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Pine marten hair snag program garnering lots of interest from the public

CORNER BROOK The effort to get more people involved in helping gain a better understanding of the province’s pine marten population seems to be paying off.

Glenda Bateman of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre displays what volunteers use to take a hair sample of the pine marten.

While the provincial Department of Natural Resources, the wildlife division of the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation and the federal Canadian Forest Service have been studying pine marten for years, only four people came forth from the general public last year to volunteer for the pine marten hair snag program.

According to Glenda Bateman of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, the co-ordinator of the program, some 45 people or groups have now volunteered to help out and six more are awaiting their hair snag kits so they too can join the undertaking to gather valuable information about the marten’s range and population health.

“It’s great to see because it’s not just one type of people who wants to be involved and they are not just targetting one area,” said Bateman, who delivered a talk on the program to the Humber Natural History Society Tuesday evening. “When we initially began, we thought hunters, trappers and outfitters would be the only ones in the woods who would be interested. But we are seeing students, families taking it on as a fun project with their kids and even hiking groups all taking part.”

The program involves setting little wooden devices in areas where pine marten may be expected to frequent and checking the snags every week to 10 days for fur samples left behind by the critters.

Among the 45 active volunteers are the fish and wildlife and forestry classes at the College of the North Atlantic’s campus in Corner Brook and that school’s natural resources class in Bonavista. Two Level 2 students from Phoenix Academy in Carmanville have also come onboard.

There are three provincial parks involved, including Barachois Pond in western, Notre Dame in central and Butterpot on the Avalon Peninsula.

Conservation officers who work with the Conne River reserve have also agreed to do their part in that southern Newfoundland community.

“Having diverse groups in different areas is what makes it so perfect,” said Bateman. “Even the means of getting in to the woods will be different for each group. Some people will be using snowmobiles or ATVs, while others will be snowshoeing, walking or skiing.”

There are only three known major habitats for pine marten in Newfoundland. They include the western interior from Red Indian Lake to Grand Lake and George’s Lake, the Main River area on the Northern Peninsula and the Terra Nova area on the east coast.

Still, Bateman said it’s just as important to confirm where the animal does not frequent or what areas it may sometimes wander into.

The current information available to researchers is considered outdated. Consistent participation•on in this program for several consecutive years, said Bateman, will help give some updated insight into how the marten is faring.

The program is a joint undertaking of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre and the provincial wildlife division, with support from Environment Canada through its Habitat Stewardship Program.

Anyone wanting more information on participating in the program can contact Bateman at or call her at 637-2356 or email or call Emily Herdman at 637-2423.



What’s in a marten hair snag kit?

* 10 wooden hair snags

* Bottle of skunk scent to attract marten to area

* Sardines to bait snag

* Flag tape

* Sticky hair tabs

* Spare parts for snag

* Envelopes for hair samples

* Data sheet to record hair snag activity

* Instructions for setting up snag

* Larger envelop for mailing collected samples

Source: Glenda Bateman

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