The pine marten is a small carnivore with an acute sense of smell and of hearing; it is also a skilful climber – features that bring it into conflict with gun clubs and game managers who rear pheasants in pens during the summer. The pine martens can also pose problems for poultry keepers.
Unlike the fox, grey crow (hooded crow), magpie, grey squirrel, mink and rat, which are all common predators of game birds, the pine marten is protected by law and cannot be managed using the usual predator control methods.
This information provides practical advice, based on field trials, on how gun clubs can protect birds from predation by pine martens while staying within the law. It also contains advice on how to protect poultry using electrified netting.
If setting traps for species such as grey squirrels or rats, precautions should be taken to reduce the likelihood of pine martens entering traps. If using spring loaded traps, these must be installed inside a tunnel with excluder bars fitted across the entrance to exclude larger non-target animals, such as the pine marten. A pine marten can squeeze through a 45mm gap, so the space between the bars should be smaller than this. Live capture traps should be checked at least once every 12 hours and more frequently (every four hours) if set between March to June, as this is the time when female martens may have dependent young (kits) and any extended periods of time spent away from their kits could be detrimental to their survival.