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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Whereas Female Pumas allow other females to occupy their territory(with 1 male servicing them all), American female Pine Martens are solitary stakeholders in their home territory(same as 1 male occupying a home territory)...........My interpretation of this spacial requirement is that reproduction rates are thus limited ,,,,,,,,and in combination with decreasing mature mixed conifer/mixed hardwood forests to den in, American Pine Marten are not making the same comeback East of the Mississippi as quickly as a similar tree climbing carnivore, the Eastern Fisher............Noted biologists David Mech and Lynn Rogers long released and peer reviewed paper entitled HISTORY OF MARTENS IN MINNESOTA BEFORE 1970 provides an intriguing historical snapshot to the size of the Marten population just as Europeans began pouring into the Great Lakes Region of the Continent post the Revolutionary War, circa 1800.......................From the turn of the 19th Century right up to the beginning of the Civil War, Minnesota woodlands had a robust enough Marten population to sustain annual trapper kills anywhere from just under 300 to over 1000....................Then, as the forests were cut and burned, Marten populations gradually blinked out by the turn of the 20th Century...............Protected in Minnesota since the 30's and with returning mature conifer woodlands, the species has gradually increased it's numbers...............Continued protected habitat of this type in combination with limited trapping will enable this carnivore to be with us in the years ahead

American Pine Marten

Martes Americana

Pine martens are agile climbers and spend much of their time in trees. 

Pine Marten

Pine Marten 
The Shy and Curious American Pine Marten
Also called the American marten, the pine marten ranges in forests and woodlands across Alaska, Canada and the northern United States. They prefer mixed conifer and hardwood forests that supply their prey, dens and protection. Though they average 21-26 inches from nose to the tip of their tail, their bushy tails comprise about a third of their total length. Their soft fur ranges from a pale buff to dark brown. 

Usually shy and curious, pine martens are also solitary and territorial. Neither sex will allow another marten of the same sex in their home territory, though males will tolerate the presence of multiple females. An average male defends a territory of approximately 1-3 square miles. Females are somewhat less enterprising, occupying territories of up to one square mile. An adult marten will usually cover its entire territory in 8-10 days, hunting as it goes. 

Pine martens are agile climbers and spend much of their time in trees, where they prey on squirrels and chipmunks. Their diet also includes mice, hares, shrews, birds, bird eggs, amphibians, reptiles, insects, fish, crayfish, nuts, fruit and carrion. Pine martens often make their nests in trees, bearing annual litters of 2-4 young in March or April. Born blind and helpless, the kits’ eyes open after about six weeks, then reach their adult weight at about three months. 

Although the IUCN lists the pine marten as Lower Risk, they are Endangered or locally extinct in some parts of their range.



L. David Mech and Lynn L. Rogers

The former abundance and eventual
reduction of the pine marten in northern
Minnesota are documented in the records of
fur buyers. Three to 271 marten pelts were
purchased each year from 1801-1808
at Henry's Post on the Red River, and
approximately 1,000 pelts were purchased by
a fur trader on Lake Superior in 1856
(Swanson 1940).

 In 1857, approximately
1,600 marten pelts were collected from 5
posts in Minnesota (Schorger 1942). The
Joseph Ullmann Company purchased 43 marten
skins from H. Miller of Lake Superior City
(sic) in 1863 and bought 96 skins in Crow
Wing County in 1871.

A decline in pine martens became evident in the
 late 1800's (Swanson 1940). The
Joseph Ullmann Company purchased less than
100 marten pelts in Minnesota between 1872
and 1890. Nevertheless, martens continued
to persist in a few areas. Three trappers
took 43 martens from the vicinity of
Caldwell Brook in Koochiching County between
December 1894 and May 1895 (Swanson et at.
1945), and 2 trappers from Beltrami County
took 22 martens in 1897 (Swanson 1940).
However, even these pockets were decimated
by the early 1900's (Johnson 1922, Swanson
1940, Timn 1975). The last marten recorded
in Beltrami County was taken in 1918
(Schorger 1942), and the last one captured
in northwestern Minnesota was taken in the
Northwest Angle in 1920 (Swanson et al.

The decline of the pine marten occurred
during the settlement of northern Minnesota.
Trapping pressure undoubtedly had increased,
and during the late 1800's and early 1900's
much of northern Minnesota was logged (Dana
et al. 1960). Most of what was logged was
burned, and even the virgin forests of
northeastern Minnesota experienced twice as
many fires from 1868 to 1910 as they had
before 1868 (exceptionally large areas
burned in 1863, 1864, and 1894) (Heinselman
1973). Consequently, the mature coniferous
habitat preferred by the pine marten
 was greatly reduced during the late
1800's and early 1900's.

 Yeager (1950)
concluded that logging is the single most
destructive factor to marten populations.
Evidence of pine martens in Minnesota
after 1920 is restricted to the northeastern
corner of the State. In winter 1928-1929,
Mike West (personal communication, 1976) an
experienced trapper, found several sets of
marten tracks in Cook County between
Mountain and Moose Lakes near the Canadian
border. Art Allen, a game warden, also
found tracks near Cherokee Lake in Cook
County in 1938 (handwritten report in files
of the Minnesota Department
2of Natural Resources). Moreover, lumberjacks of the
 Consolidated Paper Company
accidently captured several pine martens
in weasel (.Mustela spp.) traps in the
vicinity of Chester Lake in Cook County in
the mid 1930's (Mike West, personal
communication, 1976).

The Chester Lake
location had been made accessible only
shortly before by a newly constructed
logging road. The two other areas mentioned above were virgin conifer stands
according to maps published by Heinselman
(1973) and Marschner (1930).
Martens have been completely
protected in Minnesota since 1933.
However, the species has a low biotic
potential (Marshall 1942), which may
partly explain the population's low rate
of increase. Nevertheless, it appears
that a more important factor may have been
the scarcity of preferred habitat with its

The forests have
been largely protected from fire since the
early 1900's (Heinselman 1973), and fire
protection generally results in an
increase in shade-tolerant conifers,
particularly balsam fir (Abies baleamea)
and spruce (.Pioea spp.). Such protection
from fire may have led to an improvement
of marten habitat and an Increase in
associated prey species in northeastern
Minnesota. Currently, most of the stands
of aspen (.Fopulus spp.) and paper birch
that arose following fires in the early
1900's are being succeeded by spruce and

Marten numbers apparently began increasing in Minnesota during the 1950's
and 1960's. Between 1953 and 1963, four
martens were trapped in northern St.
Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties in the
Superior National Forest (Stenlund 1955a,
Gunderson 1965). A fifth specimen was
captured in Lake County in 1969 (Maxham

MINNESOTA, 1970-1976

The marten population of northeastern
Minnesota increased markedly in the early
1970's as evidenced by the fact that 50
martens were captured or sighted during
that period (fig. I): 33 in Cook County,
9 in Lake County, 5 in St. Louis County,
and 1 in Koochiching County. Thirteen of
the martens were observed in 1972, 12 in
1973, 5 in 1974, 10 in 1975, and 10 in the
first 9 months of 1976.

We attribute the lack of marten
records from the BWCA to the fact that the
area is largely inaccessable during the
trapping season rather than to a paucity
of martens. In fact, we consider the BWCA
with its dense, virgin stands of conifers
as a probable reservoir for martens.
Locations where marten tracks were found
in 1928-29 and in 1938 (see above) were
both in the BWCA, suggesting that at least
some of the populations from which the
recent expansion arose may exist in the

An increase in martens similar to that in
Minnesota apparently occurred in Ontario
The increase in production of marten pelts
in Ontario occurred despite a drop in fur
prices and despite only slight increases
in the number of registered trap lines (M.
Novak, personal communication, 1976). The
vegetation history of Ontario adjacent to
Minnesota is similar to that of Minnesota,
and it seems possible that the increase in
both Ontario and Minnesota were due to the
same factor(s). Further evidence that
similar factors affected both Ontario and
Minnesota marten populations is that
martens in both areas declined when the
areas were logged.

A gross examination of cover types in
the marten home ranges indicates that the
animals ranged through a variety of
vegetation. Generally the areas inhabited
by the radioed martens were similar to
much of the rest of the forest, which was
logged and/or burned primarily between
1890 and 1920 (Stenlund 1955b).

Examination of the specific daytime
resting sites of the radioed martens also
indicates that they used a variety of
forest cover types. About the only
 generalization that can be drawn from the
data is that most of the resting sites
were situated in stands of conifers, many
of which included some white birch and/or
aspen (table 2). A high percentage of the
marten captures and sightings were also in
conifer-dominated areas or mixed stands
(fig. 1 and Marschner 1930).

Marshall (1942) concluded that
martens are adaptable in their use of
cover types. He found martens primarily in
conifer stands, but apparently there were
few stands of deciduous trees in his study
area (Marshall 1951). In Ontario, DeVos
(1952) stressed the marten's need for
mature timber, disagreed that conifer
cover makes the best habitat, and stated
that mixed stands appear best. However,
DeVos et at. (1959) later reported
excellent evidence that areas of mature
conifers produced greater numbers of
martens than did interspersed areas having
fewer mature conifers. Further, Koehler
et al. (1975) studied martens in
coniferous forests in Idaho and found that
they preferred stands with canopy cover
greater than 30 percent.

Although martens are known to be good
swimmers (DeVos 1952), we have found no
records of distances over which they can
swim. Thus, it is interesting to note
that male Marten 2808 swam across Birch
Lake twice between May 7 and May 29, 1973
(fig. 2). He could have crossed at a
point only 30 m wide, just east of his
known range, but if he took the most
direct route between his locations on each
side of the lake, he would have had to
swim at least 64 m.


If the present increase in martens in
northeastern Minnesota and the apparent
increase in adjacent Ontario are indeed
due to maturing forests and increases in
shade-tolerant conifers, marten numbers
should continue to rise for some time to
come. It currently is uneconomical to
harvest much of the aspen-birch-fir timber
that abounds in the Superior National
Forest because the stands are located so
far from the mills that transportation
costs make cutting of such stands
unprofitable. If the virgin forests of
the BWCA indeed serve as reservoirs for
the marten, the no-cut policies that
continue in effect in the Interior Zone of
the BWCA further enhance the future of the
marten in Minnesota.

 Martens are
protected in Minnesota and are taken only
accidentally in traps set for other
species. They apparently are increasing
despite this level of exploitation.
However, martens are very easily trapped,
and their numbers can easily be decimated
by over-trapping (Yeager 1950, DeVos 1952,
DeVos et al. 1959). Therefore, no
legalized trapping is recommended.
Studies should be conducted to determine
the extent to which the relatively
inaccessable virgin conifer stands of the
BWCA actually serve as a reservoir for
martens in northeastern Minnesota.

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