In Search of the San Bernardino Flying Squirrel – Have You Seen One?

By John Miller, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Forest Service
SAN BERNARDINO (April 21, 2015)–If you have seen a flying squirrel, the US Forest Service would like to hear from you.  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 twenty years.
Flying squirrels are closer in size to chipmunks than our 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 that birds do – no flapping is involved.  Their flat tail is used as a rudder to steer as they glide.
US Forest Service biologists have been studying flying squirrels on the Mountaintop District of the San Bernardino National Forest since the early 1990’s.  Research is needed to have a better understanding of the current distribution, their habitat requirements, and the status of the population.  Much of what we know about the 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 our local mountains, please report the sighting information to Robin Eliason ( 909 382-2832).  Photographs would also be appreciated.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.  Learn more at

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