Martens are members of the family Mustelidae, which also includes wolverines, weasels and fishers. They are also called pine marten and American marten. Marten are usually called Canadian or American sable in the fur industry to link them to the valuable Russian sable. 

The South Slavey word for marten is ‘nohthee’. In North Slavey marten are ‘zo’. In Tlicho, they are ‘wha’. In Gwich'in, they are ‘tsuk’.


Marten favour mature conifer forests, especially those dominated by spruce and fir trees. They are found in other forest types if there is enough food and cover.They will use sparse open forests if there is plenty of undergrowth and fallen trees to provide dens, under-snow spaces for winter hunting, and suitable habitat for prey. Generally marten avoid large clearings. They may use natural clearings or small clear-cuts in the summer if sufficient cover exists.


Marten are found throughout North America as far north as the treeline in a variety of forest settings. 

Marten distribution by ecoregions
Marten distribution by ecoregions

Most marten occupy a specific territory or home range. The size of the home range depends on its quality. Home ranges with good habitat and plentiful food are small.  When food is hard to find, a marten needs a larger area to support itself and home range areas can vary from 2.5 to 15 km2 for males and 1.5 to 5 km2 for females.