Mid Wales

Rare pine martens to be relocated to mid Wales

Pine marten Image copyright Ann and Steve Toon
Image caption In 2012 a pine marten carcass was retrieved in Powys, the first in 50 years

Pine martens are to be relocated from areas of the Scottish Highlands to Powys and Ceredigion in a bid to save them from extinction in Wales.

The Vincent Wildlife Trust is in the process of selecting suitable release sites in mid Wales.

The £1.2m pine marten recovery project plans to move the first 20 to Wales in the autumn.

A further 20 could be introduced in 2016.

The mammal is so rare in Wales, conservationists are unable to give population estimates.

Loss of habitat, fur hunting and a cull by gamekeepers in the early 1900s have been blamed for their decline.

Conservation officer Lizzy Croose said: "In Scotland pine martens are a real tourist draw.

"Their reintroduction to Wales could be a big opportunity for wildlife tourism comparable to the success of the red kite."

Image copyright Colin Smith
Image caption If successful, the recovery project will be rolled out to parts of England
Image copyright BBC/Getty Images

The Vincent Wildlife Trust is looking for sites with few roads, no commercial shooting and a low fox population - foxes and golden eagles are the mammal's only known UK predators.

Pine martens need a woodland habitat as they nest in trees and den in tree cavities. They also need an abundance of small mammals and fruit to eat.

The mammals mate in July and August and give birth the following March or April.

Their young, called kits, stay with the mother until they become independent in August.

They can have between one and five kits in a litter. Males have no role in rearing the young and typically mate with several females.

Image copyright Edward Delaney
Image caption The most recent estimates suggest there could be as many as 4,000 pine martens in Scotland

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