American Marten: A Michigan wildlife success story

American Marten 1

American Marten 1, photo by 13Miles.

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.

You can read more and see pictures from Animal Diversity Web and on the American marten page at Wikipedia. The Michigan DNR’s page on the American marten says that:

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.

Dixie took this photo last February around Grand Marais. Check it out bigger and see a few more shots of this beautiful animal in her marten slideshow.

More Michigan animals from Michigan in Pictures.

7 thoughts on “American Marten: A Michigan wildlife success story

  1. Saw one of these beautiful creatures today on the ice on Huron river in Commerce Twp, Mi. Had no idea what it was until I researched. Apparently very comfortable in the water…. it dived repeatedly until it came up with a small bass or very large sunfish.


  2. Back in the early 70s I saw one of these in my Grandfathers barn. It startled me because it was on a beam just above the door. When I told them I was a wolverine they laughed and my Grandfather said, it was probably a Martin.


  3. Sadly I found a carcass in my back yard that was badly chewed on, but suspect that due to its size and teeth, I assume it was a Pine Marten that I rarely caught glimpse of on my frozen canal at the back of my lot. The only predator that may have done this is a coyote. It would swim from hole to hole in the ice in search of fish when canal was froze. I know that coyote have to eat also, but not my beloved Marten. Sad.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s