The first-ever images of a pine marten living in Yorkshire have been captured.
A single male pine marten was captured by NatureSpy on a wildlife camera trap on Forestry Commission land on the North York Moors.
This is the first confirmed record of pine marten in the area for 24 years, and the first living record for approximately 35 years.
The Yorkshire Pine Marten Project, run by non-profit social enterprise NatureSpy in partnership with the Forestry Commission, began more than four years ago with the hope of proving that these elusive creatures were calling Yorkshire home.
The ambitious project uses wildlife camera traps which monitor a particular area, 24/7, for months at a time and trigger when an animal passes in front of them, taking a picture or video.
With support from the Forestry Commission and a team of dedicated volunteers, camera traps have been set-up in various locations around the North York Moors.
To finally prove pine marten presence in Yorkshire is a massive achievement.Ed Snell
The last confirmed pine marten record in Yorkshire was in 1993 when a skull was recovered.
Since then, there have been a number of elusive sightings and reports of pine marten in the forests in Yorkshire. Recent evidence from scat DNA tests confirmed their presence in Northumberland but previous searches by other organisations proved inconclusive.
Pine martens are vigilant, mysterious and arboreal, making them near impossible to track and monitor without the aid of remote technology and baiting to tempt them down to the forest floor.
NatureSpy’s success is a result of a huge monitoring effort by passionate volunteers covering a number of sites and using some of the most advanced camera trap technology available.
Ed Snell, Yorkshire Pine Marten Project Co-ordinator for NatureSpy, said: “To finally prove pine marten presence in Yorkshire is a massive achievement for everyone involved.
“Pine marten are such an important species, being the second rarest carnivorous mammal in the UK, it’s so exciting to plan the next stage of the project and aid whatever populations we may have here”.
Cath Bashforth, Ecologist at the Forestry Commission said: “It is great to have a confirmed sighting of Pine marten on Forestry Commission land. Supporting on this project has been exciting and to discover they are living within our forests after so many years is fantastic! We are looking forward to progressing the project further.”
Now there’s proof the species is living in Yorkshire, the next steps for the project will be to apply a more scientific approach to the study; collecting DNA samples from individuals, estimating population numbers, looking at habitat preferences and producing habitat management proposals.
A crowdfunding campaign at the start of project helped acquire much needed equipment for the project.
A second fundraising initiative has just been launched to help raise funds for additional resources such as hair tubes and monitoring equipment to embark on the next phase of the project.
Visit NatureSpy.org to keep up to date with the search for martens in Yorkshire.