The pine marten

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - Find out more at vwt.org.uk.

The elu­sive pine marten

THIS ELU­SIVE AN­I­MAL WAS HUNTED to the brink of ex­tinc­tion dur­ing the 1800s by those who cov­eted its highly prized pelt and game­keep­ers who saw it as a threat. Like many wild species, they also fell prey to habi­tat frag­men­ta­tion. How­ever, thanks to the con­ser­va­tion ef­forts of or­gan­i­sa­tions such as The Vin­cent Wildlife Trust, in re­cent years the pine marten (Martes martes) has started to make a come­back. Now mostly lim­ited to a few re­mote ar­eas in the UK, in­clud­ing the Scot­tish High­lands, pop­u­la­tions are be­gin­ning to spread south to Northum­ber­land and Cum­bria, and in 2015, for the first time in a cen­tury, one was seen in Shrop­shire. As they don’t hi­ber­nate, pine martens are most eas­ily spot­ted in the depths of win­ter, par­tic­u­larly as they have to travel up to 20km a day in search of food. A fresh snow­fall also makes it far eas­ier to see their dis­tinc­tive prints, which of­ten ap­pear in an un­usual pair for­ma­tion, as they adopt a bound­ing move­ment to nav­i­gate through the drifts.

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