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Officials reports stable numbers of Ariz. squirrel

Officials reports stable numbers of Ariz. squirrel

CREATED Nov 13, 2012

Web Producer: Taylor Higgins

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona wildlife managers say an annual survey shows the population of endangered Mount Graham red squirrels seems to be holding relatively steady.

About 214 squirrels were surveyed this year in the Pinaleno Mountains in southeastern Arizona. That's a slight decrease from last year but in line with the 2010 population.

The survey is conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of a program aimed at conserving the squirrel.

The agencies say biologists are considering new ways to conserve the species, including habitat improvements and a pilot captive breeding program.

Wildlife managers say the species' recent population trends have been most affected by habitat loss due to fire and insect infestations and poor cone crops caused by drought.

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