Pine Marten

Marten stands on a branch with front feet and on a different branch of a pine tree with its back feet.

Iñupiaq Name: Qapviatchiaq
Scientific Name: Martes americana

The American Marten belongs to the weasel family as is widespread throughout Alaska and Canada, with pocket populations in western United States, northern Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northeast Maine. In Alaska, it is the most widely trapped animal.

The pine marten can be found throughout most of Alaska and Canada. It can also be found in parts of western US and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and parts of Maine.

Lives in forested areas and are mostly arboreal. In Kobuk Valley, they use the spruce trees as a highway. If they need to, they will come down out of the trees and lumber to another area. They are also known to swim if needed.

Life History:
Most martens breed when they are in their second year of life, though it has been known for some females to breed at 18 months. Breeding season is July through August. After the eggs being fertilized, there is a period of delayed implantation. This means that the female does not start developing the embryos until later in the season-roughly the end of March and into April. Once implanted, gestation is about 27 days, having kits born in April or May. The female will have between 2 and 4 kits weighing about 1 oz. at birth. Kits will grow rapidly and be able to forage by themselves by late summer, and disperse on their own by fall.

Martens are facultative carnivores meaning that they do not only eat flesh and meat. They primarily eat small rodents and squirrels, but will also go after birds and their eggs, insects, carrion, as well as fruits and nuts.

Iñupiaq Cultural Use:
Marten are trapped for their fur. They can be used ruffs, hats, and mittens.

Last updated: September 19, 2023

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PO Box 1029
Kotzebue, AK 99752


907 442-3890

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