San Bernardino flying squirrel. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service
San Bernardino flying squirrel.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service is in search of the San Bernardino flying squirrel. If you have information on this missing, threatened or endangered species, the Forest Service would like to hear from you.

In August 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting it to list the squirrel as either threatened or endangered, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

In April 2014, CBD warned the U.S. Department of the Interior that litigation might be filed if no action regarding the flying squirrel’s status were taken. And in June 2014, that suit was filed.

At that time, Shaye Wolf, CBD climate science director said, “If these amazing flying squirrels don’t get Endangered Species Act protection, global warming could push them out of their last mountain refuge. The federal government needs to act before these unique animals disappear forever.”

In September 2014, the FWS agreed to complete its review of the squirrel’s status by April 29, 2016.

As part of the research, the Forest Service is seeking any information about the squirrel’s current situation.

The San Bernardino flying squirrel is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel.  It is only known from the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains, although it has not been seen in the San Jacinto Mountains for about 20 years.

Flying squirrels are closer in size to chipmunks than larger native gray squirrels.  They are nocturnal and have large flaps of skin that connect their front and hind feet.  These flaps of skin allow them to glide from tree to tree. They do not fly in the same way birds do — no flapping is involved. Their flat tail is used as a rudder to steer as they glide, according to the Forest Service’s press release.

Forest Service biologists have been studying flying squirrels on the Mountaintop District of the San Bernardino National Forest since the early 1990s. Much of their knowledge about their distribution is based on reports from residents who see flying squirrels at their bird feeders at night or those who have found dead flying squirrels.

If you have seen flying squirrels in the local mountains, report the sighting information to Robin Eliason ([email protected] 909 382-2832). Photographs also are appreciated.