Walking on the Wild Side
Pine Marten (2023) - Yellowstone National Park, WY
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In February of 2023, after several Covid related delays, my husband and I were finally able to take our long anticipated winter trip into Yellowstone National Park. It was a good snow year, which made getting around in search of wildlife a little more difficult. We booked a snow coach tour into the Canyon area, hoping to see a variety of wildlife, beyond bison, which were pretty much everywhere. Lucky for us, our guide for the day knew of a pine marten that had been hanging around near our route, so he took our group by on the chance we might see it. While it wasn't around the fist time we looked, as we were getting ready to head back he passed by the area one more time, and we saw this cutie quickly scamper up a pine tree.
That was my cue to jump from the snow coach as soon as the guide opened the door then plow through the waist high snow to sweetly call to the pine marten to come get its picture taken. As the small animals often do, it listened to me and peeked down from above to look me in the eyes. I have found that members of the weasel family, like the pine marten, are highly curious and often stop at the sound of my voice.
The marten, which is about the size of a house cat, is a highly skilled climber but is just as comfortable hunting and traveling on the ground. While they may look sweet and innocent, they are savage predators with razor sharp teeth and nails. They often den in tree hollows, among rocks or even in “borrowed” nests from squirrels or birds. Mid summer is their mating season, and while their gestation period is only two months, they exhibit what is known as delayed implantation, where the embryo doesn’t start to develop until late winter. Young are typically born in late March or early April.
I hope you enjoyed seeing and leaning about the American Pine Marten. I am fortunate to live in an area where they can be found and still have only seen a few over the years as they are very hard to spot.
Have a happy fourth of July and I will see you back next month,
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Lea Frye - Wildlife Photographer
www.leaf-images.com | Lea Frye, Wildlife Photographer | Helena, MT
Wild Animals / Wild Landscapes