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Highland pine martens repopulating Welsh mountains

Pine marten
Pine marten

Pine martens from across the Highlands are doing their bit for the survival of the species by repopulating forests in Wales.

Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) staff helped to source and capture Scottish specimens for a reintroduction programme.

The Pine Marten Recovery Project has been led by the Vincent Wildlife Trust under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Between autumn 2015 and 2017, a total of 51 pine martens were moved from FES woodlands across the north to the forests of the Cambrian Mountains in mid-Wales.

Kenny Kortland, species ecologist with FES, said: “Pine martens are fairly abundant in many forests of the national forest estate, so we could easily spare some for this fantastic project. However, the trust was very careful to assess the robustness of the donor population before trapping took place.

“The majority of the animals that were released in Wales very quickly claimed home ranges for themselves and they are establishing a thriving population.

“Kits have been born every year since the first release so it looks like the pine martens’ return to Wales has been an unqualified success!”

The experts say the programme’s success in Wales has been very well-supported and assisted by the local community, which is encouraging people to come to the area and visit the dedicated pine marten information centre and pine marten viewing hide.

Dr Jenny Macpherson, from the Vincent Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re very happy that pine marten are doing so well in the Welsh mountains and are weaving themselves back into the fabric of our natural environment.

“Land management changes over the last 150 years had slowly caused martens to retreat to the uplands of Britain, and although they’ve found a stronghold in Scotland, they’ve been struggling to hold on in Wales.

“This intervention has made a huge difference to their chances of once again becoming an integral part of our rich biodiversity.”

For the next phase, the VWT team will be in touch with FES staff in Central Region to discuss potential translocation of the next batch of martens from the Trossachs forests.

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