Published: December 2016
Author(s): Mike Schroeder, Mike Atamian, Jason Lowe, Kim Thorburn, Mike Finch, Juli Anderson, Derek Stinson, Colin Leingang, Kevin White, and Jon Gallie
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 744 in 2016, associated with 27 leks. The birds were distributed between 4 populations including 536 birds with 18 leks in Moses Coulee, 140 birds with 7 leks in the Yakima Training Center (YTC), 60 birds with 1 lek in Crab Creek, and 8 birds with 1 lek in the Yakama Nation. This estimated population was more than 20% lower than the previous low population record for the state of Washington. Governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations are attempting to restore populations of sage-grouse with the aid of land acquisition, habitat improvement, conservation programs, and translocations. Between 2004 and 2016 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), YTC, Yakama Nation, and others have collaborated to translocate sage-grouse from other states (Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming) to 3 of the 4 populations in Washington. Six males and 93 females were translocated to the YTC area to augment an endemic population, 145 males and 135 females were translocated to the Crab Creek area to re-establish an extirpated population, and 85 males and 43 females were translocated to the Yakama Nation to re-establish an extirpated population. The translocation effort that appears to have had the greatest success so far is Crab Creek.