Western sagebrush birds deserve protection, but other imperiled species will come first(03/05/2010) -
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concludes that the sage grouse could face extinction if it doesn't receive protections under the Endangered Species Act
- However, the agency says it is currently too busy working on more urgent cases to move forward with listing the birds at this time
- The prairie and sagebrush lands that the rare birds depend on have increasingly become targets for oil, gas and wind energy development as well as increased agricultural use and grazing
- Sage grouse have already vanished from nearly half of their historic territory
(WASHINGTON, Mar. 5, 2010) — The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife's senior vice president Bob Irvin:
“The sage grouse clearly deserve protection, but it is unlikely to get it anytime soon. Some of the last remaining habitat for sage grouse is rapidly being lost to development. And while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service correctly concluded that the birds deserve to be protected, the agency faces a backlog of other imperiled species that are in even greater need.
“More resources are needed to protect our nation's most vulnerable wildlife. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has actually proposed a cut in funding for listing endangered species. That needs to change if sage grouse and other species are going to receive the protection they deserve.
“Anyone who has heard the drumming of male sage grouse as they perform their mating dance knows that these birds are part of our heritage and the American West. And the fact that sage grouse are in trouble tells us that their sagebrush habitat is in trouble, too. Even without listing sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, all stakeholders have a responsibility to work together to find ways to help sage grouse return to healthy numbers.”
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 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 .
Contact(s):James Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247