Pine Marten successfully breeding in New Forest
Pine Martens are now believed to be well-established and successfully breeding in the New Forest.
The elusive cat-sized Mustelid was previously only thought to have survived largely in the north of England. As part of a long-term study, hidden cameras showed young Pine Martens exploring and playing together. Marcus Ward of the Wild New Forest conservation group said the footage was "incredible".
Pine Marten is doing well in the New Forest (Ron Marshall).
The study began after several sightings of the protected species in the Hampshire national park, with conservationists aiming to determine if and how Pine Martens were recolonising the area. More than 100 video clips were captured in 2022, with footage of young Pine Martens providing further evidence of successful breeding. The new clips also confirm initial findings that the martens prefer to use fallen trees and branches to navigate across the forest floor and to cross streams and wet areas.
Mr Ward said it was "incredibly rare" to catch a glimpse of a Pine Marten. "This video gives us a unique view into their hidden world and an opportunity to really advance the understanding of these special creatures and how best to support them."
The Pine Marten study is being carried out by Wild New Forest along with Forestry England, The New Forest Study Group, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Leanne Sargeant, senior ecologist for Forestry England, said: "The survey makes it clear that they are settling in a wide range of areas and successfully breeding. We hope that knowing more about their development will help us support these rare creatures and inform reintroduction projects elsewhere."