CSI: The Forest

10-01-2007 // Hannah Schardt

RESEARCHERS, including fingerprint experts from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice, have discovered that fishers, cat-sized members of the weasel family, possess paw prints that are unique--like human fingerprints--and have developed a system that uses the prints to identify individual animals. Fisher populations, hit hard by deforestation in the northeastern United States, are rebounding, and scientists say the new system will allow them to monitor the species' health. So far, fishers are the only known carnivores with unique prints, though scientists suspect there are others.

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