Move Over Spotted Owl, Make Room for the Sage Grouse

The federal government is aggressively protecting the sage grouse. A few weeks ago, the Feds listed the Gunnison sage grouse as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The Feds want to add the greater sage grouse to the list. The greater sage grouse:

  • lives in 11 western U.S. states
  • covers 165 million acres, almost as big as Texas
  • population dropped from around 16 million over 200 years ago, to under half-million today

Conservationists believe that the sage grouse numbers are getting dangerously low. Human activity, specifically energy exploration and development, is the main cause of this issue, they claim.

However, local efforts in conservation and local economies are overlooked when considering listing under the Endangered Species Act in these cases. Overzealous efforts could have irreversible consequences to local economies and hinder growth. Much of the land in western United States is owned by the federal government. Imagine if that same amount of land in the eastern U.S. was also owned by the Feds. More than likely, the United States would not be the global leader that it is today.

Comments (3)

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  1. Santiago says:

    As long as there are possible predators around, the Sage Grouse could be introduced as an invasive species elsewhere. I only suggest this because I don’t see a bird (however large it may be) stopping energy interests.

  2. Daphne says:

    Will its listing necessarily affect private property? The grouse might be fine on federal lands.

    • nik says:

      Daphne: It will affect private land. Nearly all sage grouse range is also cattle range. Grazing will be curtailed or severely limited. Federal lands for sage grouse are good in some places and horrible in a lot of others. Namely from invasive weed species such as cheatgrass and medusahead rye. Western juniper, a native has taken over millions and millions of acres of sagebrush habitat. It crowds out brush, it prevents seeds from germinating and it takes away water that the other plants need. The trees provide perching areas for raptors that feed on the grouse. Grouse abandon areas where the juniper have encroached.