With their small bodies, short noses, pert ears, and bright, brown button eyes, there is no doubt that American Martens (a member of the weasel family about the size of a mink) are cute…
But these feisty little hunters will give chase to Red Squirrels, mice of all sorts, even Snowshoe Hares, and they hunt both day and night, depending on season and weather, being active as much as 60% of the day in the summer. They are also important seed dispersers of the fruits that pass through their digestive tracts, some of which (e.g., Alaskan blueberry and huckleberry) will germinate far more easily having been treated with a little Marten stomach acid first.
Although Wikipedia doesn’t mention chipmunks as possible prey of martens, they are rather slow moving, comparatively easy to catch, and also rather common in the birch-balsam fir forest in northeastern Minnesota that Martens also inhabit.
All photos by Steve Chaplin, who found the Marten by accident while trying to photograph a Ruffed Grouse in Grand Portage State Park in the northeastern most corner of Minnesota, while I was busy photographing waterfalls.