Pine martens are mainly active at night and dusk (5). They have a broad diet that varies throughout the year depending on the availability of certain food types. Small rodents, birds, beetles, carrion and eggs are all taken, and berries are very important in the autumn (2). They are adept climbers, but tend to hunt on the ground.
Pine martens are territorial, and mark their range with faeces (scats) deposited in prominent locations (2). Mating occurs between July and August, however implantation of the fertilised egg is delayed and the young are produced in early spring of the next year (6). One to five deaf, blind, helpless young are produced (2)(4); they begin to emerge from the den by the middle of June (2) and will be fully independent around 6 months after their birth (7).
Found throughout most of central and northern Europe (4). In the UK, the pine marten is restricted to the Scottish Highlands and Grampian, and a few populations occur in southern Scotland. The pine marten is extinct throughout most of England and Wales (2) with a few scattered records in the north and in Wales (5).
The pine marten is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (8), and is listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and Schedule 3 of The Conservation Regulations 1994 (1).
Pine martens were once found throughout most of Britain. Habitat loss leading to fragmentation, persecution by gamekeepers to protect game species and hunting for fur have all contributed to the decline of the species (2). Current threats include human disturbance and illegal poisoning intended to kill foxes and crows, and shooting due to martens attacking hens or being mistaken for mink (2).
Pine martens and their dens are afforded full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and the Environmental Protection Act, 1990 (7). Conservation management in areas where the pine marten persists may help the species. Potential measures include planting corridors of trees between patches of suitable habitat, and providing cover for shelter (2). In 2014, the Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) launched its Pine Marten Recovery Project which saw the translocation of pine martens from Scotland to restore a healthy pine marten population in the rural landscape of Wales. The first step was completed in autumn 2015, with the translocation of 20 pine martens, and the first Welsh-born pine marten kits arrived in early summer 2016 (9).
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