Game and Fish Commission acts on sage grouse bird farm regulation
by Wyoming Game & Fish
September 17, 2008
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission took action on a proposal that would establish regulations allowing sage grouse to be raised on private game bird farms in Wyoming. After extensive discussions and verbal testimony from the public concerning this issue during their meeting on September 11, the commission asked for a formal Attorney Generalís opinion on their options for either moving forward with the proposed regulations or taking no action.
A footnote attached to the budget bill passed by the 2008 Wyoming Legislature directed the Commission to "develop rules, regulations, and procedures to allow private bird farms in this state to raise native sage grouse for release." The Wyoming Game and Fish Department drafted proposed rules and regulations related to this legislation and collected input from the public this summer.
Nearly all of the public input received by the Game and Fish on this issue did not support the proposed regulation. The most common concerns from the public included the potential risks to wild sage grouse populations from disease and from genetic mixing of wild birds and captive-raised birds.
Concerns expressed by individual commission members at the meeting also included a lack of funding to implement and enforce the new regulations, as well as the lack of any real potential for a program like this to enhance wild sage grouse populations.
The commission will review the Attorney Generalís opinion at a future commission meeting and decide how to move forward.
Sage grouse populations across the West have been declining due to a variety of factors including long-term drought, habitat loss resulting from development, West Nile Virus, and more. Sage grouse have been petitioned for delisting under the federal Endangered Species Act but so far have not been listed.