Thursday, 30 March 2017

Newfoundland Marten Gaining Ground

This is a guest post from our partners at Intervale 
For more information, contact Eric Bennett, Newfoundland Marten Stewardship Coordinator,

The Newfoundland marten is a genetically and geographically distinct animal. Its numbers decreased during the 20th century due to habitat loss, trapping, and snaring. In 2000, it was classified as endangered. In 2007, the population had increased sufficiently and the Newfoundland marten was re-classified as threatened. Today, there are signs that indicate that there is an increase and that marten are returning to parts of their historic range on the Island of Newfoundland. The Newfoundland marten is gaining ground through stewardship!

Hair Snagging in Newfoundland
Over the years, many people from a variety of organizations have been contributing to the recovery of this animal. Since 2012, Intervale has been coordinating the work of 90 volunteers, who help establish the locations of marten across its forested habitat in Newfoundland.

The methodology was developed by researchers in the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation, Wildlife Division. Marten are seldom seen, which is why an attraction method is needed. The technique is non-invasive and does not harm the animal. Volunteers collect hair samples by means of a wooden apparatus called a hair snag; it is shaped like a three-sided box and open at both ends. The device is fastened to a tree at chest height, baited with sardines, and made attractive to marten with the scent of skunk. If a marten visits the box, a tiny sample of its fur is left on sticky tabs that line the inside of the box. Volunteers monitor the boxes every 10-14 days, collect the hair samples, and send them to the Wildlife Division. Researchers test the samples for DNA, a process that enables them to confirm the presence of marten and to track individual animals.

In 2016, a total of 84 hair samples were collected, of which 41 are suspected to be marten. With new samples coming in week by week, the number is always changing. These samples will be sent for identification. From these data, researchers are able to identify from each sample representing marten, the sex of the animal, and whether it represents a new animal or one that has been sampled before. As more people become involved, the information will continue growing and wildlife biologists will be able to determine that marten are gaining ground and showing up in areas where there was once none.

Thanks to greatly improved land use planning, the adoption of best management practices by trappers, wildlife management, and public knowledge, marten distribution and abundance are increasing. However, continued support for marten recovery efforts are needed. Intervale is helping the Newfoundland Wildlife Division in this work through the continued efforts of staff and volunteers, and by encouraging the best management practices among forest users in general. For example, Intervale encourages the best practices among snowshoe hare snarers, instructing trappers on how to build and use floating mink box traps, giving presentations to youth and adults, and distributing informational materials such as placemats. These educational efforts contribute to fewer marten being accidentally caught in snares and traps. They also enable people to learn more about how they can contribute to recovery of marten.

Brass Wire Snares
Did you know that different types of 22-gauge brass wire outperform others?
Best practices:
  • Don't kink it
  • Don't reuse it
  • Make slips in field
  • Check snares daily
  • Remove snares after season ends 

Movement of the Red Back Vole
The red back vole is one of the Newfoundland marten’s main food source. They are dispersing across Newfoundland and have been spotted as far as Brigus Junction in the east and as far north as Barr'd Harbour. It is believed that the quick increase in the population is one of several factors helping the marten population rebound.

How to get Involved

Intervale is currently looking for volunteers to participate in the hair snag program in the following areas:  South Branch, River of Ponds, Hawke’s Bay, Main Brook, Lewisport, Carmenville, Musgrave Harbour, Goobies, Badger, South Brook, Whitbourne and any of the surrounding areas. If you are a walker, hiker, outdoor enthusiasts, hunter, trapper, or just want to help the recovery of the Newfoundland Marten, e-mail us and we will get you started with all the supplies you will need for the season.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Municipal Stewardship by the Numbers

Here at the Stewardship Association of Municipalities we have been working hard on updating our maps of Management Units across the province. With the signing of agreements in Indian Bay and New-Wes-Valley, we’ve now reached over 41 000 acres (over 16 700 hectares) of protected wildlife habitat! Great things can be accomplished when we work together and we’re proud to have worked with so many of you in achieving this impressive result. We thought we’d share some other fun facts  that we discovered while mapping management areas this winter.

Limestone Barrens Species at Risk habitat in Port aux Choix 
  • Average habitat area protected by a wetland Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement (there are 35): 1473 acres (596 hectares)
  • Average habitat area protected by a Species at Risk Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement (there are 2): 17.4 acres (7 ha)
  • Largest single Management Unit (MU) in the province: Goose River Bog in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, at 4295.5 acres (1738 ha)

  • Largest single MU on the Island of Newfoundland: St. Georges River in Stephenville Crossing, at 3933 acres (1591.7 ha)
  • Smallest single MU: MU D in Port au Choix (Species at Risk agreement for rare Limestone Barrens plants) at 1.4 acres (0.6 ha)
Management Unit in Wabush
  •  Largest area protected by a single municipality: 5109.2 acres (2067 ha) in HV-GB (followed very closely by 5030 acres (2035 ha) in Wabush)
  •  Smallest area protected by  a single municipality: 13 acres (5.3 ha) in Flower’s Cove (Species at Risk area for rare Limestone Barren habitat)
  • There are currently 276 incorporated municipalities in the province; 37 (or 13.4%) have signed stewardship agreements and are SAM members.  
Mill Pond Management Unit, Whitbourne
  • Most Management Units in a single municipality: Whitbourne (10)

If you ever have any questions or would like some updated maps of your stewardship areas, please don’t hesitate to contact – we are here to help.