A LOCAL wildlife enthusiast has made a rare find in Craigavon.
Pine martens used to be the second most common carnivore in Britain, but by the early 20th century they were close to becoming extinct.
Which is why it came as a surprise to Martin Carville, a groundsman at Lurgan Park, when he came across the elusive creature on his way to work.
55-year-old Martin said: “It’s a thing you never see. I’m an outdoors man and I’ve seen loads of wildlife, but I’ve never seen one before in my life.
“My mate saw one when we were out camping down near Monaghan but I missed it.”
Martin told how he found the pine marten, a member of the weasel family, on his way to work.
He said: “I saw him on the Bluestone Road just by the church. He must have been heading towards the hen coup just by the side of the road when he got hit.
“I thought it was a big cat and I put him in to the side of the road. I was on the way to work, so I thought I’d get him again on the way home.
“When I picked him up later on I found out it was a pine marten.”
It has been suggested that 6,500 years ago, when Britain and Ireland had greater tree cover, pine martens were the second most common carnivore in Britain. The clearance of woodlands, trapping and persecution had a devastating effect on the pine marten across Britain and Ireland and by 1915 they had retreated to the Scottish Highlands where persecution pressures were less.
He added: “I used to actually live up in Bluestone and I’d never seen one when I was there.
“His head was badly damaged otherwise I’d have taken him to the taxidermist to have him stuffed. I’ve other stuffed animals at home.
“It’s a big animal and would have been even bigger if he was alive.
“I don’t know where he came from, whether someone has caught him and kept him or whether he’s found his own way here.
“I don’t think he’d have been that old, maybe two or three.”