American Marten May Be Set for Return to Pennsylvania Forests After 100 Year Absence

After a century-long absence, the American marten may be on the brink of a comeback in Pennsylvania, thanks to an ambitious reintroduction plan led by the state’s Bureau of Wildlife Management. The tree-dwelling marten, a distant relative of the mink, was extirpated from Pennsylvania a century ago. The experimental reintroduction plan aims to establish a non-protected population to closely monitor the impact of introducing this predator on the existing ecosystems. Scheduled for discussion in April, the plan reflects a comprehensive effort to restore balance and biodiversity to the woods and hills of the Keystone State.

Weighing between 1 and 3 pounds, the American marten is a versatile omnivore with a diet that includes insects, fish, plants, and rodents. While some opponents express concerns about potential impacts on game species like grouse and wild turkey, as well as endangered or vulnerable species like the northern goshawk, the Feasibility Assessment conducted by the Game Commission did not identify these species as prey items during the research phase. The Bureau of Wildlife Management believes that reintroducing the marten will contribute to a more balanced ecosystem, fostering increased biodiversity and restoring essential ecological processes such as seed dispersal and rodent population management. A recent survey targeting hunters showed a mixed opinion on the reintroduction, with 37% in favor, 32% in opposition, and 31% remaining neutral, prompting the Bureau to gather additional information to address concerns before the April meeting.

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