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Breaking: EPIC at Work to Protect Oregon’s Humboldt Martens

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Humboldt Marten caught on trail camera.
Humboldt Marten caught on trail camera. Photo by Mark Linnell U.S. Forest Service.

EPIC, together with our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and Oregon Wild, have filed a petition with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the Humboldt marten under the Oregon Endangered Species Act. This is fresh off the heels of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommending that the species be listed as “endangered” under California’s Endangered Species Act.

Oregon’s populations are incredibly small. Only two populations of fewer than 200 total animals currently survive in the state, on the central and southern coast. A recently published scientific study concluded that Humboldt martens are so rare on the central Oregon coast that trapping or road kill of just two or three annually could result in wiping out the population.

Currently, Humboldt martens survive only on federal lands in Oregon, with one population in the Siskiyou National Forest and one population in the Siuslaw National Forest. The lack of mature forest habitat on state and private forests between the populations has isolated martens and put them at high risk. Humboldt martens in California have also declined to only two small populations, making the total global population less than 400 martens.

EPIC is pressing California and Oregon to protect greater protections for the marten because the federal government has abdicated its responsibility. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied EPIC’s petition to list the marten under the federal Endangered Species Act, despite the marten’s drastically low numbers and increasing threats. EPIC sued—and won—forcing the agency to resubmit a rulemaking petition due this fall.

In addition to today’s listing petition, EPIC and allies also have a rulemaking petition pending in Oregon to prohibit the trapping of martens west of Interstate 5 in the state. (Trapping of martens is already prohibited in California.)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife must acknowledge receipt of the petition within 10 working days and within 90 days the Department must indicate whether the petition presents substantial scientific information to warrant the listing.

The martens were once common in the coastal mountains from the Columbia River south to Sonoma, California, but logging of old-growth forest and fur trapping decimated and separated populations. The animal was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the redwoods in 1996.

Martens, typically 2 feet long, have large, triangular ears and a long tail. They hunt small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.


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