News | Blog | Practical steps to protect game and domestic fowl

30th April 2015

It has been a year since the VWT and NUIG held a one-day meeting on the pine marten on May 1st 2014, so we thought it would be useful to take a look at what has been achieved since then. For those who were not able to attend the meeting last year, a copy of the abstracts of the papers presented on the day and also notes from the open discussion that took place on a number of topics are available to download here, the latter have have been prepared by Dr Colin Lawton (Head of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway).

Huw Denman was one of our speakers and he kindly agreed to elaborate on his paper relating to managing forestry for the pine marten – this is now available to download as a leaflet here. Huw returns to Ireland to speak again on this topic on May 23rd at a field event being hosted by ProSilva.

Last May, in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service, we launched a leaflet (available to download here) about the pine marten aimed at householders and this has been widely distributed since then, and we have been replying to queries about martens in buildings from many parts of the country via our website and by telephone. However, this is now a critical stage in the life cycle of the pine marten, as females who have given birth this year will now be suckling their kits, so it is essential that anyone who knows or suspects that they have a pine marten using a building seek advice from their local Conservation Ranger before doing anything to deter the marten from their property (Tel: 018883242).

One of the issues raised at the 2014 meeting was the risk of predation by pine martens of game fowl that are held in pens from early summer until the autumn release time. We have just begun to work with a gun club to see how effective a pen surrounded by electrical netting will be in keeping fowl safe from a passing pine marten. We have also been doing some research on the various methods for protecting fowl already in use and are very grateful to a family in County Clare and a free-range poultry producer in County Galway for allowing us to visit to view their systems – so far neither have lost any of their fowl to a predator while using electrical netting.

We are picking up a few hints along the way, such as the importance of using Damp Proof Membrane (DPM) to keep the netting off the ground; we are grateful to Electric Fencing Directa company in the UK that supplies electrical netting, for providing the photograph of DPM in place at a fence line.

We hope to be able to describe this work in more detail in the future, but the enclosed photographs taken by Ruth (Ireland Projects Support Officer) should give some idea of the various components that make up a predator-proof pen. More information is available in our leaflet ‘How to exclude pine martens from game and poultry pens’, available to download here.