Marten (Martes americana), slender weasel specialized for life in the northern coniferous forests; found from Alaska and BC to Newfoundland and into the US.

Description

Males average 60 cm long and weigh 1 kg; females 54 cm and 650 g. The bushy tail is half the body length; feet are large with sharp climbing claws. The colour is shades of brown with a yellow chest spot and blackish legs and tail. The large ears are whitish. Marten are solitary, except for the female and kits, which may travel as a group for several months.

Diet

Expert climbers, they hunt in trees for squirrels and bird nests and on the ground for mice, voles, hares and birds. Insects, berries and even carrion are also eaten.

Reproduction and Development

Mating is in July-Aug and, following a lengthy period of delayed implantation of the embryos, litters of 1-4 young are born Mar-Apr. Sexual maturity occurs at 2 years.

Relationship with Humans

The species is highly valued for its soft, lustrous fur. The annual catch in Canada has been as low as 20 000 to 50 000 but in recent years has been around 100 000. Forest fires and overkill have been the main causes of the decline.

See also Fur Trapping.