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Two population centers remain in state for Humboldt subspecies; less than 200 are left.

PHOTO COURTESY CHARLOTTE ERIKSSON, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY  - Martens, typically 2 feet long, have large, triangular ears and a long tail. They hunt small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.
 Six conservation groups filed a petition Tuesday, June 26, asking the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the Humboldt marten under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

With only two populations of fewer than 200 total animals currently in Oregon, the rare carnivores could go extinct here if they do not get protection, the conservation groups say.

"Humboldt martens have been nearly wiped out by logging and development of their old-growth forest habitat and over-trapping," said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands, in a press release. "Protection under the Oregon Endangered Species Act will ensure they survive for future generations of Oregonians."

"The fate of this cute little predator now rests in the hands of Oregon's decision makers," stated Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

The martens were once common in the coastal mountains from the Columbia River south to Sonoma, California. Logging of old-growth forest and trapping decimated and separated population clusters from each other. The animal was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the redwoods in 1996.

Subsequent research revealed that Oregon's coastal martens are part of the Humboldt marten subspecies, a different subspecies than the martens in the Cascade Range.

Humboldt martens now exist only on federal lands in Oregon, in two distinct populations in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw national forests. The lack of mature forest habitat on state and private forests between the two population centers has isolated them and put them at high risk. Humboldt martens in California have also declined to only two small populations, making the total global population less than 400 martens.

Humboldt martens are under review for federal Endangered Species Act protection, but they can still be trapped for their fur in Oregon.

The state petition was submitted by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Oregon Wild.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife must indicate within 100 days if the petition presents substantial scientific information to warrant the listing.

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