Oregon officials have voted to ban the trapping of the rare Humboldt marten along the southern coast.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-3 Friday to set new rules that ban Humboldt marten trapping, hunting and roadkill salvaging west of Interstate 5. The new rules also ban trapping in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and prohibits traps and snares suspended in trees in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw National Forests.

Humboldt martens are relatives of minks and otters that live in old-growth forests along the coast of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Humboldt martens are relatives of minks and otters that live in old-growth forests along the coast of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Charlotte Eriksson/Oregon State University

“We applaud the fish and wildlife commission for following recommendations in the published science and helping these little carnivores have a fighting chance at surviving for future generations,” Cascadia Wildlands Legal Director Nick Cady said.

Last year the state rejected a petition from conservation groups seeking state Endangered Species Act protection for the Humboldt martens— as fewer than 200 survive in the state’s coastal forests.

“Not only are we not trapping Humboldt martens specifically but that in their extant population, that we are ensuring that other mammal trapping is limited so that they are not intentionally caught in a trap,” Wildlife Program Coordinator for Oregon Wild Danielle Moser said.

The Humboldt martens were once common in the coastal mountains but logging of old-growth forest and fur trapping has drastically reduced their numbers. They are also threatened by vehicle mortalities on Highway 101 and severe wildfires.

The Humboldt marten is about the size of a kitten and is related to the mink. It was thought to be extinct until a remote camera snapped a picture in the redwoods in 1996.

Moser said the species is so rare that two incidents of human caught mortalities can wipe them out.

“Even though marten trapping might be low, it’s about trying to mitigate that risk because the chance of them going instinct is so high with even just a few instances of human caused mortality,” Moser said.

The Coastal martens are currently under consideration for listing as threatened under the federal Endangered Species act, with a final listing expected to be released in October.