Forest of Dean Pine martens

A project to individually identify and monitor pine martens in the Forest of Dean. Contains two sub-projects, one with video footage and one with photos.

This project is available for public Spotting but Trapping is restricted. If you would like to join this project as a Trapper please contact us at info@mammalweb.org.

Competition Time!

*** For every classification submitted to the Forest of Dean Pine Marten Project between April 15th and May 1st  2022 you will receive a ticket to be entered into a prize draw. The lucky winner will receive a new camera trap and a runner up will win a copy of the excellent book ‘Pine Martens’ by Johnny Birks. Trying to ID a pine marten to individual level takes concentration and can be time consuming, therefore for each classification you submit that contains an individual ID, you will receive a bonus ticket for the prize draw. We will announce the winner on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and in next month's newsletter, if you have any questions, please contact us at info@mammalweb.org. Best of luck - and get spotting! ***

 

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, Forest Research and Vincent Wildlife Trust are collaborating on a project to reintroduce pine martens to the Forest of Dean. In September 2019 the first individuals were released in to the forest. Translocated animals were collared and radio-tracked when first introduced to the Forest of Dean, but most of these collars have now naturally fallen off. In addition to this, several of the introduced females gave birth to kits in 2020. This means that only way to track many of the individuals now living in the Forest of Dean is through camera trapping. This project contains camera trap footage collected in collaboration with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and aims to individually identify and monitor the reintroduced pine marten population in the Forest of Dean and surrounding area.

*Update* This project now also contains footage of newly reintroduced pine martens, some of which is from the release pens. These pens provide a safe space for the animals to get used to their new environment and a place for food to be provisioned while they locate the best foraging spots in their new home. This footage helps us monitor how the new animals are settling in and will help provide us with clear footage of individuals which will help with identifying and monitoring them as they spread out through the Forest of Dean and surrounding area. 

Pine martens have a 'bib' of creamy-yellow fur that extends from under their chin down their chest. However, the size, shape and pattern of this bib fur varies between animals, with no two pine marten bibs being the same. This means that we can use this bib patterns to identify and monitor individuals. Identifying pine martens individuals from camera trap footage helps us to monitor the population and understand where particular pine martens have set up territory, which other individuals they interact with, whether they are likely to have bred and how many individuals in total are in the population.

Each pine marten is given a unique identification name when they are translocated. Each ID begins with ‘FD’ which stands for Forest of Dean, followed by a number relating to the order they were released in. This ID name allows us to differentiate between martens introduced to Wales who’s names begin with ‘PM’ standing for pine marten and those originally released in the Forest of Dean, as it is likely these populations will join up in coming years! When spotting on this project you will see the normal species list on the right, but also a tab containing profiles of different pine marten individuals known to be living in the Forest of Dean. Each profile contains some information about that animal along with images and a diagram of it's bib markings. This can be used to help identify whether or not that individual is present in a camera trap photo or video. Identifying individual pine martens can be tricky, so please check out our top tips below to help you get started. If you believe you have found a pine marten that is not one the ID options available please classify it as a ‘New pine marten’. If you believe the footage is not possible to ID to individual, e.g. you can’t see the bib markings, please classify it as ‘Unidentifiable pine marten’ but if you are able to tell if it is male or female please still add that information. If you have narrowed it down to a couple of individuals but are unsure you can always select the individual you think is most likely but add others you think it might be in the notes box.

Tips on how to identify a pine marten using its bib pattern

  1. Pick out really obvious markings from the image or video of the marten you see (the edges tend to be really variable in their patches and wiggles).
  2. Look through the pine marten profiles or skim through the crib sheet of bibs to discount as many individuals as possible and come up with a shortlist of likely candidates
  3. Find the photos with the clearest view of the bib, or, if it is a video, re-watch the video and pause it at points where you have a really clear shot of the bib (either from the side or the front, or check the photos again) and match the most obvious markings to the pictures on the profiles/ crib sheet.
  4. Skim through all of the images on your crib sheet again to check you haven’t overlooked any individuals.
  5. Look at the close up images of the marten bibs to find the best match.
  6. Remember to check if the marten is wearing a collar and this matches the information available – this can limit your options and help with identification
  7. You can also check to see if nipples are visible – suggesting it is i) a female and ii) she may have kits.
  8. Sometimes it is almost impossible to identify an individual but in this instance a shortlist of individuals is more useful to us than nothing. Select the individual you think is most likely but add other possibilities in the comments box.
  9. Some videos or photo sequences may contain footage that you are confident is a pine marten, but that will not be possible to identify to individual as there is no clear view of the bib. E.g. a pine marten tail disappearing out of shot. If this is the case then please classify as 'unidentifiable pine marten'. This helps us sort through the footage and filter the most useful photos and videos. 

 This project contains two sub projects, one containing video footage and one containing photo sequences. Please select the sub project you would prefer to classify from by clicking on the links below, or classify a mixture of video and photo footage by clicking the 'Classify this project' above.

View or download a copy of the latest crib sheet here.

 

This project has the following subprojects:

Pine marten photos

Pine marten videos