The Greater Sage-grouse is a sagebrush obligate entirely dependent on wide open spaces of intact and healthy sagebrush.
Male sage-grouse are most recognizable by the dance they perform in the spring to court mates. Males have remarkable tail feathers that fan and white air sacs on their chests that puff giving off unique sounds. Click the video at right to view male sage-grouse courting a mate.
Sage-grouse and Public Lands Management
Like a canary in the coal-mine sage grouse are critically important to better understand how the condition of sagebrush habitats, of which over 50% are public landscapes, are faring given current land-uses and management. Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t good.
Once numbering in the millions in the West, now Greater sage-grouse have significantly declined from historic numbers by as much as 93%. The precipitous decline of sage-grouse is symptomatic of several factors all converging to make the sagebrush biome the most threatened landscape in North America.
Public lands ranching, oil & gas drilling, climate change, fire, cheatgrass and expanding energy development are among the chief threats to sage-grouse who need intact, healthy sagebrush communities to thrive.
Rethinking Our Relationship to Our Western Wildlife Heritage
With climate change already amplifying the impact of public land ranching, energy development, and other human causes of harm to sage-grouse, it is well past time that we rethink our relationship to the Sagebrush Sea and its plant and wildlife communities.
Extending protection for sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act is the best way to ensure sage-grouse populations recover and to promote real assurances that public land managers take seriously real conservation of the diminishing Sagebrush Sea.