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USFWS Lists Gunnison Sage Grouse as Threatened

File: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Brent Stettler

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and that has Utah wildlife managers, environmentalists and politicians upset. Mark Hadley is the spokesperson for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.  He says the agency is disappointed in the decision because state and local efforts have been successful in stabilizing the bird population during the past 18-years.

“Any kind of a project to help the birds is going to have to go through a federal review process and those processes can be lengthy, time-consuming, tedious, and so we’re concerned about that,” says Hadley.

Allison Jones is a biologist with Wild Utah Project.

“The counties and states are upset that the species is listed at all under the Endangered Species Act. But a coalition of environmental groups led by Wild Earth Guardians is actually upset that the listing is only threatened and not endangered,” says Jones.

She says it’s important to look beyond the relatively small numbers of birds.

Credit File: USFWS, Pacific Region
Greater Sage Grouse in lek.

“When you look at how much of the range and habitat of the species has been lost; in the order of 90 something,’s tenuous,” says Jones.

An estimated 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse remain in southwest Colorado and Southeast Utah. There are currently only about 120 of the birds in Utah. A decision by the feds on the much larger population of the closely-related Greater Sage Grouse in Utah is expected by next fall. 

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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