ARCATA, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center today petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Humboldt marten under the Endangered Species Act. The Humboldt marten is a cat-sized carnivore related to minks and otters that lives only in coastal, old-growth forests in Northern California and southern Oregon. Because nearly all of its old-growth forest habitat has been destroyed by logging, the Humboldt marten is so rare that it was believed extinct for 50 years.
“The Humboldt marten was once common in old-growth, coastal forests in California and Oregon, but now fewer than 100 are known to exist,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center. “These martens are in dire need of Endangered Species Act protection if they’re going to have any chance at survival.”
“Logging of old-growth forests has driven the marten to extinction across 95 percent of its historic range,” said Scott Greacen, executive director of EPIC in Arcata. “To rebuild a viable marten population, we need to restore old forest conditions, which requires moving beyond short-rotation clearcut logging.”
The historic range of the marten extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. The Humboldt marten was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since that time, researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times. Martens are 1.5 to two feet long and have large triangular ears and a long tail. They eat primarily small mammals, including voles and squirrels.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to decide whether the petition presents substantial information indicating that protecting the marten under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted.