The report was prepared to provide scientific information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in advance of the upcoming Endangered Species Act listing decision on greater sage-grouse, which is expected to be made by the end of September. The population trends were determined from surveys of leks (traditional spring mating grounds) compiled from databases in 11 western states.
Lek counts date back 50 years, with information collected by state wildlife agencies, partner groups, and hundreds of volunteers. The new report analyzes this wealth of data, but does not attempt to explain the causes of sage grouse population fluctuations.
According to Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies sage grouse coordinator San Stiver, 85,674 male sage grouse were counted on 3,559 leks this spring, up from 49,397 males counted in 2013. The report also shows that sage grouse populations vary greatly over time.
The NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative works proactively to conserve sage grouse and the working rangelands that provide their habitat. Our recently released report summarizes the accomplishments achieved since 2010, and highlights the people and partners who have joined together to conserve more than 6,000 square miles of habitat.
“Through collaboration, our goal is to help ensure a bright future for sage grouse and the 350 other wildlife species that call this range their home, while ensuring the nation’s working lands remain productive,” said Tim Griffiths, who helps coordinate SGI’s efforts through the NRCS’ Working Lands for Wildlife partnership.