New Squirrel Story & Another Dam Party!

squirrel with mange

So as luck would have it, my plans to write about the local woodpecker wars got bumped and so I have some squirrelly news to share instead.

You might remember that about this time last summer I got some answers to the squirrel disappearance around Fawnskin.

Now as usual, nobody but Fawnskin Folks and GG paid attention to such non-breaking news.

If you know a little bit about such things, you already understand that cycles in wildlife populations are normal, but human interference tends to complicate matters.

When squirrels began getting sick and dying, it called for cub reporting and serious investigative work–which resulted in some answers when nobody else bothered with it…until now.

But things change and now (Thursday to be exact) the DFG announced the most recent results of their squirrelly investigation.

Heh, heh, heh.

Ah-hem.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Here is the official release:

Recently San Bernardino mountain area residents have seen fewer western gray squirrels and reported sick and dying animals to the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). Researchers have determined that tree squirrels are becoming sick and dying from mange, a skin disease caused by mites.

The species of mange mites affecting gray squirrels has been preliminarily identified as Notoedres centrifera, which is specific to rodents and cannot infect humans or pet cats and dogs. Veterinary researchers caution residents that local wildlife, including coyotes, raccoons and bobcats often carry other species of mange that can infect their pets and, rarely, people.

While the reason for the squirrel mange outbreak is not known, DFG Wildlife Biologist Jeff Villepique explained that a high population density of squirrels and aggregation at feeders makes the spread of any disease far more likely.

“Gray squirrels were at higher numbers than natural foods would support, because artificial feeding is prevalent in the mountain communities,” said Villepique. “The inevitable consequence when you combine an artificially high population with animals gathering at food sources is the eventual spread of disease.”

DFG biologists have been closely working with the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab in San Bernardino, and UC Davis veterinary researchers to find the cause of the die off.

Thorough examinations of a number of squirrels from the Big Bear Valley have shown only illness that can be explained by the mange mites. Although West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in squirrels in the mountain communities in recent years, no squirrels have tested positive for WNV so far this year.

California’s WNV monitoring program is continuing to cooperate with UC Davis researchers to share information.

If your pet scratches excessively or develops scabs, you should seek veterinary care, as symptoms could be indicative of one of the other forms of mange, which are readily treatable in pets. Please do not feed squirrels because of the potential for spreading disease.

Residents are asked to report a dead bird or squirrel by calling (877) 968-2473 (877-WNV-BIRD) or submitting an online report .

Another Dam Party
So the big news this week is about another dam party. The last time we had a big one like this was in March of 2009.

But seriously, Caltrans, Flatiron and most of Big Bear plan to celebrate the opening of the new Big Bear dam bridge on Friday, June 24th from 11:00am until 1:00pm.

Expected to attend are Caltrans District Director Dr. Ray Wolfe, Senator Bob Dutton, Assemblyman Paul Cook, San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry, and the City of Big Bear Lake Mayor Bill Jahn.

GG probably won’t be attending but a whole lot of Fawnskin Folks are heading over–many are on the bridge task force.

Bets are that locals are going to really party heavily since the bridge has been under construction for just over two years–and the recent repairs made to SR-330 will hopefully help mountain businesses.

Road closures and repairs over the last two years have been hard on many of the San Bernardino Mountain communities. So, toast to change!

BTW: MARTA will provide shuttle service to the bridge from Big Bear Lake City Hall at 39707 Big Bear Boulevard but Fawnskin locals are driving, boating, and walking over.

Fu*#%@!$ing Friday
*Gasp* Where is your mind? June means that it is fundraising Friday at the Flyer.

If you haven’t done so, be sure to leave GG a Tip now…and thanks for the support.

I’ll be back next week with some more action packed reporting–so see you then!

Photo Credit: Department of Fish & Game



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This entry was posted on Friday, June 24th, 2011 and is filed under Events, Mountain Lake Resort, Small Town Living.

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