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Species at Risk

The Newfoundland Marten

Martes americana atrata

Parks Canada biologist with a Newfoundland Marten under anaesthesia, explaining his work to 2 adults and 3 children.
Parks Canada biologist, John Gosse, discusses marten recovery with participants in the Newfoundland Marten Volunteer Program.
© Parks Canada / J.W. Gosse

What is the status of the Newfoundland Marten?

In the early 1980s, the Newfoundland Marten population was estimated at 630 to 875 individuals. Based on those numbers, COSEWIC designated the Newfoundland Marten as a threatened species.

But by 1995, the population had declined to only 300 marten-a number that increases their vulnerability to threats like habitat loss, accidental deaths in traps and snares, and disease. In areas where only a few martens exist, an outbreak of disease, or further habitat, could wipe out all the remaining marten living in that area.

In response to this further decline, COSEWIC listed the Newfoundland Marten in the more serious “endangered” category.

Why is the Newfoundland Marten in danger?

Because marten are a forest dependent species, removal of large expanses of this habitat through timber harvesting poses a threat to population recovery. We must all take responsibility to ensure that our forests are used sustainably so that species like the Newfoundland Marten can continue to exist.

Some residents of Newfoundland enjoy hunting and trapping animals like fox, mink and snowshoe hares. Unfortunately, martens are often unintentionally caught in snares and traps set for these other furbearers. This has prompted wildlife managers to establish special management areas where specific traps and snares known to reduce the occurrence of accidental captures must be used.