The federal government has reinstated endangered species protection for the Virginia northern flying squirrel, also known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, also known as the inspiration for Rocket J. Squirrel, the airborne mammalian superhero and nemesis of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.
The service had taken the squirrel off the endangered species list in 2008 near the end of the Bush administration, even though the animal had been protected since 1985, when it was determined to be on the edge of extinction. Environmental groups successfully sued the agency to have the species returned to protected status.
The squirrel, known formally as Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus, lives at high elevations in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and adjacent territory in Virginia.
The agency said Thursday that it did not believe the squirrel was in danger of extinction but that it was resuming protection under the court order. Here is the service’s description of the critter, and how it flies:
The agency said that the squirrel was able to recover because its red spruce highland habitat has been restored.
The Center for Biological Diversity, which was among a coalition of groups that sued to protect Rocky, welcomed the move.
“Threatened by logging, development and climate change, the West Virginia flying squirrel needs the protections of the Endangered Species Act to survive and recover,” Bethany Cotton, an attorney with the group, said in a statement. “From now on, the Fish and Wildlife Service must follow its own science-based recovery plans before taking protections away from endangered species.”
Mr. Badenov and Ms. Fatale said through a spokesman that they were not pleased.
© 2011 The New York Times Company
This article originally appeared here.
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