MS SHIRA RÜB, ACT Wildlife Warden, of Lower Ashton, writes:
YOU published a letter from a woman most concerned about the possible re-introduction of pine martens, saying that in France they were a serious pest that raided chicken runs.
I was puzzled about this as I know that pine martens are shy animals, rarely seen, that live at low density in woodlands preferably well away from human habitation, so this description made no sense.
I was enlightened by a local wildlife expert (of international renown) who told me that the writer was almost certainly talking about beech martens.
These animals live in France, have never been native to the UK and there is no intention to introduce them. They do sometimes make their homes in roofs and do take chickens.
Pine martens on the other hand are a native species persecuted almost to extinction.
They are known to play a beneficial role in the food chain, can live alongside red squirrels, with whom they evolved, and predate grey squirrels, which are non-native and do a significant amount of damage to trees and in taking birds eggs.
So please, print this letter to rectify the misinformation and scare-mongering caused by the error in your previous correspondent’s letter.