Is this the Yorkshire pine marten?

A NatureSpy project looking for pine marten in the North York Moors may have captured a picture of the elusive mammal in Yorkshire for the first time.

Is this the Yorkshire Pine Marten?

Is this the Yorkshire Pine Marten?

The pine marten has never been officially recorded alive in Yorkshire, although there are regular sightings. A dead pine marten was discovered here in 1993.

If this is the Yorkshire pine marten, it would confirm what has long been suspected – that a population of the second-rarest carnivorous mammal in the UK calls the North York Moors home.

It would be only the second ever picture of a wild pine marten in the whole of England – the last was taken in Staffordshire nearly 10 years ago.

A NatureSpy camera trap poised in the forest

A NatureSpy camera trap poised in the forest

The picture was taken using special wildlife camera traps; these cameras work 24/7 and are triggered when an animal crosses their path. Cameras have been up in the Moors in a project run by NatureSpy, with assistance and permission from the Forestry Commission, looking specifically for pine marten.

However, experts are divided on the image. Many believe that it is a pine marten, while others want to see a more convincing picture before confirming this rare animal’s presence in Yorkshire.

“It’s an interesting image” said NatureSpy wildlife biologist, James McConnell.

“Features such as the long straight tail, the slight hump towards the rear and the size of the animal point to it being a pine marten. However, a clearer picture would be brilliant – and that’s what we’re still aiming to get”.

Once we confirm this animal’s presence without doubt, we can then apply a more scientific approach and estimate numbers.”

The project therefore will continue – and NatureSpy are looking for help. A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to get more cameras in the forest, and give people a chance to be part of the quest for the pine marten in Yorkshire. Almost £500 has already been raised for the project.

Pine martens resemble ferrets or stoats, but are significantly larger, with adults growing over two feet in length, and sport a bushy tail.

To find out more about the project and see what other images have been captured, visit the project pages.

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