The dating pool for American Marten in Unama’ki just took a leap forward with the release in the Highlands of five animals that were recently trapped in northern New Brunswick!

Lending a hand in the matchmaking were UINR staff members, Clifford Paul and Blair Bernard, along with representatives from Parks Canada and Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. “This is a monumental occasion,” Clifford notes, “It is very fitting that Mi’kmaq have a hand in re-establishing this native species to Unama’ki.”

A sprinkle of snow covered the ground when the plywood boxes that held the captured martens were unloaded. Three females and two males were checked over by a vet before computer chips were inserted under their skins so they can be identified in the future. Some were adorned with radio collars to allow staff to track their progress.

The shy and cautious martens waited until a quiet moment before peeking out of their plywood homes.

Once they spied an opening, they scurried off to their new Highland homes.

The American marten is native to Nova Scotia, but over the years, the population declined and, in 2001, it was added to the province’s endangered species list. Trapping and human encroachment on their habitat have led to their demise.

About the size of a small house cat, the distinction ends there. Their cute, inquisitive faces and soft coat belies their ferocious nature. The marten is carnivorous and its predatory personality strikes fear in the hearts of its dinner–squirrels, chipmunks, voles and rabbits, all of which are plentiful in the Highlands.

A major concern was that Cape Breton martens might be genetically different than the mainland population. Extensive testing revealed that the entire Maritime marten population is basically the same genetically.

101The plan is to release up to 50 martens a year over the next few years. It is hoped this will stabilize the population and that, in the future, the marten can be removed from the endangered list.

If our matchmaking is successful, you might be one of the lucky few to spot a reclusive marten in the wild!

Photo: Clifford Paul releases marten

From UINR Marten – Vol.3. Issue.4 – Winter 2007