Re-establishment of Viable Populations of Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse in Washington: 2015 Progress Report


Published: December 2015

Pages: 24

Author(s): Mike Schroeder, Mike Atamian, 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. The overall population was estimated to be 886 in 2015, associated with 44 leks. Translocations of sharp-tailed grouse from ‘healthy' populations outside the state were conducted to improve the genetic and demographic health of populations within Washington. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the Colville Confederated Tribes, translocated 368 Columbian sharp-tailed grouse from central British Columbia, southeastern Idaho, and north-central Utah to Washington State in spring 2005-2013. The release sites in Washington included Dyer Hill (south of Brewster in Douglas County), Swanson Lakes (south of Creston in Lincoln County), Greenaway Springs (southeast of Okanogan), and Nespelem (east of Nespelem in Okanogan County). Two of the release sites included stateowned public land and the other sites are Colville Tribal land; all are being managed for the benefit of wildlife, and in particular sharp-tailed grouse. In all release sites, sharp-tailed grouse declined through the year 2005, despite the acquisition and protection of habitat and ongoing habitat restoration efforts. Analysis of 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.