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Letter: New Forest pine marten no more a killer than a weasel

TO reply to PR Whitfield re ‘pine martens are another goshawk error’ (A&T Letters 2nd Feb). The forestry team view a lot of trail camera evidence to record marten numbers. These cameras work 24 hours a day. The gamekeepers of the 19th century wiped out the pine marten in order that ‘the lord’ could enjoy shooting pheasants.

Mr Whitfield states the he worked on an estate in Yorkshire where martens were as common as foxes; if this was the case he would have been sacked, as foxes were preserved for the hunt, but not so the martens, and the sight of one would not have boded well with the ‘laird’.

A pine marten in the New Forest (picture: Martin Noble)
A pine marten in the New Forest (picture: Martin Noble)

The marten eats squirrels, so would have plenty of food in the New Forest, the red squirrel does not live here, so only the grey. The marten is no more a voracious killer than the other thorn of old in the keeper’s side, the weasel and stoat, and they were hammered through time on game preserves. Let us look forward to seeing the phantom and XL bully where and when we can.

Pine martens, like the fox, never kill for fun, they kill as many birds or mammals as they can in order to cache for a later time. The only mammal that kills for fun is ‘homo sapiens’.

CE Lock

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AFTER reading of the enthusiasm of some of pine martens now once again in the New Forest, I noted with interest the comment by PR Whitefield (A&T Letters 2nd Feb) how destructive these creatures are, and pointing out that they are “killers for the sake of it” and their main diet was squirrel.

Strangely enough, while living in Germany, their main diet was rubber wires from underneath the overnight parked cars there!

Then in France, precautions had to be taken so that they did not get into the roof void of properties to set up their nests in order to prepare for giving birth to their kits around February. There they remained for around six weeks and, the aroma they produced from waste was more than absolutely stinking shocking.

M Hill

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