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Assessment Provides “Early Warning” System for Wyoming Wildlife

Report describes which of Wyoming’s terrestrial wildlife species and habitats are most vulnerable to anticipated changes

Lander, WY | July 22, 2014

The greater sage-grouse is only one of 131 sensitive terrestrial wildlife species in the state and 51 of them may be as vulnerable as the sage-grouse, according a new scientific vulnerability report released by The Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Wyoming Natural Diversity Database at the University of Wyoming. 

No one likes surprises, particularly when they arrive in the form of additional regulations. Wyoming has been working hard for several years to ensure species like the greater sage-grouse maintain strong populations and are not listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Such a listing could place restrictions on land use and slow economic growth. 

“Thankfully, this assessment identifies which species may be at risk of future population declines, so that actions can be taken to avoid declines – and potential listings – before they occur,” says Doug Keinath, senior zoologist with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database and report co-author. 

This new assessment describes which of Wyoming’s terrestrial wildlife species and habitats are most vulnerable to anticipated changes, including residential and energy development, climate changes, and wildlife disease. The report highlights species that may warrant additional resources, further investigation, and more robust conservation measures. Additionally, it prioritizes where resources might be best directed among 131 species and 11 habitats. 

“The results have helped identify some additional species and habitats that may warrant additional conservation attention in Wyoming. This collaborative project will benefit future revisions of the State Wildlife Action Plan while ensuring that the Department and its partners in conservation continue to address the highest conservation priorities for Wyoming,” says Martin Grenier, interim supervisor, nongame bird and mammal program, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and report co-author. 

Some of the most vulnerable species identified in the report were amphibians, which included the Wyoming toad and plains spadefoot toad. Wetlands and prairie grasslands were identified as the most vulnerable of Wyoming’s terrestrial wildlife habitats. 

“Both grasslands and wetlands have received a lot of attention from Game and Fish and conservation organizations in recent years, and these findings emphasize the need to continue habitat improvement and conservation work in these important habitats,” says Amy Pocewicz, landscape ecologist with The Nature Conservancy and report co-author. 

The assessment is expected to inform and improve the next version of Wyoming’s State Wildlife Action Plan and highlight additional focus areas for planning and implementation, as well as provide information that can guide activities of public land management agencies and conservation organizations. 

A summary of the vulnerability assessment and the full technical report can be found here.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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Tracey Stone

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