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Wed, July 08

Environmentalists want Arizona squirrels’ habitat expanded

Mount Graham red squirrel. (Bob Miles/AZGFD)

Mount Graham red squirrel. (Bob Miles/AZGFD)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona environmentalists say they have filed a notice of intent to sue and compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand critical habitat for Arizona’s highly endangered Mount Graham red squirrel.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon said in a news release that only 75 of the squirrels are still alive.

The federal wildlife agency did not immediately respond Tuesday evening to a request for comment.

The center says the animal’s critical habitat, including spruce-fir forests above 9,200 feet (2804 meters) in a remote part of southeastern Arizona, has been destroyed by construction of mountaintop telescopes, wild fires and fires set intentionally to protect the telescopes.

The squirrels have been forced to live at lower elevations.

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