Marten thread

Posted By: alaska viking

Marten thread - 11/29/09 07:51 PM

Just saw W17's post regarding marten pops, and agree. Here on the S.E. mainland, marten numbers appear to be down. I suspect that the last three tough winters had something to do with it. Voles have been trending down, though I'm seeing a bit more from them this year, and hope the marten follow suit.
I'm letting a portion of my marten line fallow this year, but will set a small area and keep track of pertinent data.
Be nice to compare notes with others here.
Posted By: 3 Fingers

Re: Marten thread - 11/29/09 10:23 PM

My 2 cents on my area. Tributary of central Yukon river. Just spent a few weeks out there but only had snow for the last two. Vole populations were up in the bottom lands which flooded more than normal last spring. Marten sign seemed to be in the middle of highs and lows experienced over the years. Just slightly down from last year, but hard to tell over a short period of time as they often come through in waves, and were absent during the cold spell (Nov 15-22). Of the 9 I caught, 7 males,2 females. Best estimate is 2 were YOY. 4 were over 2-3 years but none were the grizzled old timers like I saw a lot of last year. On another note, I picked up a nice large gulo the first week (first check of that set) but he's not very prime. Had some partly healed bites on the top of his head and base of his tail, as if the wolves played a little tug of war.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 11/29/09 10:34 PM

Here in the Yukon most trappers have VHF radios and talk every night, so i am in contact with quite a few, ALL in the southeast (best marten country the yukon has) are reporting very low numbers, one trapper up on the Hess is reporting lots of marten this year. I think we are in the bottom of the marten cycle and the population will start the rebound next year. Lots of cats here this year on the lines that have them.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 11/29/09 10:36 PM

Thanks Jarl, I'm going to try to keep a spreadsheet on what is reported so the more detail the better.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 06:42 PM

Here I believe the vole is the primary food source for marten, though I'm sure they are an opportunist and will eat what they can catch.
I'm curious what the main cause of mortality is for voles. I would assume climatic conditions play a big role, particularly for re-production.
Also, with the past three years being record and near record snow fall, would that affect availability of voles for marten?
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 06:55 PM

I would bet that water is the main cause of mortality in voles in large numbers over large areas. Either drowning in their holes in the spring or just being wet and suffering hypothermia. Particularly where young are concerned.

I would think that deep snow would not be any barrier to marten in accessing voles. The consistency of the snow may have a effect greater than snow depth. Wet, heavy, dense snow would not be conducive to living and traveling under the snow like light dry snow is. One insulates much better also. Just my guesses on the subject
Posted By: piperniner

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 07:02 PM

Good guess.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 07:16 PM

I'll interject my two-cents worth. For years in Alaska, I monitored small mammal relative abundance based on thousands of trapnights during the late summer with mouse traps (museum specials) in all kinds of habitats. Unlike in northern Europe and Asia where the voles are cyclic (that is, they have predictable 3-year cycles)there did not appear to be predictable cycles in Alaska. Rather, highs and lows were often with a 10-times difference (100 captures one year, 10 the next). I'm of the strong opinion, that early spring thaws (notably when chinooks blow through in February/March) are responsible for loss of vole populations. As suggested by White17, the subnivean (under-snow) tunnels get wet, the voles get wet, and they subsequently die of exposure.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 07:26 PM

That would make sense. I had at least 8 feet of snow pack prior to thaw this past winter, and so would conject that the thaw period was prolonged to the point were the ground was wet for a considerable time. Most of my line courses through a valley system, although it does run from sea level to about 800 ft.
I wonder if I might find higher marten numbers up on the higher elevations rather than in the bottoms?
Posted By: 3 Fingers

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 08:31 PM

AV, I find marten activity more consistant at higher elevations, although that is partially due to temp inversions which are probably more common than in SE.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 11/30/09 11:23 PM

they did a study here and found highest marten numbers at higher elevations,(4500 ft)
Posted By: chessielover

Re: Marten thread - 12/01/09 02:44 AM

Got out my east trapline 2 weeks ago after a good snowfall and had martin running everywhere, in that time ihave hardly seen any new sign and only picked up 2.

In my notes My most productive sets are between 2650 to 2750 ft with treeline around 3300 - 3400 feet.
Posted By: takotna

Re: Marten thread - 12/01/09 10:46 PM

Hey W17, I aged the marten that are skinned,

Adult 13m, 0fm

yearling 16m, 1fm

YOY 3m, 5fm

For what it's worth, last yr we were discussing right/left handed marten so a couple days ago when I went out to set more I made it for they would be all be front foot catches and yesterday 4 were left and 3 right handed.LOL
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/01/09 11:33 PM

White17, takotna, et al.....
I find it very interesting that you all are assigning age classes to harvested marten. What are you using as criteria for separating YOY from ADU animals. Tell me you're NOT using the masseter muscle closure method on the sagittal crest. While this works 90+% of the time on males, it's much less precise on females. Please tell me you are using the supra-sesamoid tubercle on the femur. It's 100% for both males and females. Unfortunately, requires that the femur be cleaned, but is a LOT more precise. You can say, "what the heck..." but 90% just don't cut it and even worse, 75% on females is goin' to get you into trouble...

That said, I loudly applaud your efforts to "manage" your lines in a responsible way. Beats the heck out of the management agency (ADF&G in this case) screwing around with season lengths, opening/closing dates, etc. If a trapper wants to manage his line based on year-to-year fluctuations, more power to 'em, and he'll end up with more marten in the long run.

If y'all want a real diatribe on marten management, tweak my tailfeathers a bit more and I'll give you what I know after closely following marten populations for a couple decades and necropsying several thousand critters.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/01/09 11:38 PM

By the way, takotna...

Those male:female ratios look great! Your YOY:ADU ratios, however, look like things might have taken a downturn.

Man! It's really tough being down here in the lowest 48, remembering all the marten work... I guess that's what they call arm-chair, Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Keep it up, takotna...
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/01/09 11:45 PM

Tweek,Tweek....the silent are listening...
Posted By: bearbait

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 12:03 AM

I caught 1 marten last year so anyone needing advice please ask away.
Posted By: mtbadger

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 12:07 AM

BB what is the best set and bait/lure for the many marten you have caught...lol
Posted By: bearbait

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 12:32 AM

My best marten bait last year was a lynx carcass but unfortunately it resulted in a %100 female catch rate.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 01:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Gulo
White17, takotna, et al.....
I find it very interesting that you all are assigning age classes to harvested marten. What are you using as criteria for separating YOY from ADU animals. Tell me you're NOT using the masseter muscle closure method on the sagittal crest. While this works 90+% of the time on males, it's much less precise on females. Please tell me you are using the supra-sesamoid tubercle on the femur. It's 100% for both males and females. Unfortunately, requires that the femur be cleaned, but is a LOT more precise. You can say, "what the heck..." but 90% just don't cut it and even worse, 75% on females is goin' to get you into trouble...

That said, I loudly applaud your efforts to "manage" your lines in a responsible way. Beats the heck out of the management agency (ADF&G in this case) screwing around with season lengths, opening/closing dates, etc. If a trapper wants to manage his line based on year-to-year fluctuations, more power to 'em, and he'll end up with more marten in the long run.

If y'all want a real diatribe on marten management, tweak my tailfeathers a bit more and I'll give you what I know after closely following marten populations for a couple decades and necropsying several thousand critters.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

We are not going to tell you that.

How much chew have you bitten?

Yep we are using masseter muscle closure method because I don't know of anyone except you and Barb that will remove and clean all those femurs. As I recall I never measured a male femur that was less than 80 mm and never found a female femur that was nearly that long. More like 60+ mm for the girls.

What are the criteria by which we can age, based on the tubercle ? Diameter, cross section ?? Or, is it just the presence or absence of the tubercle that determines adult from juvie ? Talk to us bro.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 01:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Gulo
By the way, takotna...

Those male:female ratios look great! Your YOY:ADU ratios, however, look like things might have taken a downturn.
Man! It's really tough being down here in the lowest 48, remembering all the marten work... I guess that's what they call arm-chair, Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Keep it up, takotna...

This is exactly what I found last year and why I quit trapping marten last year. I think Craig found a very similar pattern all over the upper Kukso. Takotna's ratios aren't quite as skewed as mine were.
Posted By: takotna

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 04:02 AM

Hey Gulo in Idaho, how the heck have you been?

I'm not to worried this early in the game, I added up the miles in 4 different directions I'm going so far and it's close to 70 miles of traps so it's pretty spread out. The marten are there, just not climbing. I think I do catch alot of fm YOY, don't remember many adult fm but I still get good numbers every year, heck, you know more about my marten ages then me.LOL
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 04:37 AM

Well, we certainly have a bio on our hands!
As for the ageing methods, you lost me at the Latin part, and my father is a doctor! Of course I can only Play doctor, but I diverse.
I know for certain that I have seen a downward trend in marten on my line for a couple years, and noticed a decline in red-backed voles as well as shrews about a year prior to the spiral.
I now am seeing an up-swing in the rodents, and hope the marten will be a year behind them.
I know this might be optimistic, as the litters these guys have is rather small,(2 or three?).
That said, the habitat I trap is indeed prime marten country, and I can't help but think that the severe winters we have had these last three years has effected the movements and patterns of them, and perhaps they have become a bit more transient in thier movements to secure food.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 05:23 AM

I should warn you guys. Gulo has a slight birth defect that he doesn't like to talk about. But lets get it out in the open. He has three hands.

It comes in very handy (huh ) when he is explaining something. Just when you think you understand him, he says ...."on the other hand....". So be prepared.
Posted By: piperniner

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 05:45 AM

So does that mean the one time he thought he was wrong he was mistaken.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 12:20 PM

Okay, you guys be nice. Not only do I have three hands (there, it's out in the open now) but I also have 2 PhDs (Posthole Diggers; out in the garage), and yes, I have been called a bit anal retentive concerning marten population management.

Really good to hear you're still out there catching marten. I know you trap quite an extensive area, and your previous-years ratios have always looked pretty good. I suspect you've got adequate reservoirs of unhammered country, so your catch remains pretty consistent.
All interested...
What I really like to see, especially from those areas where the marten trapper density is a bit high (traplines that are no more than 10 miles apart)is a ratio in the harvest of not less than 4 YOY (males and females combined) for every ADU female. I've seen populations at better than 20:1, and I've also seen ratios at less than 1:1. Any of you remember the late 80s in the western interior when marten were bringing better than $100/copy, and they were pretty much gone? Total young/ADU female ratioswere coming in at about 2:1. We shortened the season a bit (with the idea that it would probably save a few of those late-caught adult females), and by the early 90s, we again had pretty good marten numbers.
I'm not a fan of government intervention and jacking around season dates, and am of the opinion that individual trappers can manage their own lines better than ADF&G can. On the other hand (there, White17) Craig is one of the best darned biologists and friend to the trappers of anybody I know, and will make the right choice.
With all that said, I encourage any of you guys to keep an eye on your YOY:ADU FEMALE ratios in your annual harvest. As White17 said about his line last year, when he was getting a relatively high proportion of adult females and very few YOY animals in his harvest, he backed off. For the long-term maximization of numbers of marten on the boards, this is precisely what should be done.

Enough for this morning's diatribe. I may grab another cup of mud, and be back here at the keyboard, but (on the other hand) I gotta go see if there are any whitetails lounging about the "yard" wanting to reside for a while in my freezer...
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 02:09 PM

Gulo very interesting stuff. Dont take this the wrong way, but where/how did you get your experience? I ask because I dont know and wildlife management is something I'm very interested in, and I see our (Can.) govt. biologists come up with all sorts of nonsense that cost the taxpayers big dollars. Case in point the regional Bio. in Southeast Yukon did a 5 year marten study at a cost of well over one hundred thousand dollars. His conclusion at the end was that the best marten habitat was at higher elevations than previously thought and in some areas voles were not as important as once thought. These are things he could have found out at the local coffee shop if he would have asked.
How do you know that shortening the season in the 80s brought back marten numbers in the 90s?? maybe it was a cycle. Here in Yukon everyone has their own line no one else can trap most lines are huge. Last year I bought one of the best marten lines here also the largest, last year the marten numbers were very low (it had not been trapped in 12 years). I travel through two lines to get to my trapline (both have not been trapped in 30 years) Marten sign there year to year is no different than trapped lines. My point is not to be argumentative biologists do a lot of good work, but they also cater to political pressure at times and in my view don't get the field experience they need most often to see the complete picture. I'm not setting myself up here as an expert I'm not! But I do spend a solid 6 to 8 months every year in the bush guiding trapping fishing etc. I know other who live on their trap lines year round and have since coming home from Vietnam and they see a cycle in marten numbers about every 11 to 15 years trapped or not. I know here most biologists will tell you marten ranges are small (maybe 1.5 to 2 miles) and that marten dont like the open country. Yet on my high line there are no trees, (its like your table top) for miles and there is marten there in high numbers, I have seen many times at high elevation and at lower elevation where marten will travel for miles in a straight line even when food is plentiful. I also believe marten stash food and in severe cold or deep snow will hole up for periods of time (i have no proof of this but some evidence) Thanks for your input and please dont take my questions wrong, they are just questions. Wildlife management concerns us all and in this day and age unfortunately it is political and bad decisions are made because of it. Last note here it is common practice with trappers to pull traps when their catch of females gets close to 30% of catch. Because of low numbers this year most trappers here this year are running very short marten lines. Fish/Game or seasons have nothing to do with it.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 09:01 PM

Good questions all, and I take no offense whatsoever. This is certainly not a one-way street; I'm trying to learn as well.

I worked in Idaho throughout the 70s on cougars, badgers, eagles, otter, and mink. Had some real fine mentors. School at U of I through the late 70s when they still had some real fine, practical professors. Worked for Alaska F&G for 27 years, mostly in the research arena (wolves, moose, wolverine, brown bears), with a 12 year stint in management in the interior and southeast. One year in Russia trapping tigers, bears, and leopards. Back in Idaho now, doing finishing touches on house-building project. Fur trapper throughout the entire time. Even though it was rarely in my job description, I continued to necropsy 1,000 or so marten every year, just trying to understand what makes the populations tick.

The low marten populations in western interior Alaska during the 80s was at a time when pelt prices were at about $100/copy. Lots of trapper effort, as you might imagine. Total young:adult female ratios were running about 1:1. Following the shortened season (as I remember we cut off the February season), populations rebounded, and we were up to about 4:1 in two years' time. I'm not saying that the shortened season was the reason for the turnaround. It was probably a variety of factors. But, the turnaround coincided with the season shortening. Certainly, could have been a coincidence. Nobody will ever know. I wasn't then, and certainly am not now, in favor of government regulations and jacking the trappers around. Each and every one of you know your respective marten areas better than I or any biologist will ever know. That is the reason I'm interested in learning more about what makes marten populations tick; to suggest to you guys and gals in the field ways you may be able to maximize your long-term catch. Good management, whether it is done by you, or by the government, is my goal. First and foremost, I think of the resource; secondarily, I think about the users of that resource.

I agree that there are more than a handful of good biologists out there (Craig in Fairbanks is one of the hardest working, best field biologists there is. Anywhere. Period.). As with any other profession, there is also no shortage of slinkies. Yes, any agency employee has political constraints (A few years ago, I had a boss that told me I was "politically naive" regarding the wolf issue I was painfully involved in). It's nice now that I'm not working for an agency, that I can afford to be "politically naive".

I'm of the firm opinion that you cannot "bank" marten. In places where traplines are not overlapping or continuous over the landscape, there are refugia (untrapped reservoirs) that continually provide incomers. For a few years recently I trapped a place close to Fairbanks (my plane was broke) where traplines were contiguous and often overlapping. Access was just too good, and there are too many people in Fairbanks. It was "good" marten habitat, but a dozen or so was all I'd get annually. Same with the guys trapping around me. I'm convinced that if we'd have backed off for a couple of years, the long-term productivity of marten from the area would have increased several-fold. The common thought amongst all the area trappers was "if I don't take the marten, somebody else will." Thus, we all put out a few sets and kept the marten whittled down to bare bones.

The scientific literature does indeed generally say that marten home ranges are small. This is usually based on telemetry studies, and is pretty indisputable. However (on the other hand), what would happen if you (or a researcher) trapped an area (often in summer) for a few days or weeks. First animal you catch is an adult. That's the one that gets the transmitter. Well, it's an established adult. Of course it stays put. If they do happen to get a juvenile, it's quite likely to be a transient, and the reports indicate that it's a "transmitter malfunction" or a "lost contact". Well, the thing zipped out of the study area on his way to who-knows-where, and doesn't get into the official reports. I know for a fact that a significant proportion of marten are movers; not established on a definitive home range.

On the other hand...
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 09:13 PM

That leads right into the question about the WAVE effect. It would be interesting to age the marten caught in a wave episode and compare to the usual age structure in that same area. Need baselines for different areas.

Also Gulo wasn't there a marten tagged in the Burn that was subsequently caught 80 miles away ?
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 09:20 PM

was that your third or fourth hand??

J/K, thanks for the discussion. I've learned alot in a short period of time...
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 09:28 PM

I don't remember the details, but it was certainly out of the 1.5-2.0 mile home range (by a factor of 50 or so). Same thing with a few of the tagged critters on NE Chichagof that were officially reported as "status unknown" (although it's a pretty small island). Would be extremely interesting to see the age structure of "wave" participants. Any guesses?

I'm runnin' outta hands here....
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 10:41 PM

Nope no guesses from me. It might be somewhat dependant on the time of the year. If the fall shuffle was long past it might be different than if it happened in November.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 11:04 PM

Gulo thanks! very well put.Sounds like you got some field time!! Here we have such a problem with "political wildlife management" that it makes us question everything. Within the next two years EVERY caribou herd in Yukon will be on a limited entry hunt, because of declining populations. If you ask most hunters don't have the first clue as to how hunting(bulls only) effects populations, if you ask the biologists in charge (I have) the answers you get are insane, it is political suicide here to say we have a predator problem so they don't! I wont bore you guys anymore with this it really drives me nuts! remember the chisana herd we share!! very good example. Anyway a young man I knew (His dad owned the fishing lodge i now run, and he grew up there when I was guiding for his dad) went to school at UAF and is now a biologist in AK. anyone know him?? hes from North dakota and has done some work up on the brooks range with birds.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 11:11 PM

We hear ya about predators and not mentioning them.

We have a similar thing going on about bears. Shooting boars only might actually lead to an increase in the bear population and thus more predation on moose calves. I think we need to take sows and cubs for a few years. But when you bring it up some people look at you like you're Jack the Ripper.
Posted By: mtbadger

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 11:12 PM

That sounds like the right kind of thinking....^^^^
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/02/09 11:18 PM

yukon254. One of the few things in my life that I am proud of is the fact that I was able to avoid being a supervisor in ADF&G and being able to stay in the field.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 02:52 AM

W17 you are right about the bears, just imagine being on the border with the NWT where they cant hunt grizzly! When I lived in BC they went from a 2 bear (black) limit to 5 as they knew they had a problem with calf mortality due to bear predation. It was a good decision and worked, but would never happen now.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 07:09 PM

Some here may recall the white-footed marten I caught last year that had an ADFG tag in it's ear. It was repeatedly getting caught in a bio's gulo sets, (box-type trap), and so was "manually re-located".
I ended up catching him about 10-12 miles from the release site days after his re-location.
Hard to say if he was going to take up residence or passing through, but was caught in a set that usually produces annually.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 08:23 PM

Was white-foot halfway between the Gulo trap and the release site? Perhaps headed home? Interesting.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 10:09 PM

here is something interesting for you Marten "nerds"

Posted By: mtbadger

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 10:17 PM

Has anybody else caught a collared animal???

Gulo did you have any collared animals you were following???
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 11:11 PM

Hey yukon254 and all you other Martes fanatics. See the thread on the TrapperTalk today from Marbleyes (thread link above from Hupurest)? Case in point, precisely. On the other hand, maybe it was still within it's home range?
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/03/09 11:18 PM

Gulo did you have any collared animals you were following???


Never did have any collared marten that were captured elsewhere, to my knowledge. Had some pretty weird recaptures in faraway places of moose, brown bears, black bears, Himalayan bears, otter, wolves, and wolverine. Only time I transmittered any marten was 30 years ago down here in Idaho (implant transmitters that we were experimenting with; to my knowledge, the first time they were ever used; mainly on otter and mink, however).

On the other hand, maybe in my next life?
Posted By: trapped4ever

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 09:02 AM

In regards to the mention of, the status unknown marten, on NE Chichagof, I may have some input. I've trapped the area for 27 years, and was around before,during, and after these studies. I sold fish and game my carcasses, for a few years, for their studies. During their studies I harvested a lot of both ear tagged, and radio collared marten, as did other trappers in the area. The first thing we noticed right away, about the collars, was that they ruined the fur, wearing a "ring" around the neck. Then, we started noticing all the collared marten were in poor health, and very skinny. A few, the collars had even worn thru the skin and into the muscle, causeing infection. From the general health of all the radio collared marten I trapped, I suspect most of the status unknown marten died as a result of the collaring. At the time ,early to mid 90's, I recall weighing some collars and finding they were 1/4, to 1/6, of the martens body weight!! Thats like strapping 40 or 50 pounds around my neck and expecting me to run down dinner. This fish and game study was quite inaccurate, as to their population estimation. Biologists told me the NE portion of the island, a small portion of my line, had around 30 to 40 marten total, in an area where I harvested 170 that season. Not an exact science I guess. Anyways, I just had to jump in at the mention of my "home line".
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 01:09 PM

Because of that study (NE Chich) and others, that is precisely why I'm a fan of implant transmitters for mustelids. I would not use external, collar-type transmitters on any of the weasel family, even if the transmitter package was less than 3% of the body weight. Period. Just ain't worth it. I agree with trapped4ever on this particular study, although most other marten studies throughout NA have really increased our collective knowledge of what makes populations tick.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 03:10 PM

Trapped4ever. Welcome to the forum and thanks for your input.

Also, please include your location in your profile.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 03:20 PM

Very interesting, They did put transmitters on the marten in the Watson Lake study as well, Im not sure what kind but a good friend who is a long time trapper helped so i will ask him. Our fish/game try to keep this pretty quiet but at a meeting with outfitters it came out here a year ago, and that is how many caribou that they kill when they collar them. A big concern is the after effects (how many die later due to stress) I guess no one knows. Not sure how many on here saw the story of the trapper in BC that was all of a sudden overrun with snowmachines on his line?? I guess guys that like hill climbing found his hills! I saw pictures of it and the number of machines that was there every weekend was unreal! well he started finding large numbers of dead critters, everything from marten to moose that died because of stress. I mean no disrespect to anyone but a lot of times it seems that some of the conclusions that they come up with and will print after these studies make no sense. I went in yesterday to get my wolverine sealed and right in the main F/G office there was a map showing the different caribou herds in Yukon (this study is very recent, they wanted to know the ranges of each herd as well as population etc,) anyway this map showed caribou all over the Toobally lake country, it is my lower trapline and my fishing lodge is there, I have spent the better part of 30 years there and feel very confident I know it better than any person alive and there are no caribou within 40 miles! In all the time Ive spent there I have seen a biologist there twice and a C/O once! The bear biologist here in Yukon just had a write up in the paper about how her study of bears (grizzly) went in the southern lakes region this summer, even though she is new here and no one had ever studied bear in this area before she said the numbers are declining drastically! now I live in the area but admittedly dont spend a lot of time here but of course know many who do, and this year everyone you talk to says they have seen more bear than ever before?? then they had more trouble calls than ever too. her findings were there were now to many ATV trails in the area making access for hunters to easy! We know the exact number of grizzly killed each year and the number is very low! I could go on about the bear hunt in BC and the fiasco that followed but will stop here, told you guys this stuff bothered me! SORRY!
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 03:28 PM

Odd conclusions from available or questionable data is exactly what started our wolverine survey project. At least we have some previous data as a basline. Sounds as though that may not be the case in your area.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 05:00 PM

W17 i keep forgetting, if you send me your add. i will send you that wolverine info. I have an extra yukon trappers manual and will send you the whole book, probably nothing new for you in it but will give you an idea of how we do some things here.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 05:47 PM

Gulo, the white-foot marten was, surprisingly enough, traveling south, away from it's previous home. I was told this particular animal was a real pest, getting caught multiple times, hence the re-locate.
Posted By: piperniner

Re: Marten thread - 12/05/09 08:06 PM

Y254 - Interesting post regarding snowmachine's, Game, studies, etc. Similiar problems everywhere I guess.

Oh - you really need to be careful about expressing your opinions. Just Follow my lead in keeping them to yourself.
Posted By: trapped4ever

Re: Marten thread - 12/06/09 06:00 AM

The NE Chichagof study did gather a lot of info, I didn't mean to imply it was a total waste. I stayed in contact with F&G throughout the study, and sold them carcasses at $3 each. These carcasses were aged, and the females were examined to see how many kits were being produced. Some den sites were monitored, and telemetry was used, to try and determine home ranges. A lot of this info was interesting, but not necessarily accurate. However, the diet info gathered through isotope analysis, throughout the year, was interesting. Diet change thru the seasons is drastic. I have some of the finding on paper, packed away somewhere. Maybe when I figure out these computers, scanners, etc. I can post some of this info. Lots of info on the habits of island marten, not necessarily all that accurate for other parts of the state. Some of the Southeast guys may find this info interesting.
Incidentally, someone earlier in the thread was mentioning marten populations being low in SE alaska, SW Yukon, and NW British Columbia. I have noticed a downward trend for the last 3 or 4 years. Last year being the lowest concentration of marten I've seen in 27 years of trapping this area. Correspondingly, the small mammal populations,(voles, Keene's Deer mice, shrews) are also the lowest I've seen, and some local researchers, who have been monitoring these small mammal populations, confirmed my observations. They say numbers are the lowest, since the study started, about 15 years ago. Marten populations seem to be about 1/4 of their historical levels, from my personal experience. Marten were introduced to the ABC islands, so maybe the population crash was an overpopulation thing? I'm not sure, but at times in the past, population levels were incredibly dense, compared to other parts of the state in which I've trapped. Anyone in these areas seen an increase this year? Just curious what other guys are seeing.
Posted By: piperniner

Re: Marten thread - 12/06/09 06:30 AM

T4E - I for one would be interested in your stashed info . Your current info is interesting for sure. Sounds like you have a wealth of experience / knowledge to share.
I guess Kuiu is an indication of what you saying in terms of a downturn.
White seems to be experiencing a similiar situation, so I'm sure he will chime in.
Keep the info coming.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/06/09 03:37 PM

I too would be interested in reading anything you can provide. I have seen what I believe to be a similar decline in overall numbers and also what appears to be a decline in young.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/06/09 06:57 PM

I sold a few carcasses to the Dept. as well, back in the day. They were buying them here from the mainland for a year or two.
I've read the study, and I believe it is still available on ADFG's web site. That site can be kind of difficult to navigate when looking for scientific studies, but I think you can find it under peer reviewed fur bearer studies. There is also a pretty good one by Steve Peterson relating to his first use of newspaper tubes for marten. He was experimenting with them on what is now, many years later, my main line. To this day I'm still finding old sets of his. The guy was amazing. He's now into his seventies, and heard he traps periodically on the outer coast of Baranof. Must have learned from White17.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/06/09 07:36 PM

Go to Alaska dept. of Fish and Game Wildlife Conservation's web site. Under Publications, click on Technical publications. Then click on Wildlife Conservation Research Projects. Then click on Fur bearer. Then on Marten Ecology.
Wala, the marten study.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/06/09 07:41 PM

Thanks !
Posted By: trapped4ever

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 08:39 AM

These studies were headed up by Rod Flynn, (F&G Juneau), who is also involved in the Kuiu I. studies. I guess if you all figured out how to get that info, you don't need my copy. Some of this info seems a little off to me. 30 and 49 gram collars? Maybe the collars without the transmitters? or transmitters without collars? I wish I had taken some pictures to show, of the health of these marten. At least 2 of the collared marten I trapped, actually had a ring around the neck, worn thru the skin, with pus all over the abraded area. Maybe to tight of collars? Every marten I trapped, that had a collar, was in poor shape.

Anyways, another study was done that corresponded with this one. This study examined the annual and seasonal diet changes of marten on Chichagof I., using stable isotope analysis. It was headed up by Merav Ben-David of UAF. She repeatedly trapped ,for sampling, 75 marten from Feb. -Dec., 1992-1994. They also purchased 610 carcasses, which she randomly sub-sampled 165 individuals. Each capture, resulted in a drugged immobilization, weight, measurement, a vestigial pre- molar was pulled, 2ml. of blood drawn, and an ear tag, (PIT), or radio collar was attached. They also monitored the abundance of small rodents. Keen's deer mice and long tailed voles, were trapped along 3 permanent transects, Sep.-Oct. 1991-1994.

I don't want to type all of the findings, so I'll try to boil it down. They broke down food sources into 2 groups , terrestrial, and marine. Our marten at times eat a lot of spawned out salmon, shore crabs, urchins, etc. The findings showed, through out the year, diets change drastically, as different food resources come into season. Berries, crab apples, migrating song- birds, salmon, nestling squirrels, etc. They found prey abundance (i.e., year and season) and home range location (near salmon stream, alpine, etc.), are important factors, but some marten seem to show a predatory specialization. In spring winter killed deer composed 26%- 32% of the martens diet. In summer berries made up 13%- 22% of their diet. However, they found that there was no significant body weight or health difference in marten, whether they primarily ate a marine based, or terrestrial based diet. This contradicted their hypothesis, that marten eating a primarily rodent diet, would exhibit better health than those feeding on other foods. Thus, switching to other foods seemed to allow marten to stay healthy, despite a decline in preferred prey numbers. The findings did show a significant weight change in both males and females, thru the year. This may be due to their deficiency in accumulating body fat, which in turn leads to metabolization of muscle, and doesn't necessarily reflect a dietary lack.

After being live- trapped, at least 3 of these marten were harvested 60 miles away. There is a lot of technical data in this report, some stuff I probably can't even decipher. If anyone has a direct question about something I may be able to answer, ask away. Otherwise, maybe some of the computer geniuses on here can access this info somewhere, and fill everyone else in.
Does anyone know, (perhaps the gentleman from Idaho), how accurate the ageing of marten is useing the cementum annuli tooth layers? I've heard it isn't always that accurate in bears, and wondered about marten.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 02:11 PM

On the cementum aging of marten, everyone pretty much uses the same lab in Montana (Matson's Lab). Gary does a real fine job, and each tooth that gets sliced also gets a "quality rating" which basically is a rating of how precise the age estimate is (rating from A-C, with "A" being pretty certain, "C" being difficult resulting in poor precision). On teeth I've sent in (usually a canine from harvested animals) about 90% of the teeth are usually "A" rating, and I pretty much believe those ages. When reporting ages, I usually don't use the "B" or "C" rated ages. Gary has told me that a double-rooted molar is best. Obviously, however, a researcher is not going to take a canine or a molar from a live animal, and the tiny premolars probably have fewer "A" teeth, simply because they're so small.

By the way, oldest marten I've ever had was aged at 14.5-year-old male.
Posted By: mtbadger

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 03:06 PM

By the way, oldest marten I've ever had was aged at 14.5-year-old male.

Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 03:42 PM

Very interesting reading thanks! Gulo I think you stated that the skull was not an accurate way to tell a martens age? I have always had my doubts about that method because of body size of the marten Ive seen that were supposed to be yoy. I have continued to use that method tho, as biologists here have told us it is the way to tell. One reason I think marten move a lot is that I have seen them eating on a bait pile in late winter, (one winter I had 5 marten on a bait that I could see from my cabin) they were there for 3 or 4 days then poof they were gone never to return?? trapped4ever are marten populations good in your area normally (like how many could you take on a good year?) There are quite a few lines in Southeast Yukon where 250 to 300 is possible
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 03:46 PM

According to the literature marten achieve their adult size, though not weight, within 3 months of birth.

My oldest was also 14yrs. A male of course and the next nearest was 7-8y/o.

What I find intereting, and I would like the answer, I have never caught a female older than 4 y/o.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 04:28 PM

W17 what method were you using to get those ages? I do know if the skull method is wrong a lot of trapline journals here will be almost useless as far as catch cycles go, as we have used that method to gauge the yoy.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 04:53 PM

Tooth sectioning
Posted By: piperniner

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 05:34 PM

Thanks you guys for taking the time to post this interesting info.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 05:37 PM

Quick perusal of marten cementum ages from interior Alaska was a 10-yr-old and a 9-yr-old on the females. I'll do a little more sleuthing on the more recent cementum ages and let you all know what I have. On the other hand, I believe Midge Strickland in Ontario found a couple of 14-yr-old females as well.
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 05:54 PM

Thanks for all the great info guys...Great Thread!!
Posted By: takotna

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 06:04 PM

Anyone ever notice when birds of prey are up marten are down in open marten country?
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 06:23 PM

I wonder, is starvation the #1 cause of marten mortality? I would think that with the hyper-active behavior of pretty much all the weasel family, securing enough food to keep metabolizing enough protein, etc. would be a real challenge, even in times of relative abundance.
I know there are certain small rodents that need to almost continuously eat or parish.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 06:34 PM

Diffently! I think your onto something Takotna..
Posted By: 3 Fingers

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 07:03 PM

Takotna, that seems to be true that I've seen. Never found a kill site though. Perhaps spring and early summer when young are vulnerable.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 08:01 PM

Dave Keleyhouse over in Tok, a former Area Biologist for ADFG, opined about 20 years ago that he thought raptors were a big factor in decline of marten numbers. I believe he also thought that high lynx numbers were responsible for declines in marten. I'm of the opinion that goshawks and horned owls probably whack a few marten, but I think they are probably not major contributors to large-scale declines. I've also seen areas with high populations of marten and lynx coinciding. At this point (and it's just an opinion), I think food availability is what makes populations fluctuate.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 08:33 PM

I agree gulo, I know my first trapline was very open country lots of raptors yet they didnt seem to effect marten numbers. What Im really curious about is the diet of marten, I know both of my lines that i trap now have one thing in common, if I have lots of rabbits I have lots of marten and many times I have seen marten chasing rabbits, but our last big rabbit peak was 97/98 since that time the rabbits peak has never been that high. there is a lady that is studying the rabbit cycle but she has not released any info yet to my knowledge. I did correspond with her some last year and think she will have some good information for trappers when she is done. The crazy part is I know other trappers who have very few rabbits and tons of marten?? Personally I think the red squirrel is responsible in a big way for rabbit numbers staying lower.
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 08:49 PM

Yukon...can you explain the squirrel vs rabbit comment...I cant follow the logic there...seems like they peacefully coexist everywhere I've seen them(??)

I was relatively suprised this year to see how much the marten are eating high bush cranberries... I knew they were omnivores, but was suprised how they really go out of their way to find those winter berries...i think in my area they're main food is rodents and grouse..just based on what I've seen and what food is available to them...and stanky spawned out salmon on occasion..
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 09:14 PM

Again, only opinion, as I don't really have lots of science to back it up...

In Interior Alaska, northern red-backed voles are the meat-and-potatoes of the marten populations. Certainly, lots of other things in the diet (bunnies, grouse, berries, songbirds, other small mammals, scavenging large ungulates, etc, ad nauseum), but day-in, day-out, the red-backed voles run the system in the interior. On the islands in SE where there were no red-backs, it appeared that deer mice were important, but other sources of protein (other voles, winter-killed deer, marine sources, berries, etc.) were also important. Craig Gardner over in Fairbanks F&G, is trying to get at that with a little more science involved, and I really look forward to his findings. Unfortunately, however, his funding is limited to just about $0.00, but he's got meat, bone, etc. samples from years of carcass collections that he wants to do the stable isotope work on. I'll try to get ahold of him, and see what the status is of the project and let you all know.

On the other hand, perhaps Big Macs?
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 09:17 PM

Maybe in the urban marten habitats..yes, but the fries more so...and lots of competition from "soul chickens"
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 09:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Pittu

I was relatively suprised this year to see how much the marten are eating high bush cranberries... I knew they were omnivores, but was suprised how they really go out of their way to find those winter berries...i think in my area they're main food is rodents and grouse..

well, would those berry areas also attract grouse, ptarmigan and mice, all eating the berries????? and the marten gets a place to hunt AND get some fruit?
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 09:54 PM

Yea, I shouldnt have said "suprised"....sometimes you find the evidence that proves what you already know and it hammers the concept home...especially for a dumb Finlander...
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 09:54 PM

Hupurest, you're beginning to sound a lot like W17...
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 10:52 PM

Pittu The red squirrel kills and eats baby rabbits. I have cut open many stomachs of marten over the years and I think it depends on where you are, I agree with the berries, I have seen lots of highbush as well as rosehips. And both of those berries will stay on the vine all winter to some degree. Im not as sold on the red backed vole as some, but have no proof either!
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 10:57 PM

Thats interesting and I learned something new...I've never heard of that although I do know that those red squirrels will eat a fair share of meat...so I can see that it makes some sense..

On a side note, I cleared the area of red sq. last spring and by august, there was as many or more squirrels stealing dog food from my feed house...they really move into vacant territory fast..but this is a marten thread...I digress
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 10:57 PM

Pittu forgot, the cute little red squirrel also kills baby birds still in the nests by the scads! It is well known, but I have actually witnessed them killing both birds and baby rabbits. I have a friend who has a great lynx line, his line management is to snare as many red squirrels as he can and he says he sees a huge difference in rabbit numbers.
Posted By: bearbait

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 11:17 PM

Pittu, I have a 1 acre timbered lot next to my place and I kill all the squirrels living in that lot because I have lots of stuff near there that they want to chew on. Every year I kill at least 30 squirrels on that acre and twice I've killed over 50. I think the young are constantly looking for a new and better home
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 11:29 PM

Yea, it gives my new 22 mag alot of opportunity, but being discrete (ie when the wife isnt home) is an unfortunate necessity...she was wondering aloud this summer where all the squirrels went smirk

I told her that the owls been eating good... whistle
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/07/09 11:38 PM

I think the stable isotope work, if it gets done, will shed a lot of light on the diet questions for the interior marten. The only thing I'm basing my theories on (and that's all they are at this point; theories), is looking through literally thousands of stomachs. Trying to discern marten diet through examination of trapped animals, though, has it's drawbacks. I was always frustrated at not knowing precisely what the trapper was using as bait, thus, I kept very poor records of stomach contents, scared of the frequency with which I was encountering beaver, strawberry jam, grouse feathers, etc.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 01:44 AM

Enter the flower pot set. No bait in the stomach!
Perhaps Craigs study might be our next "mission"? Thoughts?
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 02:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Gulo
Hupurest, you're beginning to sound a lot like W17...

Now that's high praise !
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 02:14 AM

For whom?
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 02:31 AM

Wow really wide ranging !

I am sure that avian predators take a toll on marten. How much is another question. Over the years I've caught several that had been grabbed by talons and apparently dropped. But it really became clear to me one fall while watching a marten eat on a moose leg about 20 feet up a tree. All of a sudden I heard raven's wings beating. So did that marten. He ducked his head and bailed out of that tree in one leap. He hit the ground and disappeared. I'm sure he never saw the bird, just heard the wings.

In my area I don't believe there is any relationship between red squirrels an rabbits. I don't have many of either. I have opened lots of stomachs also and the overwhelming majority of identifiable remains was vole. I even found a piece of blue tarp at one point.

Last year I decided to weigh the omentum fat of all marten but separate it into marten caught in footholds and marten caught in body grips. It turned out that I needed a digital scale so I resorted to subjectively assigning a value of 0-4 to the amount of fat. 4 being a metric gut load !

Right now I'm in anchorage and my records are home but the results were clear. Those critters taken in body grips were fatter by a factor of about 200% than those taken in footholds. Years ago Gulo had mentioned that he thought a marten under stress would metabolize his body fat in 24 hours. That's why I attemped this. Although the sample size was very small, I think the results point in the right direction.

So what is there in the woods other than man that will stress a marten population. Predation to some extent but that's always there. Extreme weather ? Seems to me that food would be the most critical.

One fall I watched a ptarmigan picking lowbush cranberries. He would pick one and then stack it on a low spruce branch out at the end where the needles could hold it. All of a sudden a marten jumped out of the brush and nailed him. Once they departed I went over to look at what the bird was doing. He had 15-20 berries cached on that limb. I suspect he was going to come back when the snow was a little deeper. Maybe the marten got the berries too.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 02:32 AM

Originally Posted By: alaska viking
For whom?

Hoopy of course !
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:00 AM

I've skinned marten that had definite talon marks, but in all cases there was little, if any, bruising at the puncture sites. I always assumed that it was raptors (owls or goshawks) hitting the thing after it had been trapped. Again, just conjecture.

I, too, looked at total body weights and subjective internal and external (inguinal) body weights of marten taken in footholds versus those taken in Conibears (scale of 0-5). Obviously, the body-gripped marten spent less time struggling than the foothold-harvested marten. Alas, not enough data to satisfy the statisticians, but in my mind, same results as W17, significantly more body fat on the Conibeared critters. Thus, my opinion that metabolism of stored body fat is phenomenally quick.

On the other hand, catabolism (putting on the spare tire) is apparently quite quick as well. Putting a few sets around fresh moose carcasses, knowing that the carcass was only available for the previous 24-hours, yeilded some hog-fat marten, and I strongly suspect that they weren't in that shape when they discovered the bonanza of food at the carcass.

Anybody out there with opposing views? Hit me...
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:00 AM

The bird stashing food is interesting. My wife has a seasonal population of Steller's Jays that she feeds daily. They prefer peanuts in the shell. Weird, I know, but bear with me.
I watch these things fight like crazy, stuffing thier gullets with up to three nuts at a time, then fly to various places hiding the nuts. They will go to the point of camouflaging the nuts with leaves and clumps of grass.
In the mean time, other birds will watch them, and they will no sooner feel satisfied with thier concealment and fly off, another will fly in, steal the nut, and proceed to repeat the process.
What I find odd about the whole thing is these particular birds seem to migrate from the area in winter. The squirrels, on the other hand, seek out these stashes when snow cover allows.
My first conclusion was a type of symbiotic relationship, with the squirrels getting the better deal. However, when the two are trying to eat from the same tree, the jays constantly harass the squirrel. The squirrel will only take so much of this, however. It will eventually attack, unless seriously out-numbered.
Also, I have seen, on MANY occasions, Steller's Jays abandon all else to pounce on any small rodent that catches thier eye. Quite an event to see. And I do mean pounce, as well as stab with beak, kill said rodent, and haul it away with every other jay in hot pursuit.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:06 AM

Oh, yeah, anyway, I wonder what factor birds may play in the day to day life of marten?
I'm certain that the larger predators utilize the vocalizations of certain birds to locate dead or dying animals, as well as situations that they want to avoid. I guess the question is just how tuned in to thier environment are marten, and how dependant are they on outside stimuli.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:08 AM

I never thought that the marten had been grabbed by a bird while in the trap. Makes sense though. Otherwise they'd be gone.

AV: your Steller's Jays are obviously Democrats. Lots of make work, stealing and squabling with really nothing accomplished, while living on handouts.
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:12 AM

AV, I don't have a clue. I've watched marten being harassed by gray jays, and they don't seem to even acknowledge the noise and ruckus. On the other hand, a lot of the literature says that marten avoid large openings (a "fact" that I partially disagree with), purportedly because of their vulnerability to aerial predators. W17 will probably have anecdotal evidence and opinions that are much more valid than my own.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:17 AM

Well I wouldn't say they're any more valid but I agree the literature is not necessarily correct. I have some of my best sets on the edge of the treeline with clear space a mile or more in the other directions. I see tracks crossing these areas regularly. Some probably get nailed but not as many as get away. I think an owl or hawk would rather tangle with a bunny than with Mr Chain Blue Lightning Sharp Claws and Teeth.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:26 AM

Well, the Democratic observation, I think, is quite accurate. On the other hand, the squirrels seem to eventually benefit. I wonder how much the marten rely on being a "benefactor", if you will, from other animals habits?
Not to assign genius status to the critters, but I would think that a mammal that covers the ground that they obviously do, one could surmise that they learn to take advantage of other animals habits. One could further extrapolate that the older the marten, the more "stashes" it would discover, and the more it would either rely on, or search for, said caches.
I would then venture to say that certain marten would become more "localized", or hunt a smaller area, as other critters are helping with food availability.
Man, this is getting deep, eh?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:27 AM

so, if a bird "grabbed" a marten in the trap, why wouldn't it eat it right there??? seems that the marten would be limited in its defense...

I also have seen many tracks from marten in areas that I was not 'supposed" to be seeing them.
I assume they would cross these areas at night? limiting the avian predators, to an owl.....
Posted By: mearl

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:34 AM

to funny,, mr. white. the democrat comment. i love it, this has been a interesting thread...thanks for all the input you guys,, i love trappin marten although I only do 10 to 15 a year... last year got 16... 10males 6 fem.. wish I lived in a place like white where a guy could do a lot more...
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:40 AM

I try to do very little !

I'll bet marten rely on birds to locate large carrion just like foxes and wolves.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 04:14 AM

That would seem logical, but here in S.E. that would lead to eagles. Not good for marten.
I guess the point I'm getting to is if marten can utilize other animals endeavors to increase their food availability, would they need to have a large territory, out of habit, if you will, or decrease energy expenditure, and rely on "outside sources" for required food intake?
More to the point, can a trapper take advantage of this behavior?
I can think of several set modifications or set-ups that would take advantage of this type of behavior.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 05:00 AM

Well if that's the case then let me ask this. Why, under those circumstances, would a male's home range be larger than a female's home range? For that matter, why is it anyway? If we make a wild assumption that a male needs 1/3 more food than a female, why is his territory 5 times larger? That leads to the question are females more effective hunters ? I suspect the male's territory is larger because of territoriality and looking for additional wives.

I don't think the opportunity for extra calories is that common in say a 1 square mile area. So the marten that live in that area must be required to subsist on what normally occurs there. i.e red backed voles being the most generally abundant.

Marten in a marine environment would/could be a different story.

Good point on the eagles. Pretty girls just seem to find out early ....
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 05:06 AM

Lots of good info on here that will benefit all. Last year most trappers in southeast were reporting extremely fat marten, the numbers were low where I was but their condition was the best Ive ever seen, I examined over 50% of the stomach contents and found lots of highbush cranberries and rabbit. The myth that marten dislike open areas is a myth. Ive seen to many times where they spend to much time in open areas, even frozen lakes. Up on the demptster there are a couple of trappers that take incredible numbers of marten (over 500 more than once) and anyone who has been there must admit its pretty open!
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 12:24 PM

Quick little story...

Big buck mink (but I assume marten would act similarly); SE Alaska, Baranof Isl.; March; low tide.

Sitting about 15 yards offshore in boat, watching said mink make multiple trips down through the rocks where he'd grab a spawning herring, then return up through the rocks, cache the fish, and return for another. Watched him catch and cache 40 herring in just over 30 minutes. Bald eagle would fly over low. No reaction. Raven flying over, even if treetop level, the mink would dive into the boulder patch and disappear. Come out very cautiously and very vigilant before returning to waterline to get another fish.

Point is, that mink was apparently very worried about the ravens, and couldn't have cared less about the noble eagles. I think mustelids in general are very cognizant of what's happening around them, both as predators and as prey.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 01:55 PM

Do you think he was afraid for himself or afraid of losing his herring to the raven?
Posted By: Gulo

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:10 PM

Can't speculate on that one, White. All I know is he was obviously very tuned in to the difference between the eagles and the ravens. (I know a lot of bipeds that can barely tell the difference.)
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 03:12 PM

LOL!! They're so spiritual.....................
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/08/09 05:51 PM

I watched a raven swoop down and grab a rabbit one time and take off with it...my jaw dropped, I've never seen a raven go after large live prey...but apparently they do when the opportunity arises..

I've also seen caches of currents and high bush berries stuffed behind bark in trees..etc.Matter of fact one of my marten sets had a dozen berries cached in the climbing pole since last check..nothing like some live grouse bait at a marten set!!
Posted By: trapped4ever

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 01:46 AM

I lost 7 marten today, to ravens eating dead marten out of traps. They are also very efficient bait thieves. Concealing bait inside a soup can doesn't even slow them down. 20 miles of my line are dead end, so I have to return the same way. Once the ravens get onto you, you can bait in the morning, and on the return a couple hours later, they will have eaten every bait. They can literally drive you off a line. They will follow tracks to sets, and also actually fly along behind and watch where you make sets, and they remember these locations from year to year. I'm also convinced they have a good sense of smell.

Pittu, how large of prey are you talking. I've seen them kill and eat young crows, and gulp down Red-breasted sapsuckers whole. They'll kill and eat black-tail fawns at birth.

That being said, I doubt if ravens prey on live marten in any significant numbers. Raptors either. Maybe a few here and there, but no significant number. I'm actually surprised at what all will eat marten out of a trap. Aside from cannibalism, ravens, eagles, bears, shrews, I also have a problem with otters eating them out of traps along my beach line. I' ve actually walked up on them doing this, at 2 different occaisions. Eventually, I learned if I wanted to keep otter and mink away from marten sets, all I had to do was use a strong skunk scent lure. Our otter and mink shy away from this odour. Also works to keep $10 mink out of $100 marten sets.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 01:58 AM

WOW That is really surprising to me. I have never had a raven mess with a marten set that I was aware of. Are you using body grips ? I'd switch if you are.
Posted By: Pittu

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 02:05 AM

Yea, that is crazy, Ive never had a raven mess with anything, including non exposed baits.

I was referring to the rabbit as "large prey" since I'd never seen them go after live critters that large..

It would be something to see them kill a deer fawn, you'd think the mother would have something to say about that!!
Posted By: takotna

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 02:32 AM

I had a raven eat 4 marten in a row as he watched me cuss him out each time I took the marten out and reset, was quite some time ago and the only time.

I've been opening some marten stomachs checking out what their eating and took this out of one so took a pic for the experts. It's about 17mm long.

Posted By: Broadie

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 04:19 AM

Not to diverge from marten, but last winter I was visiting an uncle in suburban Chicago and I noticed there were rabbits freakin' everywhere. Apparently there are no crows or ravens around anymore because the west Nile virus has virtually wiped them out. Without these avian predators the rabbits have gone gangbusters.

Ravens are smart and bold and I can see them preying on marten. And they and all other corvids have a well developed sense of smell, as far as birds go.

Takotna, could that be a parasite, like a hook worm or something?
Posted By: Ol' Blister

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 04:26 AM

Oh boy, Clint, wait til Gulo gets a load of this!

We spent a winter on the line counting those parasites in marten stomachs for him. One of the stomachs we opened looked like it had spaghetti in it there were so many!

At least it looks like it could be the same critter. On the other hand.....
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 04:38 AM

Soboli phyme baturini.

A real interesting critter. Caused me a lot of sleepless nights thanks to an assignment from Gulo. We have counted and sexed lots of these things. Some marten have them and some do not. Some have lots and some have few. I came to the conclusion that they can change their gender as need be.

You'll note the first name 'soboli' as in soble or sable.

They don't appear to do any harm to the animal.

Gulo can give us all the interesting story on these guys.

Posted By: takotna

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 05:07 AM

Was wondering what it was and if it was normal.
Posted By: trapped4ever

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 05:09 AM

W17, no, I'm not a big bodygrip fan. I own some, OK, I admit a bunch, but rarely set one for marten. I usually use #1 B&L longsprings on the poles, and #1 jumps in the cubbies. #0's are also great, but won't handle deep or drifting snow so well.
I've been battling the ravens for years. Lost a pile of fur and bait to them. I guess they must be our equivalent of foxes and gulo for raiding a marten line. They are smart. I've watched them work cubbies and poles. At a cubby, they pull the drag stick, trap and all, out of the way. If the trap is wired solid, they just flip it over, or grab the chain, and pull it aside. At a pole set, they land on the limb your bait hangs from, and pull it up. Once they figure it out, there is no stopping them. The line I ran, (and pulled), today, is particularily bad. I can sneak out 2 picks, before they really get onto me, then it's time to pull and move on.
So, tomorrow will be spent, starting to open a new line. The same one a yearling brownie worked me over on last year. 4 picks in a row, 80 miles of line, 300+ sets, he never missed a trap, or a marten. He even killed and ate live marten a couple times. First time I've ever seen that. But thats another subject......
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 06:16 AM

That's really something. They are crafty birds for sure. A lot of people like them and I envy their flying abilities but it's one bird I wish would go somewhere else to live. They're just black flying maggots IMHO to say nothing about their obnoxious noise.
Posted By: yukon254

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 02:28 PM

cant you shoot them in AK.?? We cant here, they are our territory bird! but I cant stand them and we have thousands of them, Whitehorse is a mess because of them. Ive never had trouble on the trapline though.
Posted By: white17

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 03:51 PM

They are federally protected in the US and I'll bet they are included in an intergovenmental agreement like waterfowl.
Posted By: Ol' Blister

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 04:01 PM

'Sorry to continue this hijack of your marten thread yukon254, BUT..
I just gotta say that the ravens have become really bold here since the burn box went into operation at our town dump. Their local 'cafeteria' was suddenly closed down.
Now they go into enclosed containers to tear open garbage bags and strew the contents over any open areas.
They DO avoid anything that looks like a net though. We throw a light netting (normally used for keeping birds out of fruit trees) and they leave garbage alone that is on the other side of that.
'Makes me wonder if that could be used on a trap line without discouraging the target animal as well.........
Posted By: takotna

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 04:22 PM

OB, the same thing happened here, when we built our burn box and started useing it all the ravens moved right into town
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 05:53 PM

I propose a "Raven Stamp". Then we could have a good old fashion shoot! Think of the possibilities!
Ravens unlimited, Raven banquet and auction, limited edition prints, etc. ad nauseum.
That said, I HATE THEM.
I have not had much trouble with them on the trap line, thankfully, but day to day, they can be a serious pain in the rear. That's another thread, altogether.
Posted By: Boles

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 08:25 PM

Interesting thread.One thing Ive seen a few times here is marten hunting and catching bats on dead snags.Was watching one flaking bark off the tree quite high up then snap something up.That time I didnt see what.Another time different location I had the binoculars on watching when I saw that it had caught a bat that was hiding under the dead bark.have seen them foraging like this a few times since.Told a bio once about that behavior,he didnt believe me seems he never read it in a book
I too also get my fair share of raven problems.They will pull a trap and clean out the bait.They also reconize my pickup and will start to gather when Im unloading the snow machine.We have a no closed season and a limit of 5.Remington 17 is mighty fine medicine for raven.
Posted By: bearbait

Re: Marten thread - 12/09/09 10:36 PM

"Told a bio once about that behavior,he didnt believe me seems he never read it in a book" That is a common affliction among some bios.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/11/09 06:00 PM

Well, checked the first marten sets of the season yesterday. Only had 13 out, both flower pots and newspaper tubes. ZERO!
A first, I think. All the tubes had vole/shrew nibbling the bait. Don't think they can climb the slick sides of the pots.
Some of these sets have been annual producers for years.
I am having grave concerns for the marten pop. here.
Any S.E. Alaskans here having similar issues?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Marten thread - 12/11/09 06:40 PM

Same here but I don't have alot of marten either. You would be surprised how well a vole can climb. I actually watched a vole shimmy himself down a piece if FISHING line to munch on a wing before at a lynx cubby. I was so amazed. It stayed on my mind the rest of the day checking traps!
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/12/09 06:15 AM

I may have a solution. See "Rat Zapper".
Posted By: steelieking

Re: Marten thread - 12/12/09 06:35 AM

So far my checks have been slow on the marten end of things. I have about 45 sets out for marten so far and picked up 4. Thankfully the otters have been keeping me busy in the fur room with some mink in the mix. Right now I am trapping the beach fringe, but am considering hiking in to higher elevation in the AM and setting up high also. All depends on my mood in the am. This is my first season here, so I cant really say if its up or down. I do have reports from a friend on the island that the pop is well if your up in the 500 to 900 foot zone. Time will tell. Awesome thread, I sure learned alot here.
Posted By: jamill45

Re: Marten thread - 12/12/09 08:00 AM

AK Viking-

I had the same problem with voles last year on my line. I would see them running all over the place while I was hiking my line. It sucked because the marten wouldnt climb trees at all. I'm still getting my line in this year but will report back with what I observe after the weekend.

Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/12/09 05:55 PM

Jake, good to hear from you again. Started thinking youd gone North! Good luck this weekend.
Posted By: jamill45

Re: Marten thread - 12/12/09 09:52 PM

AK Viking-

Yeah I was up North for most of the summer but came back to work down here this fall. Yeah I look forward to getting my line back in again and seeing whats been going on up there.

Do you notice a high population of ermine with the high vole population? I seemed to have a ton of ermine last year when the voles were everywhere.

Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/18/09 06:43 PM

Well, from my line it's official: Marten are in real trouble. Ran the main line two days ago. Had 18 sets out for marten. Zero catches since Dec. 3rd. Loads of weasel sign, as well as squirrel, vole, shrews, and even a hare. Not a single marten track.
This area, a line of about 3 miles, has what I would consider pretty good surrounding area to re-supply what I take, which is typically 8-12 marten per year, though last year I only took 4 due to extreme snow conditions(pulled the line after only 10 days/2 line checks).
Son and I will be pulling everything out this weekend and will not set it at all next year, and perhaps the year following.
Posted By: tree

Re: Marten thread - 12/18/09 07:24 PM

Yup, I caught THE marten down the Bishop trail and pulled out. On the way back two guys going down to set it up. Too many people playing the game in Juneau and not enough room. The new elevated trap regs while a good thing, will be the coup de gras for the marten here.
Posted By: alaska viking

Re: Marten thread - 12/19/09 07:03 PM

I hope not, as I was the one who pushed that through. I would think that all the un-trailed areas and wild country "behind" us would provide enough refugia for marten to spill over/into the areas being trapped. I'm afraid there is somthing else contributing to the lack of numbers.
Posted By: jamill45

Re: Marten thread - 12/19/09 09:52 PM

AK Viking-

I think alot of the marten population was hurt in the first couple of super hard winters we had. There might not have been a good crop of juvy marten born those years because of the bad weather. Plus there were high marten prices those years and there was alot of pressure from trappers. Just a thought, because I have been seeing marten sign in places that werent hit as hard by the snow a couple years ago. I probably wont be hitting my line as hard this year as in the past because I want the marten population to replenish quickly.

Posted By: Family Trapper

Re: Marten thread - 12/11/11 10:27 AM

Was doing some routine searching for info and.....
Wow this is packed with good Marten info.
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