The Core Problem
The state of Wyoming was the first to develop a sage-grouse conservation strategy based on the designation and management of large areas of core habitat to sustain the species. Unfortunately, key components of Wyoming’s strategy do not accord with the best available science on the grouse and are unlikely to conserve the species. For example, the strategy allows new fluid minerals (oil and gas) leasing and other development within core sage-grouse habitat, contrary to scientific recommendations, while prescribing inadequate protections for important seasonal habitats and allowing excessively high levels of disturbance in core areas that are critical to the species’ survival. Federal agencies and other states should avoid adopting Wyoming’s strategy for conserving sage-grouse and instead adopt science-based measures that are more likely to protect and recover the species. Implementing strong conservation measures now will not only benefit sage-grouse, but also hundreds of other species in the West.