ONE OF England’s rarest mammals is living in a South Lakeland forest, a DNA test has revealed.

The scat, or dropping, of the rare and elusive pine marten is just the third finding in England in the past 10 years.

It was found by Neil Jordan, pine marten project manager for the Vincent Wildlife Trust, who has been scouring Grizedale Forest for evidence of the tree-dwelling mammal for two years.

The discovery by the wildlife charity, which has been looking for the creature in Britain since the mid 1990s, has been hailed ‘very significant’ by VWT chief executive Natalie Buttriss.

“This is a great day for pine marten conservation and a real cause for celebration.

“Staff at the VWT and more than 200 volunteers have given up so much of their time to help the trust in its search for this rare mammal in England and Wales.

“In the last 15 years, The Vincent Wildlife Trust has received more than 100 good quality reported sightings of pine martens in Cumbria so we have always believed that they were there, but until today we lacked recent DNA evidence to back this up.

“It is a very significant find.”

After the discovery, the dropping was sent off to the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, where scientists have completed hundreds of DNA samples for the trust over the last two years, and the results came back positive.

As well as Grizedale Forest, VWT researchers also believe that the pine marten exists in the Rusland Valley, and forested areas towards West Cumbria such as Ennerdale.

One of the reasons that pine martens are so rare is the lack of mature trees with cavities where pine martens can live. To address this, the VWT and the Forestry Commission have built den boxes in woodlands across Cumbria to provide pine martens with a safe place to breed and raise their young.

Iain Yoxall, ranger with the Forestry Commission at Grizedale said: “It’s great news to have it confirmed that pine martens are here in Grizedale. This reinforces the importance of the Forestry Commission’s work here.”

To report a pine marten sighting, contact VWT on 01531 636441 or visit