The sage grouse is back in the national discussion. The Department of Interior is loosening rules that protect the western, chicken-sized bird; recommendations include giving states more leniency in enforcing the rules and easing restrictions on land development. The two-year old conservation plan helped the sage grouse avoid an endangered listing under the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Many environmentalists are concerned the changes could spell doom for the vulnerable species.
The greater sage grouse is not heading to the Endangered Species List, for now. US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made the long-awaited announcement Tuesday in Colorado, flanked by four state governors.
Once thought to number in the millions, greater sage grouse numbers have dwindled across the west due to loss of critical sage brush habitat. This piece profiles some of the stakeholders trying to protect the sage grouse while allowing for the region’s traditional industries.
A listing of the greater sage grouse under the endangered species act could deeply affect the industries making up the backbone of the Western economy like agriculture, oil and gas and mining. An unprecedented collection of stakeholders across 11 states are working to save the bird’s population before the federal government steps in.
Energy development is a key factor that threatens sage grouse, and some western conservationists are speaking out most urgently against a power source often thought of as one of the greenest — wind farms.
Several new studies show ravens are feasting on the eggs of another iconic bird — sage grouse — further threatening a species on the brink of extinction. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to control more ravens, lethally.