January 2005 --
Sage Grouse Not Protected -- for Now
The New York Times recently reported that a team of Interior Department biologists has recommended that the sage grouse is not threatened with extinction and does not, for the moment, need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Steve Williams, the director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, must make the final decision about whether to put the bird on the endangered list by Dec. 29.
In recent years, various states, private landowners and scientists formed local and regional partnership to improve conditions for the grouse. In late November, the Interior Department?s Bureau of Land Management, the largest single landowner in the West, which controls about half of the 258,000 square miles of existing sage grouse territory, announced its own conservation plan.
The BLM?s proposed approach will manage the grouse as a ?special status species? while allowing for grazing, recreation, mining, and oil and gas activities in sage-grouse habitat.
?We believe this is a positive step toward conservation of sage-grouse habitat and keeping the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species List,? said Tom McDonnell, director of natural resources and policy for the American Sheep Industry Association.
The core of the BLM strategy involves maintaining, enhancing and restoring the sage-grouse?s sagebrush habitat. The interim strategy will guide BLM offices until state- and local-level sage-grouse conservation plans, developed in collaboration with state wildlife experts, are completed and made part of BLM land-use plans.
Prairie Dog Will Not be Reviewed for ESA
The white-tailed prairie dog will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
That?s the word from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which recently determined that the listing petition ?did not contain substantial scientific data that the petitioned action might be warranted.?
The white-tailed prairie dog is found in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Montana.