Michigan Public Radio Environment Report on LRB’s Role in Preserving the Pine Marten

Here (with photos).

Nearly a hundred years ago a small animal that most people have never heard of was wiped out of the northern forest. In the mid-1980’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced the pine marten in two locations in the Lower Peninsula. They thought the population would take off and spread but it hasn’t. And now researchers are trying to find out why.

The pine marten is the smallest predator in the northern forest. It’s a member of the weasel family… related to otters and ferrets. It weighs roughly two to two-and-a half pounds, has big furry ears, a pointed nose, a bright orange patch on its chest and a bit of a temper.

“I don’t know how big of an animal they would take on but they do have a reputation for being quite fierce.”

Jill Witt is a wildlife biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She has a marten caught in a wire cage tucked next to a fallen log, half buried in twigs and leaf litter.

More than 80 years ago, martens lived in big pine trees before logging, wildfire and trapping wiped them out.

“And I think marten really is a good example of a species that can do well if the forest is allowed to recover and return to and continue on towards a more mature, possible even old growth state.”