Relocation, Relocation: New Pad for Achiltibuie Pine Marten

15 May 2024
A pine marten on a Scottish Water site


Pine martens are a protected species so an alternative den must be provided before excluding them from a building.

Scottish Water has provided a swish new pad for a pine marten who took a shine to one of the utility company’s operational buildings near Achiltibuie. 

Following the discovery of pine marten poo – or scat- at the site, Scottish Water’s Specialist Services team got called in to investigate and set up a trail camera which caught the animal going in and out of the building via a duct in the wall. 

Pine martens are a legally protected species in Scotland since 1988 after their numbers dropped dramatically following their persecution in the 19th century, so a license is required to exclude them from a den site as well as the provision of an alternative den option. 

Environment Delivery Senior Advisor James Homer said: “They are very inquisitive creatures and we do occasionally find that they’ve gone into one of our buildings to make their den. We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and will always work to ensure that local wildlife and their habitats are protected during projects or our day-to-day operations. 

“We had to monitor the site for a while to make sure we knew what was going on, then we applied for a license through NatureScot – this gives us a set amount of time to close up the hole and put up a compensatory den box for the pine marten. This is a specially designed den box for pine martens which is made out of a heavy recycled plastic.” 

He added: “Every den box that we’ve put up at our sites in recent years has been visited which is good. They usually have prey remains in there like pheasant wings and bits of hair and that kind of stuff, so you can tell they’ve been used. 

“Pine martens were heavily persecuted in the 19th century and they were pushed to the north west corner of Scotland but they are starting to spread further south again and we are seeing them on an increasingly regular basis.” 

In addition to their wee visitor in Achiltibuie, the team also monitored a pine marten who regularly popped into a site in Newtonmore where she went on to have three kits. 
A pine marten balances on a wooden beam of a roof

Relocation, relocation

No Phil and Kirstie needed as James got to work providing a new den box for the pine marten