Monday, July 16, 2012

Sorry, Wee Marty

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Wildlife biologist Ric Schlexer, with the U.S. Forest Service office in Arcata, called today to correct an outlandish mistake we propagated in a previous post about the wee Humboldt marten.

In the post, "Bite You in the Face" -- about the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Act-related lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- we repeated something the Center said in its news release: that Martes americana humboldtensis bites porcupines in the face. It ain't so, says Schlexer:

"The fisher bites porcupines in the face," he said. "Martens have never been known to do that. A porcupine is three or four times the size of an adult marten."

The two species are in the same family -- Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, otters, wolverines and badgers. And while fishers and martens might seem quite similar -- as opposed to otters and badgers, say -- the fisher weighs between eight and 13 pounds while the Humboldt marten weighs between 1.2 and 3.4 pounds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Now, you tell us, who's gonna be more likely to take on a 15- to 20-pound lunker of a porcupine?

It's possible the Center for Biological Diversity news release writer confused the critter with its big bro the Pacific fisher, over whose lack-of-protection status the Center also has sued.

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Heidi Walters

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Heidi Walters has been a staff writer with the North Coast Journal since 2005.

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