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Renewed hope for English pine martens

06/01/2011 13:24:46

Once thought to be extinct in England

January 2011: The Forestry Commission is working with the Vincent Wildlife Trust to entice rare pine martens to join the property ladder in the North East.

NEW HOMES: Specially created nesting boxes have
been built for pine martens in Northumberland

Only ten years ago the pine marten was written off as extinct in England by some experts, but last year marten scat was found in private woodland adjoining the Forestry Commission's 1,200 hectare (3,000 acre) Kidland Forest in the Cheviot Hills, Northumberland.

Quick to respond to the exciting news, the Forestry Commission is working with the Vincent Wildlife, are creating ready-made dens for the animals.

The discovery of the scat, made by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, was among the first biological evidence for the marten's continued existence outside Scotland and Wales. Now five special nesting boxes have been erected in the Forestry Commission.

Persecution saw pine martens restricted to remote refuges
Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said: ‘Pine martens are magnificent, agile, tree-climbing animals, about the same size as a small to medium domestic cat, but can be incredibly elusive.

'They used to be present throughout England, but persecution saw them restricted to remote refuges such as the Scottish Highlands.

‘The discovery of droppings or scats near Kidland was stunning news, but we are still very much in the dark about the pine marten's status. If we can entice an animal to use one of the boxes, not only will it teach us more about the pine marten population in England but it will also provide both a chance to study its behaviour and a place to rear young.'

Adult pine martens grow to more than 2ft long and sport a bushy tail. They require large territories as males can roam over ten to 25 square kilometres. The Vincent Wildlife Trust has collated many convincing sightings over the years in Northumberland and North Yorkshire. The Forestry Commission is committed to enhancing and extending biodiversity in its 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of woodland in North East England.

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