Pine marten is first in Southern England for 50 years: Animal caught on camera by chance by student in Cornwall
Animal was once Britain’s second most common carnivore
Relative of the weasel was hunted for fur and nearly wiped out in the 1800s
Experts confirmed it was species more common to Scottish Highlands
A pine marten has been spotted in southern England for the first time in more than 50 years.
It was caught on film scuttling in the undergrowth by a student using a night vision camera near his home in Bude, Cornwall.
Jack Merritt, 18, sent footage of the creature to experts, who identified it as a young female.
‘I filmed it by chance and knew I had captured something different,’ Jack said. ‘I had no idea of its significance to start with though.
Caught on camera: The first pine marten in England for 50 years
‘I spoke to a few friends who had some suggestions but decided to send it to someone who may have a better idea of what it was all about.
‘It is quite a shock and I don’t really know what to make of it to be honest.
‘You don’t really expect to have something like this happen but it is fascinating and I am so glad I was out filming at the time.’
The teenager sent the footage to ecologist Derek Gow – a specialist in the reintroduction of indigenous species.
Mr Gow said: ‘The footage taken by Jack is simply amazing. To the best of anyone’s knowledge pine martens were believed to be extinct in Southern England after centuries of ruthless persecution by furriers and gamekeepers.
‘It’s really great to see the see the footage he obtained of what would appear to be a young female.
‘Hopefully this sighting could result in further reintroductions of this delightful creature into other areas of suitable habitat in the South West.’
The pine marten is a relative of the weasel and used to be Britain’s second most common carnivore.
It was hunted for its fur and almost wiped out in the 1800s.
The size of a cat but slender with brown fur, a bushy tail and a creamy yellow throat, it is nocturnal.
In the UK, it is common only in the Scottish Highlands, with most sightings in England and Wales in rugged areas such as the Lake District and Snowdonia.