Thursday, 20 September 2012

Pine Marten Kits?

Could we have pine marten kits next year?

Well, I have been hopeful for many years... but none more so than this coming year. Once again this past summer we paired up Bonnie and Clyde in an attempt to breed Britain's most beautiful mammal. Where as in previous years they mated at least once, and then showed no obvious signs of being pregnant. This summer they mated on several occasions, and poor old Bonnie even showed the scaring around her neck which are the tell tale signs of mustelid mating.

This aggression in the mating is what helps to stimulate the female into oestrus, then hopefully the subsequent matings are what end up making her pregnant. Of course, the pine martens delayed implantation means we have to keep our fingers crossed all the way till next April, when hopefully we will hear the call of a few young kits from the pine martens nest box!

If successful, Bonnie's kits could play a vital role in pine marten conservation in the future. Despite being one of Britain's rarest mammals with less than 4,000 individuals left in the wild, there is a call for a cull on pine martens in certain areas of Scotland. It seems there is a question mark over their impact on Capercaille numbers along with more frequent reports of them moving into peoples loft spaces.

Many wildlife centres, including ourselves, have joined forces to look at the possible idea of relocating and maybe even re-introducing pine martens back in to the wild into non-problem areas. Of course it is early days, but who knows... another 10 years or so and we may see pine martens back in Southern England.

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