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Pine marten recovery project

Britain’s first wide scale carnivore recovery scheme is underway. Thanks to The Pine Marten Recovery Project, native pine martens from Scotland are beginning a new life in Wales, with more to come.

The problem

Pine martens are one of the rarest mammals in Britain and, although they are making a comeback in Scotland, they are still perilously close to extinction in England and Wales. Once widespread throughout Britain, persecution and deforestation caused pine marten populations to decline dramatically. By 1915, they had disappeared from everywhere but north-west Scotland with smaller, scattered populations in the uplands of Wales and northern England.

Today, pine martens are doing well in Scotland. In England and Wales, however, it seems that numbers dwindled to a point where recovery was unlikely without a helping hand.

The solution

radio tracking pine martens by NICK UPTONThe Vincent Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Recovery Project is helping restore pine martens to suitable areas throughout England and Wales. Following two years of background and preparation work, a pilot reinforcement was carried out in mid-Wales.  Over three years Pine martens were annually released into a large area of well-connected woodlands.  These are taken from robust populations in the north of Scotland and are boosting numbers and genetic diversity, so that the endangered population in mid Wales can recover.

The return of a healthy pine marten population could provide benefits beyond the re-establishment of one of Wales’ Pine-Marten-(6)-credit-Colin-Smithrarest and most charismatic mammals. It should help bring more income to the local economy through ecotourism, as is the case in Scotland. Furthermore, reports from Ireland suggest that in areas where the pine marten is recovering, there have been declines in grey squirrel numbers to the benefit of native red squirrels. Such interaction could well occur in Wales and research is ongoing into this relationship.

Update

The Welsh Pine Marten Project has so far successfully relocated 39 individuals from donor sites owned by Forestry Commission Scotland. The relocated pine martens have now begun to bred with the first Welsh born kits being spotted in early summer 2016. This is a great step towards the population becoming sustainable and we are hoping to see the first kits being born to these Welsh pine martens in 2018.

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