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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A state wildlife manager accidentally shot and killed an endangered Mount Graham red squirrel on the mountain near Safford.

Arizona Game and Fish Department reports the unidentified wildlife manager was working with University of Arizona researchers.

The manager reportedly was seeking to reduce competition for red squirrels by removing Abert's squirrels from drought-affected red squirrel habitat when the mishap occurred.

Following department protocol, the manager immediately reported the incident to his supervisor.

Red squirrels face competition for the same food supply from the Abert's squirrel.

Game and Fish officials say a count in 2013 found about 272 red squirrels in the Pinaleno Mountains.

That compares to 59 red squirrels counted in 2012, the lowest ever recorded.

Associated Press,

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