up at night, Moore says hunters’ screams are a misconception. “Hunters will hiss, growl, and chuckle, but they will not scream. Gray foxes can also climb trees and female calls during mating sound like the screams of a child or a woman.
Mas Audubon says Poachers were brought back in New England in the 1950s to control the porcupine.
“I don’t know if they bounced back or were reintroduced to manage porcupine numbers that exploded as the hunter retreated,” Moore says. “Porcupines can take out the lower part of the forest and kill trees by encircling them, eating the bark and under the bark of a tree around the entire trunk resulting in Killing the tree. Hunters are one of the few animals that will actively hunt and eat porcupines. Really illustrates the importance of a balanced food chain or food web.”
State MassWildlife Agency He encourages you not to “let poachers frighten you: feel free to frighten or threaten poachers with loud noises, flashing lights, or sprinkling of water from the hose.”
We are not sure if this last approach is an allowable use under Water restrictions outside the city…
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