Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Squirrel ready to fly solo: Endangered species future looks bright

June 2, 2006


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The endangered West Virginia northern flying squirrel no longer faces the threat of extinction, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to propose removing the squirrel from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, according to Marvin Moriarty, regional director of the Services Northeast Region.

; "Our review of the status of the flying squirrel clearly portrays a story of survival, resilience and the benefits of Endangered Species Act protection," Moriarty said.


; The regulatory requirements of the act undoubtedly provided protection to the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, formerly known as the Virginia northern flying squirrel, along with two crucial elements, according to Shane Jones, endangered species biologist in the Services West Virginia Field Office in Elkins.


; "The cooperative conservation efforts led largely by the Monongahela National Forest and natural regeneration of the spruce forest ecosystem were essential ingredients in the squirrels resurgence," Jones said.


; The Endangered Species Act requires periodic assessment of all protected species to verify the continuing need for protection. The Services review of the flying squirrels status involved examining all existing scientific and commercial information about the species.


; The small, nocturnal flying squirrel lives in the Allegheny highlands of West Virginia and Virginia. Like other flying squirrels, it glides rather than actually flying. In 1985 when the act first protected it, biologists were able to find only 10 squirrels in four separate areas. They determined that habitat loss, human disturbance and competition with the more common southern flying squirrel threatened the species. Since then, the threats have largely decreased, the population has grown, and by the end of 2005 biologists had found more than 1,100 squirrels at 107 sites throughout much of its historic range.


; The flying squirrel review document is on the Internet at Hard copies are available upon request from the Services West Virginia Field Office, phone 304-636-6586.

; For additional information about the flying squirrel, see Information about the Services endangered species program may be found at


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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