80% of Oregon’s residents and communities draw their drinking water from rivers and streams that begin in a forest (photo by Andrew Kumler).

Press Release: Humboldt Marten Trapping Ban Granted!

August 7, 2018

Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-434-1463

SALEM, Ore.— In response to a petition by five conservation groups earlier this year, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today instructed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to draft rules to protect the approximately 200 Humboldt martens left in Oregon.

The move by the commission follows a new study that found trapping could easily wipe out the species in the state.

Humboldt martens are currently under review for Endangered Species Act protection at the federal and state level, but Oregon law still permitted commercial fur trapping of the species. California banned the trapping of these secretive, mid-sized forest carnivores in 1946. The martens currently inhabit two distinct areas within the Siuslaw and Rogue-Siskiyou national forests.

“Banning commercial trapping for Humboldt martens to protect these two isolated populations is a needed first step by the commission,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “Our goal is to have narrowly tailored, enforceable provisions in place by this winter before the trapping season begins to avoid a potential extinction level event.”

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. Beyond trapping, Humboldt martens are threatened by vehicle collisions on Highway 101 and ongoing logging of mature forest habitat.

“We’re so glad that the extremely small and fragile populations of Humboldt martens in Oregon will be protected from trapping,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trapping of martens has been banned in California for more than 70 years and it’s long past time for Oregon to do the same.”

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.

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.

The granted petition was filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Oregon Wild.

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