Pine marten showing signs of recovery17-APR-2013
One of Scotland's rarest carnivores is showing encouraging signs of recovery, a new report has highlighted.
From Argyll to Aberdeenshire, and Caithness to the central belt, the pine marten is proving that rare mammals can recover their numbers, given the right conditions.
And in the Year of Natural Scotland, it is a real success story for an animal which has vanished from much of England and Wales.
A joint survey by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and The Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT), to be published later this week, shows the pine marten population has regained ground across much of Scotland. It is now re-colonising areas from which it has been absent for more than 100 years.
"At a time when some native mammals are declining it is fantastic to see the pine marten population is recovering and expanding its range in Scotland. Pine martens are still absent from much of Britain so the recovery in Scotland is significant," Lizzie Croose, VWT's survey coordinator, confirmed.
As in the rest of Britain, Scotland's pine marten population suffered a major decline as a result of historical persecution and woodland loss. By the early 20th century it was found only in the North West Highlands.
The species was given full legal protection in 1988 and following the expansion of plantation forest cover during the last century, is making a comeback across much of its former Scottish range.
Signs of this gradual recovery were first recorded in surveys in the 1980s and 1990s.
This latest survey was carried out last summer (2012) when surveyors collected possible pine marten scats (droppings) along survey areas on woodland tracks and paths. This was DNA-tested to confirm its origin. Records of marten presence were also collected from other sources, including Local Biological Record Centres and other wildlife organisations.
Pine martens are now present in many eastern parts of the country, including Caithness; Moray; much of Perth and Kinross; Aberdeenshire and Angus and parts of Fife. They have also moved south into southern Argyll; the Trossachs; much of Stirlingshire and some parts of the central belt.
Rob Raynor, mammals advisor at Scottish Natural Heritage, said: "This is good news for one of Scotland's most iconic animals and it is reassuring that this formerly rare and persecuted mammal is now making a comeback in some of the more populated parts of the country."
Media inquiries: Fergus Macneill, SNH Public Relations: 01463 725021 firstname.lastname@example.org or Vicki Mowat: 0131 316 2659
For more details and photographs: Hilary Macmillan, VWT communications manager or Elizabeth Croose, projects support officer on 01531 636441 or 07976246189 email email@example.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
The pine marten (Martes martes) was extinct throughout much of Britain by the early 20th century. Small populations survived in Wales and the Marches and in areas of northern England, but the most viable populations were still to be found only in North West Scotland.
This study has shown that the pine marten in Scotland is making a good recovery. South of the Scottish border the situation is very different, and the recovery taking place in Scotland has not yet occurred in those parts of England and Wales where a few pine martens survived. Until the road casualty found last year near Newtown, the last known carcass recorded in Wales was in 1971.
The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 is a celebration of Scotland's outstanding natural beauty. It's a partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, EventScotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and a range of public and private sector organisations. For information on events and activities throughout the year, visit www.snh.gov.uk/natural
Report at: www.snh.gov.uk/publications-data-and-research/publications/search-the-catalogue/publication-detail/?id=1985
The Vincent Wildlife Trust conducted the first pine marten distribution survey in Scotland in the 1980s and has carried out further research on the ecology of this species in Scotland over a period of 30 years. A second survey was commissioned by SNH in the 1990's, see www.snh.gov.uk/publications-data-and-research/publications/search-the-catalogue/publication-detail/?id=1196
More information at www.vwt.org.uk
The Vincent Wildlife Trust is a national charity engaged in mammal research and conservation. For more than 35 years it has made major contributions to the conservation of many of our rarer mammals, including the otter, dormouse, water vole, pine marten, polecat and the bats. Today, the Trust continues to concentrate on the needs of British and Irish mammals of conservation interest, with current work centred on the bats, pine marten, polecat and stoat. The Trust also manages more than 40 nature reserves in England, Wales and Ireland, most of which are bat roosts. The Vincent Wildlife Trust is also committed to researching and conserving the remnant pine marten population in Britain. More information on www.vwt.org.uk.
Tel: 01531 636441 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.snh.gov.uk. SNH media is also now on Twitter at twitter.com/SNHMedia
Author: Fergus Macneill
Contact: SNH Press Office