After four years of looking, in August 2017 we captured a single male pine marten on the North York Moors. This was the first evidence of the species living in the area for over 35 years.
To increase our understanding of pine marten in Yorkshire we’re running a 3 year project funded by the heritage lottery fund. Working with the forestry commission, the ‘Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme’ will increase survey intensity, support existing populations where found, and develop a long term conservation plan for pine marten in the area.
On the look out for one ofBritains most elusive
Finding a small, rare and elusive mammal in endless forest habitat is no mean feat. It takes a lot of hard work, patience, planning and determination.
As part of the HLF project we have a dedicated Pine Marten Programme Officer, Ed Snell. Ed is responsible for all areas of the project from survey planning and equipment maintenance to volunteer management, data handling and stakeholder liaison. All this to find one little mammal!
- Deploying up to 60 trail cameras in top secret areas around the North York Moors
- Carrying out 5-6 surveys in different areas simultaneously
- Recruiting 50 volunteers to support with our trail cam surveys
- Collecting pine marten hair and scat samples for DNA analysis in collaboration with the University of Hull
- Installing 50 den boxes
- Creating interpretation boards at Forestry Commission and National Park visitor centres
- Working and engaging with local landowners through talks and leaflets regarding the legal status of pine marten and how to protect game birds from predation
- Developing a long-term conservation strategy
Pine Marten are key in maintaining ahealthy ecosystem, help controlnon-native species like grey squirrel& have great potential for
What if we don't find any?
During the project we will be focused on getting evidence of pine marten via camera trap or DNA but even with the intense survey effort in place, it is possible we won’t find any!
But finding evidence is just one element of supporting populations on the North York Moors and throughout the 3 years we’ll also be carrying out other tasks to help pine marten in Yorkshire.
- Visiting locations in Scotland with thriving pine marten populations
Here, we’ll look at perfect pine marten habitat, survey methods, breeding, food sources and predator-prey relationships.
- Surveying the habitat of our sites in Yorkshire
By doing this we can compare to our Scottish neighbours and find likely pine marten territory. We can also monitor food sources and favourable habitat of sites where pine marten evidence may be caught. This will be crucial information for any potential reintroduction plans in the projects next steps.
- Gathering vast amounts of data and species ‘by-catch’
3 years worth of camera trapping will provide a lot of data on all the species in the FC sites and with this we can learn so much about potential impacts on pine marten in the area, such as; what species are their main competitors for resources and how many are there? Would pine marten negatively impact other important species in the area? Could pine marten help control certain species? All of this data can help inform our conservation strategy.
- Interpretation boards & liaising with gamekeepers
Like with most wild animals some people will have concerns about their presence, and the pine marten is no exception. As part of the project we will carry out work to increase awareness and education of the species, including outlining their importance for local biodiversity.
As pine marten can poach game birds in surrounding areas, this makes them a threat to local gamekeepers and intensively persecuted as a result. However, we hope to raise awareness of the level of legal protection of pine martens have here in the UK and support local landowners in advising on, and facilitating where possible, adequate protection of game birds.
You can play a vital role in the Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme by identifying species in our camera trap photos through MammalWeb. This is an online platform for identifying species in camera trap images with the aim of being able to understand more about the distribution and abundance of Britain’s wild mammals and the factors affecting them.
It’s free to access and easy to get started, head to MammalWeb’s website and click ‘Spotter’.
Seen a Pine Marten?
If you think you may have seen a pine marten in North Yorkshire click on the link and let us know where!