National Trust attracts pine martens with... jam and eggs

A pine marten attracted to a feeder Image copyright Vincent Wildlife Trust
Image caption Pine martens can be identified by unique markings on their fronts

Pine martens have been successfully lured to new woodland homes using two special treats - jam and eggs.

Wildlife trusts have been relocating the mammals from Scotland since 2015 in an attempt to save them from extinction in Wales.

National Trust rangers have since been encouraging them to broaden their territory to neighbouring woodlands.

They have now been seen in the trust's woods near Bryn Bras in Ceredigion and Dolmelynllyn in Gwynedd.

Pine martens were once common in Wales but came close to extinction by the 20th Century.

Their decline has been blamed on the loss of habitat, fur hunting and a cull by gamekeepers.

National Trust ecologist Corrinne Benbow said the pine martens were encouraged to explore the locations using strawberry jam and raw eggs - described as two of their "favourite delicacies".

To identify the mammals and track them, researchers hung the food above the ground to force them to stretch for their dinner.

The unique markings on their chests can then be photographed and used to identify them.

Image copyright Robert Cruickshanks
Image caption The animals are among the rarest in Wales

The pine marten

  • Relatives include weasels, polecats and otters
  • Similar in size to a small cat
  • Diet includes small mammals, fruit, birds, eggs and insects
  • Mate in July and August and up to five young called kits are born the following spring

The Vincent Wildlife Trust runs the project to relocate the pine martens from Scotland to Wales.

"It's great to hear that the pine martens are expanding their territories into new sites," said Josie Bridges, of the Vincent Trust.

At the time, the project was criticised by one landowner, who described the animals as "killing machines" amid concerns the pine martens would kill wild birds.

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