Glovertown biologist encouraged by pine marten trap tests at the Grassy Place

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Frank Gale
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Grassy Place, a Nature Conservancy of Canada protected site along the Robinsons River, is seen in this submitted photo.

After spending many long hours alone at Grassy Place during the winter, biologist John Gosse was encouraged by results of trap tests on the threatened Newfoundland pine marten.

The Glovertown man spent three to four days at a time at the location between late February and the end of March, staying in a tiny log cabin and checking hair snag traps he put out on his first outing.

“A lot of animals visited the traps and there were lots of samples, which have now been sent on to a laboratory for DNA testing,” Gosse said in a telephone interview on Monday.

That testing will prove how many different Newfoundland pine marten visited the traps. While awaiting the results, Gosse suspects several different animals will be identified.

“There was a lot of drifting snow when I was up there and fresh tracks spread over a large area, so that’s encouraging in regards to multiple animals,” he said.

He visited the remote property by snowshoe and skis while monitoring the sites.

Gosse said this area hasn’t been checked for some time, so this is new information for that particular part of the province.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada was pleased to hear Gosse’s news about the threatened animal, whose species has a population estimated between 600 and 900 in the world.

The conservancy launched the project to investigate whether the species can be found using Grassy Place — a 3,700-acre Nature Conservancy of Canada protected site along Robinsons River in southwest Newfoundland — as habitat.

A species at risk, the Newfoundland pine marten has a slender body, short limbs, and a long bushy tail. Its dark brown fur is contrasted by a distinctive orange patch on its throat. Swift but small, the skilled hunters weigh about a kilogram and measure 50-60 centimetres in length.

Lanna Campbell, the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s program manager said with the field portion of the research completed, the Nature conservancy is now working with the Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training Network at Memorial University to establish individual identification of the hair samples.

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada, Robinsons River

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