The body of a European pine marten has been discovered by a farmer on Dartmoor. The species was thought to have been extinct in the region for decades, with some populations in pockets of Scotland, Ireland and Northern England.
Ash Symons found the dead European pine marten on his land near Christow in the Teign Valley. Pine martens were last seen in the west of England in the 1960s.
The 29-year-old said: “My girlfriend and I were moving sheep and passed it several times on the road. I thought it must be an otter so I stopped to have a look and I saw it was a pine marten.
‘I’m fairly good with wildlife so I knew what it was although my girlfriend didn’t. I have done some research and spoken to some people and no one has ever heard of any down here or of any being quietly released in the area.”
Pine martens are nocturnal creatures that tend to live in wooded areas, they are shy and would avoid being seen wherever possible.
However, this isn’t the first time a pine marten has been spotted in the region. In 2015 a student from north Cornwall, Jack Merritt, claimed to have caught images of the animal on a night-vision camera he set up close to his home in Bude. This followed two independent sightings in and around Exmoor the week before. The black and white images of the pine marten were confirmed by a wildlife expert at the time.