Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Endangered Mount Graham Red Squirrel

In most parts of the world squirrels are an extremely common sight. In the United States it’s hard to spend any time in the backyard without catching a glimpse of an American red or grey squirrel scurrying up a tree or foraging for food in the grass. However, there is at least one species of squirrel that is extremely rare indeed, and wildlife officials are taking drastic measures to ensure its survival.

Mount Graham Red Squirrel
The Mount Graham red squirrel is native only to the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona and is named after the mountain range’s highest point. These tiny mountain-dwellers are only about eight inches long and weigh a half pound. They were once thought to be extinct, but now exist as an endangered species in very limited numbers. According to the Arizona Department of Game and Fish there are only about 200 Mount Graham red squirrels left.

Arizona has recently experienced a lot of wildfires, leading some to fear that the entire remaining Mount Graham red squirrel population could be wiped out if fires affected their habitat. In response to this danger, Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO is reporting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has teamed up with the Phoenix Zoo to trap four of these squirrels and transport them to a temporary habitat at the zoo’s conservation center. That way, should the worst happen the four protected squirrels would hopefully be able to ensure the survival of the species.

For more information about the conservation of the Mount Graham red squirrel, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a .pdf file that can be downloaded here.

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