The San Bernardino Flying Squirrel is neither endangered nor threatened, the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service announced last week.
In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010 and legal action to spur a response in 2014, the FWS did an extensive review of the Southern California mountains to determine the squirrel’s status.
“Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its determination that this native squirrel does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act,” the FWS said in its press release on April 4.
“In a thorough status review of the species using the best available science, the service found that the squirrel is abundant where it is found and that the threats of habitat loss from urban development, habitat fragmentation, wildfire, urban air pollution and climate change do not pose significant threats to its long-term survival,” the FWS concluded.
In April 2015, the U.S. Forest Service also asked local residents if anyone has seen the Flying Squirrel in either the San Bernardino or San Jacinto mountains, its normal range.
While Forest Service biologists have been studying the squirrel for more than two decades, its presence in the local San Jacinto Mountains has not been reported for about 20 years. FWS confirmed that no recent evidence of the presence of the squirrel in the local mountains has been documented.
The FWS does not believe that forest fires in the San Bernardino National Forest in the past century have had any significant effect on the squirrel’s habitat. Nor does it appear that the more recent fuel treatments to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire have affected its population, the FWS stated.