Wyoming Sage Grouse populations trending upward
by Wyoming Game & Fish
November 25, 2014
When the federal government called for information on sage grouse conservation efforts nationwide Wyoming responded with thousands of documents. The data from Wyoming show that at this time population declines and habitat loss have largely stopped in this state, and that populations are trending upward. In addition, data show that habitat improvements and long-term conservation measures, such as conservation easements, have dramatically increased.
Wyoming implemented the first comprehensive sage grouse conservation strategy in the nation and has worked with private partners, other states, non-governmental organizations and federal entities to build cooperative conservation efforts across the West. Wyoming’s efforts started in 2007 and have accelerated with the leadership of Governor Matt Mead. The Wyoming approach has been endorsed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The approach involves targeting protection of core sage grouse habitat.
"We built a strategy through a public process involving landowners, conservation groups, energy companies and many others. This is the result of an incredibly diverse cadre of people who are focused on conservation using objective data to show that our efforts have positive effects," Sage Grouse Implementation Team chair, Bob Budd, said.
Wyoming, through the efforts of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, responded to a call for data from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The information provided shows Wyoming has:
• Focused on habitat restoration inside core areas to try and have the most benefit for sage grouse conservation.
• Developed, implemented and monitored conservation strategies and incentive-based conservation actions and regulatory mechanisms.
• Developed and implemented monitoring plans to track the success of state and federal conservation strategies and voluntary conservation actions.
• Prioritized and funded research to try and answer important questions related to future conservation efforts. The 2014 Wyoming Legislature provided $1,2000,000 specific to this research as well funding through the Governor’s Federal Natural Resource Policy Account account.
• And industries in Wyoming have stepped up with stronger and quicker reclamation techniques.
"We are at a critical point in history for wildlife management in this country. When states step forward with innovative and effective ways to prevent species from needing federal protection those efforts should be recognized. There is no question that the people closest to the issues on the ground, when fully committed to the end result of conservation, are the most effective in making things happen. As the US Fish and Wildlife Service considers whether sage grouse need to be listed as threatened or endangered, we will continue to provide sound information showing that our management is thoughtful, based on the best available science, and effective. It is pretty clear that if you are a sage grouse, you would want management of your future to stay with the state," Budd said.