‘Extinct’ Pine Martens discovered in the New ForestPUBLISHED ON: 30 MARCH 2016
For the first time these extremely rare animals have been filmed in the wild in central southern England.
The amazing images were captured at a secret location by local residents Russell Wynn and Marcus Ward, who co-ordinate the new Wild New Forest initiative. Although there have been several reports of Pine Martens in the New Forest in recent years, no-one had managed to secure conclusive evidence until now.
Russell said: ‘Pine Martens were assumed to be extinct in England, and then suddenly last year there were well-publicised reports of animals seen in Cornwall and Shropshire. We now have firm evidence that they are also living here in the New Forest, no more than 10 km from the middle of Southampton!’
Pine Martens are mostly nocturnal and were therefore filmed at night using remote infrared cameras with motion sensors, operated under a Forestry Commission licence. Martens are similar in size to domestic cats, and have a varied diet that includes insects, eggs, small mammals, fruit and berries. They were previously widespread across the UK, but habitat loss and persecution saw them retreat to remote parts of Scotland.
Marcus said: ‘We were really buzzing when we first got a fleeting glimpse of a Pine Marten on one of our cameras, and it was a huge relief when we finally secured some conclusive video clips a few days later. We started the Wild New Forest initiative to discover more about the rarer animals in the New Forest, but never dreamed we would get footage of wild Pine Martens so quickly.’
The Wild New Forest team will now be expanding their surveys to see how many Pine Martens are living in the New Forest, and to try and find evidence of breeding that might indicate a sustainable population. Russell concluded that ‘although we can only speculate about the origins of these Pine Martens, it is still a hugely exciting discovery. The presence of these rare animals, and the recent return of Otters, Polecats and Goshawks to the New Forest, highlights the importance of these extensive protected landscapes for our iconic wildlife.’
Julie Melin-Stubbs, Wildlife and Conservation team Manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘In the New Forest there have been occasional records of Pine Martens over the years and this latest record is evidence that we have this lovely mammal living here. As the nearest core population is in Wales, with the main stronghold in Scotland, this is a very interesting sighting indeed.
‘We suspect the population is low and we wouldn’t expect to see a fast increase in them as they are slow breeding. So we don’t expect any particular impact on the wildlife of the New Forest.’
Notes to Photo Editor:
An infrared image of a Pine Marten in the New Forest, taken at midnight on 17 March 2016
Notes to Editor:
Wild New Forest is a new initiative focussed on collecting data on some of the rare and scarce animals in the New Forest National Park, with the aim of supporting conservation action. The survey work is being undertaken with the support of the Forestry Commission, Natural England and the New Forest National Park Authority.
The Wild New Forest website is at the link below, and includes a blog post describing the recent Pine Marten discovery.
The first Pine Marten image was captured on 07 March 2016, and the first video evidence was obtained on 12 March 2016.
Further video clips were obtained on 15 and 17 March 2016.
About the New Forest National Park Authority
Protect – Enjoy – Prosper
The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
- Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect.
- Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities — Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
- Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park — Prosper.
The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its
unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies,
cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a
spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet
recreation, enjoyment and discovery.
Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.
Wild New Forest:
Tel: 07500 990808 (Russell Wynn)
Tel: 07749 375994 (Marcus Ward)
New Forest National Park Authority:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager,
Tel: 01590 646608