Re-introduction of Sage-grouse to Lincoln County, Washington: 2013 Progress Report


Published: December 2013

Pages: 28

Author(s): Mike Schroeder, Mike Atamian, Howard Ferguson, Mike Finch, Kourtney Stonehouse, and Derek Stinson


Declining populations and distribution of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Washington have resulted in serious concerns for their long-term conservation status. The overall population was estimated to be 998 in 2013, associated with 27 leks. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, initiated a project in 2008 to reintroduce greater sage-grouse to the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County, Washington. The project was designed to establish a third population in the state in an area with more than 200 km2 of shrubsteppe habitat on public lands. Prior to the first translocation in 2008 there were rare observations of sage-grouse in the release area. It was not clear whether these observations were birds dispersing from the closest population in Douglas County or whether these birds were ‘remnants’ from an endemic population known to occupy the area through the mid-1980s. From spring 2008 to spring 2013, 202 greater sage-grouse were translocated from southern Oregon to the Washington release site and their movements, productivity, habitat use, and survival have been monitored. In 2010 three males were observed strutting for two hens post release. In 2011 a couple hundred meters to the north of the 2010 strut site a lek formed with 7 males observed pre-release. Pre-release, 7 and 12 males were observed on the lek in 2012 & 2013, respectively. Though the lek appears to be firmly established and growing the overall population is still below minimum viability and we propose an additional translocation of sage-grouse in spring 2014.

This progress report is also the Final Report for Agreement number 13410-B-G011 with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011-2012 Lincoln County Sage Grouse Reintroduction. Additional benefits under that agreement are listed starting on page 22.