COOS COUNTY — At last week’s board meeting, Coos County Commissioners approved its letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services calling out the agency’s lack of up-to-date data in its proposal to list the distinct coastal populations of the Pacific marten along the Oregon coast.

In October, the USFWS announced its plans to list the Pacific marten as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in the coastal areas of Northern California and Oregon. Doing so, would protect the martens' habitat in dense coastal forest areas by limiting certain forestry activities.

In the letter drafted by Commissioner Bob Main, the county outlines its argument against the USFWS proposed ruling on Pacific martens, which questions the agencies surveys of marten populations on the coast, states its failure to report recent wildfires as well as its lack of increased information on longevity and ages of martens.

The letter also included the county calling out for a species status assessment report that uses data collected within the last few years. In its proposal, USFWS references the historical presence of these furbearer mammals along the Oregon coast citing increased stressors impacting the animals, including trappings, vehicles mortality and exposure to toxicants and predators as decreasing its populations.

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The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission voted in August in favor of prohibiting marten trappings and harvesting in certain portions of public lands in western Oregon. All trappings, hunting and roadkill salvage west of I-5 will be banned as recommended by a variety of conservation groups. ODFW is currently working on amending its current regulations to reflect this new ruling.

However, as the county’s letter points out, while ODFW allowed trapping bans it rejected listing Pacific martens as endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act this past September due to the lack of scientific data.

According to the USFWS press release, if finalized, the threatened species status placed on martens will make it illegal for anyone to “take” or harm their habitats in any way. Exemptions to the rule include firefighting activities, habitat management and maintenance of existing fuel breaks will be accepted.

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