Wyoming Untrapped

State moves to protect mink cousin

This Oct. 8, 2015, remote camera file photo provided by the Center for Biological Diversity shows a rare coastal Pacific marten in the Oregon Dunes in the Siuslaw National Forest, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to ban the trapping of a rare cat-like creature in coastal areas critical to its survival.

The 4-3 vote taken late Friday would impose a trapping ban west of the Interstate 5 corridor to protect the fewer than 200 coastal Humboldt martens left in the state.

The rules also ban all commercial and recreational marten trapping in Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and all traps and snares suspended in trees in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw national forests.

“If any species needs our help, it’s the Humboldt marten, so it’s great that the state has finally taken an important step to protect them,” said George Sexton with KS Wild, an environmental group based in southern Oregon.

The carnivorous Humboldt marten is about the size of a kitten and is related to the mink. It has sleek brown fur, pointy ears and a sharp nose. It lives in coastal forests in southern Oregon and northern California and is so rare it was thought to be extinct until a remote camera snapped a picture in the redwoods in 1996.

Genetic studies then revealed that Oregon’s coastal martens are part of the Humboldt marten subspecies and are a different subspecies from the martens in the Cascade Range, which are not imperiled.

California banned coastal marten trapping in 1946 and protected Humboldt martens as endangered in 2018. They are under consideration for listing as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Coastal Humboldt martens are threatened by cars that speed along Interstate 5, by logging and increasingly by wildfires and rodent poison that’s used in southern Oregon marijuana grows.

Conservation groups sued the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife when the agency didn’t act on a petition to ban trapping by November 2018.

The groups argued the delay had the potential to wipe out the remaining coastal population of Humboldt martens.

A settlement reached earlier this year required the state to hold a rule-making hearing on the environmentalists’ petition before the trapping season begins in November.

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