Pine martens are elusive members of the weasel family and sport a creamy yellow throat bib and a magnificent long thick tail. They are generally found in the European continent and America. The European pine marten is commonly known as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and is also recognized as pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten. In America, they just referred to as American Marten.
Their habitats are usually well-wooded areas. European pine martens usually make their own dens in hollow trees or scrub-covered fields. Martens are the only mustelids with semi-retractable claws. This enables them to lead more arboreal lifestyles, such as climbing or running on tree branches, although they are also relatively quick runners on the ground. They are mainly active at night and dusk. They have small rounded, highly sensitive ears and sharp teeth for eating small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and carrion. They have also been known to eat berries, bird’s eggs, meat, nuts and honey. Pine martens are territorial, and mark their range with faeces (scats) deposited in prominent locations.
The pine marten has a wide distribution in the Palaearctic, being found throughout most of Europe, Asia Minor, northern Iraq and Iran, the Caucasus, and in westernmost parts of Asian Russia. It is widespread in continental Europe, with the exception of most of Iberia and Greece, and parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. It was formerly widespread in the British Isles, but is now restricted to northern Britain and Ireland.
The habit of this pine marten to prey on bird has become an issue of concern as they have become a major threat to capercaillie.
Pine martens blamed for fall in number of capercaillie
Friday 27 September 2013
SCOTLAND’S gamekeepers are warning that the capercaillie is doomed unless conservationists advising Government agencies protect the birds from natural predators such as the pine marten.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) says that despite an assurance by First Minister Alex Salmond the Capercaillie would not be allowed to “die on his watch”, keepers fear its disappearance is perilously close.While individual birds exist in fragmented pockets, the only remaining viable breeding population is in Badenoch and Strathspey.
The SGA says it warned 12 years ago predation by pine martens, foxes and crows would imperil the largest member of the grouse family. The SGA claims a scientific study in 2009, using cameras at 20 nests, showed predators destroying 65% of those nests in Abernethy Forest, part of a reserve run by RSPB Scotland in Badenoch and Strathspey.
Of those destroyed, 57% were proven to be by pine martens which, like the Capercaillie, areprotected but more numerous.Members of the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan (Bap) group for Capercaillie had acknowledged the need for a trial removal of pine martens from core areas to assess the problem.
However so far, no research licence has been granted and gamekeepers represented on the group fear conservationists are running scared of making the tough decisions required to prevent the bird becoming extinct.Allan Hodgson, who sits on the Bap group, said: “If all the right things are done, there is still a good chance we could save the capercaillie. However, there needs to be some hard decisions taken and some bravery from the Government and those advising it when it comes to dealing with the pine marten issue.”
Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, agreed urgent action was required to help save capercaillie in Scotland, and the role of the pine marten considered. But both species were scarce and protected under wildlife laws, he said. He thought it was much too early to embark on a trial removal without considering other options such as increased deer reduction measures, deer fence removal to reduce mortality of capercaillie through fence strikes and diversionary feeding.
He said: “It is also hugely important to remember that in other countries, such as Sweden, capercaillie and pine marten live side by side, where predation occurs, and neither species is endangered. Levels of predation of capercaillie by pine martens recorded by RSPB Scotland at Abernethy are similar to Sweden and elsewhere on the European continent.”
Ron Macdonald, Scottish Natural Heritage’s head of policy and advice, said: “We published two reports in 2011 which looked at this subject. One did not find a direct link between pine marten numbers and capercaillie breeding success. The other found a link when the effects of weather were also taken into account. So the ecological situation is complex.”
He said two key measures of capercaillie productivity – “chicks per hen” and “broods per hen” -were lower when April was warmer and in forests with more signs of pine martens and more crow sightings. “We are keen to take forward research into the role of predation alongside the effects of land use and climate,” he said.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our agencies are committed to ensuring its long-term survival.”
The pine martens are known to attack humans. “Football player bitten by affronted Pine Marten on the pitch”, reported by the Telegraph.
They have been also known to chew rubber and soft plastic parts e.g. windscreen wipers, garden hoses, etc., often those of parked cars, ostensibly to sharpen/clean their teeth, though the exact drive for this behavior is not known, and they do not actually ingest the rubber; damage to brake cables is a particular hazard. In rural areas it is not uncommon for wire fencing to be placed on the ground under parked cars or dog musk or other natural repellents to be sprayed under the car hood to avoid the martens. But these methods are obsolete and hence they are not an effective solution for the marten problem.
An irate car owner in Germany reported the following after facing the marten problem
It’s Marder time, lock away your cars! – Germany
“Well, it’s that time of year again.
People who are new in Germany or don’t own a car will not know what on Earth I am on about.
The “Marder”, or in English, a “Pine Marten“, is a vicious little mammal that enjoys chewing on hot rubber or plastic. To prevent these animals getting into your car’s inner bits and bobs it’s recommended that you park your car in your garage. Other preventative methods are to place rolled up mesh wire under the engine compartment of your car.
It may well be worth looking at your insurance to see if you are covered for Marder damage.
See the photo for what they look like. Take care out there!”
Well no insurance company is going to provide insurance for damages done by the likes of pine marten! So what is the solution out of this problem?
Hunting and killing them is definitely not an option as hunting of the animals banned in almost all countries. And also this species are economically important and add value to our flora and fauna.
So to stop the martens from causing any damage without harming them; Rodrepel®™ is a perfect solution. Rodrepel®™ is a product by C Tech Corporation which is non-toxic, non-hazardous product. It is an additive available as masterbatch specially developed for a range of polymeric and coating applications including films, wires and cables. It can be used for a number of applications including agricultural films, tarps, pipes, plastics, ducts, tubing and hosing, wires and cables, railways, aviation, mulches and the automobile sector. It is also available in lacquer form which can be coated on the surface of the application to keep the rodents away. It can also be applied on the fence around the capercaillie farm.