Species Profile

American Marten Newfoundland population

Scientific Name: Martes americana atrata
Other/Previous Names: American Marten (Newfoundland population),Newfoundland Marten ,American Marten (Newfoundland population)
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
COSEWIC Range: Newfoundland and Labrador
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2007
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: Marten in Newfoundland have declined substantially over the last century. The current population consists of 300-600 mature marten in 5 subpopulations. It is still at risk because of snaring and trapping outside of protected areas and because of forest harvesting. A small decrease in population size would likely result in consideration for Endangered status. The marten is one of few land mammals native to Newfoundland and the sub-species is endemic to Canada.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Not at Risk in April 1979. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 1986. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 1996 and in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 2007.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of American Marten

American Marten Photo 1

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Taxonomy

The Newfoundland population of the American Marten (also known as the Newfoundland marten) is one of 14 subspecies of American Marten. It is one of the larger subspecies, with darker fur.

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Description

The American Marten is a small tree-dwelling carnivore of the skunk and weasel family. It has a slender body and short legs with curved claws for climbing. The head is broad, tapering to a sharp nose, the ears are large and rounded, and the eyes are black. Its bushy tail is about half of the body length. The long, silky, dense fur varies from pale buff to dark brown on the back. A bib on the throat and chest may be creamy to bright orange. The American Marten’s summer coat is lighter in colour and much thinner. Males are slightly larger than females. The atrata subspecies of the American Marten (the subspecies found on Newfoundland) is larger and darker than the other subspecies to the south or west.

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Distribution and Population

The range of the American Marten extends throughout the coniferous forests and taiga zone of North America. The atrata subspecies of the American Marten is found in Canada, on the island of Newfoundland and in northern Quebec and Labrador. The Newfoundland population occurs only on the island of Newfoundland. The Newfoundland population of the American Marten is currently found in three main forest patches in western Newfoundland (Little Grand Lake, Red Indian Lake and Main River) and on the east coast of Newfoundland (Terra Nova National Park of Canada). Smaller populations occur in peripheral areas near St. George’s and Lobster House Hill. The Newfoundland population of the American Marten decreased significantly during the 20th century. Due to limited data, it is difficult to estimate the current size of the population. In 1985, the population was estimated to be between 630 and 875 individuals. In 1995, there were estimated to be fewer than 300 left on the island. According to recent estimates, dating from 2007, the Newfoundland population consists of between 438 and 852 marten; of these, between 320 and 622 are mature, i.e., older than 12 months. A small population was introduced in Terra Nova National Park (eastern Newfoundland). Habitat protection and efforts to reduce incidental capture are helping to stabilize populations, and population growth is possible under this management regime.

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Habitat

In North America, American Marten are typically associated with mature (old growth) coniferous and mixed-wood forests. However, the Newfoundland population of the American Marten appears to live in a wider array of habitats, including coniferous forests of varying ages. Mainland American Martens require dense overhead cover, coarse woody debris, shrubs, and trees with low-hanging branches. These features provide protection from predators, as well as sites used for hunting, denning and resting. The requirements are less stringent on Newfoundland, where the landscape is highly fragmented.

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Biology

Members of the Newfoundland population of the American Marten reach breeding age at around 15 months. Mating occurs once a year, and the young are born in the spring. A litter consists of one to five kits. Although this small carnivore is an opportunistic feeder, consuming whatever prey is most abundant, meadow voles remain the most important food item throughout the year. Snowshoe hares are important prey, especially in winter. Other prey items, such as masked shrews, red squirrels and birds, and carrion are consumed more frequently in winter. The most significant predator of the Newfoundland population of the American Marten is the red fox. Other potential predators and competitors include black bears, Canada lynxes and coyotes.

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Threats

Habitat loss and fragmentation from logging have resulted in populations being extirpated from many regions, and habitat loss and fragmentation are among the main threats to the Newfoundland population of the American Marten. Members of the Newfoundland population of the American Marten may be caught in snares set for snowshoe hare and traps set for red fox, and incidental capture is a significant source of mortality. Incidental capture poses a particularly serious threat to marten recolonizing habitats outside protected areas. The limited prey base on the island of Newfoundland represents another threat to this population. Introductions of prey species, in particular snowshoe hare and, recently, southern red-backed vole, may enhance the viability of the Newfoundland population of the American Marten. On the other hand, concurrent increases in predator populations may pose a threat. Finally, habitat loss due to fire and insect damage, as well as human disturbance, could also be contributing, although to a lesser extent, to the decline of this small population.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The American Marten, Newfoundland population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Members of this population in Terra Nova National Park of Canada and Gros Morne National Park of Canada are protected under the Canada National Parks Act. They are also protected in three reserves in the Little Grand Lake area: the Little Grand Lake Provisional Ecological Reserve, the Little Grand Lake Wild Life Reserve and the Glover Island Public Reserve. At the provincial level, the Newfoundland population of the American Marten is protected by the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act, which prohibits their harassment, capture, trade or killing. Commercial trapping has been illegal since 1934. Of the total area occupied by the Newfoundland population of the American Martens, 14% is protected from logging and is closed to trapping and snaring, 10% is protected from logging, and 21% is closed to trapping and snaring. Finally, 76% of this area is protected against incidental mortality through closed seasons for trapping and snaring or the mandatory use of modified snares and traps. In the Northwest Grand Lake, Red Indian Lake, Terra Nova, and Charlottetown Enclave areas, where modified snares are required, live-release of all accidentally captured marten is encouraged.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the American Marten (Martes americana atrata), Newfoundland population, in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Newfoundland Marten Recovery Team

  • Joe Brazil - Chair/Contact - Government of NL
    Phone: 709-637-2356  Fax: 709-637-2004  Send Email
  • Brian Hearn - Chair/Contact - OGD (other federal dept)
    Phone: 709-637-4928  Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date The two primary threats the Newfoundland Pine Marten recovery team has worked to mitigate are habitat loss/degradation and accidental capture in snares and traps set for hares and foxes. Ongoing research is helping identify forest characteristics that must be maintained on the landscape to conserve marten habitat and aid recovery of the population. Snares have been developed to capture hares but release marten and are in use in designated snaring and trapping zones throughout the Island. Additional work is being conducted to develop an improved snaring method that is easier to set. The Newfoundland Marten population remains low, but appears stable. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities Since 2000, field studies have significantly improved our understanding of the marten?s habitat requirements. Newfoundland Marten have been found to utilize younger forests than previously thought, although they require attributes usually associated with older forests - high canopy closure and tall forest stands. Newfoundland Marten?s territory size is 15-30 km2, several times larger than the 2-5 km2 required by marten on the mainland. Newfoundland Marten have also been shown to use a wider range of forest types than marten on the mainland. Results of habitat studies are being used to improve the ability to predict marten occurrence based on landscape characteristics, allowing prediction of the response of marten to alternative forest harvesting scenarios. Results are also being used to develop a baseline marten habitat map for the entire island of Newfoundland. Summary of Recovery Activities In 1973, the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Division established the 2,100 km2 Pine Marten Study Area, which was closed to snaring and trapping in order to protect marten from accidental capture, and where field studies of marten were conducted. Since this time, two wildlife reserves, one crown land reserve and an interim ecological reserve (total 1,500 km2) have been established adjacent to the Pine Marten Study Area. Marten are protected from snaring in these reserves, and their habitat is protected. Although legal trapping of marten stopped in 1934, accidental capture of marten in snares for hares and foxes continues to cause a significant amount of accidental mortality. In order to mitigate this threat, a modified snare coil was introduced in 1998. The coil device was designed to allow accidentally captured marten to escape from the snare unharmed. However, the modified snare is much more expensive than conventional snares, and is also more difficult to set properly. A more recent approach to the problem involves the use of two types of wires that break under the significantly greater weight and strength of a marten, while still retaining a significant proportion of snowshoe hares. These wires retain at least 75% of captured hares and release at least 90% of captured marten (a threshold considered acceptable by the recovery team). Beginning in the fall of 2005, snarers will have the choice of three options: the modified snare coil or conventional snares using either of the two types of wire shown to release marten. During the 2005-2006 snaring season the efficiency, compliance and public acceptance of the three snaring techniques will be assessed. The program will also attempt to directly contact resource users to assess the potential for wider use of the new wires across known marten areas. Attempts at design of a fox snare that release marten have been made, as of yet unsuccessfully, and are ongoing. The recovery team has adopted harvesting guidelines developed for marten in Maine, United States. These guidelines are being applied in the Main River watershed (a Canadian Heritage River adjacent to Gros Morne National Park), and their effectiveness is being evaluated by monitoring marten populations using biannual mark-recapture and winter snow-tracking surveys. The guidelines will be updated in 2006 based on data from a study of Newfoundland Marten conducted between 1995 and 2000. In 1996, a captive breeding program was initiated at Salmonier Nature Park. In 1999 four captive-born Newfoundland Marten were introduced into an area outside Terra Nova National Park thought to be suitable for the species. Since then, the focus of the program has shifted to public education and research. Public outreach also takes place through a website (www.newfoundlandmarten.com). URLshttp://www.newfoundlandmarten.com/

Hinterland Who's Who: Marten: http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?pid=1&cid=8&id=92

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

22 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - American Marten, Newfoundland population (2007-12-04)

    Marten in Newfoundland have declined substantially over the last century. The current population consists of 300-600 mature marten in 5 subpopulations. It is still at risk because of snaring and trapping outside of protected areas and because of forest harvesting. A small decrease in population size would likely result in consideration for Endangered status. The marten is one of few land mammals native to Newfoundland and the sub-species is endemic to Canada.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the American Marten (Martes americana atrata), Newfoundland population, in Canada (2013-07-09)

    The marten (Martes americana atrata) on the island of Newfoundland are a genetically and geographically distinct population of the more widely distributed American marten found across the boreal region of North America. Marten were historically distributed throughout most areas of productive forest on the island; however, the cumulative impacts of habitat alteration, forest harvest, and incidental mortality associated with snaring and trapping limited their abundance and distribution resulting in their designation as threatened under both Federal and Provincial endangered species legislation.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Gros Morne National Park (2016-03-29)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Gros Morne National Park of Canada is a SARA action plan (SARA s.47) for Piping Plover (melodus subspecies), American Marten (Newfoundland population), and Red Crossbill (percna subspecies). The plan also outlines measures to monitor and manage 11 other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in the Park. This plan applies only to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Gros Morne National Park.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Terra Nova National Park of Canada and the National Historic Sites of Canada in Eastern Newfoundland (2017-08-25)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Terra Nova National Park of Canada and the National Historic Sites of Canada in Eastern Newfoundland applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Terra Nova National Park of Canada (TNNP) as well as the national historic sites (NHS) of Canada within eastern Newfoundland, including Ryan Premises, Hawthorne Cottage, Castle Hill, Signal Hill, and Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur within TNNP and in the national historic sites in the region.

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 (2007-08-30)

    2007 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10141-10160, 20074-20100, and 31307-31400), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2015-01-04)

    Up to one hundred and forty one individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10161-10180, 20101-20120, and 31401-31500), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2016-01-10)

    Up to one hundred and forty individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10165-10184, 20106-20125, and 31447-31546), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-01-08)

    Up to one hundred and forty individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Traditional harvesting activities have been permitted since Gros Morne National Park was established in 1973 and is restricted to individuals who were resident in the area when the park was established and their children (i.e. two generations). Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity and harvesting effort will continue to decline over time as the eligible pool of local residents ages. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10179-10198, 20108-20127, and 31493-31592), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2018-01-07)

    Up to one hundred and forty individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Traditional harvesting activities have been permitted since Gros Morne National Park was established in 1973 and is restricted to individuals who were resident in the area when the park was established and their children (i.e. two generations). Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity and harvesting effort will continue to decline over time as the eligible pool of local residents ages. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10187-10206, 20109-20128, and 31528-31627), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2019-01-06)

    Up to one hundred and forty individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Traditional harvesting activities have been permitted since Gros Morne National Park was established in 1973 and is restricted to individuals who were resident in the area when the park was established and their children (i.e. two generations). Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity and harvesting effort will continue to decline over time as the eligible pool of local resident's ages. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10190-10209, 20111-20130, and 31567-31666), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2020-01-04)

    Up to one hundred and forty individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Traditional harvesting activities have been permitted since Gros Morne National Park was established in 1973 and is restricted to individuals who were resident in the area when the park was established and their children (i.e. two generations). Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity and harvesting effort will continue to decline over time as the eligible pool of local resident's ages. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#10194-10213, 20115-20134, and 31593-31692), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2021-01-09)

    Up to one hundred and forty individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Traditional harvesting activities have been permitted since Gros Morne National Park was established in 1973 and is restricted to individuals who were resident in the area when the park was established and their children (i.e. two generations). Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity and harvesting effort will continue to decline over time as the eligible pool of local resident's ages. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#16222), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2012-11-19)

    Project Title:Marten GPS Collaring Pilot Project in Terra Nova National Park - determining distribution and abundance in a key management area of the park. This project involves trapping and immobilization of marten in Terra Nova National Park for the purposes of testing 3 new GPS collars, and to determine marten abundance and distribution in the area of Trout Pond north to Sandy Pond. Determining the occurrence of species at risk in The Trout Pond - Sandy Pond area is important from a conservation standpoint since this area has been recently compromised by an illegally cut trail. Previous investigations have confirmed the presence of marten in this area and further study will provide more detailed information on how the animals use this part of the park's forest ecosystem. We plan to live-capture marten using collapsible wire-traps (Tomahawk Live Trap Co., Tomahawk, Wisconsin) baited with sardines and commercial skunk lure. Captured animals will be transferred to a handling cone and immobilized with an intra-muscular injection of 0.12-0.22 cc of ketamine hydrochloride (100 mg/ml). Marten will be identified to sex, weighed, measured, injected with a passive integrated transponder (PIT tag), and outfitted with a GPS - VHF radio collar. The animals will be live-trapped in Mid-February to remove the collars.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#31199, etc.), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2012-12-26)

    Fifty to one hundred individuals will be permitted to harvest snowshoe hare in Gros Morne National Park under the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act. Harvesting of snowshoe hare is managed to ensure protection of ecological integrity. This activity occurs within defined areas of the park and does not occur in areas identified as critical habitat for marten (Martes americana atrata). Snowshoe hare harvesters are only permitted to use snare types known to allow marten to escape. Since marten range over most of the park and individuals of the species may encounter snares set for snowshoe hare, individual marten may be harassed by this activity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GMP-2014-16217), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2014-06-21)

    This authorization is for a Parks Canada Research and Collection Permit allowing Resource Conservation staff from Gros Morne National Park of Canada to collect and retain carcasses of American Marten (Newfoundland population) that have died due to incidental mortality (e.g., roadkill). Carcasses will be preserved by freezing, though a subset may be mounted by professional taxidermists for educational display. Because these individuals are already dead there is no impact of the activity (collection of carcass) on the species and consequently no way to mitigate it. However there will likely be conservation benefits to the species, as the carcasses can be used for research and education.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act - Terrestrial Species (2008-03-10)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 25, 2008 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 27, 2009 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Residence Description

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

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