The project will translocate martens from Scotland to carefully selected sites in Wales first, and then, if successful, to sites in England. European pine marten populations have declined dramatically in the UK. By the 20th century pine martens had mostly disappeared from their once extensive UK range, due to widespread forest clearance and predator control practices.
Today the pine marten’s distribution throughout the UK is patchy, with complete absence from most of England and only very occasional sightings in Wales. Fortunately, due to lower persecution pressures in Scotland, populations began to recover in the 1930s, leading to recolonization of large areas.
South of the Scottish border there has been little evidence of natural recovery making the pine marten the second rarest carnivore in Britain (after the Scottish wild cat). It is a UK priority species in urgent need of conservation action.
Following extensive feasibility studies the Vincent Wildlife Trust developed this project; with Chester Zoo as a major partner providing significant financial, technical and field assistance. Our technical input has involved advice on animal transportation, analysis of stress hormones from scats, plus design and construction of soft release enclosures.
The practical phase began in September 2015 with translocation of 20 martens from larger populations in Scotland, to specially selected sites in Wales. Before full release, translocated animals acclimatise to their new surroundings in our soft release pens. After release the progress of the martens is being followed using radio telemetry, trail cameras and field signs.