Pine martens in Shropshire
Our pine marten project aims to research the population in south Shropshire and protect and enhance their habitat
The population was discovered unexpectedly after the first ever photograph of a wild pine marten in Shropshire was taken by local wildlife recorder Dave Pearce in the Clun Valley. Since the photo was taken, our resident pine marten enthusiast Stuart Edmunds has captured astounding footage of a number of pine martens in the same area.
At least 15 individuals have been filmed on camera traps in Shropshire since 2015 and in 2017, young pine martens have been recorded, which would suggest that we have a breeding population in the county.
As of summer 2020 - we have confirmed there are pine martens in 9 areas of woodland in the county.
Pine martens are a great indicator of healthy woodland and the discovery of them in Shropshire shows that there is potential for them to make a return across the whole of the UK if lost woodlands can be replanted and better connected.
Find out more about the Pine Marten
History of the pine marten
Once found across Britain, the clearance of woodlands, together with predator control, had a devastating effect on the pine marten population and numbers were dramatically reduced.
From the 1930s, following a reduction in trapping pressure, pine martens began to recover in Scotland and the population has slowly expanded and re-colonised many parts of its former range. Today, pine martens are found throughout much of northern and central Scotland, as far south as the Central Belt, with some populations in parts of southern Scotland. Scotland’s population is estimated at 3,700 adult pine martens (Scottish Natural Heritage).
Pine martens have begun to spread over the Scottish/English border and re-colonise areas of Northumberland and Cumbria. Elsewhere in England, there are pine martens of unknown origin in Shropshire and Hampshire. Between 2015 – 2017, the Vincent Wildlife Trust translocated 51 pine martens from Scotland to mid-Wales, leading to the re-establishment of a viable marten population in Wales (Vincent Wildlife Trust).
An elusive Mustelid, the pine marten is mostly found in the north of the UK, particularly Scotland. Mostly chestnut-brown in colour, the pine marten has a characteristic pale yellow 'bib' on its chin and throat. It has a long, bushy tail.
Diet: It feeds on small rodents, birds, eggs, insects and fruit. Bilberries, Rowan berries and Blackberries make up much of a pine marten's summer diet, often resulting in its 'scats' (droppings) turning blue or red in colour.
Breeding: During the summer mating season, they make shrill, cat-like calls. The following spring, the female will have a litter of between one to five kits, which are independent by autumn.
Habitat: They prefer woodland habitats, climbing very well and living in tree holes, old squirrel dreys or old birds' nests. Pine martens regularly leave their scats on forest trails or in prominent places like boulders to mark their territories.
Average lifespan: up to 8 years.
What is the project doing?
We are carrying out extensive research and monitoring to determine the population size. This is being undertaken through camera trap monitoring and scat detection using a conservation sniffer dog. By identifying the habitat the species are using we can give them the best chance of survival by working alongside landowners and gamekeepers to protect the woodlands upon which they depend. We can also improve the potential for them to breed by offering safe den boxes across a wide area.
The project also aims to raise awareness of these elusive mammals, through talks, school visits and volunteering opportunities.
Find out more about our project from Stuart himself by watching this You Tube video.
You can also follow Stuart on Twitter @pinemartensuk to see the latest camera trap footage.
Donations to the project will allow:
- Continued deployment of trail cameras
- Volunteer searches for pine marten scat
- Use of a trained pine marten scat detection dog
- Installation of 100 pine marten den boxes
- Installation and weekly checking of hair sample collection tubes
- Working with local landowners
- Raising awareness of martens in Shropshire