Endangered Sage Grouse Could Affect Grazing

US - A recent proposal to designate sage grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would have prevented a number of ranchers from grazing livestock on or near sage grouse habitats.
calendar icon 10 March 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Last week, the Department of the Interior’s US Fish and Wildlife Service listed sage-grouse as warranted for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) but precluded by the need to first address higher priority species.

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) are pleased that sage grouse will not immediately be listed under the ESA.

"However, we are disappointed that the Fish and Wildlife Service found that sage grouse protection was warranted at all. The grouse population has increased in each of the least four years. Additionally, sage grouse hunting is permitted in nine states," said Skye Krebs, President of the Public Lands Coujncil and a rancher in Oregon.

"This helps maintain stable and healthy numbers of sage grouse and demonstrates the sizable population of this species.

"Our ranchers are committed to maintaining ecological diversity and preserving wildlife on the range where our livestock graze. Grazing not only helps prevent devastating wildfires, but it also helps manage natural resources and contributes to a stable habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including sage grouse.

“Livestock grazing is not harmful to sage grouse or their habitat. In fact, ranchers help improve sage grouse habitat by using grazing patterns that improve nesting areas and developing watering sources that are suitable for wildlife like sage grouse. Livestock grazing and habitat conservation are complimentary efforts.

“However, if the sage grouse are designated for protection under the ESA, many ranchers would no longer be permitted to allow livestock to graze on or near sage grouse habitat. This would destroy the ranching industry in the west. It would also halt the conservation efforts currently underway by public lands ranchers, which could have the unintended consequence of damaging sage grouse habitat."

He concluded saying that: “When Fish and Wildlife Service conducts its annual review of the sage grouse listing, we encourage them to definitively decide against listing this species under the ESA. America’s ranchers must be allowed to continue managing, conserving and protecting our public lands, as they have done for generations.”

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