What’s All The Fuss About Greater Sage Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse - U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceGovernment bureaucracy is butting heads with Western Sportsmen over the acreage set aside for the Greater Sage Grouse. The fight is not about the well being of a species but rather a clash of ideology, reduction of our rights, reduced land access and management of public lands by restriction. Too many times explanations about Greater Sage Grouse are clouded with graphs, charts, scientific explanations that the average person doesn’t understand to begin with when what is required is the straight talk defining the issue with Greater Sage Grouse. Several things need to be addressed which is part of the distraction from the envirolitigants, the left wingers and activists of the world that want to dictate how and where we live, how and what should be on the landscape and what constitutes their ideas of multi-use of our of public lands.

Are Greater Sage Grouse an Endangered Species

Historic and Current Distribution of Sage GrouseForemost is that the Greater Sage Grouse (GSG) is NOT an Endangered Species. The movement has been made by the left, based on their “science” and ideas that the Greater Sage Grouse is endangered and needs federal protection by virtue of and Endangered Species Act listing stating declines due to gas and oil energy developments, residential building, agriculture and livestock grazing and of course hunting pressure. Fact of the matter is current breeding populations exceed more than 500,000 birds. Like most all species, numbers increase and decline for various reasons. The largest single factor now is predation but the Greater Sage Grouse population is stable, healthy and reproducing.

Habitat Restrictions For The Greater Sage Grouse

Greater Sage Grouse Range – Bureau of Land ManagementAlthough the habitat for the Greater Sage Grouse is most commonly grasslands, sagebrush and desert shrub ecosystems, eleven western states covering approximately 165 to167 million acres of Greater Sage Grouse habitat are now under the microscope of government agencies for these restrictions. The states that are current targets for habitat restrictions are Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming Utah and Colorado. Two states in the fight that don’t have current populations, only historic range, are Arizona and New Mexico. Both current and historic ranges move across our northern border into Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Organizations That Want To List the Greater Sage Grouse

In 2010 the Federal Government was petitioned, via the USFWS, to determine if the Greater Sage Grouse was warranted for a listing but was precluded, virtually putting the GSG on a waiting list. The proponents, or petitioners, to listing the GSG were the American Lands Alliance, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Native Ecosystems, Forest Guardians, the Fund for Animals, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, The Larch Company, The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Predator Defense Institute, Sierra Club, Sinapu, Western Fire Ecology Center, Western Watersheds Project, Wild Utah Project, and Wildlands CPR. There are others not listed here. In 2014 the Greater Sage Grouse and Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Act, H.R. 4419 was introduced to prohibit a Greater Sage Grouse listing for a 10 year period so long as individual states prepare and implement conservation and protect plans for the GSG. Most all of the states have spent millions of dollars to generate these conservation plans, but the USFWS in 2015 agreed that the species doesn’t require nor warrant an ESA listing.

State Planning And The Resolution of Public Lands

Federal land vs State land - USGSOnly Wyoming has a viable plan for GSG conservation recognized by the Department of Interior. Others states plans, after being submitted, approved and implemented, don’t have a history of success according to the feds. Yet the GSG numbers are still on the increase. Department of Interior approved the plans and the plans are implemented. The solution now is elementary by turning the management of the Greater Sage Grouse over to the states.

They have the agencies, the budgets and the plans in place. These state conservation plans are not just for the GSG alone they encompass the entire ecosystems and the entire wildlife base that inhabit the GSG landscape. Other big and small game species benefit from these conservation plans. It’s called good stewardship of the land.

Yet another case of the federal departments saying one thing and then turning their backs. Conservation of our public lands; waterways and wildlife in general wouldn’t exist without the sportsmen and sportswomen pursuing our passion and heritage.

Their tax dollars, in the form of surcharges, license and tag fees as well as the effort on the ground and in the water to preserve and conserve the environment so that we can share this space with the creatures around us.

It’s the hunter and anglers doing the habitat restoration, the water hole or catchment project, removing old fence lines and working with partners to deforest overgrown grasslands etc. Activists don’t participate in these endeavors, just sportsmen and sportswomen.