The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reports a healthy community of sage grouse, thanks to hunters’ contributions.
The Wyoming sage grouse population has been a subject of concern for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in recent years, and the fowl may soon have to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Biologists now have a better idea of the condition of the sage grouse, thanks to samples that only hunting can provide.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has placed several barrels near popular hunting areas throughout the state, urging hunters to donate the wings of harvested sage grouse. Biologists then use the samples to determine the sex and age of the birds. From the 1,443 wings gathered recently, it was determined the Wyoming sage grouse reproduction rate is currently 1.7 chicks per hen, the best rate since 2005.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services is facing a court deadline to determine whether or not sage grouse belong on the Endangered Species list. As Wyoming sage grouse represent an estimated 40% of the species’ population in the western United States, the data gathered at these barrels will greatly influence the birds’ future.
Brian Nesvik, Game and Fish chief game warden told reporters that hunting does no irreparable damage to the sage grouse populations where the bird thrives. The more prominent threat comes from habitat loss. This spring however, rains provided support for the sagebrush environments by fostering grass germination and drawing more insects to the area, which in turn give the sage grouse a rich source of protein.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a group that recently announced they plan to sue the Fish and Wildlife Services for not sufficiently forcing protections for sage grouse.