Students Help to Restore Pine Marten Population

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Students in Bayfield are getting a hands-on experience as they help to protect the state’s only endangered mammal species.

It’s truly a community-wide effort to once again increase the animal’s population in northern Wisconsin.

Not only are Bayfield students taking part they’ve teamed up with the Apostle Island National Lakeshore and the Red Cliff Tribe.

Trail cameras are set-up around the Bayfield area.

“They’ve caught images of the Pine Marten twice and that has gotten people very excited,” said Rick Erickson, an instructor at Bayfield High School.

The trail cameras are only part of the project.

To encourage Pine Marten’s to stay in the area and mate, students have constructed homes for the mammals to nest.

In total, 35-boxes will be placed on Red Cliff property, about 10-minutes from Bayfield High School.

“It’s specifically sized for the Pine Marten. Anything that is bigger and could attack it can’t get in and anything smaller is food for a Pine Marten,” said Arne Martinson, a student.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly caused these mammals to become endangered.

“My guess is that back in the early 19th century the animal was very valuable and it was trapped and hunted not to extinction but to a point where around here it has been missing for quite a while,” said Erickson.

In order to protect the animals it comes down to being a good steward of the land.

“They’re really taking part in science that is actually happening right here where we live. I think it’s the best way to learn is to learn about where you live and learn by experience,” said Erickson.

The project is something these students are taking to heart.

“I think it’s really important to keep not only the natural balance of things thru the DNR and Wildlife system but I think it’s really important to teach kids early on how to do that,” explained Martinson.

The boxes will be put in trees early next fall.

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