Sage Grouse Protection
Conservationists: ‘Warranted but Precluded’ Sage Grouse Finding a ‘Wake-up Call’ (March 5, 2010)
Photo by Jim Laybourn. Courtesy of
The Greater Sage Grouse
The magnificent greater sage grouse, North America's largest grouse, makes its home in Wyoming and in high desert ecosystems throughout the Intermountain West. In fact, three of the largest remaining complexes of nesting and breeding sites, known as "leks," are located in pristine habitat in Wyoming. The sage grouse courtship ritual is considered one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent. Some Plains Indian nations, such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, Blackfoot and Shoshone perform sage grouse dances.
Reasons For Concern
Of the three Canadian provinces and 16 states in which sagegrouse were once found, substantial populations now exist only in seven states, with stronghold populations anchored in Wyoming. Protecting sage grouse would give a large measure of protection for other sagebrush wildlife, ranging from the pygmy rabbit to the pronghorn antelope, and from the ferruginous hawk to the Wyoming pocket gopher. Sage grouse have been declining dramatically in all of their historic range in North America since the 1960s.
Threats to Sage Grouse Survival
Habitat loss as a result of fragmentation and degradation is the main cause for the decline of the sage grouse. As sagebrush ecosystems are cut up by human developments such as fences, roads, and oil and gas development, and are degraded by overgrazing, prescribed fire, spraying herbicides or ploughing and farming, sage grouse populations suffer. Right now, ill-planned oil and gas development is the largest threat to sage grouse survival in Wyoming. Out of the three largest nesting and breeding concentrationsin the state– Atlantic Rim, the northern Red Desert, and the Upper Green River Valley -- the Atlantic Rim andUpper Green populations are already undergoing heavy industrialization without effectiveconservation measures to protect them from decline. The Powder River Basin sage grouse population, a critical link between populations in Montana and Alberta with the heart of the sage grouse range in south-central Wyoming, is suffering severe population declines in the face ofcoalbed methane development, and only about one-fifth of the most critical sage grouse habitats fall within Core Areas designated for increased conservation by the State of Wyoming.
Ways You Can Help
Save the Grouse
Biodiversity Conservation Alliance works to advance land management plans that protect sage grouse habitat, nesting, and breeding sites against destructive projects on public land.
Our experts provide legal and scientific analysis on every project that potentially impacts sage grouse habitat on Wyoming public land.
BCA and its conservation partners, supporting Sagebrush Sea Project, petitioned to protect the grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The Wyoming Core Area plan and on-the-ground conservation projects of Local Sage Grouse Working Groups are results of this petition.
When bird watching, arrive before first light, stay at least 100 yards from the lek, use binoculars instead of getting within several hundred yards, and keep behind cover, and leave the lek only after the birds have quit strutting.
Demand best practices, defined by scientific study, for sage grouse conservation from the federal government, which manages your land for your benefit – write letters to the editor and call your local representation to air your views.
Conserve energy to reduce the need for fossil fuels, especially coalbed methane, otherwise known as natural gas.
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- Conservationists: ‘Warranted but Precluded’ Sage Grouse Finding a ‘Wake-up Call’ (March 5, 2010)
- New Study Chronicles Declining Populations, Major Threats to Sage-Grouse (November 2009)
- Red Desert CBM Drilling Proposed in Sage Grouse Core Area (August 19, 2008)
- New Sage Grouse Study Highlights Elevated West Nile Risk (June 3, 2008)
- Biologists: Keep grouse hunt as is (March 10, 2008. Casper Star-Tribune)
- Court Reverses ‘No Listing’ ESA Decision for the Sage Grouse (December 4, 2007)
- Studies: BLM Sage Grouse Policies a Failure (July 3, 2007)
- Biodiversity, Bill Barrett Corp. Agree to Sage Grouse Protections for 3D Seismic Exploration in Bighorn Basin
(August 29, 2006)
- Conservation Organizations: Feds Must Adopt Science-Based Solution to Avoid Sage Grouse ESA Listing
(July 20, 2006)
- Second Powder River Basin Study Shows CBM Impacts to
Grouse Winter Range (June 26, 2006)
- New Report Presents Blueprint for Sage Grouse Recovery (
June 22, 2006)
- Study Links Powder River Sage Grouse Decline to CBM (June 13, 2006)
- Study Shows Major Impacts of Gas Development on Sage Grouse (January 19, 2006)
- New Report Presents Blueprint for Sage Grouse Recovery
- Conservationists React to “Not Warranted”. Recommendation to Protect Sage Grouse
- Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for Sage Grouse. Habitat Loss, New Threats Prompt Call for Federal Protection
- Sage Grouse Takes Center Stage in Oil and Gas Controversy. Expert Points to Problems in Pinedale, Great Divide Plans
Conservationists File Powder River Basin Protest