marten "farming" for age and sex?
A topic that I have not seen discussed much is the idea that for more than casual trapping of a marten or two, keeping track of the ratio of male/female and juvenile/adult marten is important to maintain healthy numbers for sustained yield. I mention this since persons complain that marten walk by and circle their sets so the sets are changed to catch all that go by. I think that for most traplines that is counterproductive. I have seen areas clobbered by trappers who take all the marten that they can catch without regard to sex and age. Marten are easy to trap and it is also easy to hit them so hard that the population may be depressed for a long time.
I'm sure that there are persons here who know I lot more about this than I do, but some of the things that are important are the male/female ratios and the ages of the female marten that are being caught.
For ages, it is easy to determine from the amount of separation of muscles on top of the skull. (I am not inventing this idea! I got the information from an article in the Alaska Trapper a decade or so ago.) For 3 year old females, there is little or no spaceing. For first year ones, the space is pretty obvious, like 1/4 inch or even more. Taking lots of juveniles, and especially juvenile males is common early in the season when they are still dispersing and taking lots of those impacts the long term less that taking older females.
The type of set that one makes helps in managing the male/female ratios. One of the advantages of elevated sets such as the chest high bucket sets is that many females will not climb to the set. I often saw tracks of a female circling the tree whereas the males went directly to the set and up the tree and got caught. (I think there is a lesson for human males in this as well.) Some females still get caught but the predominance should be males and and especially young males early in the season.. Keeping the older females for breeding stock should be the goal for sustained yield.
I know that persons claim that in some areas (e.g., Lake Minchumina), marten will just not climb to a pole set. Maybe not but my bet is that most of those that won't climb are females. I haven't seen any such area and I know that trappers in immediately adjacent locations take lots of marten in pole sets so I am skeptical that the difference in behavior could be so dramatic in such a short distance (like 30 miles or less).
In any case, I think it is important to monitor the ages and sex of the catch in order to maintain a sustained yield and the techniques and information are available.
very good post! Here in the Yukon we have exclusive traplines, so we can manage them however we want. All the trappers here pay very close attention to how many females we catch, a good rule of thumb is most guys will pull thier lines if they start getting over 30% females (this will start happening in Jan. on most lines) also we check the skulls for age. I have found the females are less aggresive and wont climb as much for food so I place my boxes a little higher. Also I dont use 330s for wolverine as that set will catch marten then a wolverine will come along and you will lose your marten, so I use snare poles for wolverine.
Thanks for this your post!
foamsfollower, great info to put out there. Thanks!
I've yet to take a male in my tree cubbies or leaning poles this year but I have taken a few females but on that note all the males I've taken were in lynx cubbies on the ground, I generally don't make ground sets for marten but I will be adding some liftpoles to the line as an experiment. I go with what works on my line and I keep detailed notes. I guess for whatever reason this year the marten on my line have it @#$backwards, go figure but like any good trapper I'll adapt my line, keep taking notes, but I doubt I'll ever completely figure them out..........but then thats part of the fun because they keep you guessing.........