Despite being completely hunted to extinction from the Chicago area hundreds of years ago, the American Marten isn’t endangered at all.
So I’m still learning all this cool stuff about Chicago reading that book I mentioned last week (don’t judge, I’m a slow reader). I’m still at the part where there are no people or buildings yet (shut up, I told you I was a slow reader), just a handful of log cabins and a thriving fur trade.
Apparently, two of the most prized animals in the fur trade were beavers and martens. Okay, I know what a beaver is, they’re those weird-looking animals with the flippers and duckbill. But what the hell is a Pine Marten?
I’ve never heard of them before, but they’re pretty damn cute, they’re like a miniature fox. It’s kind of like a mix between a ferret and mongoose which probably lands them somewhere in the weasel department. They’re exponentially cooler-looking than the conventional backyard squirrel and would make a pretty badass pet. I bet John Kinzie had one as a pet back in the day, even if it was only for the fur.
Its hard to say when they went extinct in Illinois exactly. All I can find out is that they lived in the area in pre-settlement times, and now they don’t. But I vote we reintroduce the Pine Marten in Chicago, maybe even make them the unofficial mascot of the city. They would take care of our rat problem and serve as some pretty awesome entertainment in doing so.