The noisy calls of magpies and crashing leafy branches alerted observers to a tree-top chase south of FortWhyte Alive’s reception centre. A curious crowd was thrilled to see a marten leaping through oak and aspen as it evaded the mob of birds.
Rarely encountered in Winnipeg, Pine Marten (Martes americana) prefer tree-top life in dense stands of boreal forest where they hunt squirrels. Martens are secretive members of the mustelid, or weasel family.
The marten’s lustrous fur and cat-like face drew onlookers as it scrambled away from the magpies and disappeared under a garden shed.
Dave Woods, a FortWhyte visitor, managed to snap a photo of the marten during this brief and unusual encounter on October 24th.
When asked if he could remember a marten at FortWhyte during the park’s 40-year history, CEO Bill Elliott said, “No. We’ve had fishers, mink…but never marten.”
Site Manager and wildlife commentator, Ken Cudmore, remarked, “I’ve seen tracks. I’ve followed tracks right up into a hole in a tree. But I’ve never seen one [a Pine Marten]. Cool!”