Threatened Bird Denied Protection

Another bird species has been acknowledged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act, but is not going to get it. This time it is the Gunnison sage grouse. Just 10 days ago, Care2 published a story about a similar situation facing the Sprague’s Pipit, a bird species that has declined 80 percent in the last 40 years. The Pipit lives in both Canada and the US. It has legal protection in Canada as a threatened species, so there is some hope if it being protected there.

The Gunnison Sage Grouse, however, only lives in seven to eight small populations in Colorado and in Utah. Ninety percent of its natural habitat has been lost. (Source: Western State College of Colorado) There appears to be some confusion over the number of these grouses living in the wild. The US Fish and Wildlife Service says there are 5,000, and that the largest population is 4,000. The State of Colorado Division of Wildlife says there are 3,500 total, with 2,500 living in the largest population.

In Utah, according to their state wildlife department, in 1972 there were 500 to 1,000 of the birds in the only county they occupy there. By 1999 that estimate had declined to 140-250.

A researcher noted the decline of the species could be related to conversion of their habitat to oil and natural gas development projects. Another threat to the grouse is conversion of their habitat to cattle grazing land. An attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said, “The Service first acknowledged a decade ago that the Gunnison sage grouse is threatened with extinction.” “This is the latest in a series of decisions to avoid protecting this iconic bird that amount to navel-gazing and a tremendous waste of resources.”

A major component of the grouses’ diet is sagebrush. Without it, they might not be able to survive. Their reliance on sagebrush is where the conflict occurs with humans. Sagebrush habitat is used by human for industrial and agricultural purposes. If the Gunnison Grouse was added to the Endangered Species Act, the legal protections would most likely enforce the protection of their habitats, which would reduce some oil, natural gas, and cattle operations.

Senior Staff biologist of the Center for Native Ecoystems Megan Mueller said, “It’s no surprise that we are losing Gunnison sage grouse when we are allowing oil and gas drilling, rapid development, and inappropriately managed livestock grazing in most of the grouse’s remaining habitat.” (Source: Summit County Voice)

Image Credit: greener.org

Related Links:

Endangered Bird Deserves Protection But Doesn’t Get It
Bird Goes Extinct in Madagascar

74 comments

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.3 years ago

terrible!

Tim U.
Tim Upham3 years ago

All grassland birds have been affected by cultivation and grazing. Look at the greater prairie chicken, lesser prairie chicken, and Attwater prairie chicken. The Gunnison sage grouse should only follow suit.

New G.
New G.4 years ago

Sad, thank you.

Debbie W.
Past Member 4 years ago

Threatened yet denied needed protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ... what a surprise.

This is but one Bureau in the Department of the Interior (another being BLM) and ALL currently under the management of Secretary of the Interior, KEN SALAZAR ... say no more.

Until this man dies or gets killed, real change is on hold (and he gets to stay on as long as Obama is in charge) OR there is an uprising which results in a reality check and change ... not likely.

Goodbye Gunnison sage grouse ... thanks Ken.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

Maybe the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should go extinct?

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

outrageous

colleen p.
colleen p.4 years ago

but as long as they are lost to build something like a Morning Star factory, or greenhouses to grow veggies for humans, it is a lesser evil than if it were Walmarts and Beef ranches. rriiiigggghhhhttttttt?

poor bird. they limmit what dead things people can salvage, due to people being able to lie, and to keep demand low.
this bird dosen't get protection, but i get to go to jail for keeping an owl feather.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

colleen prinssen
colleen p.5 years ago

not a wolf, nobody is going to care. so non meat reasons take away their habitat? when ever something like this happens, it is always the rancher to blame. but if bio-fuel is being grown and not just "cows cows cows" then you can't point fingers to blame and shout "you are helping make it extinct"

maybe the grouse and the other bird are not majestic enough to have world wide attention.
because it dosen't have 4,000 years of being able to play a victem card, like "our friend" the wolf.
(I don't have the wolves. just their fans)

leyna stemle
leyna stemle5 years ago

Lovely