Thursday, 31 July 2008

Want to see how a species is doing, look on the road…

It seems that the battle for space continues to rage on as we encroach on the natural environment and nature responds in the guise of small creatures populating our urban sprawls. City foxes are now common phenomena but rather less so is the appearance of the pine marten close to Inverness on the outskirts of a retail park.

It seems that the elusive and nocturnal creature has found a comfortable lifestyle close to humans and indications are that their numbers are healthy. How do we know? Well, Highland Council countryside ranger John Orr says that "It sounds weird, but road kills are quite good indications of how species are doing. We are seeing things like fewer hedgehogs dead on roads which suggests their numbers are way down."

The growth of a predatory species like the pine marten could spell bad news for the already dwindling red-squirrel population (a key prey), no doubt already in distress after the sighting of the first grey squirrel in April. On the positive side you might just be able to catch a glimpse of one of these rare animals when you are next in Scotland.

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