Conservation Groups Plan Suit To Protect Western Game Bird


Greg Henderson, Drovers

June 29, 2020


Conservation groups say they intend to sue the Trump Administration to protect a rare game bird along the California-Nevada border. The bi-state sage grouse, a hen-sized bird similar but separate to the greater sage grouse, was slated to be added to the Endangered Species List after a proposal approved in 2018.


In March, however, the Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS) reversed course and abandoned the listing, according to the Associate Press. Three conservation groups, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and the Western Watersheds Project, filed formal notice last week of their intent to seek a court to force the Trump Administration to add the bird to the ESA.


The greater sage grouse is found in a dozen Western states and is central to dispute over the government’s efforts to roll back protections adopted by the Obama Administration. The F&WS estimates the bi-state grouse population is half what it was 150 years ago along the eastern front of the Sierra Nevada. Anywhere from 330 to 3,305 are believed to remain across 7,000 square miles of high desert sagebrush stretching from Carson City to Yosemite National Park.


Threats to the bird include urbanization, livestock grazing and wildfires. F&WS rejected listing petitions twice during the Bush Administration, then formally proposed threatened status in 2013 before abandoning that proposal two years later. A U.S. judge in San Francisco found in 2018 the agency had illegally denied protection to the bird and ordered a re-evaluation of its status. That brought the latest proposal for protection, which the Trump Administration withdrew.


F&WS says its latest review indicates...