The Humbolt marten is a small carnivore, about the size of a small cat, which resembles a river otter or a weasel. They live in only three areas in the Pacific Northwest: one population in Northern California, and two remote populations in Oregon, including the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. They are voracious, opportunistic eaters and will prey on anything from deer mice and voles to larger prey like rabbits and birds. They may also eat berries and other foods if prey animals are not readily available. These marten tend to be solitary creatures and defend their territory when threatened by others. They prefer forests with multiple canopy layers, but have been known to inhabit shore pine with dense shrub cover, like in the coastal dunes.
Why does it need our help?
The Humbolt marten was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1995. An estimated 200 individuals currently live in Oregon. Logging of old growth forests, predation, and human- caused mortality from vehicle collisions and trapping, have threatened the small population of martens. Current research shows that just 2 or 3 human caused deaths could wipe out the Oregon central coast population. If threats like these are left unaddressed, these cute but fierce carnivores could become extinct in the next 30 years. California has already taken the necessary steps to protect the rare marten by unanimously granting the species state Endangered Species Act protections. Oregon Wildlife Commissioners, on the other hand, denied conservation groups’ petition to list the species as ‘endangered’ under the state ESA. At the federal level, a decision will be announced soon whether or not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will grant the species ‘endangered’ protections.
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Did you know?
- Males are almost twice the size of females
- They need to eat about 80 calories a day, or roughly 17-29% of their body weight
- As part of the weasel family, martens have extremely soft fur