The Project | Wales

The pine marten in Wales

Pine martens became rare in Wales during the early 20th century but were still in low numbers in parts of the Cambrian Mountains, Carmarthenshire and Snowdonia. However, the population has shown no signs of recovery from its historical decline and is so small as to be vulnerable to extinction. As there was recent evidence of pine martens in parts of Wales, reinforcement was considered a possibility. This means releasing individuals into an existing population, to increase population size and genetic diversity in order to improve population viability.

A feasibility study was carried out to identify several areas in Wales with high habitat suitability for pine martens. Following extensive field surveys, engagement with local communities and stakeholders, and with relevant licences granted, a population reinforcement was carried out.

Between 2015 – 2017, a total of 51 pine martens were captured in Scotland, in areas where there is a healthy pine marten population, under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage. These animals were translocated and released in forestry in mid-Wales. The translocated pine martens are closely monitored, have become established and breeding has occurred each year since the translocation began.

 

One of the pine martens translocated to Wales, acclimatising in his release pen.

The martens were kept in release pens for a few days once they arrived in Wales to allow them to acclimatise to their new surroundings and allow us to monitor them remotely via camera trap. They were given a variety of food similar to their natural diet.

 

New survey launched: Pine marten distribution survey of Wales

As the pine marten population in Wales increases in number and range, there is a need for accurate, up-to-date information on pine marten distribution. This will act as a baseline on which to base future surveys and monitor future population changes and give us a better understanding of the rate of range expansion and population growth of translocated populations.

Data on pine marten distribution will be collected via scat surveys, with scats verified by DNA analysis, and also sightings and camera trap records from members of the public.

Volunteers needed

Volunteers can get involved in surveying transects for scats in the hectads (10 x 10km grid squares) shown on the map below. All necessary equipment and instruction will be provided and no experience is necessary. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact josiebridges@vwt.org.uk with the grid square(s) that you’re interested in surveying and more detailed information will be provided.

If you see a pine marten in Wales or the Marches (Herefordshire/Shropshire) or record one via camera trap, please report your sighting to us to here. If you have a photo or video to send us, please email enquiries@vwt.org.uk.

Hectads (10 x 10km grid squares), labelled by the 10km Ordnance Survey reference, to be targeted for the survey. Squares shaded out in grey have already been allocated to a surveyor.