Sage-grouse: The paradox of hunting endangered species

Greater sage-grouse are a candidate for the endangered species listing, but are still hunted in some states, including Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Colorado Wildlife Commission to consider new restrictions for greater sage-grouse hunting at July 8 meeting in Gunnison

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In all the commotion over the designation of the greater sage-grouse as a candidate for endangered species listing, it was often overlooked that the bird can still be legally hunted in some places.

That may seem counter-intuitive, but the rationalization is that a small-scale hunt of individual birds doesn’t pose a huge threat to population as a whole.

The bigger problems stem from habitat loss and fragmentation on a large scale, primarily from agricultural land use practices and from energy development in the sagebrush habitat of the west slope of the Rockies and the Great Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently named confirmed the status of the greater sage-grouse as qualified for the endangered species list, but did not list the birds. Instead, the federal government will work with state agencies, industry and private land owners to develop conservation plans.

And this week, the Colorado Wildlife Commission will grapple with the question of greater sage-grouse hunting at a July 8 meeting in Gunnision, trying to decide whether hunting seasons should be restricted based on new conservation plan agreements hammered out by state and federal officials.

The commission will also finalize all  2010 small game and migratory bird provisions including season dates, bag and possession limits and manner of take. The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Western State College Aspinall-Wilson Center, 909 East Escalante Drive.

The Commission will also study a plan to offer hunting license discounts to members of the military in a partnership with the Wounded Warriors program. Colorado Division of Wildlife staff will also update the commission on the effort to remove lake trout from Blue Mesa Reservoir in order to help the reservoir’s kokanee salmon population recover.

The wildlife commission meetings and workshops are streamed live through the CDOW website during the meeting. Visit the website to see the entire agenda and staff memos. During the meeting, click on the   “listen to audio” link.

The Colorado Wildlife Commission is an 11-member board appointed by the governor. The Commission sets Division of Wildlife regulations and policies for hunting, fishing, watchable wildlife, non-game, threatened and endangered species. The Commission also oversees Division of Wildlife land purchases and property regulations.

Here’s the link:


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