Oregon Sued for Humboldt Marten Trapping

December 19, 2018

Oregon Sued for Not Stopping Coastal Marten Trapping

State’s Last Two Populations of Cat-like Carnivores at Risk of Local Extinction

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands sued the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife today for failing to ban the trapping of imperiled Humboldt martens in Oregon’s coastal forests.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, comes after the secretive animal, a relative of the mink, was proposed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Fewer than 200 Humboldt martens survive in Oregon.

In August the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to draft rules to curtail coastal marten trapping, in response to a petition from conservation groups seeking a ban on marten trapping west of Interstate 5. Marten trapping season opened statewide Nov. 1, but the department did not enact rules to limit marten trapping in coastal forests, despite the directive.

“Oregon needs to immediately ban coastal marten trapping, or future generations may never get to encounter these furry, fierce little forest creatures,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center. “Science, the law and common sense all say the state must end this unsustainable trapping before we lose them forever.”

Following the largest mammal survey ever conducted in the state, researchers from Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest Service recommended eliminating trapping of coastal martens as a first step in rebuilding the state’s imperiled populations.

Scientists concluded that the human-caused mortality of just two or three martens per year could wipe out the population on the central coast within three decades. Three martens were killed by cars last year on Highway 101, so trapping of even a single marten this season would push the subspecies toward local extinction in Oregon.

“It is wildly irresponsible that the Department of Fish and Wildlife allowed the commercial trapping season for Humboldt martens to open in November,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “The state doesn’t require marten trapping reports to be turned in until March, so they have no way of knowing how many coastal martens are being killed this winter. There is such a thin margin for error here, this could be it for the species.”

Humboldt martens are so rare they were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 1996. There are only four surviving populations, with two in Northern California, one on the southern Oregon coast and one on the central Oregon coast. Earlier this year the California Department of Fish and Wildlife protected Humboldt martens as endangered. California banned their trapping in 1946.

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.

You can find a copy of the memo here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Cascadia Wildlands defends and restores Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forests, in the courts, and in the streets. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.