Martens in the Compost Shed!?

The North Cascade’s Institute prides itself on being a “wildlife wise” campus at the Environmental Learning Center. We want to make sure that none of our natural neighbors are eating any human produced food so that they maintain their “wildness” and are not relying on humans for survival.

We do this through leaving no crumbs on any backpacking trip, keeping all food behind closed doors and composting our food in a large, concrete building under lock and key. What happens, then, when two martens are found running around the compost shed?!

Rob Healy, graduate student in the Institute’s 15th cohort, was the first on the scene. He quickly found Emily Ford, another graduate student, and filmed their initial encounters and thoughts:

You can check out Rob's video over on our Facebook Page!

The minute long video is very quiet, because even though Rob wanted to scare them away he first wanted to see these amazing creatures. Martens are in the Mustelid family which includes weasels, fishers, mink and even wolverines. These diverse mammals have adapted to live from the oceans to summits. The only problem comes when Ricky and Steve Martin (named by Rob) insist on raiding the shed for snacks!

Ricky or Steve Martin behind our composter

Ricky or Steve Martin behind our composter

Great work is being done to study martens in their natural habitat. The North Cascades National Park includes martens in their Cascades Carnivore Connectivity Project and the Washington Trails Association provides great information on telling the difference between Fishers and Martens while on the trail.

*All photos taken by Emily Ford, graduate student in the Institute’s 15th cohort.

*I originally wrote this article for Chattermarks, the official blog of the North Cascades Institute. You can find all of my posts on Chattermarks here.