Innovative mammal conservation

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news > Pine martens receive a helping hand in Northumberland and Cumbria

4th September 2017

Over the next few months a team of volunteers will play a major role in protecting one of Britain’s rarest species as they help pine martens to come back from the brink of extinction.

By the early part of the 20th century, the pine marten had become extinct throughout much of Britain due to the combined effects of habitat loss and predator control. Small populations survived in some isolated areas, including parts of northern England, but relatively strong populations were still to be found only in areas of the Scottish Highlands where persecution pressures were less. Recent studies show that the pine marten in Scotland is making a good recovery and there are now signs of martens spreading south from their Scottish stronghold into Northumberland and Cumbria. The spread of this native mammal into northern England is seen as an important step towards its recovery.

Back from the Brink; one of the most ambitious conservation programmes ever undertaken, funded by players of the National Lottery, has included the pine marten as one of the species most in need of help. The programme aims to address the conservation needs of over 200 threatened animals, plants and fungi – inspiring a nation to discover, value and act for threatened species.

Thanks to Back from the Brink, there are now a range of exciting opportunities for everyone to find out more about the charismatic but elusive pine marten. Kevin O’Hara is the Pine Marten Project Officer for the Back from the Brink programme, working with The Vincent Wildlife Trust – “There are lots of opportunities to get involved and we’d like to hear from potential volunteers or any group that would like a talk about pine martens. We’d also like to hear from anyone who thinks they may have seen a pine marten in the area”.

Volunteers can help with the deploying and monitoring of remote cameras and take part in surveys for signs of martens: such as looking for their droppings or checking den boxes for evidence of activity. It’s a fantastic opportunity to not only help the pine marten itself – but also to be a part of the wider Back from the Brink programme.

If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch with Kevin O’Hara, Project Officer: or telephone 07377 993626.

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