I became interested in Mustelids (carnivore species in the family Mustelidae), their biology, conservation and ecology in 2005, when I just graduated from secondary school and saw a pine marten (Martes martes) while on holiday in Poland. Although, I think my fascination really started after seeing a Wolverine (Gulo gulo) in the Zoo in Götebörg in 2003. These first encounters led to the membership of the Dutch pine marten working group in 2006, when I started to monitor the pine marten population in a local forest near Wageningen.
Soon afterwards, I started helping with post-mortem examinations of traffic victims at Alterra, Wageningen (now Wageningen Environmental Research), where I learned a lot about the anatomy and biology of all Dutch Mustelids. While getting more involved in the Dutch Mustelid research, I realized that there was very little known about the smaller species – weasel (Mustela nivalis), stoat (Mu. erminea) and polecat (Mu. putorius) – so together with Jasja Dekker, Erwin van Maanen and Jeroen Mos, I resurrected the Dutch small mustelid working group in 2008, the year of the Polecat. With the working group we developed a new monitoring strategy for small Mustelids, which is now used by multiple people in the Netherlands. In 2017, we took the work on small Mustelids one step further and started the Dutch Small Mustelid Foundation.
The experience with Mustelids in my free time resulted in my major MSc thesis project, which looked at the population genetics of the Dutch pine marten population using non-invasive genetics. This project resulted in a peer-reviewed paper (see publications).
Together with Jasja Dekker, I looked at the Dutch population of the invasive American mink (Neovison vison) using stable-isotope analysis or hairs and teeth of traffic victims and animals that were killed in traps used in the control of muskrat. This work also resulted in a peer-reviewed paper.
As part of my hobby, I became a regular participant of the Mustelid Colloquium, a yearly conference for researchers interested in Mustelid biology and conservation. Also, I am a member of the global Martes working group since 2014. In the future, I hope to combine my love for Mustelids with my professional life.