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Changes In The Distribution And Abundance Of Sage Grouse In Washington

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Wildlife Research

Date Published:  2000

Number of Pages: 23

Author(s): Michael A. Schroeder, David W. Hays, Michael F. Livingston, Leray E. Stream, John E. Jacobson and D. John Pierce

Sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) historically occurred in shrub-steppe and meadow-steppe communities throughout much of eastern Washington. The decline in distribution has been dramatic; 73% of 67 lek complexes documented since 1960 are currently vacant. Many vacant lek complexes (53%) are in areas where sage grouse have been recently extirpated. The current range is about 8% of the historic range, occurring in 2 relatively isolated areas. Based on changes in number of males counted on lek complexes, the sage grouse population size in Washington declined at least 77% from 1960 to 1999; the 1999 spring population was estimated to be about 1,100 birds. Historic and recent declines of sage grouse are linked to conversion of native habitat for production of crops and degradation of the remaining native habitat. Although declines in populations of sage grouse appear to be slowing, the small size and isolated nature of the 2 remaining populations may be a long-term problem. Management should be directed toward protecting, enhancing, expanding, and connecting the existing populations.

Suggested Citation:
Sage Grouse Status in Washington, (Schroeder et al. 2000) Reprinted with Permission from Northwestern Naturalist (81:104-112.)