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Sage Grouse Conservation: Something to Strut About

Sage Grouse Conservation:  Something to Strut About

sage grouse

Southwest Colorado is passionate about conserving the sage grouse.  The…what?  Yeah, that’s what I thought too when I first heard about the effort.  I had never heard of the sage grouse and could not imagine what was so important about preserving them…whatever they were.

The sage grouse is bird of North America.  It mostly lives in the western United States area stretching from Canada to California.  They love to be in areas with sage brush, thus their name.  They also like basin areas.

The fully grown grouse have pointy long tails and their feathers go all the way down to their toes.  Males dawn a yellow eye patch and a white breast with a gray top, throat of brow and black on their belly.  They gets two yellow sacs upon their neck area when they are wanting to mate.  The females are light brown on their throat, have bellies that are dark in color and are a mottled brownish-gray.

The grouse like to eat sage and insects too.  They like to stay pretty close to home and become permanent residents.  They can be amazing creatures to watch with their strutting and other amazing behaviors.  But they are in grave danger of going away forever.

The areas they live in are being changed due to grown in areas and industrial growth.  They also have many predators.  It has been recorded that development of energy and residential building is responsible for much of the sage grouse decline.  Hunting is another reason that the grouse is in trouble.  Strict restrictions are in place now in many areas that the grouse calls home.  It has gone from 16 million down to somewhere between 500,000 and 200,000 in just 100 years.  With that kind of statistics, the bird will not be with us much longer.

While the grouse is not on the endangered species list yet, it is up for it and already, in the areas the bird frequents, it has made the sensitive list.  There are measures underway to try to save the bird from extinction such as protecting certain areas.

Southwest Colorado has a species of grouse known as the Gunnison sage grouse.  The area holds the Gunnison and the traditional sage grouse dear to their hearts and activists are taking great measures to keep the bird around.  There are lands that are protective of the grouse that don’t even allow dogs onto them for fear the dogs will eat the birds.  While some argue that the protective measures are too extreme, sage grouse activists worry that the regulations they have in place are not near enough to save the endangered bird.

Funds have been set up and groups and individuals alike have plans in motion to rescue the grouse from the fate of demise.  Also in Colorado, the Department of Parks and Wildlife orchestrated a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances in 2006.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined in the act as well and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is doing what they can in the crisis too.  Many individual private land owners have taken interest as well.

Because of the efforts of many, the future of the sage grouse is looking more positive in areas of concern such as in Southwest Colorado.  Now that gives the grouse something great to strut about.