Boy Scouts mark fences for sage grouse
Boy Scouts of America Troop 495, from Minden completed a fence-marking project in greater sage-grouse habitat in Mineral and Lyon Counties in partnership with the Forest Service on Sept. 25.
Star Scout, Gus Lister, led five scouts and four parents through this project as a part of the requirements to qualify for the prestigious Boy Scouts of America William T. Hornaday Conservation award. The group made more than 1,000 markers and then placed these markers on fences with Forest Service wildlife staff over the last two Sundays in September.
The markers are made of vinyl siding, cut into small pieces and hung on the wires of the fence. In addition to markers the scouts made, they received a donation of 300 markers from Firefly Diverters LLC.
Collisions with fences are a known cause of mortality for sage-grouse; marking fences with a material that makes the fence more visible can prevent the birds from hitting the fence. Studies suggest that marking fences can decrease bird mortality by 70 percent. The markers were placed where grouse mortalities have been recently documented.
“Gus and his scout troop are a great asset to the wildlife program on the Humboldt-Toiyabe – this is the second project they helped us complete that will literally save animals lives,” said Mike Crawley, Bridgeport District Ranger, on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “Anything we can do to support projects that prevent sage-grouse mortalities is important,” said Crawley.
“The simple fact that two-to-three-inch pieces of vinyl, in volume, have such a large potential to save wildlife was vividly demonstrated during this project,” said Doug Lister, Assistant Scout Master for Troop 495. “We were able to not only provide a visual marker for sage grouse, but also other wildlife such as pronghorn,” continued Lister.
“It was a pleasure and privilege to work with the Bridgeport Ranger District on a project that has real potential to save sage grouse,” said Gus Lister. “It was amazing to see how much more visible the fence was after we placed the markers,” remarked Lister.
The scouts are excited to hear that their efforts will have a positive impact on wildlife survivability. The greater sage-grouse is a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act. It was determined by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that the birds were warranted for listing but the listing was precluded by species with higher priorities.
The birds in Lyon and Mineral County are part of a distinct population segment of the greater sage grouse. This distinct population segment, called the bi-state population, was given a higher priority for listing than the greater sage-grouse as a whole.