Photo of a greater sage grouse taking flight.
Sage Grouse A sage grouse takes flight in the morning sun in Kearny, Nebraska. © Will Randall

Newsroom

Report: Sage Grouse Populations Falling

Iconic western species’ numbers have dropped 80 percent since 1965

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) today released a report detailing the steep decline of the greater sage grouse population in the western United States. The report finds that the greater sage grouse population has steadily shrunk 2-3 percent every year, or 80 percent since 1965.

The health of the sage grouse population serves as a barometer for the overall condition of the sagebrush ecosystem. The system is home to over 350 other species and supports economically and culturally important industries in the rural West, including ranching and outdoor recreation.

The report comes on the heels of another USGS report earlier this year that concluded sage grouse habitat is shrinking rapidly due to unchecked wildfire, the spread of invasive grasses and human development.

The following is a statement by Tomer Hasson, Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy:

“This report shows that the effects of drought, human disturbance, invasive species, catastrophic wildfires and other impacts are creating entire landscapes that cannot support people and nature. If we don’t act, the sagebrush ecosystem will continue to decline along with the rural economies that depend on it.

“It is clear that existing management plans and resource investments have not been enough to maintain healthy sagebrush landscapes. Reversing the decline in healthy sagebrush rangelands needs to be the shared priority for everyone who values and depends on them. Now is the time for Congress and the Biden administration, in concert with states, tribes and partners, to refocus the work to save this iconic American landscape.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.