Biologist encouraged by Newfoundland marten trap tests at Grassy Place

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Frank Gale
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Biologist John Gosse was encouraged by results of trap tests on the threatened Newfoundland marten.

Newfoundland marten. — Photo by Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Glovertown man spent many long, solitary hours, three to four days at a time, at the location between late February and the end of March.

He stayed in a tiny log cabin where he based his daily journey to check hair snag traps  he put out in February.

“A lot of animals visited the traps and there were lots of samples, which have now been sent on to a laboratory for DNA testing,” Gosse said in a telephone interview Monday.

That testing will prove how many different Newfoundland marten visited the traps. While he’s awaiting the results, Gosse suspects several different animals will be identified.

“There was a lot of drifting snow when I was up there and fresh tracks spread over a large area, so that’s encouraging in regards to multiple animals,” he said.

He visited the remote property by snowshoe and skis while monitoring the sites.

Gosse said this area hasn’t been checked for some time, so this is new information for that part of the province.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada was pleased to hear Gosse’s news about the endangered animal, whose species has a population estimated between 600 and 900 in the world.

The conservancy launched this project to investigate whether the species can be found using  Grassy Place — a 3,700-acre Nature Conservancy of Canada protected site along Robinsons River in Southwest Newfoundland — as habitat.

A species at risk, the Newfoundland marten has a slender body, short limbs, and a long bushy tail. Its dark brown fur is contrasted by a distinctive orange patch on its throat. Swift but small, the skilled hunters weigh about a kilogram and measure 50-60 centimetres in length.

With the field portion of the research completed, Lanna Campbell, program manager with the  Nature Conservancy of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador, said the nature conservancy is now working with the Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training Network at Memorial University to establish individual identification for the hair samples.

Grassy Place is located 25 kilometres from Stephenville Crossing. Campbell said this is a gem hidden in the Long Range Mountains — the most northerly extension of the Appalachian Mountains in North America.

Grassy Place includes a broad lush valley grasslands, 400-foot waterfalls and mountain summits.

The Western Star

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada, Robinsons River Long Range Mountains Appalachian Mountains North America Western Star

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