Court Overturns Government Refusal to Protect Rare Humboldt Marten

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Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

In response to a lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Information Center and Center for Biological Diversity, a federal judge has overturned an April 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denying endangered species protection to the Humboldt marten. Therefore, the Fish and Wildlife Service will have to revisit their decision on the fate of our furry friends.

Small carnivores related to minks and otters, coastal martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon. Coastal martens were believed extinct until 1996 because of historic fur trapping and loss of their old-growth forest habitats, but are now known to occur in three small, isolated populations in California and Oregon. Since then researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times.

Today, there are less than 100 Humboldt martens left in California. This number is so low that a single event—disease, poisoning, fire—could eradicate all coastal martens from California. This number is also so low that the species could simply drift towards extinction. Already, we have seen an alarming dip in population. Between 2001 and 2012, the remaining population of Humboldt martens has declined by 42%—and this was largely before the record-setting drought!

“This decision is a win for science and common sense,” said Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We thought we’d lost the marten due to bad human decision-making once before, and we could not stand by and watch that happen again.”

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Since 1977, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) has defended Northwest California’s forests and wildlife, including the rare and incredibly adorable coastal marten.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.