NEWTOWN, Pa. – Should the American marten – a small native species that disappeared from Pennsylvania more than 120 years ago – be reintroduced to the environment though the mammal with a diverse appetite is seen by some as a “devastating predator”?
That’s the question now before the Pennsylvania Game Commission after completion of a Reintroduction Feasibility Assessment study, and establishment of public hearings on the plan, including in Philadelphia, Reading and Lancaster.
In considering reintroduction of martens into the state’s woodlands, the Game Commission said it found “martens would have sufficient habitat and pose little to no risk to other species.”
The wildlife animal is a Pennsylvania native species, it said.
“The American marten once was a common native species that inhabited forested areas within the state,” said Travis Lau, press secretary, state Game Commission. “The Marten, belonging to the mustelid family, is the same size as the American mink having a similar length to a fox squirrel.”
Martens are true omnivores eating a diversity of mammals, plants, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
“The largest portion of their diet is made up of rodents, plant material and insects,” said Lau.
But the reintroduction plan is seen as costly and harmful by some.
“The American marten species will multiply in decent size litters quickly and be in cohabitation with rural communities within a decade,” said Kevin P. Jarosinski, of Buffalo Township, Union County. “As a conservative farmer, I say enough is enough.”
He said the American marten “is a devastating predator to poultry farmers in our state.”
In response to the Game Commission’s statement that the American marten “is good for the ecosystem because they prey on chipmunks, squirrels and other rodents,” Jaronski said: “I always thought chipmunks and squirrels were nature’s entertainment. God has a sense of humor, too.”
The Game Commission hearings are March 9 at the commission’s Southeast Region Office, 253 Snyder Rd., Reading; March 11 at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, and March 15 at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, 100 Museum Rd, Stevens, Lancaster County. Others are planned in Elk and Tioga counties.
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