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Animal Concern Advice Line News

Pine Marten Project at Kirkcubright

Graham Dalton Esq.,
CEO, Defense Infrastructure Organisation,
Ministry of Defence,
London SW1A2HB

Dear Mr. Dalton,

I write concerning your project to encourage pine martens to breed on MOD land at the Kirkcudbright Training Centre in the hope that predation by the pine martens will provide a natural control method to limit the number of grey squirrels in the area and thus help increase the number of resident red squirrels.

This sounds like a good idea and is much better than the trapping and mass culling of grey squirrels which is happening in other parts of Scotland.

However I am concerned that this project could result in a decrease in red squirrels in the area.

Grey squirrels are easier to catch and, being bigger, are a better food source than the smaller, more nimble reds. I understand that in some areas where the grey squirrel cull has been successful, pine martens and other predators, having lost their preferred prey, have been forced to change their diet from grey to red squirrels, causing the red squirrel population to fall rather than increase.

Artificially increasing the number of pine marten at Kirkcudbright could have a similar effect.

I would be grateful if you would bring this email to the attention of those running the project at Kirkcudbright.

Yours sincerely,

John F. Robins,
For Animal Concern Advice Line