New Report Critiques Sage Grouse Priority Area Model

Sep 22, 2015

Credit Wikimedia Commons

With the decision not to list sage grouse as an endangered species, a new federal report says the current approach is effectively isolating the birds from each other like animals in a zoo.

U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Steven Knick worked on the report, and he says many of the sage grouse protected areas are like small islands scattered around the 11 Western states of its range.

He says, sure, grouse can fly 100 kilometers from one seasonal range to another, but he says, “The challenge is what is it that they have to cross? And are they likely to cross natural features such as mountain ranges to get from one sagebrush patch to another when we know that things like interstate highways, power line corridors, other kinds of disturbance features can influence their movements.”

Knick says, central Wyoming is lucky to have one of the largest sage grouse protected areas in the U.S. But the state still has many small areas too where the bird may have trouble interacting with neighboring zones that could eventually hurt their population numbers.