Steamboat Resort takes care of unexpected guest — a pine marten
Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19. A sable is a Russian marten species. The American species is called a pine or American marten.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A furry guest has been creating some disruptions at a ski lodge at Steamboat Resort.
An American marten, also known as a pine marten, was caught unharmed this weekend at Four Points Lodge and then released into the wild.
The marten had been hanging around the lodge for some time, occasionally causing a ruckus when it set off the building’s alarms at night.
“He’s been on our radar for about a month,” Steamboat’s Digital Communications Manager Maren Franciosi said. “We believe he was living in the building, but he is kind of elusive, so we’re not sure what was going on.”
The marten’s elusiveness and propensity to run around at night are characteristic of the species.
Martens are a member of the weasel family and spend most of their time in the treetops of Colorado’s conifer forests. Male martens are about 2 feet long, including their tail, and weigh about 1 1/2 pounds. They are mostly nocturnal, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but can be active in the daytime, especially if they’re hungry.
Though they might look cute, martens have fierce teeth and claws, which they use to hunt rodents and other small mammals. In the winter, they prefer voles, squirrels, mice and rabbits, according to the U.S. Forest Service, but they will also eat insects and bird eggs when they can find them in the summer.
“We definitely do our best to respect the wildlife in the area while also keeping our employees and guests safe,” Franciosi said. “The safety of our employees and guests and the wildlife is top priority, so anytime we can safely give a creature like this to somebody who can help him get on his way in a new location is great.”
This weekend, the marten was captured in a live animal trap, which is essentially a cage with a trap door that prevents the animal from escaping once the trap is triggered.
Then, Steamboat Ski Patrol took the marten in its blanket-covered trap to the gondola via snowmobile. The marten then caught a ride on the gondola, and once at the base area, it was transferred into the care of wildlife rehabilitator Tracy Bye of Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation.
Franciosi said the marten had no health problems.
Bye released him back into the wild on private land, far from ski lodges and Bloody Marys, on Saturday.
“I released it where I have seen other pine marten while snowshoeing,” she said via text. “I went yesterday to check on him and saw several pine marten tracks, so (I) believe he will have a happy life.”
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