New study shows bistate sage grouse populations stable
July 5, 2014
New information may indicate that the bistate sage grouse, which is proposed for listing as an endangered species, might not be as endangered as originally thought.
Information gathered by several agencies between 2002 and 2012, and compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that in many instances grouse populations are relatively stable.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Nevada Supervisor Ted Koch was in Minden on Wednesday night for a hearing about the listing.
He said that the original proposal acknowledged that the Bodie Hills and Long Valley populations were stable, but that other populations, like the Pine Nuts population, were in long-term decline.
However, preliminary examination of the new analysis indicates that those other populations may be stable.
According to graphs published by the department, there seems to be a stable number of chicks growing to be adults in the Pine Nut Mountains. Those graphs are similar to those for Bodie Hills where the grouse populations are stable.
Koch warned that the data only goes to 2012, and therefore does not include habitat damaged in the Bison fire in 2013.
Koch said that the service does not consider off-highway vehicle use a serious threat to the grouse.
Koch said he hoped the graphs, which are viewable at http://www.fws.gov/nevada/, provide the public with additional information on which to base comments about the listing.
Carson Valley resident Nate Littrell pointed out that there was no mention of the economic impact in the literature included about the listing.
That was seconded by Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Chernock, who asked that the Fish & Wildlife Service consider the impact on the livelihoods of the people who live in the Valley.
About two-dozen people attended Wednesday's meeting.
The period to comment on the proposed listing of the sage grouse has been extended until June 9. Officials said the service will consider the new study along with information received at both public comment periods.
The U.S. Geological Survey's Western Ecological Research Center compiled data from 2002 through 2012, collected by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the University of Nevada, Reno, the University of Idaho, and the Geological Survey.
The listing of the bistate distinct population of the sage grouse would result in the designation of 1.86 million acres as critical habitat stretching from the Pine Nut Mountains south to nearly Bishop. The final decision to list the grouse won't be published until April 28, 2015.