Cape Breton Marten Augmentation Project

NB MartenMarten historically occurred throughout much of forested areas of Nova Scotia including Cape Breton. The Cape Breton population of Marten was provincially listed as Endangered in Nova Scotia in 2001and is currently persisting at very low numbers.

Translocation or the release of captive bred animals was considered the best way to recover marten in Cape Breton because of the small number of individuals within the current population, and the absence of nearby populations. Recent genetic analysis suggests that the marten in Cape Breton are genetically similar to other northeastern North American populations, but suffer from low genetic variation.

A study to determine the feasibility of translocating wild, live-trapped marten, and/or releasing captive-bred marten to Cape Breton was conducted in 2006. A team comprising scientists with expertise in marten, carnivores, genetics and Geographic Information System habitat analysis provided guidance in design and implementation of the study.

Past habitat assessments were used to determine the amount and configuration of suitable marten habitat in Cape Breton and to evaluate its capability to support a marten population. In Northeastern North America marten are closely-associated with extensive stands of mature/"overmature" pure or predominantly coniferous or mixed forest with tree cavities for denning and windthrown/fallen trees to provide additional shelter for prey mammals and subnivean entry points in winter. Currently, in northern areas of Cape Breton there is about 50 000 ha of marten habitat, and habitat forecasts predict there will be over 100 000 ha in 2030.

Eight potential reintroduction areas were identified based on the habitat assessment, the marten habitat management zone, and level of habitat protection (Federal Park or Provincial Wilderness Area). Initial releases were near the Trout Brook, North River, and Middle River Wilderness Areas, and two locations (Cheticamp River and Aspy) within Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
See release map.

CB Marten

A number of cooperators and stakeholders interested in the marten augmentation project include: Stora Enso/NewPage, Parks Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry, the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia, and Unimaki Institute of Natural Resources.

The project was evaluated through the different stages of capture, transport, holding and release to determine if changes in protocol were necessary, after each year of release, and two, five and ten years after releases have been completed. These evaluations will look at: whether the target of 90-150 translocated animals was met, whether mortality rates were acceptable, if released marten helped to link the separate sub-populations, if the extent of the population increasing into lowland areas, and if there is an indication that a free-living viable population of marten exists on CBI two, five and ten years after release?

Monitoring will include the use of radio-collared animals, track-plates, remote cameras, live-trapping, snow track surveys, carcass collection and incidental reports.

Cape Breton Marten Augmentation Reports:

Cape Breton Marten Augmentation Progress Report 2006-2008
Cape Breton Marten Augmentation Progress Report 2009
Cape Breton Marten Augmentation Final Report 2010