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Pine marten spotted in Broadstairs, Kent, hundreds of miles from typical Highlands habitat

A pine marten - typically found in the Scottish Highlands - has been spotted in a Kent seaside town.

The creatures are "incredibly rare" in England but have been sighted numerous times in Broadstairs in recent months, to the surprise of wildlife enthusiasts.

A pine marten has been spotted in a Broadstairs garden (Video: Julie Balsom)

Julie Balsom spotted the elusive creature in her garden near Stone Bay at about 5.30am on Thursday, when it appeared to be chasing a squirrel around the base of a tree.

Eagle-eyed social media users were quick to identify it as a pine marten, and were rightly shocked to see it in Kent - hundreds of miles away from its typical habitat in the north of Scotland.

But it is not the first time the creature has been spotted in the town.

In June, CCTV captured a pine marten scampering near cars parked in the front drive of a Broadstairs home.

A pine marten has been spotted in a Broadstairs garden. Picture: Julie Balsom
A pine marten has been spotted in a Broadstairs garden. Picture: Julie Balsom

The videos have prompted many others to report similar sightings.

One wrote: "This is what I saw in Minnis Bay! I couldn’t place it at all, very dark in colour, cat sized but didn’t move like a cat. Wow, didn’t know we had them round here."

Another said: "I saw a similar creature jump out of a tree, very otter in shape, could be this chap."

Another woman said: "I live in central Broadstairs and saw it outside my house in the early hours of Sunday morning."

Animal conservation charity Wildwood Trust says pine martens are "incredibly rare" in England, and that it is monitoring the movements of the creature spotted in Thanet.

A pine marten at Wildwood Trust. Picture: Wildwood Trust
A pine marten at Wildwood Trust. Picture: Wildwood Trust

A spokesman said: "Further to the recent sightings of the ferret-like animal that has been recorded in the Broadstairs area, Wildwood Trust can confirm that this animal is a pine marten.

“Our absolute priority is the well-being of this charismatic animal.

"That is why we are monitoring its movements and working with others to ensure that an appropriate course of action for this lone pine marten is found."

The charity warned that pine martens are a protected species and that it is illegal to trap them without a licence from Natural England.

It also urged anyone who spots the creature to report their sightings to Wildwood Trust.

How the creature came to be in Thanet remains a mystery.

A Wildwood Trust video about pine martens (Video: Wildwood Trust)

While there are a number of pine martens at Wildwood, all are accounted for.

Pine martens were once common throughout the UK, but their numbers declined hugely and by the early 20th century the species was close to extinction.

Recent efforts have boosted the species' struggling population, and there are now thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000 pine martens living in northern and central Scotland.

Pine martens are from the Mustelidae family, meaning they are related to creatures including weasels, otters and ferrets.

They live alone, coming together only to breed in summer, and are not harmful to humans. Their diet includes small mammals, birds, invertebrates and fruit.

The Woodland Trust says: "The brown fur is thicker and lighter in winter, with a yellowish bib over the throat and chest.

"Pine martens are extremely agile and excellent climbers, helped by a long bushy tail for balance during treetop adventures, and large claws and thick fur on the soles of the feet for grip as they bound up tree trunks with ease. If they fall, they twist in the air like a cat to land safely on all four feet.

"Pine martens take their name from their habitat, living mostly in woodland and preferring to spend most of their time in pine trees, though they will also live in scrub, rocky areas and crags.

"Unfortunately, pine martens are notoriously difficult to spot.

"They are also shy and mostly nocturnal, although they do come out during the day in summer, and while they don’t hibernate in winter, they venture out less."

Those who spot the pine marten in Thanet are urged to contact Wildwood Trust by emailing suzanne@wildwoodtrust.org.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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