Pine Marten

Durham Priority Species
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Pine Marten Action Plan


1. Establish and maintain a comprehensive understanding of pine marten distribution and status.
2. Protect, maintain and enhance habitat features required by pine marten
3. Increase the numbers and range of pine marten

Vision Statement:  To have a viable and sustainable population in at least one suitable location in the Durham area

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the population of pine marten in the Durham BAP area. maintain occupied km squares tbc

Pine martens are members of the Weasel family (Mustelids) and are related to the otter and the badger.  Historically a species of woodland and upland with a wide UK distribution, persecution in the 19th century reduced pine marten distribution to the North West Highlands of Scotland, with some reported small relict populations in North Yorkshire and the North West of England.

Pine martens are generalist feeders taking a variety of small mammal and bird prey along with plant materials and invertebrates.

Local status

In common with most of the UK the pine marten was declared extinct in the north east of England by the late 19th century, however in the 1960s and 70s pine martens began to be reported in Northumberland, North Yorkshire and rarely in Durham. Since that time there have been more reports of pine martens mostly in Northumberland and North Yorkshire, with a few road casualty corpses retrieved. In Durham the situation remains one of rumour and occasional reports of sightings. It is not known whether the north eastern pine marten population (should it be proven to exist) is the result of natural colonisation, introduction, escapes from fur farms or a combination of all three.


If a small relict or newly established population exists then it could be subject to:

  • the effects of isolation.
  • persecution including accidental trapping and killing by game keepers.
  • road traffic mortality.
  • habitat fragmentation.