Species at Risk
The Newfoundland Marten
Parks Canada employee using telemetry to study the
Newfoundland Marten. © Parks Canada / K. Redmond
/01.10.09.11 (08) 2002
What is the Newfoundland Marten?
The Newfoundland Marten is a sub-species
of the American Marten, a tree-climbing member of the weasel family.
Martens are long and slender animals about the size of a small house cat.
They have dark brown fur, a bushy tail, large feet with sharp claws, and a
small head with large round ears, dark brown eyes, and a pointed muzzle.
Because marten on the island of Newfoundland have been isolated from other
martens since the last age ice age (about 10,000 years ago), they have developed
unique genetic and physical characteristics. Newfoundland Marten are a forest
dependent species and occur in a variety of forest habitats including old,
closed-canopyied stands, sites defoliated by forest insects that have more
open canopies and plenty of dead, standing trees, and younger forest stands.
In the springtime, female martens seek out a den to give birth to 2-3 kits.
Dens provide protection from predators
and the elements. They are often located in hollow trees, underground cavities,
and rock piles.
The complex structure of forests provides woody debris and fallen trees that
like voles, red squirrels and snowshoe hares. In the winter, martens hunt
small mammals along natural corridors that form under the snow around the
fallen trees and tree stumps.
Martens have a keen sense of smell.
They are also very curious. These qualities make them particularly easy to
Where are Newfoundland Martens found?
The Newfoundland Marten once lived in forested areas throughout Newfoundland,
Nova National Park of Canada. But large-scale timber harvesting removed
much of their habitat and excessive trapping significantly reduced their numbers.