We were so excited to see this beautiful creature on our Nature Reserve, a sign that after four years of working to make it an optimum space for nature, Wildacres is beginning to become a sanctuary for creatures such as this,. Wildlife that is finding it so difficult to survive in our ever decreasing and vanishing wild spaces in Ireland.
The story of the Pine marten is a good news story.
Once a common animal in past times it was almost extinct by the 20th century, as a result of hunting for fur, habitat loss and poisoning direct and indirect as it was viewed as a threat to game birds.
Thankfully it is now a protected species and is slowly expanding its range.
It is also helping our wonderful native Red Squirrel population to recover from a calamitous decline, due primarily, the introduction of the non native grey squirrel.
This grey squirrel has driven the smaller Reds out of their long standing territories and spread a new disease that the Reds have no natural defense against, (which the greys do) called Squirrel pox.
The role the Pine Marten has played in the beginning of a recovery in the red squirrel population is both welcome and fascinating. The non native greys, having only been in relative terms, ben a recent introduction to Ireland, have not had the chance to evolve with the Pine Marten as a predator, and as such, unlike the Reds do not immediately recognize the scent of a Pine Marten as a threat.
This allied to the fact that they are larger and slower than the nimble Reds means they have become a significant a prey item for the Pine Marten. As a result where the grey squirrel populations have been decimated the reds have been able to slowly recolonize.
Having recorded this beautiful creature we are in the process of getting two Den/Nesting boxes made to put up in trees close to where we spotted it in the hope we can entice it to breed on the Nature Reserve.