Wednesday is the deadline for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether or not to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse, a sub-species that’s struggling in Colorado and Utah, under the Endangered Species Act.
A recent poll commissioned by the Defenders of Wildlife shows a majority of Wyoming voters would be in favor of Endangered Species Act listing if current protections failed to boost sage grouse populations.Erik Molvar with the Wild Earth Guardians says that while the Gunnison Sage Grouse may be close to listing, the Greater Sage Grouse’s listing would affect 11 Western states, including Wyoming. Molvar says that means a lot more protected habitat to offer the bird and therefore a greater likelihood of success.
"So you have a real chance to avoid that endangered species act protection if you can turn around those populations. If you can protect those habitats. If you can address the threats like livestock grazing, like oil and gas development in a successful way," says Molvar.
Voters are split in their opinions along party lines, though. 91 percent of Democrats support Endangered Species Act listing, while just 40 percent of Republicans are in favor of the protections.