Does the Endangered Flying Squirrel Call Thomas Darling Home?

Declining Habitat and an Uncertain Future

Wildlands Conservancy’s 1,300-acre, Pocono-based Thomas Darling Preserve contains one of the state’s largest and healthiest spruce forests. Located in the stunning Pocono Mountains, this rugged and remote region provides the perfect habitat for a variety of species including the endangered Northern Flying Squirrel.

The native squirrel is a nocturnal rodent that prefers a coniferous or mixed coniferous habitat, much like the Thomas Darling Preserve provides. Due to declining habitat, the Pocono Mountains are the only area in Pennsylvania with significant remaining populations. This species is known to inhabit lands that surround the Thomas Darling Preserve, making it highly likely that populations exist within its borders.

Mindful Conservation in the Pocono Plateau

Recognizing the importance  of conservation to protect the species, Wildlands and partners put in place measures to estimate the species’ population.  This involved installing more than a dozen nesting boxes last year that  provided hands-on learning opportunities for students from  East Stroudsburg University. The boxes are monitored regularly for signs of occupancy.

Thus far, small amounts of nesting material and scratches were found inside some of the nest boxes; however, no squirrels have taken up residence. Further monitoring is necessary as it can take the species up to two years to start using nest boxes. Protecting and enhancing their natural habitat will improve potential population growth in the coming years.

The Big Picture

Conservation efforts aimed at a particular species isn’t new at Thomas Darling. In 2014, Wildlands commenced efforts to restore golden-winged warbler habitat.  The monitoring of northern flying squirrel boxes is critical to understanding the dynamic of wildlife at this preserve and tailoring conservation efforts to meet the demands of both species currently at risk.

 

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Director of Property Stewardship Carl Martin and Naturalist Brandon Swayser explain how this ties in with our golden-winged warbler habitat restoration efforts!

Conservation Efforts at Thomas Darling from Wildlands Conservancy on Vimeo.