As you may know, The Vincent Wildlife Trust has translocated 39 pine martens from Scotland to mid Wales over the past two years and released them into the large woodlands around Devil’s Bridge, Mid Wales. Some of them have died, some of them have bred and all of them have had a look around and finally settled in territories of their own choosing. The result of all of this is that there is now a relatively healthy population of pine martens comprising approximately 40-50 animals (adults and young) spread across a fairly wide area. The photos here show a pine marten (above) and a red squirrel (below) both caught on the same trail camera at a site near Cwrt-Y-Cadno:
If all goes well, the number of pine martens will continue to increase and the animals will expand into suitable woodland habitat as juveniles disperse. This could be good news for red squirrels, we have certainly found plenty of evidence of pine martens catching and eating grey squirrels, although it remains to be seen whether this predation will have an impact on grey squirrels at the population level. Cat McNicol is continuing her research in this area and you can read more about what she has been doing in the latest pine marten project newsletter.
In the meantime however, it means we have to be aware that pine martens, which used to be the rarest mammal in Wales, are a little less rare now and could accidentally be caught in traps set for grey squirrels. The map below shows the areas where there is the highest risk of pine marten by-catch. The red zones are within known pine marten home ranges. The orange zones are within a 10km radius of locations where we have fixed pine martens either by radio or GPS tracking, or using camera traps. The amber zone is within a 15km radius of fixes. Given that one of our martens travelled at least 10km during a period of 8 hours while we were tracking him, this is quite a conservative estimate of where the martens might be!
Please report any Pine Marten sightings or captures to The Vincent Wildlife Trust: email@example.com or via 01531 636441.