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Re-establishment of Viable Populations of Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse in Washington: 2008 Progress Report

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Non-Game Management and Conservation

Date Published: December 2008

Number of Pages: 26

Author(s): Mike Schroeder, Mike Atamian, Howard Ferguson, Mike Finch, Derek Stinson, Matt Berger and Richard Whitney

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
Declining populations and distribution of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) in Washington have resulted in serious concerns for their long-term conservation status. Translocations of sharp-tailed grouse from ‘healthy’ populations outside the state are being conducted to improve the vigor of populations within Washington. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the Colville Confederated Tribes, translocated 177 Columbian sharp-tailed grouse from central British Columbia, southeastern Idaho, and north-central Utah to Washington State in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. The release sites in Washington included Dyer Hill (south of Brewster in Douglas County), Swanson Lakes (south of Creston in Lincoln County), and Nespelem (east of Nespelem in Okanogan County). Two of the release sites include state-owned public land and the third site is Colville Tribal land; all three are being managed for the benefit of wildlife, and in particular sharp-tailed grouse. In all three release sites, sharp-tailed grouse declined through the year 2005, despite the acquisition and protection of habitat and ongoing habitat restoration efforts. At least one additional year of translocations is needed to complete the plan to translocate 200 birds. Efforts to monitor movement, survival, and productivity of the translocated birds are ongoing. It is too early in the process to determine whether the augmentation should be considered a success.