A federal judge has rejected efforts to strip Endangered Species Act protections from the Gunnison sage grouse. The decision gives this magnificent bird a chance to survive and ultimately recover.
The Gunnison sage grouse lives in Colorado and Utah and is known for its elaborate courtship rituals. It was protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, with 1.4 million acres designated as critical habitat. Development, oil and gas drilling, grazing, and climate change all threaten the future of the bird. Fewer than 3,000 birds remain in seven isolated populations.
The states of Utah and Colorado; San Juan County, Utah; the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Gunnison, Colo.; and the Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association argued that existing state and local conservation efforts were enough to help the bird recover. With Gunnison sage grouse numbers plummeting, this was clearly not the case. “We hope that Utah and Colorado will now spend their time and considerable resources working to safeguard this imperiled dancing bird instead of fighting against our best tool to prevent extinction,” said Guardians’ Wildlife Program Director Bethany Cotton.
Read the press release.