Marijuana farms are the driving force behind this cute forest creature to extinction

The Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis) is an elusive forest creature that may soon be classified as threatened Credit: Charlotte Eriksson/Oregon State University

A furry, cat-sized carnivores called the Humboldt marten is struggling to survive in an area sprouting with marijuana farms, and now California wants to protect the cute creature by declaring that they are an endangered species.

The state of the declaration would apply only within the lines and would not offer federal protection.

A member of the family weasel, the Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis) lives deep in the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The elusive animal was once thought to be extinct, but was rediscovered in 1996. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that 95 percent of the marten’s habitat has disappeared as a result of deforestation. [In Images: 100 Most Threatened Species]

There are two populations of Humboldt martens others: a group of about 100 in Oregon, and another group of about 200 in northern California, where cannabis cultivation is booming, The Guardianreported. In Humboldt County, California, where martens are found, there are an estimated 4,000 to 15,000 in the cannabis growing sites, The Guardian reported. In addition to the illegal activities and “debt grows” on public or tribal areas, The Guardian reported.

Growing Cannabis is probably the biggest reason for the Humboldt marten fall, The Guardian reported. Not only are forests cleared to make space for agriculture, but many cannabis farmers also make use of rodenticides that make their way in the forest, the food chain, killing anything that eats rodents, including the martens. Live Science reported on a similar story in January about owls spotted (Strix occidentalis) in this region of California that is to die after eating prey killed with toxic rodenticide left by marijuana farmers.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reviewed a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California-based Environmental Protection Information Center is asking the state to list the animal as threatened with extinction. The marten is currently classified in California as a species of special concern, but a status overview of the CDFW found that listing the species as endangered is justified, The Mercury News reported. The final determination is expected to be made in August, The Mercury News reported.

Original article on Live Science.


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