A woodland predator once hunted to the brink of extinction is having a remarkable comeback according to conservationists.

Experts with Ulster Wildlife say a recent survey has shown a major resurgence of pine marten.

They found them in twice as many woodlands as the last time they checked back in 2017.

There is now a population of them in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland, where previously they had mainly been concentrated in Co Fermanagh.

It is good news for another native mammal, the red squirrel.

Pine marten hunt squirrels, but they are better at catching non-native greys.

Greys not only outcompete reds for food, but also carry squirrel pox which is potentially fatal to reds.

218 woodlands were surveyed by Ulster Wildlife and pine marten were found in 89 of them.

Last time around, they were only present in 45 woodlands.

"They used to be heavily persecuted and hunted for their fur. That's not happening anymore," said Ulster Wildlife's Katy Bell.

"They existed for a long time in small populations in Fermanagh, but since 2017 they've doubled in the number of woodlands we've found them in and we think they're just very adaptable."

Pine marten hunt squirrels but they're better at catching non-native greys

Their impact on the squirrel population is a picture that is being replicated across the island of Ireland.

"We're seeing this huge retraction of greys where we're seeing high numbers of pine martens," said Katy.

"Now, it's not going to be a silver bullet, because it only happens where they are there in high density and that only happens in areas of really healthy connected woodland, so, for example, our urban area, it's not going to happen there, so we're still going to have a high density of greys existing in places like Belfast in Dublin."

The Ulster Wildlife survey says that pine marten are now a "very widespread species across the country".