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Return of the Missing Mammal?
September 2000

Pine Marten - Photo © Copyright 2000 Patrick Wilson
Photo: Patrick Wilson

The pine marten is one of our rarest native mammals. Persecuted to the point of extinction by the early 20th Century, pine martens are now only doing well in the north and west of Scotland. But thanks to changes in the countryside and the law, it is now possible to secure the return of this attractive animal to its historic habitats in England, according to a new report published this month by the wildlife charity Peopleís Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and English Nature, the governmentís wildlife watchdog.

The report is based on extensive research into pine marten ecology by Dr Paul Bright of Royal Holloway, University of London. As there is now more woodland and pine martens are protected, there is no practical reason why they could not be reintroduced to the English countryside, if this is what people want. Dr Brightís team surveyed six woodland regions in Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Avon, East Sussex and Cumbria for suitable habitat, and polled local people about their attitudes to pine martens. An average 64% of farmers, 65% of gamekeepers and 90% of local residents said they were in favour of reintroduction. Together with the reportís findings, PTES and English Nature are launching a broader national public consultation to assess the acceptability of a proposed pine marten reintroduction programme.

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