FWS delists the Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel
73 Fed. Reg. 50226 (Tuesday, August 26, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; 50 CFR Part 17; WS–R5–ES–2008–0005; 92220–1113–0000–C6 RIN 1018–AT37; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule Removing the Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife)
According to FWS, delisting of the Virginia northern flying squirrel is appropriate because, in part, "Survey and monitoring efforts at 109 sites over the past 21 years have shown a relatively high degree of population stability, as evidenced by a high degree of persistence and successful reproduction over multiple generations throughout the historical range". These squirrels "glide in the air on the parachute created when they stretch all four legs and pull the loose folds of skin (patagia) between their fore and hind legs taut." See FWS information sheet, and photo from Wikipedia.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), hereby remove the Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus), now more commonly known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel (WVNFS), from the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife due to recovery. This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the subspecies is no longer endangered or threatened with extinction, or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Habitat regeneration and recovery actions have resulted in a reduction in the threats, which has led to: (1) A significant increase in the number of known WVNFS captures and distinct capture locations; (2) verification of multiplegeneration reproduction and persistence throughout the range; (3) proven WVNFS resiliency; and (4) substantial improvement and continued expansion of suitable habitat rangewide. DATES: This rule becomes effective September 25, 2008.
EXCERPT: In summary, all of the past, existing, or potential future threats to WVNFS, either alone or in combination, have either been eliminated or largely abated throughout all of its range. The major factor in listing the WVNFS was the loss of habitat due to the logging era at the turn of the 20th century. This threat has largely been abated as evidenced by the substantial recovery and continued improvement of the preferred habitat of the WVNFS, red spruce-northern hardwood forests. Therefore, we have determined that the WVNFS is not in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout its range in the foreseeable future.
KEITHINKING:The delisting quickly proved newsworthy and controversial. According to Plenty Magazine, the delisting is another victory for timber harvesters, but according to West Virginia public radio interviews with local decisionmakers, the decision was apolitical.