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Federal wildlife officials sued over red squirrel habitat

Red Squi
Arizona Game and Fish Department
The 2017 Frye Fire burned almost 50,000 acres on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona and decimated the endangered red squirrel's habitat, making it unclear how many survived. Now, their population appears to be on the rise according to a new counting technique by wildlife managers.

A conservation group has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over an endangered squirrel in southern Arizona.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tucson and alleges that officials have violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to update and expand the Mount Graham red squirrel’s habitat following a 2017 petition.

The group worries the delay could increase the chances of the species going extinct.

The squirrels live only in the isolated Pinaleño Mountains and, according to the center, their original habitat has been wiped out by telescope construction and wildfire.

The approximately 144 remaining squirrels now live outside their designated critical habitat in spruce-fir forests above 9,200 feet in elevation.