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Rare pine martens spotted.

Byline: By Alison Lewis

A rare species of a mammal which was thought to be extinct in England is making a return.

Some naturalists argue that pine martens, which look like squirrels, have died out in the country, but new figures confirm their existence.

The Vincent Wildlife Trust, which monitors sightings, says that over the past year there have been 13 reliable reports in North Yorkshire and four in Northumberland.

The North York Moors produced the most sightings ( nine ( following publicity in October.

Credible sightings in woodland near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, led to raised hopes for the future of the animal in the area among organisations including the Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority.

Dr Jonny Birks, of the Vincent Wildlife Trust, said: "We continue to receive snippets of evidence about pine martens. However, it may be that they are struggling." He said factors affecting them include death from snares and poison put down for other creatures, as well as a lack of suitable woodland ( pine martens are great tree climbers.

Dr Birks said the trust believed there were martens in rural Northumberland, the North York Moors and high in the Durham dales.

If you think you have seen one, call Dr Birks on (01531) 636441.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2005
Words:207
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