Pine martens may return to the UK wild this year after trappers nearly went extinct

Pine martens may return to the wild this year after they were almost wiped out by fur trappers.

  • Pine martens were common in the UK, but trapping has left them endangered.
  • They may be re-introduced to South West England in 140 years by 2024.
  • The National Trust wants to release otter relatives on Exmoor and Dartmoor.
  • Native red squirrels can be saved as pine martens prey on invasive gray squirrels

They were once one of the most common mammals in Britain.

But pine martens have become endangered after being trapped for their fur and shot for fun.

They could now be brought back to the southwest of England after a 140-year absence.

Conservation groups, including the National Trust, hope the nocturnal animals can be released as early as the fall of 2024.

Pine martens became endangered after being trapped for their fur and shot for sport, but may now be reintroduced to the southwest of England after a 140 year absence.

Conservation organizations, including the National Trust, hope that nocturnal animals can be released as early as the fall of 2024.

Conservation organizations, including the National Trust, hope that nocturnal animals can be released as early as the fall of 2024.

They are working with Exmoor and Dartmoor park authorities to identify two locations. Pine martens, related to otters and polecats, were restricted to the Scottish Highlands and small areas of the North and Wales in the early 20th century.

But a survey last year showed that the Southwest was ripe for a reintroduction program.

Sarah Bryan of Exmoor National Park Authority welcomed the prospect of the return of “charismatic creatures”.

“We are delighted to be able to once again make these charismatic creatures part of Exmoor’s rich natural heritage,” said the CEO.

“The next step will be to speak with local residents and those with first-hand experience with pine martens to determine if Exmoor is a good fit for reintroduction, and if so, how we can work together to develop a successful reintroduction program.”

The Two Moors Pine Marten project is currently being discussed with residents, farmers, landowners and other land users to evaluate the plans’ impact on the environment and surrounding businesses.

A study published last year found that the southwest of England is ripe for a reintroduction program, despite not having the same large areas of forest as Scotland and Wales.

The low density of major roads in the region, combined with a network of wooded areas and wooded valleys, often connected by river drainage basins, was found to provide sufficient habitat for pine martens to thrive.

Pine martens are omnivorous, feeding on anything available at this time of year, including voles, rabbits, mushrooms, berries and small birds, helping to keep the forest ecosystem in balance.

Recent research has also shown that they can step up efforts to save the local red squirrel by preying on their more numerous gray rivals.

“We are thrilled to be able to once again make these charismatic creatures part of Exmoor's rich natural heritage,” said Sarah Bryan of the Exmoor National Park Authority.  Photo: Exmoor pony at Wimbleball Lake in Exmoor National Park.

“We are thrilled to be able to once again make these charismatic creatures part of Exmoor’s rich natural heritage,” said Sarah Bryan of the Exmoor National Park Authority. Photo: Exmoor pony at Wimbleball Lake in Exmoor National Park.

Pine martens are omnivorous and feed on anything available at this time of year, including voles, rabbits, mushrooms, berries and small birds, helping to keep the forest ecosystem in balance.

Pine marten climbs a tree

Pine martens are omnivorous and feed on anything available at this time of year, including voles, rabbits, mushrooms, berries and small birds, helping to keep the forest ecosystem in balance.

Ed Parr Ferris, conservation manager for the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “If communities are right about aiming to plant more forests to address carbon and climate, it is vital that we also bring back the wildlife and wild processes that make these forests come alive and functioning properly.

“This can cause problems and sometimes requires a change in how we live close to nature, so we want to work with everyone affected over the next 18 months to figure out how to do it sustainably – for pine martens, other wildlife.” and people.”

Last week, an Environment Agency report outlined the near-catastrophic pressures UK wildlife is facing in the face of habitat loss and global warming.

The UK is one of the most naturally depleted countries in the world: since 1970, the number of local fauna and flora has decreased by 41 percent, and 15 percent are threatened with extinction.