(Undated) – Earlier this month, the wildlife advocate group “Wildearth Guardians,”
Filed a legal petition with the federal government to ban coal mining in some areas,
Including Montana, saying it would do more to protect the Sage Grouse.
This is something we would expect from a group such as this who in the
End hopes to have the Sage Grouse placed on the Endangered Species list, but the
U-S fish and Wildlife Service appears to be right there on the same page with them.
In their 2012 “Sage Grouse Conservation objectives draft report,” the U-S
Fish and Wildlife Service says “loss of sagebrush habitat has been cited as a primary
Cause of decline of Sage Grouse populations. They conclude, “It’s largely
A result of human activities.” They cite improper grazing, noxious weeds, increased
Frequency of fire, climate change, overstocking of domestic livestock and non-renewable
Energy development as some of the causes. That of course coincides with the latest move
To ban coal mining in some areas.
It seems the ultimate goal is to cut out any human activity where the Sage Grouse
Might populate and the proposed zones for such populating include a huge part of Montana.
From the Eastern border to the Little Belt Mountains and most all of southern Montana as
Well as huge chunks of Colorado and Wyoming.
The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service gives very little credence to Predators as a key
Component of Sage Grouse decline. The report moves right back to where it started from
Saying that “In areas of compromised habitats and high populations of synathropic predators
Predator control may be effective to ensure sage-grouse persistence until habitat conditions
Improve, however, the most effective method to mitigate the effects of predation is to maintain
Quality habitat with good connectivity. And remember, the habitat issue, according to the
Report is pretty much all caused by humans.
One ag-related group who has responded to the Bureau of Land Management’s
Draft environmental impact statement on the Sage Grouse is the Montana Wool Growers
Association who believe that should the Sage Grouse be listed on the Endangered Species
List it will have “an immediate and profound impact on agriculture production in Montana.
In fact in response to one of the Alternatives in the DEIS, the Wool Growers believe
There is only one goal and that is to “end public lands ranching,” period.
The MWGA response to the DEIS asserts that Montana’s sage-grouse population
Is in fact healthy and is neither endangered nor threathened. To support their position they
Point out that Montana has a healthy grouse hunting season.
They also point out that the DEIS is truly inadequate because it does not even contain
An updated sage-grouse population count. The most recent figures date back to 2007 and years
Prior. The U-S Fish and Wildlife service admitted that neither pre-settlement nor current
Numbers of sage-grouse are accurately known.
The MWGA said they were unable to find any up-to-date information in the DEIS
That details sage-grouse populations in Montana.
The Montana Wool Growers association also believes that predation is a leading
Cause of the sage-grouse mortality rate.
They cite a recent study in Wyoming that indicated that predation can account
For up to 80-percent of sage-grouse chick mortality. Ravens, their report says are
Perhaps the primary predator of sage-grouse but they (the ravens) are already on the
Protected species list and the increase in raven numbers is certainly resulting in loss
Of sage grouse chicks.
Numerous scientific studies indicate that predation by eagles, foxes, coyotes, badgers
And ravens are a leading cause of sage-grouse mortality in the west. That is not surprising
They say because sage grouse are an easy prey species.
Canada and other states in the west are taking active steps to protect the sage-grouse
From predation. Axel Moehrenschlager, head of the Calgary Zoo’s centre for conservation
Research says “what’s surprising is that many of the predators are other birds and there’s
Expansions by ravens, if you can believe it, into the prairie landscape.” Conservation experts
In Canada are making five recommendations to protect what they call one of Canada’s most
Highly endangered birds from extinction. One is to reduce the number of predators.
The MWGA believes that predation is the leading cause of sage-grouse mortality, but
Those who want to see it listed on the endangered species list want to blame “human activity,
And they want that human activity shut down anywhere that there might be even the
Slightest possibility that the human activity is affecting the sage grouse.
Keep in mind that the decision on the endangered species question is to be made next year.