Pine Marten in Herefordshire
In 2019, after many years of work, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust began a five-year project to reintroduce pine martens back into the south-west. Pine martens are members of the mustelid family, along with stoats, polecats and otters, and were once found across the UK. However, in the late 19th and early 20th century their numbers declined, and the species became confined to the north of Scotland. Now protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act, pine martens are recovering in Scotland, but to return to England and Wales in sustainable numbers they need a helping hand.
In September of 2019, the first 18 martens arrived in our neighboring county. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Project (https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/project-pine-marten), supported by Forestry England, Vincent Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, Forest Research and Forest Holidays, aims to restore pine marten populations in the Forest of Dean and lower Wye Valley. It is hoped that a further 40 animals will be released in Gloucestershire over the next two years.
The aim of this project is to create a stable population of pine martens in south-west England, supporting the expanding and recently introduced Welsh population. The spread of these animals into neighbouring counties is therefore expected, and a positive outcome for the project. We are excited to say that Herefordshire is now home to a couple of these newly released pine martens.
Project manager Dr Cat McNicol tells us “it is likely these animals have followed the River Wye up into Herefordshire. Pine martens often move large distances following linear features like valleys and rivers. This movement tells us that there are some well connected habitats in the area and the pine martens are spreading themselves out into nice, high quality habitats and establishing territories”.
We hope to help Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust monitor these animals over the coming months using trail cameras and scat surveys. We'll keep you posted on any findings!
Sightings are also a helpful way to monitor the spread of pine martens. These can be reported here: https://www.vwt.org.uk/support-us/report-a-sighting/.
We have opened a fundraising appeal to help us to purchase items to help monitor pine marten's presence in Herefordshire - and encourage them to stay. Items on our wish list include:
- small pine marten boxes, £80
- large pine marten boxes £120
- Trail cameras £170 to £300