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Oregon Trapping Ban Considered For Imperiled Marten

UPDATE (Jan. 4, 2 p.m. PT) — The Humboldt marten is in line to get new protections in Oregon.

State fish and wildlife officials signed a court settlement Wednesday that calls for new rule-making to ban trapping of this imperiled, mink-like mammal.

The Humboldt marten’s numbers have plummeted and it was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1990s.

Pesticides, trapping, logging and the effects of climate change have all been blamed. Four isolated populations remain in coastal forests of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Consideration of an Oregon trapping ban would be concluded by September. The process follows California's listing of the Humboldt marten as endangered last year.

In August the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission had ordered rules to curtail trapping Humboldt martens. But Cascadia Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity sued Oregon last month because the rules had not yet been adopted.

“It's a shame that it takes a court case for Oregon’s fish and wildlife agency to take any action that benefits imperiled wildlife, even actions supported by the Fish and Wildlife Commission,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands.

Reached late in the day Thursday, Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said she was not able to comment on the settlement, pending consultation with the department’s lawyers at the state Department of Justice.

In written comments to OPB on Friday, ODFW spokesman Derek Broman said this rule-making process agreed to in the settlement agreement would be a process examining the request for a trapping ban, which “may consist of no trap ban at all.” 

Conservation groups also have taken legal action at the federal level to increase protections for the Humboldt marten. They sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 for protections under the Endangered Species Act. The service initially denied the listing, but a judge last year ordered it to reconsider that decision.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service subsequently proposed Humboldt martens for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in October.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized action taken by the state of California in 2018 to protect the Humboldt marten. It listed the animal as endangered. An earlier version of the story quoted a source who inaccurately described a recent legal action as a court order. The source amended his comment to describe the action as a “court case.”

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<p>New research concludes that trapping just a few Humboldt martens for their fur would put the species at risk of extinction.</p>

Mark Linnell


New research concludes that trapping just a few Humboldt martens for their fur would put the species at risk of extinction.