The greater sage-grouse today is found in only 11 states and two Canadian provinces.
The greater sage grouse today is found in only 11 states. © Joe Kiesecker/TNC

Policy

Maintaining Momentum in Greater Sage Grouse Management

Support funding for the greater sage grouse, and reject harmful greater sage grouse riders.

The greater sage grouse is the largest grouse in the Americas, making its home in the West’s high deserts and plains.

At one time the bird numbered in the millions across the West. Today, only a tiny fraction of those remain, primarily due to habitat loss.

The greater sage grouse shares its habitat with 350 other species, including elk, mule deer, pronghorn and golden eagles.

A 2014 study estimated that people visited Bureau of Land Management sagebrush lands 13.8 million times in 2013, generating $623 million for local towns through hunting and other recreation and more than $1 billion in total economic output.

A 2014 Wyoming study revealed restoration of greater sage grouse habitat would double the acres available for mule deer habitat, a species in decline throughout much of the West.

During mating season, greater sage grouse congregate on leks, where the males dance and battle for the hens’ attention. The same lek locations are used over generations of grouse, so limiting disturbance near leks is crucial to maintaining the birds’ numbers.

TNC scientists simulate future development and measure the effectiveness of conservation actions for maintaining sage grouse populations.
Greater Sage Grouse TNC scientists simulate future development and measure the effectiveness of conservation actions for maintaining sage grouse populations. © Joe Kiesecker/TNC

Since 2010, federal and state wildlife agencies, TNC and many other private Americans have partnered in the Greater Sage Grouse Initiative to work with private landowners to conserve and restore more than 5 million acres of habitat through voluntary conservation easements and farm bill incentives.

The Cock of the Plains is found in the plains of Columbia and are in great abundance from the entrance of the S.E. fork of the Columbia [Snake River] to that of Clark’s river [Deschutes River].

1806

In Meriwether Lewis’ time, it was estimated greater sage grouse numbered 16 million individuals across 13 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.

Today, approximately 200,000 birds remain. Blue areas on the map reflect priority conservation areas where appropriate safeguards and investments can maintain and improve sagebrush habitat for wildlife, reduce fire risk and improve range conditions.

Range and conservation area.
Greater Sage Grouse Current range (dark green), historic range (light green) and priority conservation areas (blue) of the greater sage grouse.