American Marten: A Michigan wildlife success story
February 20, 2012
The UM Animal Diversity web page on the American marten (Martes americana) says that American marten, also known as pine marten, are found in the northern reaches of North America and sporadically in Michigan, primarily in mature, northern forests:
These animals are closely associated with lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, spruce, and mixed harwood forests. They tend to be found in structurally complex, mature forests, and can occur at all elevations where such habitat exists. They den in hollow trees, crevices, or vacant ground burrows.
…American martens are somewhat arboreal (tree dwelling) and move with great ease in trees. They mark scent trails from tree to tree with their strong scent glands. In spite of this, they are reported to do most of their hunting on the ground. Most hunting occurs at dusk and dawn, when prey species are most active. In addition, these animals are accomplished swimmers and can even swim under water.
…Home range sizes vary considerably with habitat and prey densities. American martens do not hibernate and is active all winter.
According to records, the American marten was eliminated from Michigan around the 1930s. Removal of the mature evergreen forests and unregulated harvest of martens reduced the species to small populations in the Upper Peninsula. These eventually disappeared from the state. The 1927-28 Biennial Report stated, “They (marten and fisher) are so nearly exterminated in Michigan that there appears no chance they will ever come back.” Recovery efforts were initiated as early as 1958 with releases of captured martens into the Upper Peninsula Porcupine Mountains. Additional releases in the UP were conducted in the 1970s.
…Biologists have followed their progress over the years tracking pine martens to learn about their habitat use and home range needs. These studies along with sighting reports from hunters and other recreationists and incidental catches indicated the martens were readapting to their native Michigan.
During the review of the current Endangered Species List, biologists felt the population has recovered enough to upgrade its status. Martens are frequently becoming a part of the outdoor experience in Michigan with more and more encounters reported by hikers, campers, trappers, and hunters.
Once gone, the martens have returned home due to the efforts of many private organizations and agencies, but especially due to the support given by the donations of Michigan’s taxpayers to the nongame income tax checkoff.
More Michigan animals from Michigan in Pictures.