Approximately four years ago Big Bear Valley and neighboring areas experienced a devastating loss of the Western Grey Squirrel. The epidemic apparently started in the Crestline area and moved up into Fawnskin, spreading East though the remainder of the valley.
The infectious agent was determined to be a skin mite causing a mange outbreak in the squirrels. Initially our squirrels were observed to be lethargic, progressing into neurologic signs and skin lesions. Ultimately they became emaciated, and starved to death 3-4 weeks after showing symptoms, no longer having the strength to forage.
Our hospital submitted the first sample of an infected squirrel in April 2011 to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) due to overwhelming public concern. Since CAHFS involvement, multiple samples have been submitted and a cooperative effort was initiated between VCA Lakeside, the Moonridge Zoo, California Fish and Game, CAHFS, and UC Davis.
A similar outbreak occurred in Washington in 1989 by the same species of mange mite, they have since that time, fully recovered and repopulated.
Our combined intention is to find a cure for this outbreak and by filling in the survey below, we can determine what can be done to help our local Grey Squirrel!
Your help is greatly appreciated.
Survey website: https://sites.google.com/a/ucdavis.edu/san-bernardino-squirrels/