Pine Marten Recovery Project

Tracking Pine Marten

VWT project officers David Bavin and Josie Bridges use a radio-tracker to locate radio-collared Pine Martens reintroduced to Wales. PHOTO: Nick Upton / naturepl.com

The pine marten (Martes martes) is a native species to Britain. Although once common, it suffered population declines in the 19th and early 20th century due to habitat loss and predator control. Now protected, this species has begun to recover and expand from its stronghold in Scotland, but this population expansion is taking time to reach England and Wales. The aim of the Vincent Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Recovery Project is to assist the restoration of viable pine marten populations in Wales and England. Through translocation of pine martens from Scotland to mid-Wales, this project is the first, of what is likely to be many, pine marten population reinforcement projects. We are interested in the successes and issues involved with the recovery of a native small carnivore from both a biological (with particular interest in any interaction with the grey squirrel – Sciurus carolinensis) and social perspective.

Cat McNicol inspecting a Grey Squirrel in a live capture trap before releasing it to monitor squirrel activity where Pine Martens have been reintroduced. Photo: Nick Upton / naturepl.com

Researchers Cat McNicol and David Bavin are investigating the spatial movement of pine martens after their translocation and how we can use this information to establish a ‘best practice’ for future translocations. Alongside the VWT, we are working with gamekeepers and landowners to establish exclusion methods and actively manage matters arising alongside the gradual recovery of this small predator. We are also interested in the role of pine marten personality and how this may help us to predict movement of individuals. The diet and predatory impacts of pine martens are of specific interest, particularly with current evidence suggesting that martens may aid in the eradication of the invasive grey squirrel and in turn support the recovery of the native red squirrel. The social perception of this recovery project and the return of a native carnivore is a crucial part of this project.

Aims

  1. To understand the social perspectives of pine marten recovery in mid-Wales.
  2. To investigate how stress, personality and presence of other individuals affect pine marten ranging after translocation.
  3. To understand if pine martens create a ‘landscape of fear’ for grey squirrels through investigation of foraging, behaviour and space use.
  4. To document the diet of martens pre- and post- translocation.
Collared Pine Marten

PHOTO: Nick Upton / naturepl.com

Team

Cat McNicol (University of Exeter)

David Bavin (Vincent Wildlife Trust and University of Exeter)

Professor Robbie McDonald (University of Exeter)

Dr Jenny MacPherson (Vincent Wildlife Trust)

Professor Stuart Bearhop (University of Exeter)

Dr Robin Gill (Forest Research)

Sponsors