Stone martens (Martes foina) and cars: investigation of a common human–wildlife conflict
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- Herr, J., Schley, L. & Roper, T.J. Eur J Wildl Res (2009) 55: 471. doi:10.1007/s10344-009-0263-6
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Stone martens (Martes foina) commonly climb into car engine compartments, where they may tear up heat and noise insulation mats or bite into rubber or plastic components. This brings martens into conflict with humans. Although various hypotheses have been suggested as to why martens damage cars once inside them, it is not known what makes martens associate with cars in the first place. We radio-tracked 13 urban stone martens over a 2-year period in Luxembourg to determine the context in which martens visit parked cars at night. Martens associated with cars most frequently in spring and early summer, when their activity on roads was highest and when they systematically patrolled and scent-marked cars. Most visits to cars were of short duration. We suggest, therefore, that the main factor promoting marten–car contact is territorial behaviour, rather than either the thermal benefits to be gained from proximity to recently used engines or the need for a safe environment for resting, hiding or food consumption.