New Report Highlights Greater Sage-Grouse as Conservation Priority for Trump Administration

For Immediate Release:  Dec. 21, 2016

Media Contact: Catalina Tresky: (202) 772-0253 or ctresky@defenders.org

New Report Highlights Greater Sage-Grouse as Conservation Priority for Trump Administration

WASHINGTON (Dec. 21, 2016) – The Endangered Species Coalition released its annual “Top 10” report today, which highlights the conservation status and actions needed to protect threatened and endangered plant and animal species around the world.

This year’s report, Removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration, profiles the greater sage-grouse and identifies important actions the next administration should take to protect, recover and preserve this iconic species and others that depend on sagebrush grasslands.

Mark Salvo, vice president of landscape conservation for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“We’ve reached another fork in the road for sage-grouse. The Trump administration can either choose to implement the current comprehensive conservation strategy, or they can reject it, wasting an unprecedented effort by the federal government, states, landowners and other stakeholders to protect the species and its habitat.”

“Saving sage-grouse doesn’t just preserve this funky, funny bird for future generations but also helps conserve habitat for elk, pronghorn, mule deer, native trout and other species valued by westerners and all Americans. We hope to work with the new administration to implement and improve the federal sage-grouse plans to conserve this icon of the West.”

Background

Greater sage-grouse

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington -- and two Canadian provinces in western North America. The species has lost approximately half of its original range, and populations have declined by more than 90 percent from historic levels.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declined to protect greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2015, citing an unprecedented range-wide effort by federal agencies and states to conserve the bird. Even as these new plans are being implemented, Congress has passed legislation precluding FWS from even considering the grouse for listing and has even targeted the federal conservation plans.

Recent research from the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University and other institutions has affirmed the impacts of oil and gas drilling, invasive species, unnatural fire and other threats on sage-grouse. Even more concerning, biologists estimate that grouse populations may decline in key states like Wyoming in 2017, cutting short a recent spurt in population growth that was expected to continue for a few more years. The national sage-grouse conservation strategy, properly implemented and fully funded, will be key to conserving the species long-term.

Endangered Species Coalition Report

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species for the report. Then a committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations and decided which species should be included in the final report. Past reports are available here.

In addition to the sage-grouse, species included in this year’s report include jaguar, wolves, Snake River Chinook salmon, the Joshua tree, Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee, the African elephant, the bald cypress tree and vaquita, a small endangered Mexican porpoise.  

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.