2018-02-07 / Front Page

VT Wildlife Biologist Chris Bernier presents two programs with Nature Museum

Chris Bernier, wildlife biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, will present  “The American Marten Comes Back to Vermont” and “The Art and Science of Animal Tracking”  in February in conjunction with The Nature Museum. - Courtesy PhotoChris Bernier, wildlife biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, will present “The American Marten Comes Back to Vermont” and “The Art and Science of Animal Tracking” in February in conjunction with The Nature Museum. - Courtesy PhotoCHESTER and ANDOVER — Large, rounded ears, a sleek body with silky fur, and a bushy tail: Would you be able to identify an American marten in the wild?

The Nature Museum invites wildlife lovers to join two one-of-a-kind animal programs with Chris Bernier, wildlife biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. The first program, “The American Marten Comes Back to Vermont,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8 at the NewsBank Conference Center, 352 Main St., Chester. The following Saturday, Feb. 10 at 9 a.m., Bernier, a wildlife tracking expert with over a quarter-century of experience, will offer an intensive workshop, “The Art and Science of Animal Tracking,” on a remote private property in Andover, which features several different habitats.

The American marten, Martes americana, is a carnivorous and slender-bodied weasel which is

rarely spotted in the wild. Martens have a long and intriguing history in Vermont, which Bernier will examine in his program on Feb. 8.

In the 1800s, widespread deforestation and the unregulated harvest of wildlife took its toll on Vermont’s marten population; by the early 1900s, the species was deemed extinct in Vermont.

Beginning in 1989, biologists released 115 ear-tagged martens in southern Vermont in places

such as Mount Holly and Wallingford in an attempt to re-establish the population in the southern Green Mountains. Unfortunately, field research in the 1990s indicated that the reintroduction effort had failed — martens were not returning.

But the story doesn’t end there. Since the early 2000s, evidence collected across the state has

indicated a surprising comeback: A small American marten population in the northeastern

corner of the state, in addition to seven confirmed marten sightings in southern Vermont. It

appears that marten have now established two distinct populations in Vermont. Is it possible

scientists’ reintroduction efforts were not a failure after all, or are these animals the product of

natural recolonization? Bernier will share his expertise on this amazing animal population and

answer questions at the Feb. 8 program.

While most wild animals, including the marten, are elusive and difficult to spot, winter time can be a rare opportunity to witness these incredible creatures. Bernier continues his partnership with The Nature Museum on Feb. 10 with an exclusive winter animal tracking

opportunity.

Bernier, who will be accompanied by a state wildlife specialist and the Nature Museum’s environmental educator, will lead a 2.5-hour workshop in Andover for a small

group of participants. The group will trek through the snowy landscape, discussing habitat types, animal tracking tips and tricks, forest management, and land conservation. The group will pass through terrain that is intimately familiar to Bernier while hunting for tracks of various animal species. Participants can expect a moderate hike. Experienced hikers are preferred, snowshoes and winter gear required. In case of inclement weather, the snow date for the workshop will be Sunday, Feb. 11. Space is limited; participants are encouraged to purchase a ticket early for this one-of-a-kind animal tracking workshop.

These events are recommended for adults and children older than 13. The suggested donation for tickets to Bernier’s talk on Thursday, Feb. 8 is $7 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets

for the intensive tracking workshop on Saturday, Feb. 10 are $25 until Feb. 1, and

$30 after. To register or for more information, visit www.nature-museum.org or call

(802) 843-2111.


Return to top