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Letters: Excited, wary and confused about pine martens in the New Forest

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SIR – The letter from Peter Whitfield (Letters, 20 August) was indeed rather predictable, as he had anticipated.

It was, of course, Mr Whitfield’s predecessors who caused pine martens to become extinct over most of England back in Victorian times – this, in the interests of game preservation!

Nowadays, thankfully, many land managers regard native predators of all types as an essential part of our ecosystems and many of them, including pine martens, now receive the legal protection they deserve.

Most of the people that I meet are excited about the fact that pine martens have now returned to the Forest after a gap of over 100 years, and those who share Mr Whitfield’s views are few and far between.

Martin Noble,
Chair of the Hampshire Mammal Group


SIR – Peter Whitfield’s warning of pine martens in the Forest (Letters, 20th August) should be taken seriously.

I know that animals coming back to areas where they once roamed sounds very romantic and there are always assurances that their modus operandi will be controlled and monitored etc, but in this case, unless they are actually behind bars, it is wishful thinking.

There is a parallel scenario to this taking place in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire concerning the wild boar.

These animals had been extinct for 300 years in the forest, although recently some were originally kept in captivity for their meat. Inevitably a small number found their way into the forest in 2008 despite them coming under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.

Since then they have bred almost like rabbits and despite culling and death by road traffic accidents, their numbers currently stand at an estimated population of 1,200.

The New Forest could see a return of the pine marten (photo: Martin Noble)
The New Forest could see a return of the pine marten (photo: Martin Noble)

Their main forte is the destruction of land. Now expanding beyond the boundaries of the forest they also pose a danger to human beings. A full blown male can weigh up to 200kg.

The same could happen with the pine marten. Although a much slower breeder than the wild boar, they are much smaller, more secretive and much more deadly to native species.

Down here their only enemy is man but because they are an endangered species, they are protected, so that leaves them free to breed undisturbed.

All may be well at the moment but be aware, all those ground-nesting birds and other less common species of bird and mammal will be fair game, assigning to the dustbin many years of hard work by man to encourage sustainable levels of population of other species.

As Peter Whitfield says: be warned!

John Walsh,
Address supplied


SIR – Mr Whitfield is concerned the pine marten kills for fun (Letters, 20th August). In the same letter he states he spent 60 years looking after the menu. This would be game birds reared to be shot, for fun.

If Homo sapiens kill for fun, then Mr Whitfield approves; however, if a pine marten does so, then not so. All a bit confusing.

C.E. Lock,

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