It hasn’t been spotted in Stanley Park for over a decade, but on February 24, 2019, we received documented evidence of this elusive species! A trail camera set up by BCIT students photographed a flying squirrel on a tree in the Park. We’re not yet sure, though, which species was photographed. There are two overlapping species of flying squirrel in southwestern BC: the northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) and the Humboldt’s flying squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis). These squirrels were first identified as a distinct species in 2017.
The squirrels’ strictly nocturnal habits coupled with their tree top habitat makes this gliding mammal especially elusive. They nest in thick coastal forests from BC to California, preferring to glide from tree to tree since they are clumsy walkers on the ground. They will venture down, though, to feast on forest floor mushrooms while tree sap, insects, bird eggs and nestlings comprise the rest of their diet.
As part of their year long school project, BCIT Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation program students Blaine Lindstrom, Chris Mahoney, and Shawn Harrison set the trail cameras up in different forested areas of the Park to determine if and where flying squirrels were inhabiting the Park. Thanks to this student project, we can now definitively include Stanley Park in the flying squirrels’ range. Next step is to determine exactly which flying squirrel species calls Stanley Park home.