American Pine Marten
Image taken by Phillip Myers
American Pine Marten
The American Pine Marten, or Martes americana, is a small, agile predator. They are about the size of a cat with a bushy tail that is about half the length of their body. A larger male Marten might be 20 inches long and weigh only 2-3 pounds. The Marten lives in forests around Canada and in the Northern half of the United States. The largest population of Martens in the contiguous United States is in and around Yellowstone National Park. Pine martens are extremely agile, nimble predators. Their strong claws and light body allow them to easily climb through the trees. They can jump squirrel-like from tree to tree, and if, as unlikely as it is, they do fall, their small body twists to land on their feet. Because of this, they can land on their feet from up to 20 yards up. pine Martens mark trails on trees using their scent glands. The pine Marten is one of the only predators that would have a chance to catch a squirrel in the trees, however Martens find most of their prey on the ground. Because the forests they live in don’t have much prey, these omnivores will eat almost anything, including red squirrels, mice, voles, shrews, frogs, fruit, birds, rabbits, and insects. American pine martens build dens in small empty ground or tree hollows leftover from other animals. Martens are usually solitary, except for mating and kit-rearing. A female pine marten will have about 2-3 kits around April, who will mature at around 2 years old and live for about 10 years. Pine martens are excellent swimmers.
Why Are They Endangered?
There aren’t many threats to the pine Marten, but the ones they do have include humans, habitat loss, and hunting for their pelts. Despite these threats, the pine Martens' numbers have managed to stay pretty level. There have been some habitat loss and fragmentation, but thankfully the pine Marten still lives in most of their original habitat. In some places there have been local population drops and local extinctions, but pine Martens have managed to come back where they are threatened, with help. Another problem facing the pine Marten is hunting. There is a lot of demand for the pine Marten's pelts, so hunting for them is another major problem. Another reason they are endangered are the forest fires and deforestation facing the trees they call home. Regardless of these many threats, the American pine Marten is not even really considered endangered and is ranked least concern, though their population is decreasing.
Image by Tim Gage
Image by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Image by NH53
Image by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Image by Daryl L. Hunter
Image by Daryl L. Hunter
American pine Martens are predators so they help keep all the many prey species they eat in check. This is important so that prey species don’t get out of control and eat too much of the foliage. Everything is usually in balance, and without one species the entire forest will become unbalanced. Deforestation also threatens the forests the American pine Marten calls home, so when we help save the pine Marten, we help save the forest and all the animals and plants who depend on it. This is why it is important to help endangered animals, because each threatened animal threatens every other species on this planet. Everything is connected.
What Can You Do?
The main thing you can do is support measures to protect the forests, the American pine Marten and all the other animals who call it home. Deforestation is a huge problem facing forests all over the world, and one that causes drought and forest fires, two problems that not only face animals and plants, but humans too. It is in every single being's best interest to help create a more sustainable balanced environment for all. Another thing you can do to help is donate to organizations dedicated to helping animals and the environment. You can also educate people about the amazing, agile, nimble, squirrel-catching weasel that is the American Pine Marten!
Ellis, E. 1999. "Martes americana" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 05, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Martes_americana/
American Marten. (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2020, from http://animalia.bio/american-marten
Pine Marten / American Pine Marten. (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2020, from http://www.greater-yellowstone.com/animals/Pine-Marten.html
*all pictures and videos used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.