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Keywords:

  • pine marten;
  • non-invasive;
  • hair;
  • monitoring;
  • population

Abstract

The pine marten Martes martes was once considered one of Ireland's rarest carnivores, but is now recolonizing many of the areas where it was once extirpated. It is important to monitor its population expansion so that conservation management decisions can be made regarding the status of this species. In this study, we investigate the use of fur snagging devices as a method of estimating pine marten presence and abundance in lowland and upland broadleaf woodland. We investigated whether these devices reliably detected presence, and how quickly. It was found that hair traps functioned very well in detecting pine martens on all survey transects and was essential in their detection in the most isolated site. A survey length of 6 days was sufficient to detect pine marten in all survey sites, with most detections occurring within the first 4 days. The hair traps functioned equally well as scat location for detecting pine marten and had the added advantage of there being no confusion as to the origin of the sample. Live trapping was used to verify the estimates of relative abundance from hair traps. There was a trend for the number of hair samples per site and the number of times animals were trapped per site to be positively correlated, although this was not significant. Hair traps do provide a real alternative for the monitoring of pine martens in both lowland and upland broadleaf woodlands, overcoming many of the disadvantages associated with scat location.