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Eye On Boise

Mon., Feb. 13, 2012, 4:15 p.m.

Sage grouse hearing draws crowd, ‘bear’

The crowd at an oversight hearing on sage grouse Monday afternoon included one audience member dressed as a big, fuzzy bear. (Betsy Russell)
The crowd at an oversight hearing on sage grouse Monday afternoon included one audience member dressed as a big, fuzzy bear. (Betsy Russell)

At a joint hearing of the House and Senate Resources committees this afternoon on state-federal oversight and the sage grouse, there was lots of concern that efforts to improve habitat for the unique fowl in order to avoid endangered species listing might be as onerous for ranchers and others as listing itself. As the various presenters spoke, a member of the audience dressed as a big, fuzzy bear nodded thoughtfully. Presenters included Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore; former U.S. Interior solicitor Bill Myers; and Office of Species Conservation Administrator Nate Fisher. Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker has a full report here.

The sage grouse, whose habitat extends through much of southern Idaho, is listed as “warranted but precluded” from listing as endangered, because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ruled that listing it was “precluded by the need to take action on other species facing more immediate and severe extinction threats.” However, it remains on the list of species that are candidates for Endangered Species Act Protection, and its status is reviewed annually. The birds, prized for hunting, are dependent on dwindling sagebrush habitat; they now occupy 56 percent of their historical range.
 




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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