Meeting to address sage grouse genetics
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A meeting this week in Fort Collins about the greater sage grouse has been criticized by several western representatives.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey are conducting a workshop today and Thursday to discuss genetics issues involving sage grouse. The Fish and Wildlife Service says experts in conservation genetics from federal and state agencies, the Smithsonian Institution and universities are participating.
The Fish and Wildlife Service says the workshop will focus only on genetics issues and not on the bird’s populations.
Eighteen local representatives sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell saying the meeting should have a broader agenda — and participation.
“It is disappointing that the Fish and Wildlife Service workshop does not also include an examination of the data relating to population trends, in addition to questions of genetics, since many have questioned the … lack of clear data that Greater Sage Grouse populations range-wide are declining,” the letter says.
The letter was reported by The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to list the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered. Estimates on the number of sage grouse vary from 100,000 to 500,000, raising questions over the need for stricter limits on development.
Sage grouse are chicken-sized birds that live in sagebrush and grasslands.
They are known for gathering in spring in breeding grounds called leks, where the males puff themselves out and dance for females searching for mates.
A listing would affect the way lands are managed in 11 states, including Colorado, where state and local officials say it could hamstring the energy industry, particularly in northwest Colorado.
Fish and Wildlife is expected to make a decision on the listing by September 2015.