There’s bad news for the West on the sage grouse front, Idaho Statesman Rocky Barker reports today: A new study led by a University of Idaho scientist shows sage grouse populations fell by more than half from 2007 to 2013. The study found that the number of breeding males counted on leks — grouse mating sites — fell by 56 percent in that time in 11 western states, from 109,990 to 48,641.
Barker writes that’s bad news for the 11 states seeking to develop conservation plans to keep the grouse from being listed as endangered, an move that would have ramifications for land use across the West. His full report is online here. The authors did acknowledge that sage grouse numbers are cyclical, Barker writes, and that the birds may be in the bottom end of the cycle. State fish and game officials in several of the 11 states affected say they have seen numbers rise since 2013.