Category: Non-Game Management and Conservation
Published: December 2011
Author(s): Mike Schroeder, Howard, Ferguson, Mike Atamian, Mike Finch, Richard Whitney, and Derek Stinson
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 â€˜healthyâ€™ populations outside the state are being conducted to improve the genetic health of populations within Washington. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the Colville Confederated Tribes, translocated 296 Columbian sharp-tailed grouse from central British Columbia, southeastern Idaho, and north-central Utah to Washington State in spring 2005-2011. 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 included 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. Efforts to monitor movement, survival, and productivity of the translocated birds are ongoing. Although it is too early in the process to determine whether the augmentations should be considered a success, the results to date have been promising.