Mono Basin sage-grouse  Centrocercus urophasianus
ESA status: none

This species has been awaiting Endangered Species Act listing for
Years Days Hours Mins Secs
mono basin sage-grouse pc Flickr/NDomer73

The Mono Basin sage-grouse are loners among sage-grouse in the West. Sage-grouse are a widely distributed but sparsely populated species that occur in eleven western states and two Canadian provinces. Some populations are isolated from others due to distance, geographical features, and other factors. The Mono Basin sage-grouse is the most unique of these isolated groups.

The Mono Basin sage-grouse is a genetically distinct population of greater sage-grouse that occurs on the border of California and Nevada. Recent research found that they have “a unique history of isolation distinct from all other populations.” Geneticists even noted that the Mono Basin population may warrant consideration as a new subspecies of sage-grouse.

Aside from their unique genetic traits, Mono Basin sage-grouse appear and behave as other sage-grouse, including engaging in a fascinating mating ritual each spring. Unfortunately, like other sage-grouse, the Mono Basin population has experienced significant declines from historic numbers and only about 3,000 birds remain.

Mono Basin sage-grouse distribution is limited to an area approximately 18,310 square kilometers (7,069 square miles) in size, including and extending north, east and south of the Mono Basin in southeast California and southwestern Nevada. The Mono Basin population itself is fragmented into more than 15 subpopulations, many of which are isolated from each other. The total population of Mono Basin sage-grouse was estimated between 2,712-3,048 in 2010.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the genetically distinct and geographically isolated Mono Basin sage-grouse qualifies for separate consideration for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency declared the Mono Basin population, now known as the “Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of greater sage-grouse,” a candidate for listing in 2010. Unfortunately, the population was denied listing in 2015.

In addition to pressing for listing under the ESA, WildEarth Guardians is working to prevent harmful livestock grazing in Mono Basin sage-grouse range, rein in destructive off-road vehicle use in key habitats, and prevent industrial development in breeding and nesting areas in order to protect the unique evolutionary heritage of this isolated population.

photo credit: NDomer73/Flickr