Endangered red squirrel found in Arizona sees increase in population

Dec 2, 2022, 6:00 PM
FILE - In this May 24, 2004 file photo, a Mount Graham red squirrel darts through trees on Mount Gr...
FILE - In this May 24, 2004 file photo, a Mount Graham red squirrel darts through trees on Mount Graham near Safford, Ariz. State officials say the endangered squirrel species' estimated population has apparently plummeted since a major wildfire burned much of its habitat atop a southeastern Arizona mountain last summer. The state Game and Fish Department says an annual multi-agency survey of the Mount Graham red squirrel produced an estimate of only 35 squirrels, which is only 14 percent of the 252 squirrels estimated in 2016. (Kelly Presnell /Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)
(Kelly Presnell /Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)

SAFFORD (AP) — The latest survey shows another increase in the population of the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel in the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona, according to authorities.

State Game and Fish Department officials said Thursday that the annual survey estimates that there currently are 156 of the rare squirrels, up from 109 last year.

The new survey was conducted jointly by the state Game and Fish Department, Coronado National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was implemented to more thoroughly survey the squirrels’ habitat.

Previous annual red squirrel surveys focused on visiting all known “middens,” or areas where red squirrels store their cones.

Game and Fish officials said that method didn’t systematically detect middens created by red squirrels as they moved to new or different areas on the mountain.

The new method involves systematically searching for active middens within survey plots designed to capture the majority of red squirrel habitat in the Pinaleno Mountains.

This enables new middens to be detected as they are created and activity at these middens is then used to estimate the population size.

The Mount Graham red squirrel subspecies was listed as endangered in 1987 and their population peaked at about 550 in the late 1990s.

Their habitat in the upper elevation conifer forests of the mountains near Safford was nearly wiped out by a 2017 wildfire that burned more than 48,000 acres.

The squirrels’ population was at 252 in 2016 before the wildfire and just 35 the year after before rebounding.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

State Farm Stadium with Super Bowl XLVII logo on exterior in Glendale, Arizona....
Kevin Stone

Want to bet on Super Bowl? It’s legal in Arizona, but watch out for scams

It's perfectly legal bet on the Super Bowl and other sporting events in Arizona, but bad actors could be lurking with the big game in town.
4 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)...

Phoenix Union High School District revisiting campus security, hosting talks with public

A Valley school district that eliminated campus resource officers is again asking for community input on the role of police at school.
4 hours ago
(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
1 day ago
(Mesa Police Department photo)...

4 children missing in Mesa after being taken by father

The Mesa Police Department is searching for four children that were taken by their father on Sunday.
1 day ago
This photo provided by Budweiser shows a scene from Budweiser's 2023 Super Bowl NFL football ad. Br...
Associated Press

For Super Bowl ads this year, crypto is out, booze is in

NEW YORK (AP) — The hottest ticket in town for advertisers is officially sold out. Fox said Monday that in-game ads for Super Bowl LVII have all been sold. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles takes place on Sunday. The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest stage, with advertisers jockeying […]
1 day ago
FILE - People walk by the AMC 34th Street theater on March 5, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Evan Ago...
Associated Press

AMC to charge more for better seats in movie theaters

AMC Theaters, the nation's largest theater chain, unveiled a new pricing scheme which seat location determines how much movie tickets cost.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Endangered red squirrel found in Arizona sees increase in population