UK: 15 years after extinction declared the Pine Martin has returned

PINE MARTENS have returned to Welsh woodlands 15 years after they were
declared extinct. Experts believed the cat-sized mammals had died out
in Wales and England in 1994, but DNA evidence indicates the
carnivorous predators are patrolling the Cwm Rheidol Valley, near
Aberystwyth, for the first time in 50 years.

A report also suggested
there are populations of the shy crea- tures in Snowdonia, the Lake
District, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. Prof David MacDonald co-wrote
the report, the State of Britain’s Mammals 2008, for the People’s
Trust for Endangered Species. He said: “It now looks like there is
evidence of pine martens in England and Wales for the first time since
they are thought to have died out.

“There are still question marks
over how viable those populations are, but it is a positive result.”
Pine Martens were given full protection under the Wildlife and
Countryside Act in 1988 after being heavily hunted and poisoned by
landowners who feared they were damaging game and bird populations. By
1994, experts thought they had been wiped out in Wales and England but
they survived in a few pockets in Scotland, where they continue to
elude persecution. Pine martens are now thought to be Britain’s second
rarest carnivore after the Scottish wildcat.

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