On April 4th, EPIC and four sister conservation organizations filed a rulemaking petition  asking the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to ban trapping of Humboldt martens in Oregon’s coastal forests. The petition follows a new study that found that trapping could easily wipe out the species in the state.
Humboldt martens are under review for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act, but they can still be trapped for their fur in Oregon even though fewer than 100 survive in the Siuslaw and Siskiyou national forests. California banned the trapping of these secretive, mid-sized forest carnivores in 1946.
“Humboldt martens have been driven to the brink of extinction by logging and development of their old-growth forest habitat and historical over-trapping,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “Banning trapping is a critical first step to prevent the imminent eradication of the species from the state.”
A newly published scientific study concluded that Humboldt martens are so rare in Oregon that trapping just two to three individuals could result in wiping out the population on the central coast. In addition to trapping, Humboldt martens are threatened by vehicle collisions on Highway 101 and ongoing logging of mature forest habitat.
“The state needs to follow the new science and stop the trapping of these cute and ferocious animals,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It would be tragic if Humboldt martens were lost for future generations of Oregonians.”
Relatives of minks and otters, Humboldt martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in southern and central coastal Oregon and northern California. The cat-like animals were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996.
Today they survive only in three small isolated populations of fewer than 100 individuals each — one in northern California, one straddling the border and one in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
“In addition to today’s petition, the Humboldt marten needs more lasting protections afforded through the Endangered Species Act,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director at EPIC.
There are two subspecies of Pacific martens in Oregon. Humboldt martens on the coast are critically imperiled, but interior martens from the Cascades and eastern mountain ranges are not imperiled. The petition seeks a ban on trapping west of Interstate 5.
Today’s petition was filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Oregon Wild. The department has 90 days to initiate rulemaking or deny the petition.