Could pine martens be mostly vegetarian? Research suggests so
Published 03/11/2016 | 17:00
New research claims pine martens are 'mostly vegetarian' - a statement many farmers are sure to disagree with
According to the Irish Wildlife Trust, dietary studies in Ireland have shown that the pine marten's diet is mostly plant-based with fruits, nuts and berries forming a significant proportion of their food.
“Pine martens also eat small mammals like field mice, bank voles, shrews, and the occasional squirrel. Birds and insects can also form part of the diet if the opportunity arises," its new research states.
It says pine martens in Ireland have adapted to live on a more plant-based diet relative to their European counterparts where there are greater numbers of small mammal species present.
“Pine marten are mostly active at night and very shy so a combination of scat (faeces) and hair tube surveys are used to collect evidence of these beautiful animals. Pine martens are small animals and pose no threat to humans or livestock."
The pine marten is a small cat-sized mammal related to badgers, stoats and otters and which is native to Ireland, but farmers have claimed that it has attacked small animals on their farms.
'Out of Control'
Some farmers in the midlands fear pine martens will attack and kill their sheep and lambs this winter as locals say the species is getting "out of control".