Tag: Greater sage-grouse

Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix

greater sage-grouse
Greater sage-grouse. Photo via USGS.

Well density seen as key factor in decline of birds in Wyoming

Staff Report

Limiting the density of new oil and gas drilling rigs in Wyoming may not be enough to stem the decline of greater sage-grouse, according to scientists tracking populations of the imperiled bird.

Berween 1984 and 2008, populations declined by 2.5 percent annually, and the drop is clearly linked with oil and gas development, the new study from the USGS and Colorado State University found. The researchers used annual counts of males at breeding sites for their estimates, comparing those tallies to the the density of oil and gas wells and the area of disturbance associated with these wells. Continue reading “Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix”

Advertisements

Are ravens ravishing greater sage-grouse populations?

sdfg
Greater sage-grouse might have a better shot at recovering if raven populations are controlled. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study shows link between cattle grazing, ravens and greater sage-grouse

Staff Report

As a generalist species that can take advantage of ecosystem disturbances, raven numbers have tripled across the West in the last few decades, and a new study shows that they are  almost fifty percent more likely to use sagebrush habitat if cattle are present.

And that’s not all — according to the research, published in Ecosphere, ravens will set up camp near greater sage-grouse breeding areas, where the big black birds prey on the eggs and chicks of the endangered sage-grouse. Since predation is the main cause of sage-grouse nest failure, the researchers suggest that  reducing ravens access to food and water could help with sage-grouse conservation. Continue reading “Are ravens ravishing greater sage-grouse populations?”

Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered

sdfg
Greater sage-grouse doing fine, feds say.

No listing needed …

Staff Report

Making a decision for which the political handwriting was on the wall a long time ago, the U.S. Department of Interior this week said that greater sage-grouse are doing just fine, and don’t need protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The non-listing may very well be challenged in court by some conservation groups who question whether a patchwork of voluntary conservation measures will be enough to save one of the West’s landmark species, but federal officials — tired of fighting with governors in western states like Colorado and Nevada, said the birds “remain relatively abundant and well-distributed: across their 173-million acre range. Continue reading “Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered”

Colorado wants feds to sanction a market-driven sage grouse habitat conservation plan

sdfg
Colorado hopes that a voluntary market-based conservation program can help protect important habitat for greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Habitat exchange could pay off for Colorado ranchers, developers — and, hopefully, sage grouse

Staff Report

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says a state program aimed at conserving sage-grouse habitat is ready for primetime. This week, the state sought formal recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the voluntary, market-based conservation plan.

Continue reading “Colorado wants feds to sanction a market-driven sage grouse habitat conservation plan”

Getting a handle on wildfires may be key to saving greater sage-grouse

asf
Wildfires are putting a bit hit on greater sage-grouse populations. Photo via USFWS.

Current wildfire trends could cut sage grouse populations dramatically

Staff Report

Slowing the spiral of growing wildfires may be crucial to protecting greater sage-grouse during the next 30 years, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after comparing wildfire, precipitation and sage grouse population trends.

Cutting destructive fires near key habitat areas would be most beneficial and could even help sage grouse populations rebound, the scientists concluded.

The new study  projects that, if the current trend in wildfire continues unabated, sage grouse populations will continue to plummet — by as much as half by the mid-1940s. The models used by the scientists  simulated different post-fire recovery times for sagebrush habitats based on soil attributes — soil moisture and temperature maps — that strongly influence resilience to wildfire and resistance to invasive grass species. Continue reading “Getting a handle on wildfires may be key to saving greater sage-grouse”

Study eyes powerlines as factor in sage grouse decline

sdfg
Greater sage-grouse avoid powerlines, and the poles are used by perching raptors that target sage grouse nests. Photo via USGS.

Another piece in the sage grouse puzzle …

Staff Report

FRISCO — After closely studying a greater sage-grouse subpopulation on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington, wildlife biologists said that power lines may be a greater factor in habitat fragmentation than previously believed.

The new study found that transmission lines from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines affect greater sage grouse habitat by isolating fragile populations and limiting movement. The was published online this summer in the journal Landscape Ecology.

“With only a fraction of pre-settlement habitat left in the state for this species, it’s key that all of that habitat be connected in order for the population to be viable in the future,” said lead author Andrew Shirk, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group. Continue reading “Study eyes powerlines as factor in sage grouse decline”

Feds boost greater sage-grouse efforts with $211 million for more conservation measures

dsg
Can more money help save greater sage-grouse?

Focus is on voluntary, incentive-based approach

Staff Report

FRISCO —Acknowledging the deteriorating health of sagebrush habitat and the decline of greater sage-grouse, federal officials this week announced a $211 million push to fund  conservation plans and to help implement an effective strategy to reduce rangeland fire risk.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0 will provide additional assistance for ranchers to make conservation improvements to their land, which mutually benefits the iconic bird and agricultural operations in 11 Western states. Continue reading “Feds boost greater sage-grouse efforts with $211 million for more conservation measures”