Mid Wales

Concerns over 'killing machine' pine martens in Ceredigion

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Media captionLandowner Charles Grisedale said pine martens were "murderous"

Concerns have been raised about a mammal labelled "a killing machine" being reintroduced to Ceredigion.

Pine martens, part of the weasel family, were on the verge of extinction in Wales before a charity stepped in.

The Vincent Wildlife Trust brought 20 from Scotland last year and will release a further 20 next week.

But landowner Charles Grisedale, who has turned his estate into a reserve for the rare lapwing bird, said it was "madness" to reintroduce the predator.

"If you think a fox in the chicken coop is bad news, you wait until you get a pine marten in there," he said.

"These things are murderous, arboreal, killing machines. They can hunt on the tree tops, they can hunt on the ground."

Their decline in Wales in the early 1900s was put down to loss of habitat, fur hunting and a cull by gamekeepers.

Image copyright James Moore

David Baven of The Vincent Wildlife Trust said pine martens liked wooded areas and disputed concerns raised about them.

He said: "They are certainly not a killing machine. They are a predator, but a large part of their diet is made up of invertebrates and berries.

"They will take birds but they are not specialist bird predators. They don't leap around woodland hunting birds."

In June, three of the pine martens gave birth to five kits and Mr Baven said this showed the success of the relocation project.

He said pine martens were also preyed upon themselves and three have been killed by foxes this year.

"This is not just an iconic woodland species, but also a key missing element in the woodland ecosystem".

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