This lawsuit aims at ESA protection for 9 species, one of which is the San Bernardino flying squirrel, a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel that lives at high elevations in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains of southern California. According to the USFWS, it is “believed that the San Bernardino flying squirrel represents ancestral populations that have been isolated in forested, higher elevation refugia by a warming climate” (since the last ice age). And “The [CBD] petition states that high-elevation species have limited suitable habitat for movement in response to these [more recent] climate-caused shifts in habitat, and may simply run out of suitable habitat to occupy.”
Also involved: “two distinct populations of the black-backed woodpecker.”
However, the IPCC says, “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped.” (IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.) So much for the squirrel. But maybe climate change will bring more fires, and thus more snags, which will benefit the black-backed woodpecker.
Enviro group sues feds over flying squirrel protections
Jessica Estepa, E&E reporter
The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to decide whether nine species, including a rare flying squirrel, should receive federal protections.
The federal agency missed its own statutory deadline to issue 12-month findings on whether any of the species should be listed under the Endangered Species Act, the group contends in its lawsuit. It has asked that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia force the agency to issue decisions on the species.
The species listed in the suit are: the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the Ichetucknee siltsnail, the Kirtland’s snake, the Atlantic pigtoe, the slenderclaw crawfish, the Barrens darter, the holiday darter, and two distinct populations of the black-backed woodpecker.
“If these amazing flying squirrels don’t get Endangered Species Act protection, global warming could push them out of their last mountain refuge,” Shaye Wolf, the center’s climate science director, said in a statement. “The federal government needs to act before these unique animals disappear forever.”
From 2011 to 2013, FWS issued 90-day findings for each of the animals after receiving petitions from CBD, indicating that listings may be warranted, the lawsuit said.
But more than a year after the last finding was published in the Federal Register, no final decisions have been made, the groups said.
The push for these species will count as part of the group’s annual limit to ask for up to 10 ESA listings a year, as part of a landmark settlement struck between CBD and FWS. The other priority species this year is the Alexander Archipelago wolf from Alaska.
3 thoughts on “CBD Sues over San Bernardino flying squirrel, black-backed woodpecker”
Based on what’s in the stories, it’s not clear what the feds are supposed to do for the squirrel, except perhaps a controlled temperature dome above the San Bernardino and San Jacintos? Or maybe move them further north?
More intense fire suppression? With all the people living there, and powerful Congressfolk, I bet it’s pretty intense already.
Note: I don’t think there are any of the usual suspects (timber, grazing, oil and gas) in the SJ’s and the SB’s.
I guess the “12 million dead trees” that died from bark beetles in the San Bernardino NF didn’t satiate the woodpecker’s appetite for snag forests in 2002, eh? You would think there would have been a population explosion in such birds, with all those dead trees showing up at the same time. Eventually, when all the trees are gone, what will the birds do? Yes, they will fly northward, to find more of the kind of dead forests they like, leaving the LA Forests behind, on their own.
Any ideas why these forests were not logged off in the early days of Los Angeles?