One of our most elusive native mammals, the pine marten, is seeing a resurgence across Northern Ireland according to new a survey report released today by Ulster Wildlife.
A 2022 survey of pine martens, red squirrels, and grey squirrels, carried out across 218 woodlands, found that pine martens were present in almost double the number of sites compared to a previous survey in 2017.
In the past, pine martens were once a common sight across Northern Ireland but habitat loss and persecution in the 19th century greatly reduced their range.
The latest survey findings indicate a remarkable turnaround, with pine martens now found throughout all six counties, marking a significant expansion beyond their traditional stronghold in Co Fermanagh.
The survey also brings encouraging news for another priority native mammal, the red squirrel. The number of woodlands surveyed with red squirrels present remains comparable to 2017, suggesting that the population is holding steady at a landscape scale.
The introduction of grey squirrels from North America to Ireland in 1911 decimated native reds as they outcompete their smaller cousin for food and carry the deadly Squirrelpox virus, to which greys are immune.
While the survey showed that the presence of greys had declined slightly since 2017, the most notable decrease was in woodlands surveyed in Co Tyrone, with Co Fermanagh continuing to maintain its status as a sanctuary free from grey squirrels.
Posted On: 31/05/2023