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Humboldt Marten's Comeback

October 3, 2019


The Humboldt Museum celebrated Alexander von Humboldt Day in September by inviting presenters from Elko, Reno, Virginia City and yes, they included me!  Alexander's 250 birthday bash featured lectures, gold panning, painting, music, and a huge birthday cake! Thanks to the community for showing their support and turning out for this unique event!


I chose the Humboldt Marten as the topic for my educational -slash- art project for two reasons. 1) the marten is a cute country cousin of the more familiar and easily found river otter, and 2) a small marten family showed up in the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area this summer.


There are historical reports of trapping the Humboldt Marten locally and more heavily in the high Sierras in the late 1800's. Pelts were well sought after during the early gold rush days. Ironically, Oregon has never banned hunting/trapping martens and yet, the martens have found a perfect albeit NEW, protected, living environment and seem to be thriving according to recent Oregon State University research data.


Martens are rarely seen, nocturnal and have a scent worse than any fired-up skunk!

Note: they are not related to the skunk. They like trees, heavy foliage, rocks, and water features because it allows them to hunt near where they live. Their favorite homesteads were dens found along riverbanks with meadows nearby. There they ate rodents. They will eat what's available, which in Oregon appears to be frogs. They are prey to coyotes, owls, mountain lions, pesticides and crops, housing and development, and logging and roads. 





So while California has taken steps in the past to put the Humboldt Marten on their threatened or endangered lists, it has never happened.  


Using plastic forks and bright acrylic paint, kids painted the Humboldt Marten on recycled pieces of canvas catching the drama and personality of both the marten and the child! 


  I will be launching this Humboldt Marten "Paint and Take" Workshop* in classrooms in Washoe and Humboldt counties this fall! 


*co-sponsored by the Humboldt Museum





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