By Ed Snell, Project Officer
Over the course of the 3-year Heritage Lottery funded Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme we are installing 50 pine marten den boxes in forests throughout the North Yorkshire area. Den boxes are important for supporting pine marten populations in forests that lack natural cavities that occur more commonly in older trees.
Pine martens look for elevated den sites for resting places all year round and rearing young through spring time. As many of our forests in England are younger coniferous plantations, den boxes are a proactive way we can help pine marten populations recover.
The first three den boxes we have installed are the ‘Galloway Lite’ design, tried and tested to great success in Galloway Forest. Galloway Forest is managed in similar ways to the forests we work in throughout North Yorkshire.
Earlier this year we spent time shadowing Johnny Birks, John Martin and the team as they ran their annual den box checks to monitor Galloway’s pine marten population.
Much like in Galloway Forest, in Yorkshire we will be installing two kinds of den boxes: the Galloway Lite and ‘VWT Style’ den box. Galloway Lite boxes are suitable for younger trees with smaller trunks and have one entrance rather than two, compared to the VWT Style den box. Although the team in Galloway have recorded pine marten mothers rearing their young in Galloway Lite boxes, they tend to be used more by martens as rest sites.
Access to separate rest sites is however also important for marten mothers, as when the young reach a more active age, the mother tends to spend more time in a rest site nearby, so it’s important that we install a combination of box types. The slightly roomier VWT Style den boxes are a well-established design for supporting pine marten mothers with young, but they can of course be used as rest sites too!
The pictures below are of den boxes we have already installed in Yorkshire. In the coming months we’ll be installing more den boxes and providing pine martens in Yorkshire with valuable places to rest and rear their young.
If you’d like to learn more about pine marten den boxes or install some of your own, we highly recommend taking a look at the pine marten den boxes website: http://www.pinemartendenboxes.co.uk/?PINE_MARTEN_DEN_BOXES