Chester Zoo is a major partner in this project initiated by the Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) that aims to restore viable, self-sustaining populations of pine martens to England and Wales.
The project translocated pine martens from Scotland to carefully selected sites in Wales. European pine marten populations have declined dramatically in the UK. By the 20th century pine martens had mostly disappeared from their once extensive UK range, due to widespread forest clearance and predator control practices.
Today the pine marten’s distribution throughout the UK is patchy, with complete absence from most of England and only very occasional sightings in Wales. Fortunately, due to lower persecution pressures in Scotland, populations began to recover in the 1930s, leading to recolonization of large areas.
Following extensive feasibility studies the Vincent Wildlife Trust developed this project; with Chester Zoo as a major partner providing significant financial, technical and field assistance. Our technical input has involved advice on animal transportation, analysis of stress hormones from scats, plus design and construction of soft release enclosures.
Chester Zoo has been involved with building the release pens used during the soft release process in Wales. Chester Zoo conservation scholar, David Bavin is currently conducting his PhD at the University of Exeter supervised by Professor Robbie McDonald and Dr Jenny Macpherson and is seeking to answer questions related to how we can learn from conservation translocations in order to inform future activities and maximise their success rate.
David seeks to learn how individual personality relates to how pine marten respond to translocation, and how this is reflected physiologically