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Contractor Works to Avoid Sage Grouse Listing

Dan Bammes
Greater sage grouse males strutting on a nesting site in Morgan County, Utah

  The Utah Legislature appropriated two million dollars to try to avoid an endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse.  The consulting firm hired to do that presented its report to the legislature today on its work so far.

Ryan Benson with Stag Consulting went to the interim Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee on Wednesday morning.  He said the best way to avoid that listing is to show thriving populations of the birds in places like Parker Mountain in southern Utah.

“Parker Mountain is a great story of success," Benson told the committee. "We have seen sage grouse populations triple, quadruple in that area through conservation management actions.”

Biologist Allison Jones with the Wild Utah Project says it’s true the population at Parker Mountain is growing – but it’s not exactly what nature intended.

Jones tells KUER, “They seed with non-native species such as clover and dandelion and alfalfa, things that sage grouse chicks really love.  But these are not necessarily the best species for the ecosystem.  It’s not what’s native.  It’s not what’s best for other wildlife.”

Stag Consulting is also working to assemble evidence to counter potential lawsuits over an endangered species listing.  Its contract also calls for educating member of Congress about the effect a listing might have.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service plans to make a decision on listing the greater sage grouse sometime next year.

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