Fact Sheet
Sage-Grouse, Photo: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Threats to Sage-Grouse

The historic range of sage-grouse closely conformed to the occurrence of sagebrush steppe in what became thirteen western states and three Canadian provinces. However, the species’ range has been reduced by almost half since the 1900s, and the current population may represent less than ten percent of historic numbers.

Unfortunately, much of the Sagebrush Sea suffers from a tragedy of the commons. Accessible, irrigable, and rich in minerals, the Sagebrush Sea has been a working landscape since ranchers, miners and homesteaders first laid claim to it 200 years ago. Millions of acres have been lost to agriculture and development. Remaining sagebrush habitat is fragmented and degraded by oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, mining, unnatural fire, invasive weeds, off-road vehicles, roads, fences, pipelines and utility corridors.

More on Sage-Grouse: Defenders in Action »

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Sage grouse, © Joel Sartore/joelsartore.com
In the Magazine
Study finds plans for protecting sage-grouse ‘inadequate and inconsistent’
Sage-Grouse, Photo: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region
Success Story
December 2013 - Along with volunteers and conservation colleagues from partner organizations, Defenders' team flagged miles of fencing to protect imperiled sage-grouse from collisions.
Sage-grouse, © Tatiana Gettelman
In the Magazine
In the rugged, open scrublands of east-central Montana lives the sage-grouse, a plucky bird that once thrived across the sagebrush sea. Today, however, the population is plummeting from habitat loss.