'Delight' as pine martens give birth in Wales

Pine marten Image copyright James Moore

Pine martens relocated from Scotland in a bid to save the mammals from extinction in Wales have given birth to their first offspring.

Hidden cameras have confirmed three of the 10 females have had at least five kits.

A total of 20 animals were released into the wild in Ceredigion and Powys last autumn by the Vincent Wildlife Trust, a mammal research charity.

A further 10 pairs are due to be relocated to Wales later this year.

Trust boss Natalie Buttriss said: "I am absolutely delighted.

"We have been waiting with bated breath for months to see if breeding would be successful."

The Pine Marten Recovery Project aims to restore a viable pine marten population to Wales and England.

Loss of habitat, fur hunting and a cull by gamekeepers in the early 1900s have been blamed for their decline.

Image copyright Jenny Macpherson
Image caption Pine Marten kits in a den box

Mike Townsend from the Woodland Trust, one of the project's partners, said pine martens were "not just an iconic woodland species, but also a key missing element in the woodland ecosystem".

He added: "This recovery project demonstrates the importance of ensuring connectivity of good wildlife habitats across wide areas, so this beautiful and rare creature can thrive and hopefully spread more widely across the country."

The animals were released into woodland owned by Natural Resources Wales.

They are being radio tracked by staff and volunteers to monitor their movements and behaviour patterns.

Other partners in the project are the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Chester Zoo, Wildlife Vets International and Exeter university.

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