header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
November 28
1950 - CalArts grad Ed Harris ("A Beautiful Mind," "Apollo 13," "Westworld") born in New Jersey [link]
Ed Harris

Commentary by Mari Carbajal
| Thursday, Mar 5, 2015

maricarbajalBeing a docent-naturalist for the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, I’ve been trained to know about most of the animals that make their homes in our local chaparral, mountains, high deserts and rural communities. Some species are brazen and make themselves known in a community, like the coyote. Others are more secluded and elusive, not often roaming about until dusk, dawn or somewhere in between.

The sad part is, as a naturalist, you’re trained to know the local flora and fauna, but you don’t always get to witness some of the more discreet wildlife first-hand.

Driving northeast on Escondido Canyon Road on my way to Acton one day in January, I noticed a small, rodent-like animal in the road. My first impression was that it was a squirrel. It ran off into the chaparral as I cautiously approached it.

longtailedweasel1smIt looked like a squirrel. It ran like a squirrel. But I’d never seen a squirrel with a dark milk-chocolate coat and light tan patches around its face and neck. I was almost convinced that it was a squirrel, but the squirrels in this area are fox squirrel, gray squirrel or ground squirrel – all of which have bushy tails. This animal was rather slender and had a long tail, but it hardly could be called “bushy.”

I looked online for “Southern California squirrels” in hopes of identifying what I had seen, but to no avail. So I questioned our experts at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center and learned that what I saw was a weasel.

I was thrilled, and even one of the county staff employees admitted she was jealous because it’s an animal she always wished to see in the wild but hadn’t seen as yet. I guess you could say it’s on her “nature bucket list.”

She told me there was a taxidermied weasel in our new museum. When I went to see it up close, I was amazed at how small it was. I always thought weasels were bigger – like a ferret. They’re little guys, even smaller than a squirrel.

flyingIt turned out that was not the only discovery I had made. In researching the squirrels online, I was shocked to find something most incredible. Ready? We actually have flying squirrels in the mountains of San Bernardino!

I was so fascinated that I knew I had to spread the word. Only a couple of my friends said they had heard about them, but most said they had no idea we had flying squirrels in Southern California.

There are 44 species of flying squirrel around the world, and two of those species are in the state of California: the Northern California flying squirrel and the Southern California flying squirrel.

squirrelThe local flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus californiaus, is a rare and smaller cousin of its northern relative. They were thought to be a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel, but the gray-brown San Bernardino flying squirrel has been shown through testing that it is genetically different.

The San Bernardino flying squirrel is medium sized, slightly gray-brown in color, with furry parachute-like skin under each arm that stretches from its wrist to its ankle. This gives the squirrel the ability to fly from branch to branch and glide between the trees. It doesn’t actually fly like a bird but uses its “wings” (skin) to glide in the air, giving it the capability of escaping prey.

squirrel2This adorable creature lives in high elevations of mixed conifer forests that are dominated by Jeffrey pine, black oak and white fir, at approximately 4,600 to 7,550 feet in altitude. They thrive in forests with large trees that have a closed-canopy cover and offer the ability to find snags for nesting.

Truffles and fungi are their main diet. Now I’m finding out we have truffles?

The bad news is that due to climate change, forests are dying and truffles aren’t producing as they should, so the flying squirrels are becoming grossly endangered.

Environmentalists have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put the San Bernardino flying squirrel on the endangered species list.

Per Margot Roosevelt, writer for the L.A. Times, “this squirrel was thought to have disappeared from the San Jacinto Mountains in recent decades, and the remaining population appear to be confined to the higher peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains.”

Truffles and fungi, which are the flying squirrel’s primary food source, depend on wet and cool conditions that are being altered by climate-induced drought. Air pollution along with urban development and the clearing of forests affect this animal’s habitat. Scientists predict that if the current carbon pollution trends continue, one-third of the world’s animals and plants may be extinct by 2050, and up to two-thirds will be threatened with extinction by 2100.

It is every naturalist’s wish to preserve the habitat for all creatures, but for those animals on the endangered list, it becomes much more critical.

Be strong. Be vigilant. Be part of the fight to keep these creatures, and any others, from going extinct. It is important for all “nature loving” people and naturalists to support the fight against extinction of all animals – but this little guy is fighting to retain his place on Earth.

And if you didn’t know they existed in Southern California, now you do. So please help in the effort to keep our ecology strong and secure for generations of endangered species of all kinds to thrive in the future.

And keep your eyes open out there. You never know what you might see or find.


Mari Carbajal is a docent-naturalist at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. Bob says:

    Didn’t know that, been in Acton many years. Was exited to see a Golden Eagle years ago…..

Leave a Comment

Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020
As restrictions remain in place for gatherings and events in Los Angeles County, one of Santa Clarita’s most important traditions will take place on an online format in 2020.
Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020
The holiday shopping rush is upon us! As with everything this year, checking loved ones off your shopping list will look a little different in 2020. There will be no braving the crowds and tussling for the first crack at the doorbuster deals on Black Friday.
Friday, Oct 2, 2020
In his monthly message for October 2020, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin spotlights results of the city's 2020 public opinion survey about the quality of life in our community.
Thursday, Oct 1, 2020
As with everything in 2020, this year’s State of the City event will be different than years past. We are looking on the bright side, embracing the necessary changes for safety’s sake and rejoicing in the fact that this year’s event is truly inclusive of the entire Santa Clarita community.
Saturday, Sep 19, 2020
Assembly Bill 1457, authored by Assembly Members Cervantes and Reyes, and supported by Santa Clarita’s Senator Scott Wilk, Assemblyman Tom Lackey and Assemblywoman Christy Smith, represents an important step forward in jumpstarting California’s economic recovery.
Wednesday, Sep 2, 2020
In his monthly message for September 2020, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin spotlights how the Santa Clarita Public Library branches are helping students and families get back to school.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1950 - CalArts grad Ed Harris ("A Beautiful Mind," "Apollo 13," "Westworld") born in New Jersey [link]
Ed Harris
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday reported 24 new deaths and 4,544 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 countywide, as officials called for tightened safety measures set to take effect on Monday.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: SCV Sees 106 New Cases; Countywide Surge Prompts More Restrictions
This Sunday, Nov. 29, is the last day to see the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater's virtual graphic design exhibition, Inside Out & Upside Down, showcasing CalArt posters from throughout the years.
Nov. 29: Last Chance to See Inside Out & Upside Down REDCAT Exhibition
As new COVID-19 cases remain at alarming levels and the number of people hospitalized continues to increase, a temporary Los Angeles County Health Officer Order will be issued to require additional safety measures across sectors.
L.A. County to Tighten Safety Measures Monday as COVID-19 Surges
The Valencia nonprofit Avenues Supported Living Services is seeking donations this Giving Tuesday after suffering greatly from the effects of COVID-19.
Nonprofit Avenues Supported Living Services Seeks Donations for Giving Tuesday
Musician-artist and CalArts graduate Julian Gross (Art '00) has earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Recording Package category for his art direction on "Healer," Grouplove’s latest release.
CalArts Alum Julian Gross Earns Grammy Nomination
Shoppers are being invited to join small businesses across the Santa Clarita Valley in participating in Small Business Saturday 2020 this weekend.
SCV Businesses Prepare for Small Business Saturday 2020
The Santa Clarita Valley has seen an increase in demand for COVID-19 testing, paralleling the trend in Los Angeles County and nationwide.
Demand for COVID-19 Testing Increases in SCV Amid Surge
Hundreds of local, older adults could not break bread together this year for the annual Thanksgiving feast at the Bella Vida Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, but many still showed, some even dressed up for a drive-thru version Thursday.
SCV Senior Center Drive-Thru Dishes out Thanksgiving Feast to Hundreds
1941 - Funeral for "our" Remi Nadeau, whose Canyon Country deer park became North Oaks [story]
Remi Nadeau
Zonta International’s “16 days of Activism” is held annually from Nov. 25 - Dec. 10. Since 2016, Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley has participated in the annual "Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women" campaign in collaboration with the Child and Family Center.
Zonta Club Brings Awareness to Domestic Violence
On Monday, Nov. 30, College of the Canyons will host a virtual soft opening of its Multicultural Center, which will provide safe and brave spaces for historically minoritized and marginalized groups on campus with the goal of increased diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the college’s fabric.
Nov. 30: COC Multicultural Center Virtual Soft Opening
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released the latest data on COVID-19 Thursday.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: 383,275 Cases Countywide, 37 New Deaths; 9,352 Total SCV Cases
Travel through the seven levels of the Candy Cane Forest, past the sea of twirly-swirly gum drops and into a month of non-stop fun and entertainment with the city of Santa Clarita’s virtual events in December.
City Releases Holiday Virtual Events Line-Up
Power shutoffs commenced Thanksgiving Day in the Santa Clarita Valley, with Southern California Edison customers affected near the Agua Dulce area.
Agua Dulce Community Affected by SoCal Edison Power Shutoffs
While local health care officials have been asking for the community’s help in creating personal protective equipment since the onset of the pandemic, now the message is simpler: Abide by public health guidelines.
COVID-19 Surge Impacting Henry Mayo
Logix Federal Credit Union is supporting College of the Canyons Foundation’s Student Resource & Success Fund with its Double Your Dollars campaign.
Logix Encouraging Community to Take Part in COC’s  Double Your Dollars Campaign
1916 - A score of Wobblies bust up Newhall Jail after commandeering SP freight train [story]
Santa Clarita officials announced plans to file an amicus brief in support of an ongoing lawsuit to block Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban, which went into effect the day before Thanksgiving.
‘Draconian Behavior:’ City Council to Support Suit to Block Outdoor Dining Ban
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 49 new deaths and 4,311 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 countywide since Tuesday, including 96 new cases in the Santa Clarita Valley, as Henry Mayo on Wednesday afternoon reported its second death this week.
Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: 2nd Death at Henry Mayo This Week; SCV Cases Total 9,230
Santa Clarita’s new Volunteer Hub at SantaClaritaVolunteers.com is a one-stop-shop that connects area nonprofit organizations and volunteers.
Need Volunteers? Want to Be One? Check City’s Volunteer Hub
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Critical Missing Person Unit detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Vlad Kravets.
Found: Vlad Kravets, Last Seen in Valencia; Detectives Sought Public’s Help
In response to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' 3-2 vote Tuesday allowing further COVID-19-related closures to take effect Wednesday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger is calling for $10 million in federal CARES Act funding to be repurposed to aid impacted local businesses.
Barger Calls for $10M in CARES Act Funds for Businesses Hurt by COVID Restrictions
After declaring himself the winner of the 25th Congressional District or CA-25 race last week, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, continued his less-than-1% lead over opponent Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, after a Tuesday vote count update.
Election Update: Garcia Leads by 405 Votes in CA-25 Race
%d bloggers like this: