Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Will Review Status of the San Bernadino Flying Squirrel to Determine in Endangered Species Act Protection is Needed

Jan 31, 2012

January 31, 2012

Contact:
Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office - 760/431-9440 ext. 205                        Jane_Hendron@fws.gov

Fish and Wildlife Service Will Review Status of the San Bernardino Flying Squirrel to Determine if Endangered Species Act Protection is Needed

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it has completed an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and determined such protection may be warranted. A more thorough review of the San Bernardino flying squirrel’s status and threats to the species and its habitat will now be undertaken.

An advance copy of the 90-day finding is available today at the Federal Register and will officially publish on February 1, 2012.

To ensure the status review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information about the flying squirrel and its habitat from state and federal natural resource agencies and all other interested parties until April 2, 2012.

The San Bernardino flying squirrel is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel. In the United States, northern flying squirrels range from the southern portions of the Appalachian Mountains west to Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the San Bernardino Mountains. Research has determined the San Bernardino flying squirrel is genetically distinct from other subspecies of northern flying squirrel, and differs in size and color from the five subspecies of northern flying squirrel found in California.

Flying squirrels get their name from a furred membrane called the patagium that extends from the wrist to the ankle, enabling it to easily glide between trees. San Bernardino flying squirrels are typically found in old growth and some second-growth forests, using stumps, snags and dead trees for nesting and foraging.

San Bernardino flying squirrels feed primarily on truffles but will also eat lichens and other vegetation. Moisture is a key factor in San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat, especially within the drier forests found in southern California. The squirrels tend to occur more often near streams or springs where the increased moisture helps promote the growth of truffles.

The Service found the petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity provided substantial information indicating that climate change, fuels management in the San Bernardino Mountains, urban development, and domestic and feral cats may be threats to the habitat or range of the species.

Comments and information can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov. In the search box enter Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2011-0114. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document.  You may submit a comment by clicking on “Submit a Comment.” 

Information can also be submitted in writing or by hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0114; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility.

Upon completion of the status review, the Service will make one of three possible determinations, as follows: listing under the ESA is not warranted; listing is warranted and a proposed rule to list the species as threatened or endangered will be made available for public and expert peer review and comment; or listing under the ESA is warranted but a proposal to protect the species must be deferred because of other, higher priority activities and the species is added to the Federal List of Candidate Species.

A photo of the flying squirrel by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles © California Academy of Sciences  is viewable here - Glaucomys sabrinus 

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