U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing the Greater Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act
On October 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the California and Nevada populations of the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the Service, this bi-state population is genetically distinct and geographically isolated from other greater sage grouse populations, and warrants protection under the ESA.
Primary threats to the species include degradation of habitat by livestock grazing and invasive plant species, fragmentation of habitat caused by urban and energy development, motorized recreation in courtship and nesting areas, and loss of habitat due to drought and wildfires.
In addition, the Service published a proposed rule (pdf) to designate over 1.8 million acres of critical habitat for the species in Storey, Carson, Douglas, Mineral, and Esmeralda counties in Nevada and Mono, Alpine, and Inyo counties in California.
Comments on the proposed rules must be submitted by December 27, 2013.