The Greater Sage-Grouse has declined by more than 50% over the past 50 years; more than 40% of its historic range is no longer occupied. Overgrazing, sagebrush removal, and the presence of invasive plants (e.g., cheatgrass) have degraded and fragmented habitat. Expanding energy development, particularly wind and natural gas, presents a growing threat, especially near the birds’ strutting grounds (leks), where their distinctive booming courtship rituals echo across the landscape each spring.
The government recently ruled that listing the species as threatened was “warranted but precluded” by other priorities, meaning that this declining species continues to receive no federal legislative protection. However, conservation plans in western states include strategies to protect “core areas” for the species on the 70% of their remaining habitat on public lands, and recent efforts are directing federal incentives to improve management on private lands.
ABC is working to ensure no net loss of suitable sage-grouse habitat, while maintaining or expanding the size and distribution of grouse populations. ABC is also working to ensure that wind energy development does not further harm Greater Sage-Grouse and their habitat.