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Pine marten vet talks at London Vet Show

'Veterinary input into the Vincent Wildlife Trust's Pine Marten Recovery Project' Gallery Suite 9, 15.30, Thursday 17th November

WVI's Dr Alex Tomlinson and Dr John Lewis will explain the ins and outs of providing veterinary expertise for a carnivore translocation project

The Pine Marten Recovery Project was set up and is run by Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT). They brought Alex's expertise on board to carry out the initial Disease Risk Analysis (DRA) for the proposed translocations. It is very important that a disease outbreak isn't incurred due to the introduction of new animals to an area, nor that the translocated animals suffer disease as a consequence of the translocation. It is so important in fact, that the IUCN Reintroduction Group stress the need for a DRA in their Guidelines for Reintroductions and other Translocations (2013). 

Pine Marten carried from VetVan to modified car to be transported to the pre release pens in Wales. Credit VWT

Pine Martens spend some time in the Recovery Van before being transported to the pre release pens in Wales. Credit Nick Upton

WVI could deliver a range of experience and expertise to the team at VWT; delivering the DRA, on site vets throughout the translocations themselves and to monitor disease post-release. What is a pine marten? No relation to the house martin (a bird), the European pine marten (Martes martes) was once a common British carnivore, a member of the weasel family (Mustelidae). Persecuted by Victorian game keepers amongst others, numbers plummeted so they are currently all but extinct in England, in very low numbers in Wales but fortunately thriving in Scotland where conservation measures have allowed the pine marten a comeback. What is being done? The Recovery Project’s current aims are to supplement populations in Wales, where persecution and habitat loss have reduced numbers to a non-viable level. Pine martens of breeding age from known thriving populations in Scotland will be used. In 2015, 20 pine martens were moved from Scotland (where protection measures have meant numbers have increased) to Wales (where persecution and habitat loss have reduced the population to a non-viable level). The translocations were a success and several females bred, indicating the translocation process had not interrupted the breeding. In Autumn 2016, 19 pine martens were translocated to territories adjacent to the 2015 releases. One fewer because typically the traps were filled with too many unsuitable pine martens for translocation. Unsuitable pine martens were released where they were caught.


So how do you catch a pine marten?And what constitutes a pine marten fit for translocation?

What happens in the VetVan?

Find out more from Alex and John at the London Vet Show, Thursday 17th Sept, BVZS Stream, Gallery Suit 9, 15.30

"Veterinary input into this population reinforcement project focuses on the health and welfare of pine martens, directly and indirectly affected by the translocation programme, but does not stop there", explains Alex. "We consider it our role to ensure due consideration is given to the health and welfare of other wildlife species, domesticated animals, humans and the wider ecosystem. To that end we undertook a disease risk analysis, involving key stakeholders throughout. In addition, we developed protocols for practical aspects of the project, and built into both of these phases, methods for review and potential revision of plans as the project evolve." Learning outcomes:

  • The challenges of disease risk analysis methodology in practice
  • How to reach consensus when working with a variety of stakeholders
  • Practical issues of working with wildlife in the field

We would like to thank BVZS for giving us the opportunity to talk to vets about our work. And VWT, Mary Skilton, Reed Foundation and the public for funding the project to date. On 29th November, we are taking part in the UK's biggest online match funding campaign. Donate that week and get your donation doubled. #ChristmasChallenge16. Thank you to the following organisations have pledged to match donations during the week: