TRANSCRIPT

INTRODUCTION

This is what Spring time looks like in the Northern Rocky Mountains. As I drive, a road-killed animal catches my eye. I'm curious, so I stop to investigate. If it's what I think it is, it's a creature that's not only rare in these Northern Rockies, but throughout the country.

The orphaned baby Fishers will starve unless I find them. Maybe their mother's final tracks will lead me back to the den.

Having read a little about Fishers, I know that the babies will surely be inside a hollow tree or log, so I bring along a hatchet.

For a while, the back tracking is easy. But I don't have much time. The tracks will become harder and harder to follow in this heavy, wet spring snow. After a couple of hours, I've almost lost the trail. Where would a mother Fisher make her den? Definitely in some protected place. But where?

MARTY SEARCHING FOR BABY FISHERS/FINDING THE DEN

I'm just about ready to give up. Then, I hear some crying. It's coming from under a downed tree. It could be the den.

MARTY:
"Hey, what are you guys doing in here? Hi! Okay, come here. Ah, brother and sister. A brother and sister. You're cute. You're so soft. Let's go home. Oh, you're cold. Let's go home. Let's go."

TIME-LAPSE SUNSET/TRANSITION TO DIANE AND HANNAH STOUFFER

DIANE:
"When Sam said. Who's that?"

MARTY:
"Anybody home?"

DIANE:
"Yeah. We're up here. Hi. Say, 'Hi, Dad.' How was your trip?"

MARTY:
"Good. I don't know what you're going to think about this."

DIANE:
'What? Think about what?"

MARTY:
"I have a surprise."

DIANE:
"Surprise?"

MARTY:
"Hannah, have you ever seen a baby Fisher before? Look at these. "

DIANE:
"Oh, they're so cute."

DIANE:
"Look."

MARTY:
"Feel them."

DIANE:
"Feel this one."

MARTY:
"You know what? We get to keep them."

DIANE:
"Oh, yeah?"

MARTY:
"Look at this one. Which one do you like?"

DIANE:
"Do they look the same?"

MARTY:
"One is a boy, and one is a girl. Which one do you like?"

DIANE:
"Look at this one. They do kind of look the same don't they?"

MARTY:
"Which one do you like the girl or the boy?"


DIANE:
"This one's the girl, and this one's the boy."

MARTY:
"Well, we can look and see, the boy or the girl?"

HANNAH :
"Girl."

MARTY:
"Do you think we should feed them?"

DIANE:
He's going to suck on your finger."

MARTY:
"Let me show you how we're going to feed them. Here, you can feed one although they might scratch you."

MARTY:
"Why don't you help me hold this one? Help me hold this bottle. Help me hold this bottle right here."

MARTY:
"Hold it up. Hold it up so the milk will lay down. Way up. Way up like this."

MARTY:
"You want to do it? Hold it up. Hold it up more. No, hold the bottle up like this."

MARTY:
"Do you think you've ever fed a baby Fisher before?"

DIANE:
"It's not easy. I think it was easier feeding you, Hannah, when you were a baby."

Luckily, they like the milk mixture It's a powdered bitch's milk substitute
made for puppies, seems to work fine for Fishers, also.

DIANE:
"They ought to sleep good after this."

Hannah seems happy with the new members in the family, and Diane never could resist a furry little orphan.

DIANE:
"It's a yawn."

MARTY:
"Well, I've kind of already named them. Well, supposedly Porky and Spud."

DIANE:
"'Porky' and 'Spud'."

MARTY:
"The female is Porky, 'cause they kind of eat Porcupines supposed to anyway, and the male is Spud."

Because he looks like a fat, little round potato. But not for long. They grow quickly on a bottle of milk every three hours.

MARTY PREPARING FORMULA

Two weeks later, both Fishers are starting to look more like what they are
medium-sized members of the Weasel family, somewhere between their better known cousins, the Mink and the Wolverine.

Now that they're getting more active, we move them into the basement.

Certain predators, like Fishers, hunt by continually exploring places where small animals might hide. Curiosity is their birthright. Also curious are their many names Black Fox, Pennant's Cat, and of course Fisher, the most popular one. Ironically, they do not catch fish. It's generally accepted that they earned their name by stealing fish bait from the trap lines of early fur traders.

HANNAH:
"Come here, baby. Come on baby. Come baby."

Although they'll grow up to be formidable hunters, right now what they need is milk.

MARTY:
"Do you think we should feed them? Can you feed it? Stand over here and help me."

MARTY:
"Help me feed this one. Right here."

MARTY:
"You have to put it in its mouth, 'cause he can't hold it too good, "

With their mother, the kits would have nursed for about seven weeks. Then, she'd start bringing meat to the den.

Soon, I'll begin mixing a little raw meat in with their formula.

CLOSE-UP OF FISHERS PLAYING

Even though they're becoming members of the family now, I remind myself that the Fishers are wild creatures and that some day they'll need to make it on their own. They're now three months old, just the age when their mother would start to take them out hunting.

TRANSITION TO THE OUTDOORS

HANNAH :
"They're they go finding some mice."

HANNAH:
"Baby Fisher."

Just like children, baby Fishers would rather play than go to school.

HANNAH:
"Baby fisher. Hi, baby fisher."

DIANE:
"They are going crazy."

MARTY:
"Well, the Fishers seem to like the wilderness, Hannah."

HANNAH:
"Yeah."

MARTY:
"Do you think?"
"Baby fisher."

MARTY:
"Well, the next thing we have to do is teach them to hunt."

MARTY:
'Who's this? Who's in our pack?"

HANNAH:

'What's he doing?"

HANNAH:
"He's just looking."

MARTY:
"He's looking. You know what he's looking for? He's looking for mice to eat. You know why? Fishers eat mice and squirrels and little things like that. And that's what we want to do. We want to teach them how to eat that stuff. Actually, I don't think we're going to have to teach them really. I think we just have to find some mice. You know?"

DIANE:
"Look at Hannah."

MARTY:
"There he goes."

HANNAH:
"Baby doodah."


MARTY:
'Where'd those Fishers go? Where'd they... Are they up in the woods there? Okay. Well, I'm going to take a walk with the Fishers. Okay? And, I want you to stay here with Mom. You know why?"

HANNAH :
'Why?"

MARTY:
"Because I want them to learn how to hunt. We're going to have them learn how to hunt mice and stuff."

DIANE:
"We'll watch Daddy, okay?"

HANNAH :
"We're going to watch him, okay?"

FISHERS CLIMBING TREE

They'd lived in a house for most of their short lives. But, the instinct
to hunt is strong in all predators.

LYNX KITTENS

Other animals, like these Lynx kittens, grow up watching their mother hunt.

The Fishers will have to learn on their own. They seem ready. Fishers are the most arboreal or tree-climbing of the Weasel family. They certainly don't need lessons in that from me! So, while Spud enjoys life at the top, I steer Porky in the right direction.

MARTY:
"Come here. Come here. Now, there's going to be some mice around here. Pay attention."

MARTY:
"Get ready. Get ready. Look. Get ready. Here. Here. Come here, Porky. Come here. Here's a mouse, right here."

MARTY:
"Oh, man. You can do better than that. Chase him!"

MARTY:
"Catch him!"

All the excitement catches Spud's attention, and he decides to join us.

MARTY:
"Get him. Get him out. Get him out. Get him."

MARTY:
"There he is. There he goes. Get him here. You guy. It's over. You're going to have to pay closer attention. Now, come over here. He's just. "

MARTY:
"He's hiding here. Right here, here's one!"

FISHER CATCHING GROUND SQUIRREL

MARTY:
"Porky, did you see that? You see what Spud has. Spud has a little squirrel." "Come here, Porky. Look at here. Look. Spud has a ground squirrel."

MARTY:
"Now, you need to catch one of those. And, both of you can eat 'cause I don't think he's going to share his. Come here, Spud. Oh, come here. Oh, you. Selfish!"

SPUD EATING HIS CATCH

Spud joined the hunt late, but finishes first by making the catch of the day. Their first outing in the real wilderness is off to a good start, but they still have a lot to learn.

TIME-LAPSE SUNSET/TRANSITION BACK TO HOUSE

And, I have a lot more to learn about Fishers. And, exactly how they live in the wild. As much as we like them, Porky and Spud can't stay with our family forever.

DIANE:
"Who's getting hungry? You getting hungry?"

Of course, Hannah thinks they're perfect playmates. She sees no reason for them to be locked up.

HANNAH:
"Come one, you guys. Come on. Come on out, you guys. Good boys. They're good boys."

HANNAH:
"Come, baby, jump!"

FISHERS RUNNING LOOSE IN THE HOUSE

Their curiosity is out of control. In the wild, it has a purpose. But,
in a home, it's a disaster.

MARTY:
"Come here, you. You, you're making a mess."

HANNAH:
"How 'bout that?"

FISHERS IN KITCHEN

DIANE:
"Oh, my good... Now, you guys. Come on! Marty! Hannah!"
'We're going to have to get these guys downstairs and back in their cages. That's it..." "That's it! I'm not cleaning up any more."

"Oh, now they're in the toilet paper, in the garbage. What else? What's next? That's it! Oh, sorry..."

"But you guys have to go downstairs in your cage."

"This is it. I think we've got to get rid of them today because they're just making too much of a mess. I can't they're. Look, look!"

DIANE:

"Come on, you guys, back in your cage. That's it! You've made enough of a mess. So, until we get you a bigger cage, you'll just have to stay in there, okay? We'll play later."

FLASH FORWARD OF NEXT EPISODE

Next week, see what life in the wild will hold for Porky and Spud. Before I can release the Fishers, I still have a lot to teach them, and they still have a lot to learn.

I take them on trips into the mountains that will one day be their home. Each time we go deeper into the wilderness. But are the Fishers too friendly for their own good? What will their curiosity get them into next?

As I release them, I wonder how , and if they'll survive their first Winter.

I'm Marty Stouffer. Join me next week. Until then, enjoy our WILD AMERICA.