Mount Graham red squirrel population declines

Biologists say the numbers show the need to continue conservation measures

Mount Graham red squirrel numbers decreased this year in southeastern Arizona, according to the most recent survey. Conducted jointly by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Coronado National Forest and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the survey estimated 144 squirrels in the Pinaleño Mountains. This is an increase from the 109 squirrels estimated in 2021, but lower than the 156 squirrels estimated after a new survey method was implemented in 2022.

“The numbers this year demonstrate that we need to continue working together to manage the squirrels’ habitat and help the subspecies recover,” said Marit Alanen, lead biologist for the Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The endangered squirrel’s population peaked in the late 1990s. The 2017 Frye Fire devastated much of their habitat. Other long-term impacts include insect infestations, competition with nonnative squirrels, and poor cone crops caused by drought.

Read more from Arizona Game & Fish.

Header Image: Mount Graham’s red squirrels only live in the Pinaleño Mountains of Arizona. Credit: Marit Alanen/USFWS