American Marten (Martes americana) - Wiki
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[Photo] American Marten (Martes americana) from USFWS. License: public domain.
The American marten (Martes americana) is a North American member of the Mustelidae family. Sometimes referred to as the Pine Marten, it should be noted that the term Pine Marten also is used to refer to a separate Martes species from Europe. It differs from the fisher (Martes pennanti) in that it is smaller in size, has a pelage which is usually brown with an irregularly shaped chest-patch that is lighter in colour.
Some sources believe that the population found in the western United States should be considered a distinct species and given the scientific name Martes caurina.
The marten lives in mature coniferous or mixed forests in Alaska and Canada, and south through the Rocky Mountains. Trapping and destruction of forest habitat have reduced its numbers, but it is still much more abundant than the larger fisher. The Newfoundland subspecies of this animal is considered to be endangered.
The American Marten has a long slender body covered in glossy brownish fur with a lighter coloured throat, a long bushy tail and a pointed snout. Like those of cats, its claws are semi-retractable, and aid it in climbing trees. It also has very large foot pads in relation to body weight allowing it to walk on hard snow. This provides the marten with a distinct advantage in areas that receive heavy snows.
The animal is omnivorous, preferring to catch and eat small mammals, especially the American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), but readily consuming fish, frogs, insects, carrion, and fruit and other vegetation when available. It is most active at night, early morning, and late afternoon. It is usually solitary outside of the mating season. Males defend a territory of one to three square miles, and can be very aggressive toward other males. Mating occurs during the summer, but implantation of the fertilized egg is delayed (delayed implantation) and 1 to 5 young "kits" are born the following spring in a den in a hollow tree or rock cavity.
American martens make playful pets when they are raised as young and bottle fed. However, different provinces (Canada) and states (United States) may require a permit for wildlife to be kept in a private residence. Examples of various legislation that may apply include the Fish and Wildlife Act, and the Wildlife Act. Permits required may include a wildlife rehabilitation permit or a captive wildlife permit. It is usual for governments and other wildlife organizations to discourage people from removing wildlife from its natural environment unless its survival is threatened.
The fur of the American Marten is shiny and luxuriant, resembling that of the closely related sable. At the turn of the twentieth century, the American Marten population was depleted due to the fur trade. The Hudson's Bay Company traded in pelts from this species among others. Numerous protection measures and reintroduction efforts have allowed the population to increase, but deforestation is still a problem for the marten in much of its habitat. Hunting of the American Marten is currently legal in certain areas during a short hunting season.
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