Largest ever study of rare pine
THE largest ever count
of one of Ireland's rarest native mammals - the pine
marten - will be undertaken next year.
Hair samples from the cat-sized creature will be
collected in 11,000 hectares of forestry throughout
the country as part of a genetic wildlife study.
Fieldworkers from Waterford Institute of Technology
will work in collaboration with the Agri-food
Biosciences Institute of Northern Ireland to
determine the abundance of the protected species.
As part of the project, pine marten hair samples
will be taken from their woodland habitats during
the spring and summer of 2016.
The samples will be analysed to establish data
including the mammals' population numbers; unique
genetic markers; geographic distribution and ratio
of males to females.
The Pine Marten in Ireland. Photo:
The pine marten is one
of Ireland's rarest native mammals.
The forest dweller eats berries, seeds, frogs and
birds and became almost extinct in the twentieth
century due to fur-hunting, habitat-loss and
The slow-breeding mammal, with its distinctive dark
fur and cream-coloured chest, only managed to
survive in small numbers in isolated areas along the
The wide-ranging new survey is being funded by the
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
"The population data collected will be used to
assess the conservation status, management needs and
future monitoring of this species in Ireland," the
NPWS said in a statement.