Heritage Lottery Fund support to uncover secrets of pine marten on the North York Moors.

Rare and elusive pine marten will be the focus of a new 3 year project on the North York Moors, thanks to a grant of over £66,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme aims to find out more about Britain’s second-rarest carnivore in the area, support any existing populations and develop a conservation strategy for their long-term survival in the region.

The project builds on the news last September when a single male pine marten was captured by a wildlife camera trap in an undisclosed location on the North York Moors, making it the first confirmed record of pine marten in the area for 24 years, and the first living record for at least 35 years.

The work is being undertaken by non-profit social enterprise NatureSpy in partnership with the Forestry Commission in Yorkshire and will focus on Forestry Commission lands on the North York Moors.

It will mean dozens of wildlife camera traps, which monitor an area for months at a time and trigger when an animal passes in front of them, will deployed across the forests.

50 volunteers will also be recruited and trained to check these cameras and find evidence of martens, including attempting to gather DNA, which will then be analysed at the University of Hull. Local people will also be encouraged to report any sightings.

“This will be the biggest pine marten monitoring effort that there has ever been in Yorkshire.” said James McConnell, a Wildlife Biologist with NatureSpy.

“Heritage Lottery Fund support means we can not only develop a strategy for their long-term conservation in the region, but also engage volunteers and stakeholders in their future”.

Cath Bashforth, Forestry Commission Ecologist in Yorkshire said: “The project will provide vital information for marten conservation in the nation’s forests on the North York Moors. They are such an important native animal missing from most of our forests. This exciting project means we can learn more about any pine martens living here and how can support them.”

David Renwick, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, this project can now get off the ground to help secure the future of one of the UK’s rarest carnivores, pine martens. We have some wonderful native wildlife in Yorkshire and this project will give people exciting opportunities to get involved in learning about and protecting the precious biodiversity on their doorstep.”

Pine martens are vigilant, mysterious and arboreal making them near impossible to track and monitor without the aid of remote technology and species-specific baiting to tempt them down to the forest floor.

To keep up to date with the search for martens in Yorkshire, visit the project’s homepage.

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