Tag Archives: Sage Grouse

Sage-Grouse Hunting Suspended for 2017 Season

On June 21, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to reduce sage-grouse hunting permits to zero for the 2017 season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended this action to the Commission based on spring lek (breeding ground) surveys that showed significantly fewer sage-grouse in all four hunting zones.

Although managed hunting, in and of itself, is not considered a risk to the species, five years of drought conditions, the large-scale Rush Fire of 2012 and heavy storms in winter 2016-17 have all contributed to habit loss and degradation of the sagebrush ecosystem. Scientists found that sage-grouse population counts have decreased between 47 percent and 62 percent in the four hunt zones over the last five years.

CDFW bases its population estimates on extensive scientific data collected in the field. However, heavy winter snow hampered biologists’ access to sage-grouse leks this spring, and some sage-grouse that were present in the survey area may not have been accounted for in the survey. CDFW thus took a precautionary approach in making its recommendation to the Commission.

Sage-grouse populations fluctuate naturally based on weather and habitat conditions. By this fall, California’s sage-grouse population is projected to be 1,341 on the low end and 2,145 on the high end.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies coordinates conservation efforts across the 11 western states and two Canadian provinces where sage-grouse live. Leaders from dozens of participating state and federal agencies meet quarterly to work toward achieving shared conservation goals.

In 2015, a proposal to list the sage-grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be not warranted, following review of stakeholder-developed conservation plans and amendments to federal land use plans throughout the species range, including California.


Media Contact:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 591-0140


CDFW Scientist Recognized for Conservation Work on Sage Grouse

Left to right: California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist  Scott Gardner and CDFW Chief Deputy Director Kevin Hunting.
Left to right: California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Gardner and CDFW Chief Deputy Director Kevin Hunting.
Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Gardner has received a Special Thanks for Achieving Results (STAR) Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for his extensive work on sage grouse.

Gardner co-led the development of the Bi-State Conservation Plan for Greater Sage-Grouse, which included the Nevada Department of Wildlife and other stakeholders. He has also collaborated with U.S. Geological Survey scientists to develop a strong science-based approach and led multi-year sage grouse studies that provided critical information to support the plan’s population and habitat models.

On April 21, 2015, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, jointly announced that the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of greater sage-grouse did not need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. This decision reversed an earlier proposal to list this population segment as threatened. It was determined the conservation plan developed by Gardner and his colleagues addressed the threats to sage grouse and provided commitments from agencies and the local community.

“Developing an action plan that engages the local community, develops critical partnerships and reverses a proposal to list a species goes above and beyond the call of duty. We couldn’t be more proud of Scott and his dedication to wildlife conservation,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham.

In addition to the plan, Gardner had a key role in developing partnerships between agencies as well as diverse groups of public and private stakeholders. Over time, these groups worked toward a common goal to develop conservation agreements, which recognized the value of healthy sagebrush ecosystems to wildlife, people and the local economy.

More information about the Bi-State Conservation Plan and the recent USFWS decision are available at http://www.fws.gov/greatersagegrouse/.