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Fish and Wildlife Service Initiates New Listing Decision for Greater Sage-Grouse

The sage-grouse should have been protected in 2005

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated a new status review and listing decision for greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency previously determined that listing the sage-grouse as "threatened" or "endangered" under the ESA was "not warranted" in 2005. Conservationists successfully sued to overturn the agency's determination in the Federal District Court of Idaho last year. The court cited many and serious flaws in the agency's decisionmaking process, and reversed and remanded the decision back to the agency for reconsideration.

"The sage-grouse should have been protected in 2005, and now there is even more evidence of threats to the species survival," said Mark Salvo, Director of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign for WildEarth Guardians. "The cumulative effects of livestock grazing, oil and gas extraction, pipelines, powerlines, roads, fences and sprawl are driving the greater sage-grouse toward extinction."

Today's announcement marks the beginning of a 90-day public comment period on the proposed listing decision. The date for the completion of the new status review and proposed listing decision is not yet known.

The greater sage-grouse is both an indicator and umbrella species for sagebrush-steppe ecosystems. First described by Lewis and Clark in 1806, nineteenth century travelers and settlers reported huge flocks of sage grouse that darkened the sky when they lifted off valley floors. The historic range of greater sage-grouse closely conformed to the distribution of sagebrush-steppe in what became twelve western states and three Canadian provinces. But since 1900 sage grouse populations have declined. Greater sage-grouse distribution has decreased by at least 44 percent while overall abundance has been reduced by as much as 93 percent from historic levels.

Contact: Mark Salvo, Director, Sagebrush Sea Campaign, WildEarth Guardians 503-757-4221

As of January 28, 2008 WildEarth Guardians, Sinapu, and the Sagebrush Sea Campaign have joined forces to become WildEarth Guardians. With offices in Boulder, Denver, Phoenix and Santa Fe, WildEarth Guardians protects and restores wildlife, wild places, and wild rivers in the American West.


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