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Elusive pine marten returns to the Forest of Dean
“As native omnivores, pine martens play a vital role in the delicate balance of woodland ecosystems."

Woodland creature has not been seen in the forest since 1860 

The elusive pine marten, once widespread thought the UK, has been reintroduced to the Forest of Dean.

Eighteen of the creatures were successfully released into the forest between August and September. The pine martens were moved from Scotland and fitted with tracking collars.

Their activity will now be closely monitored by Dr Catherine McNicol from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

“Pine martens are elusive and shy animals, with their presence often only indicated by scats in the middle of forestry tracks,” Dr McNicol explained. 

“They only give birth to a few kits each year if breeding is even successful, so the rate of marten population recovery in the UK is low. It is hoped that their protection, alongside these reintroductions, will give them the boost they need to become resilient and thrive.”

With their slim bodies and long, bushy tails, pine martens were once common throughout Britain. However, extensive hunting together with the loss of habitat has resulted in their near extinction in England. The last official sighting of a pine marten in the Forest of Dean was 1860.

Historically, pine martens were pushed to the outer edges of the UK, becoming Britain’s second rarest carnivore. Eventually, their only remaining stronghold was in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. 

Conservationists hope the animals will repopulate the forest and, eventually, spread and merge with the recently-introduced Welsh pine martens. The project will be overseen by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, Vincent Wildlife Trust and Forest Research.

Rebecca Wilson from Forestry England said: “As native omnivores, pine martens play a vital role in the delicate balance of woodland ecosystems. Living at low densities in the landscape, they forage on fruit, fungi and a range of prey including the grey squirrel, a non-native species which is having a detrimental impact on broadleaf woodland throughout England.

“We are looking forward to working with volunteers, local communities and partner organisations to monitor how the pine martens are moving throughout the Forest of Dean and the wider landscape.”

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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."