Courtesy of The Nature Museum
Martens, once considered extinct in Vermont, have been sighted in the state again.
Thursday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.—CHESTER — Large, rounded ears, a sleek body with silky fur, and a bushy tail: would you be able to identify an American marten in the wild?
The Nature Museum invites wildlife lovers to join two one-of-a-kind animal programs with Chris Bernier, wildlife biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. The first program, “The American Marten Comes Back to Vermont,” will be held on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the NewsBank Conference Center, 352 Main St., Chester. The following Saturday, Feb. 10 at 9 a.m., Bernier, a wildlife tracking expert with over a quarter century of experience, will offer an intensive workshop, “The Art and Science of Animal Tracking,” on a remote private property in Andover, which features several different habitats.
The American marten is a carnivorous and slender-bodied weasel which is rarely spotted in the wild. Martens have a long and intriguing history in Vermont, which Bernier will examine in his program. In the 1800s, widespread deforestation and the unregulated harvest of wildlife took its toll on Vermont’s marten population. By the early 1900s, the species was deemed extinct in Vermont.
Beginning in 1989, biologists released 115 ear-tagged martens in southern Vermont in places such as Mount Holly and Wallingford in an attempt to re-establish the population in the southern Green Mountains. Unfortunately, field research in the 1990s indicated that the reintroduction effort had failed — martens were not returning.
But the story doesn’t end there. Since the early 2000s, evidence collected across the state has indicated a surprising comeback. It found a small American marten population in the northeastern corner of the state, in addition to seven confirmed marten sightings in southern Vermont. It appears that martens have now established two distinct populations in Vermont. Is it possible scientists’ reintroduction efforts were not a failure after all, or are these animals the product of natural recolonization? Bernier will share his expertise on this amazing animal population and answer questions.
These events are recommended for adults and children over 13. The suggested donation for tickets to Bernier’s talk on Feb. 8 is $7 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets for the intensive tracking workshop on Feb. 10 are $25 until Feb. 1 and $30 after. To register or for more information, visit nature-museum.org or call 802-843-2111.