An endangered species listing for the western sage grouse is “a horrible, mean and nasty law and we don’t want to go there,” says the director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust.
LAKE TAHOE, NEVADA (MINEWEB) – “The entire country could be crippled immensely” if 11 western states fail in their efforts to avert a federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing for the sage grouse,” warned Bob Budd, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust, an independent state agency aimed at enhancing wildlife habitat and natural resource values throughout Wyoming.
In a recent speech to the Nevada Mining Association Convention at Stateline, Lake Tahoe, Budd stressed that although western sage grouse populations have experienced a significant decline in the past 50 years, “The last place we want sage grouse being managed is in the federal courts.”
If the bird is listed under the ESA in 2015, individual birds rather than sage grouse populations will be protected by the federal government, Budd observed. The federal government will then protect “every bit of suitable habitat,” he warned, including every mining project, every highway project, and numerous other projects on western sagebrush lands.
Under ESA, every sage grouse death will constitute a taking, which triggers fine and can result in lawsuits to stop project development, Budd explained.
Meanwhile, at some point in its life the sage grouse will use the entire landscape as his habitat, making it difficult to manage the species in a single area.
Repopulation of sage grouse can be difficult since the bird has a very low reproductive rate, he observed. Sage grouse populations are impacted by fire, the encroachment of pinion and juniper trees, energy and mineral development, housing subdivisions, predators, and grazing.
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