A rare American marten has been documented in the La Sal Mountains near Moab, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports.
“One of our biologists has made an incredible finding,” the agency announced earlier this month.
In April, wildlife cameras set high in the mountains captured footage of the marten, a member of the weasel family. It is the first credible sighting of the specific species in that area.
Since the 1920s, biologists have been speculating that the range of American martens extended into the La Sals.
“Now, we have evidence they do,” Division of Wildlife officials said. “It’s a pleasant surprise to discover at least a few of these remarkable creatures living in southeastern Utah.”
They can be found in mature northern forests of Utah. Biologists were thrilled to find the creature in the relative geographic isolation of the La Sal Mountains. Because of its limited distribution, the American marten is a species of special concern in Utah.
In Colorado, the marten population is considered healthy because there is more mountainous habitat for them, said Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“They are elusive and not very easy to see,” he said.
There’s been a documented sighting of the American marten on the Dolores River, which could be a habitat corridor for the La Sal population. The Dolores River flows past the eastern edge of the La Sal Mountains.
American martens are a fur-bearing mammal about 2 feet in length with a yellowish to brown color. They can be found in much of Alaska and Canada, with a range extending into the contiguous United States. They build dens in logs, hollow trees and rock crevices.
Females give birth in spring to a litter between one and five young. Litters are smaller when food is scarce. American martens are typically solitary animals that may cover great distances each day looking for food. They prey on squirrels and rodents but also consume birds, insects and fruits.
Utah Bear RescueAlso this month in Grand County, Utah, hikers came upon a young black bear trapped in a sandstone hole. Conservation officer Adam Wallerstein and a volunteer responded to the scene and were able to free the bear by coaxing him up a makeshift ladder that was caught on video. It was unclear how long the bear had been trapped, but the bruin devoured a snack of peaches thrown in the hole.
“It’s not often our people are able to take a non-drug approach to get black bears out of sticky situations,” the Division of Wildlife said. The size and age of the animal, as well as hot weather, made the non-drug approach possible.