5 Mar 2010, 5:42pm
by admin

USFWS Announces Greater Sage-Grouse As Candidate Species

In a long-awaited denouement, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the greater sage-grouse will not be listed as threatened or endangered but instead will be placed on the candidate species list. That means the species will not receive statutory protection under the Endangered Species Act and that states would continue to be responsible for managing the bird.

The announcement was published in the Federal Register [here]:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce three 12–month findings on petitions to list three entities of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that listing the greater sage-grouse (rangewide) is warranted, but precluded by higher priority listing actions. We will develop a proposed rule to list the greater sage-grouse as our priorities allow.

The USFWS also found that there is no “western” sub-species of the greater sage-grouse, based on new genetic studies:

We find that listing the western subspecies of the greater sage-grouse is not warranted, based on determining that the western subspecies is not a valid taxon and thus is not a listable entity under the Act.

The USFWS also declared the Mono Basin population of greater sage-grouse to be a new Distinct Population Segment (DPS), but that DPS will not be listed and threatened or endangered, either. It will also be placed on the list of candidate species.

We find that listing the Bi-State population (previously referred to as the Mono Basin area population), which meets our criteria as a distinct population segment (DPS) of the greater sage-grouse, is warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions. We will develop a proposed rule to list the Bi-State DPS of the greater sage-grouse as our priorities allow, possibly in conjunction with a proposed rule to list the greater sage-grouse rangewide.

The listing decision was precipitated by a lawsuit filed by the Western Watersheds Project in 2006 that requested action on various petitions, beginning in 1999, for listing from the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, the Institute for Wildlife Protection, and the Stanford Law School Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, and Christians Caring for Creation.

Numerous court cases have followed the various petitions. No matter the USFWS findings, they get sued anyway. An unknown amount of EAJA funds have been paid out to the litigants over the years. The USFWS has many times found that listing was not warranted, but most recently (Dec. 2007) the U.S. District Court of Idaho ordered the USFWS to issue new findings, again. After some delays, the new finding of “candidate species” was issued today.

No word yet on whether more lawsuits will be filed, but observers agree that when the government pays enviro groups to sue them, lawsuits multiply like bacteria.

More info is available at the USFWS Greater Sage-Grouse website [here].

5 Mar 2010, 8:47pm
by Chauncy

This is good news, sort of. In my experience as a natural resource consultant, giving a species “candidate” status is just about as good as listing it as endangered. Judges, USFWS, Land Use Boards, etc. usually rule that the same protection must extend to candidate species as is given to threatened or endangerd species.

5 Mar 2010, 9:20pm
by Mike

Don’t think for a minute that the courts are out of this yet.

And likewise the gooberment has a new hook to take private property.

The birds are widespread and in zero danger of extinction. And they do fine mixed in with cattle. And here’s a news flash: sage-grouse do not eat sagebrush! They don’t need sagebrush at all!!!!!

It’s all a legal way to rob people and the Treasury. It’s yet another instance where the US Constitution is thrown in the paper shredder.

Here’s a little known fact: the US Constitution protects human rights, not animal rights. No animals wrote or signed the Constitution. It was all done by human beings.

I know. Most people think Bambi wrote the Constitution and Sammy the Salmon signed it, and that it says animals have just as many rights as people. But in actuality, that was not the case.

6 Mar 2010, 3:19pm
by YPmule

“The Murphy Complex Fire was a 2007 wildfire in the Twin Falls District of Idaho that consumed approximately 652,016 acres of land. By acreage, it was the 3rd largest wildfire in the United States between 1997-2007.”

(National Interagency Fire Center, “Fire Information - Wildland Fire Statistics: 1997-2007 Large Fires (100,000+ fires)”)

This range fire burned as many acres as the Cascade Complex and East Zone complex in 2007 put together (the “Yellow Pine Fire”).

Reply: and killed thousands of sage-grouse, you might add. They cannot outrun or outfly intense range fires like the Murphy. The hands-off, no management management so desired by the bird lovers is fatal to the sage-grouse. Historically, frequent anthropogenic fire was light-burning in light fuels and gave rise to an (anthropogenic) mosaic. Cattle grazing accomplishes much the same thing. But without grazing and without frequent prescribed fire, range fuels build up and catastrophic fires result.

Btw, sage-grouse are dependent on grasses, not sagebrush. They eat grasshoppers and caterpillars that eat grasses. The unfortunate name “sage” grouse gives people the wrong impression. The birds do fine where there is no sagebrush at all.

6 Mar 2010, 4:59pm
by Mike

Little known fact: most sage-grouse live on private land where cattle graze. On public land where there are no cattle, there are also very few sage-grouse. Something to ponder.



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