Tiny predator could be making a comeback in PA wildlife

PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) — A weasel-like animal that once called Pennsylvania home could return to Keystone State.

The American marten was native to the northern Pennsylvania forests until it was eradicated in the early 20th century due to deforestation and unregulated harvesting. They are about 20-28 inches tall and grow an average of 3.1 lbs.

But don’t count the little guy just yet. Thanks to the Bureau of Wildlife Management, de Marten may have a home in Pennsylvania again.

The Bureau of Wildlife Management will present the feasibility assessment for the reintroduction of Marten in Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) on Friday, July 8 at 1 p.m.

“The PGC, along with many partner agencies, organizations and dedicated volunteers, has made a long-standing priority for restoring extinct or near-extinct species to the state. Bald eagles, river otters, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, fishermen, peregrine falcons, moose, beavers and ospreys have all seen successful reintroductions, while bobwhite quails are currently undergoing this process. There aren’t many species left to reintroduce and with the current resource availability, now seems like a good time to move forward,” said furbearer biologist for the Bureau of Wildlife Management, Thomas Keller.

The meeting scheduled for July 8 begins with commissioners hearing the reports from the staff. A public hearing resumes Saturday at 8:30 a.m. so community members can speak on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration for anyone who wants to speak starts at 7:45 am

If the Pennsylvania Game Commission board votes to proceed with reintroduction, the next step would be to prepare a reintroduction/management plan.

The Bureau of Wildlife Management and the PGC are looking at many different areas of research to determine if the Marten can be reintroduced. These findings form the feasibility study.

Requirements for reintroduction

There must be sufficient suitable habitat in quality, quantity and connectivity. According to Keller, the suitable habitat is in counties such as Warren, Forest, Elk, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Cameron, Clinton and Lycoming. Each of those areas is a structural mixed forest with canopy cover and a fold of hollows and woody debris.

Other areas being looked at include dietary research, to determine the impact on species currently living in Pennsylvania, such as wild turkeys, grouse, the Allegheny wood rat, and others.

The review will also look at the plethora of prayers examining the ability to coexist among predator competitors.

Climate models also proved to be in favor of the Marten reintroduction.

A public survey also found that 92% of fighters were in favor of reintroduction, as opposed to the 7% who opposed it.

The groups also explored several reasons for Marten’s reintroduction, including environmental, political, economic/social, cultural and responsibility.

“Restoring a native species to a community that is missing something is a critical part of ecosystem restoration. Just as humans are an important part of this overall system, so are martens, providing important ecological services such as seed dispersal or rodent management in a forest,” Keller said.

The reintroduction plan would include the discharge sites and source populations, trap and transfer planning, disease management, screening and a variety of other measures. Another important aspect is a strong information campaign to help the public understand and get involved in this effort.

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