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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: mtmiller] #8223254 11/04/13
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I've seen sagehen populations go from healthy and abundant to struggling small flocks, spaced many times farther apart. I would estimate they are down 90% from when I was a kid, hunting them in the late 1950's.

Fires, feral horses, mining, feral horses, 40 year drought cycle here, feral horses, cattle grazing, and feral horses have had an enormous impact on the populations here in NV.

BUT...a Major factor is West Nile Virus! West Nile is killing sagehen by the thousands, and the solution isn't in sight.

Next year might be the last sagehen hunt. It's coming, and soon. frown


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Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: luv2safari] #8223270 11/04/13
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They are gorgeous birds! I hope that a real answer (one void of politically motivated stupidity) can be found without listing them. Your photography is, as always, incredible, mtmiller!

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: luv2safari] #8223297 11/04/13
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Obviously this is going to turn into a political chitshow. Anyone with a brain can figure that out.

The sage grouse will be used as a pawn for the greeny agenda.


Grazing has been going on for over 100 years now. Safe to say that in the last 50 years grazing practices have greatly improved.


I can think of several well managed ranches that used to be full of sage grouse 20 years ago. And this was following the drought of the 1980's when grass wasn't nearly as plentiful as it's been lately.


Same ranches now have a small fraction of what used to exist.


Same fences, same roads, same or better grass yet the sage hens are gone.

More coyotes, more predatory birds, terrible winter 2010.


The goons trapped/netted a bunch out on some BLM and sent them to Canada(?) where most of them all died. I think they drove around on 4-wheelers and caught them.

Miller should be able to give details on that screw-up.


And why is there still a hunting season for sage grouse?

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: SamOlson] #8223677 11/05/13
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FWIW, transplants have been successful in Utah. It appears the key in making this successful was a very aggressive predator control prior to the transplant. The control focused on red foxes and nest robbing birds (magpies and ravens). Through this and habitat work, in a 5-7 year period (I can't recall the exact time) that population went from an estimated 100ish to over 500.

IMO, a range wide listing of the bird would be silly. There are areas where LOTS of work is being done and the birds are responding well. It'd be a shame to not recognize and reward these efforts. Certain parts of northern Utah have more birds now than any time in the last 30 years, with most of that increase being in the past decade or so. If listing is needed, I think it should be done on a smaller scale, possibly even smaller than at a state scale. It's already being done like this for other species such as the pygmy rabbit.

Though I won't say that grazing cannot be a problem for the birds, there is a whole lot of info/data showing that grazing can be done in a manner that does not negatively impact sage grouse and can even help. If managed properly, grazing can be used to manipulate the vegetation to be better for sage grouse. It can be a tool to increase sagebrush in some areas and decrease it in others, depending upon the need of that local area. Yes, too much sagebrush can be a problem for sage grouse.

Couple of misc points. In the Intermountain West, overgrazing leads to an increase in sagebrush. This is largely through reduced competition giving sagebrush seedlings a leg up on grass species. The 'big' sagebrush species (basin, Wyoming, and mountain) are killed by fire and can take a long time to return to an area as they do not resprout, but have to re-establish via seeds. The dispersal distances per year is generally measured in feet.


Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: SamOlson] #8223681 11/05/13
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Originally Posted by SamOlson


Miller should be able to give details on that screw-up.




My involvement was nil.

IC-A

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: SamOlson] #8223698 11/05/13
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Luv2safari hit it on the nut about West Nile Virus here in SD where there were very few anyway. Only in specific locations due to their sage make up and being owned by the state who watched that land use hard. For 7-8 years we'd get a 2 day season in the middle of the week in parts of Harding and Butte counties, the limit was 1 bird per person for the season , usually a weds and Thursday. The GFP ran a big field crew to collect blood ,tissue and a wing sample for biological data for study and when you got right down to it that's the only reason there was a season. The weds-Thursday timing was done to specifically limit the hunters numbers involved period and my did those East River guys howl about that. West Nile took 90+%in one spring and the following season netted 1 or no birds then they canceled anymore seasons. No shortages of hawks ,eagles and coyotes in that country either. From what I've seen since the WN virus didn't help the huns and sharptails up their either nor did the winter of 2010. Magnum Man

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: Magnum_Man] #8223769 11/05/13
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Interesting post Pointer, glad to see there is still common sense in your profession...grin


Miller, I think they also want to send some over to ND as well?

Maybe they already did? Either way hopefully it's a start in the right direction.


MM, can't comment on West Nile because I can't physically 'see' it. 90% mortality is obviously tremendously bad news for the bird.



Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: pointer] #8223783 11/05/13
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Mostly everything that Pointer said....

Sage Grouse have been declining almost since they began surveying populations, and it's been happening across their entire range.

That kind of decline is almost always habitat related. Livestock grazing, and now exacerbated by this long term drought/Al Gore induced global warming. Here in west-central Colorado, P/J encroachment on sage in many areas have been significant--that points to a absence of fire (interesting in comparision to ranger1's post in the western part of the grouse range). The rate of decline has also increased.

Predators and disease tend to have a much bigger impact on a declining population, whereas in a healthy or growing population those same factors can have relatively little impact (at least what we can measure).

The Gunnison Sage Grouse has shown little improvement despite Colorado DPW range management agreements with the ranching community in the Gunnison Bason.

The biologists involved in Gunnison Grouse management expected a bit better results.

Casey



Casey

Not being married to any particular political party sure makes it a lot easier to look at the world more objectively...
Having said that, MAGA.
Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: BWalker] #8223843 11/05/13
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So give each 4H or FFA kid a 1/2 dozen to raise with the farm chickens.
We will be covered up with them in no time.

Add that fur prices have been down for 20 yrs = more varmints.
Eagles,Ravens and magpies have been protected to the detriment of
the Sage Grouse.

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: alpinecrick] #8223862 11/05/13
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Originally Posted by alpinecrick

Mostly everything that Pointer said....

Sage Grouse have been declining almost since they began surveying populations, and it's been happening across their entire range.

That kind of decline is almost always habitat related. Livestock grazing, and now exacerbated by this long term drought/Al Gore induced global warming. Here in west-central Colorado, P/J encroachment on sage in many areas have been significant--that points to a absence of fire (interesting in comparision to ranger1's post in the western part of the grouse range). The rate of decline has also increased.

Predators and disease tend to have a much bigger impact on a declining population, whereas in a healthy or growing population those same factors can have relatively little impact (at least what we can measure).

The Gunnison Sage Grouse has shown little improvement despite Colorado DPW range management agreements with the ranching community in the Gunnison Bason.

The biologists involved in Gunnison Grouse management expected a bit better results.

Casey

I agree that it is a habitat issue and your rationale that points to that. Good news, at least in my simple mind, is that it can be improved and the results are often fairly quickly seen. It's just whether or not folks will have the stomach and the funds to get done what needs to get done.

PJ encroachment is a H U G E problem in much of Utah. A prof at Univ. Nevada-Reno estimates that 50K acres of juniper in Utah would have to be killed annually for quite a few years to keep from increasing PJ biomass statewide! Problem is too many folks don't like the tools that it takes (herbicide and chaining) to accomplish that...

Interesting results on the Gunnison's. I thought they were doing okay and were recently either delisted or downgraded in their listing. I would love to shoot one of those! laugh

Sam- I've changed professions a bit, so maybe I took all the common sense with me... wink laugh That said, I keep working on my wife to let me get back there to do that. So far no luck...

IC-B

Re: The Greater Sage Grouse & the future of public land use in the west [Re: buffybr] #8224348 11/05/13
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Originally Posted by buffybr
I don't see any mention of the effects of predatory birds on the Sage Grouse. Every time I drive through eastern Montana or Wyoming I see more hawks and eagles than I see antelope. I don't think road killed deer and antelope are the only things that they are eating.



Originally Posted by AlpineRick
Predators and disease tend to have a much bigger impact on a declining population, whereas in a healthy or growing population those same factors can have relatively little impact (at least what we can measure).



these two quotes are inter-related and, unfortunately, there are politics involved here too (go figure).

The USFWS estimates there are 8,000 breeding pairs of Golden Eagles in Wy and 4,000 in Utah.

The MBTA & Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act provide for the capture of Golden Eagles for falconry (as well as depredation for things such as wind farms, etc).

Problem: The FDA (really, WTF?) administers the approval of individual permits and, due to politics, issues less that 10% of the USFWS's biologically approved quota. Indeed, the last two years they've issued ZERO capture permits in either state.

There has also meet a political roadblock in trying to get approval to hunt Corvids (ravens,crows,magpies) with falconry raptors.



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