Zoological collections are an essential element in global conservation. Captive breeding and translocation become paramount during sudden scenarios that can affect wild population survival e.g. the emergence of pathogenic infections such as devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) in Tasmanian devil.
The ability to be able to successfully breed and release captive carnivores is therefore fundamental when we consider the background of predator population declines and regional extinctions. There is an identified need for further scientific studies to be conducted on carnivores in order to improve our understanding on how captivity affects survival in reintroductions .
Two decades ago, the JNCC recognised that there was a need to investigate the relative efficacy of captive bred red squirrels in conservation translocations. Subsequent research has shown that captive and wild born animals prove just as successful as sources for release. We note that, UK pine marten translocation protocols have to date only considered and used wild-born stock. Consequently, there is no experience in the use of captive bred pine martens.
This study will address this knowledge gap whilst aiming to restore ecological function, trophic cascade and to improve resilience in the face of invasive grey squirrels. It will also enable wider genetic diversity and out breeding to occur by accelerating the rate of population increase in the context of Minimum Viable Population (MVP). The project will also reflect recommended strategic pine marten recovery with a view to preventing grey squirrel reinvasion of Anglesey via natural predation.
We consulted widely on our proposals, held drop-ins, evening slide show presentations and consulted widely with Natural Resources Wales experts. The 60 page plans were screened against IUCN International Standards.
We aim to obtain the next group of pine martens in the late summer of 2019.