Ground Truth: Dispatch

Oregon Martens May Be Protected from Trapping

A rare subspecies of marten may be spared from trapping in Oregon’s coastal forests, after the state’s Fish and Wildlife Service reached a court settlement with conservationists last week.

Fewer than 200 Humboldt marten are believed to remain on the Oregon coast, due to loss of habitat and decades of trapping.

Humboldt marten. Charlotte Eriksson, Oregon State University.

Last year, conservation groups filed a petition requesting an end of trapping for the cat-like predators. That request followed a recommendation from researchers at Oregon State University and the Forest Service that trapping coastal martens be banned.

That petition was granted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Service, but state officials failed to issue regulations formalizing the ban.

Last month, the groups Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity sued the state agency. In a court settlement signed last week, Oregon Fish and Wildlife officials agreed to issue new regulations before next winter’s trapping season.

However, the settlement does not explicitly require the state agency to ban trapping of the animals.

“The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is outdated and broken,” said Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands’ legal director, “and it is (Oregon Gov. Kate) Brown’s urgent responsibility to fix it because the extinction of iconic animals like the Humboldt marten hangs in the balance.”

The martens are confined to four populations along the Pacific coast—two in Northern California, where they are listed as an endangered species under state law, and two in Oregon.