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Ground Squirrels

Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel

The Northern Idaho ground squirrel (Urocitellus brunneus) was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in April 2000. Populations of this subspecies can only be found in Adams and Valley Counties of western Idaho. It is estimated the population of squirrels has declined by 80% from initial surveys in 1985.

In September 2003, a final Recovery Plan was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), with state of Idaho input. The full version of the Recovery Plan can be read here Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel Recovery Plan.

Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel

The Southern Idaho ground squirrel (Urocitellus endemicus) can be found in the Weiser River Basin and is native to four counties in southwest Idaho: Adams, Gem, Payette, and Washington County. The subspecies has been at a peak in their population cycle for several years and is well distributed throughout its’ range. The Southern Idaho ground squirrel was removed from the ESA candidate species list in October 2015.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined that the Southern Idaho ground squirrel was a candidate species in 2001. As the majority of squirrel sites reside on private lands, a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) was developed with landowners to conserve the species without the need for listing. For more information read the Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel CCAA.

Landowners who participate in the CCAA agree to implement conservation practices on their lands to remove or reduce threats to the squirrels. In return, the FWS assures the landowners that no additional regulatory restrictions will be placed on their land management practices in the future should the species be listed under the ESA. Efforts are underway to develop other CCAAs in the area, as well as habitat conservation plans for other species.

Staff Contact:

Jon Beals

Northern Idaho ground squirrel

Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel
Photo Public Domain by Diane Evans-Mack, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

(Southern) photo courtesy: U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel
Photo courtesy: U.S. Fish & Wildlife