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Pinedale Online > News > May 2014 > Grazing Is Good For Grouse
Grazing is good for grouse
‘We observed no negative impacts of livestock on nesting or brood-rearing grouse.’
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
May 12, 2014

A new research project in southeastern Montana found that sage grouse did better in pastures with livestock grazing than in pastures without livestock grazing. Here's some highlights of the research:

• Nest success was higher for nests in pastures with livestock concurrently present (59%) than pastures without livestock (38%). Researchers observed no direct negative impacts (such as trampling) of livestock on nesting sage grouse.

• Brood success was higher for broods hatched in pastures with livestock (79%) than without livestock (61%). The researchers noted: "The mechanism driving this is unknown; it may have resulted from behavioral avoidance of livestock by predators, or reflect predator control efforts in areas with livestock."

• "Our results provide further evidence that livestock presence on the landscape can benefit nesting and brood-rearing sage-grouse."

• Mortality to adult hens was attributed primarily to avian predators (40%), followed by mammalian predators (27%). No mortalities were attributed to collisions with fences or power lines.

• The researchers noted: "Traditional family-owned ranching operations, the predominant local stakeholders in the Core Area, have historically managed land in a manner that is compatible with sage-grouse conservation and are well-poised to collaborate with wildlife and range professionals to maintain and improve sage-grouse habitat."

• "Our results concur with research elsewhere that livestock grazing is compatible with sage-grouse conservation."

A Billings Gazette article about the study can be found in the links below, as well as the report of the research details.

Related Links
  • Billings Gazette - Read the article here.
  • Sage Grouse Research report - Read the report here. (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, studies done 2011-2013 (2014)
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