Pine Marten

Pine Marten - Martes martes

Pine Marten

Martes martes

The pine marten is native to Ireland and is one of our rarest mammals. Once common throughout the country, by the 20th century this species had become extinct from the majority of the island, surviving only in a few isolated and fragmented populations, mainly in the west. This decline was the result of hunting of martens for their fur, loss of habitat and both direct and indirect poisoning and persecution.

Following the introduction of legal protection in 1976, the pine marten is gradually recolonising Ireland and returning to areas where it has not been seen for decades. Despite this recent increase, pine marten currently only occur in approximately half of their historical distribution range.

The marten spends most of its time in trees and is primarily active at night. It is found mainly in deciduous and coniferous woodland, but has also adapted to scrubland. A big problems for martens (and other wildlife) is that Ireland has the lowest tree cover (6%) in Europe.

Although the marten population is recovering, its slow reproduction rate and large territory size means it never reaches high densities. They are also susceptible to habitat loss and human persecution such as habitat fragmentation, inbreeding, illegal persecution either through generic poisoning or deliberate killing, and destruction of natural habitat for development. For these reasons the marten should be seen as vulnerable for the foreseeable future.

Dr Declan O’Mahony & The Vincent Wildlife Trust

Pine Marten Crimes

Pine Martens are protected by law in the Republic of Ireland under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012. They are also protected under Annex V of the EU Habitats Directive 1992, Appendix III of the Bern Convention 1979

Unless authorised to do so under a valid licence/permission/derogation granted by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 it is unlawful to:-

  • Hunt or kill (or attempt to do so) a pine marten otherwise than under and in accordance with a permission or licence granted by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • Wilfully interfere with or destroy a pine marten den (its breeding and resting place)
  • Possess a pine marten, whether alive or dead, or any part, product or derivative thereof other than one lawfully taken pursuant to the Wildlife Acts
  • Sell, keep or offer for sale, or engage in taxidermy in respect of a pine marten or any parts, products or derivatives thereof other that by a licensed wildlife dealer with a lawfully acquired specimen

Recording evidence at the Crime Scene

Assessing whether a criminal offence has taken place may not always be straight forward and other possibilities such as natural deaths, predation and legal hunting should be considered.

If you come across a wildlife crime scene or a dead bird or object that may be related to a wildlife crime, every piece of information is – or might be – important, but it needs to be recorded properly and accurately for the authorities to have a chance of prosecuting an offender.

Reporting a pine marten crime

To report suspected illegal pine marten activity contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service
Tel: 01-888 3242 or LoCall 1890 383 000

For a pdf of contact numbers for your local NPWS Conservation Ranger click HERE

If you can’t reach NPWS personnel call An Garda Síochána:

If the crime is in progress or about to happen, or if the offender is still at the scene or has just left call 999 or 112

If the event is finished then either call your local Garda Station (Garda Stations Directory) or the Garda Confidential Telephone Number 1800 666 111

[Although it will assist the NPWS and Gardaí if you provide as much information as possible, you do not have to give your name if you ring to report an incident.]

If the pine marten is alive and is injured, also, call a wildlife rehabilitator/vet from the contacts page of Irish Wildlife Matters Irish Wildlife Matters
If you witness any crime involving a pine marten please also contact The Vincent Wildlife Trust

For more information on reporting a crime click HERE