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Pine martens and licensing

Pine martens and houses

Occasionally pine martens can use houses (generally the roof-space) as a den.  This can sometimes cause problems for householders.  Although it is generally an offence to disturb pine martens in dens or to block access to den sites, this does not apply to dwelling houses.

There is therefore no need for a licence to try to discourage pine martens from using a roof-space by disturbing them.  Similarly it is not illegal to block the access point to the roof-space providing that the pine marten is not present at the time.  If young pine martens (kits) are present, then the process may be more difficult, as you cannot move the young without a licence and they are unlikely to leave the roof-space.  If this situation arises, please telephone 01463 725364 for advice. A licence may be necessary for someone to resolve the situation without jeopardising the welfare of the animals.

Pine marten surveys, science, research or education

There should be no need for a licence to carry out a basic survey for pine martens, providing that you take reasonable precaution to avoid intentionally or recklessly disturbing these animals in their dens.  If such disturbance cannot be avoided, or if you are planning to carry out research or educational work that would otherwise result in an offence in relation to these species, Scottish Natural Heritage is the licensing authority.

If you wish to apply for a licence please email with:

  • your name, address, telephone number;
  • full details of your project/proposal including what you want to do, who will be doing it, where you want to do it and when you want to do it;
  • completed reference forms  Word document (if this is the first time you have applied for a licence for this activity we will require two references from people who are familiar with your work in this area and who can vouch for your competence in carrying out this type of work).

For further advice please contact or telephone 01463 725364.

Pine marten conservation translocations

There is a growing interest in reintroducing pine martens to parts of Britain where they are currently absent (or extremely scarce) due to historic persecution. A notable example is the Vincent Wildlife Trust Pine Marten Recovery Project external site . Other similar projects are being considered and, like the VWT project, are likely to require donor animals from Scotland. The Scottish marten population has been recovering over the past few decades with animals now present in many areas from where they were absent for many years, although the species' stronghold areas are still in northern and western parts. Any proposed translocations involving the licensed capture of wild martens in Scotland must comply with the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations. Particular attention needs to be paid to the impact of a proposal on the donor population and whether other similar proposals may seek animals from the same geographic area. Licence applications will therefore need to demonstrate effective liaison between the various different translocation projects and detail the measures that will be implemented to protect the long-term viability of the affected donor populations.

Pine martens and predator control

It is illegal to intentionally or recklessly capture or kill a wild pine marten.  However, it may be possible, subject to strict conditions being met, to control pine martens for the purpose of conserving wild bird populations.  This would only be permitted where evidence could be provided to show that pine marten predation was responsible for causing declines in a population of a species of wild bird in direct need of conservation action.  Scottish Natural Heritage is responsible for the issue of these licences.

Licence application form to control predators for the purpose of conserving wild birds  Word document

If you believe that pine martens are causing serious damage to livestock (in some circumstances reared game birds can be classified as livestock), then please email or telephone 01463 725364.   Here is some guidance on how to prevent pine marten predation of penned game birds  PDF document (please note that some of the legal and licensing information in this document is out of date).

Pine marten licensing for social economic and environmental purposes

It is possible to licence activities that could affect pine martens for social, economic or environmental reasons. This could cover a range of activities including development. However, it is important to note that licences may only be issued for this purpose provided that:

  • the activity authorised by the licence will contribute to significant social, economic or environmental benefit;
  • there is no other satisfactory solution  PDF document (this is assessed in the same way that we assess European protected species licensing Test 2 - No satisfactory alternative).

Guidance for applicants  PDF document - on the licensing purpose for non-bird species protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for 'social, economic or environmental purposes'.

If pine martens or their dens are likely to be found in or close to the site in question then it is strongly recommended that you have a survey undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced person. If they are found then the surveyor should identify what impact the proposal might have on them and whether or not the proposed works could result in an offence.

Licence application form for works affecting pine marten  Word document

Possession of specimens etc.

There is a general offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981  (as amended) against possession of a dead pine marten or a part of one.  However, a person is not guilty of this offence if he or she can show that the pine marten had not been killed illegally.

Licences are therefore not necessary for someone to possess a dead pine marten, but it will be up to that person to be able to demonstrate that it was not killed illegally should they be asked to do so by the police.

Licence returns

It is a condition of each licence that a return is submitted. Please refer to your licence for the relevant return information required and send to  clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Renewals and amendments

If you hold a licence which you wish to renew or you wish to amend your licence you can:

  • telephone 01463 725364 (please make sure you have your licence number to hand); or
  • email putting your licence number in the subject.

For further information or advice please contact or telephone 01463 725364.

Last updated on Monday 5th September 2016 at 12:59 PM. Click here to comment on this page