U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Proceedings, 30th Vertebrate Pest Conference (D. M. Woods, Ed.) Paper No. 19. Published December 20, 2022. 6 pp.


U.S. government work


Recovery of the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (MGRS) will likely be long and challenging. Its limited habitat, isolation to Pinaleño Mountain range, and demographic characteristics restrict its ability to rebound quickly from threats that impact both the squirrel and its habitat. Currently, threats to the MGRS include habitat degradation and loss through high-severity wildfire, fire suppression activities, insect outbreaks, climate change, and human development, and predation, as well as competition with Abert’s squirrels. The most recent wildfire in 2017 impacted over 48,000 acres of already reduced habitat. A critical first step is to protect and manage the remaining population of the MGRS and its habitat. Management includes but is not limited to maintaining and improving the spruce-fir and mixed conifer biomes, while balancing the need to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire with the needs of the squirrel. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services is conducting an Abert’s Squirrel Removal Project at the request of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in collaboration with a team of Mount Graham red squirrel experts and managers, to reduce the number of Abert’s squirrels in historical MGRS habitat throughout the Pinaleño Mountains to assist in meeting the needs of the USFWS’ 2011 MGRS draft recovery plan. Abert’s squirrel removals are conducted monthly to minimize competition with MGRS.