Pine Marten, Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland

by Steve Fellows

The pine marten (Martes martes) is a medium-sized mustelid native to Britain and Ireland and probably arrived here soon after the end of the last glaciation, about 9,500 years ago. It has been suggested that 6,500 years ago, when Britain and Ireland had greater tree cover, pine martens were the second most common carnivore in Britain!

The clearance of our woodlands, trapping and persecution had a devastating effect on the pine marten across Britain and Ireland and by 1915 was found in just a few of the last remaining more remote areas. Small populations survived in Wales and the Marches and in areas of northern England, but relatively strong populations were still to be found only in some parts of the Scottish Highlands where persecution pressures were less.

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