Priory Press team is heartened to learn of the reintroduction of pine martens to our woodlands in the UK. The pine marten population in England and Wales is so low as to be functionally extinct– in other words, the species has not been able to form viable long-term populations without a human intervention. One such intervention is the project called the Pine Marten Recovery Project being led by the Woodland Trust (in conjunction with Vincent Wildlife Trust, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Chester Zoo and POLECAT).
Around 6,000 years ago, the pine marten was one of the most abundant British carnivores, with an estimated population of almost 150,000. However, extensive habitat loss through deforestation, persecution and trapping meant that by the end of the 19th century the species was confined to the most remote areas of the British Isles such as north-west Scotland.
Encouragingly, in the latter half of the 20th century the pine marten’s distribution has slowly increased across Scotland and Ireland. In the rest of the British Isles the story is different; there has been evidence of its occurrence in parts of Wales and Northern England, in the forms of sightings and faeces, but examples have been sporadic and unreliable. It is certainly the rarest carnivore in England and Wales.
A number of pine martens were brought from the Scottish wilds to an area of mid-Wales after two years of feasibility reseach.
“We are delighted to have these four new partners on board. Not only have they provided a welcome early financial boost to the project, but will also bring with them additional expertise and resources.”Initially this much-needed funding will be used towards community engagement, the transporting and releasing of the animals to Wales and on-going research to monitor the animals’ movements,” said VWT’s Chief Exec, Natalie Buttriss.
Pine Marten Facts:
- A native mammal of Britain and Ireland, the pine marten is a medium-sized mustelid (weasel family) and relate to the mink, polecat, stoat and weasel. Adult pine martels are simialr in size to a medium-sized cat. Males are a third larger than the female of the species.
- The pine marten has a slim body and a thick and bushy tail coat. Its fur is rich brown with a cream coloured ‘bib’ on the throat and chest.
- The pine marten probably arrived in the British Isles and Ireland soon after the end of the last glacation (9,500 years ag0). A woodland animal it’s number would have been great because of the increased amount of tree cover in the UK. It’s been suggested that 6,500 years ago the pine marten was the second most common predator in Britain.
- Pine martens are solitary by nature for most of the year. Each adult occupies a home range of 20 to 3000+ hectares depending on the quality of its habitat.
Photos sourced from: https://eremozoic.wordpress.com/tag/pine-martens/