Once found in 13 western states and three Canadian provinces, today sage grouse are found in 11 states and in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. The bird's remaining strongholds are in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Concern about the status of sagebrush and sage grouse on western rangelands has led several groups and individuals to submit six different petitions to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serviceasking for an Endangered Species Act listing. The ESA requires the USFWS to assess the real or potential risks to a petitioned species based on five factors--habitat, over use, disease or predation, existing regulations, and other factors. The document addresses the five factors and explains how, through implementation of the conservation action and guidelines, Montana can reduce potential threats to sage grouse.
Based on the best available information, the plan describes the current status of Montanas sage grouse population and sagebrush habitat, describes the desired conditions for habitat, and identifies risks confronting habitat and sage grouse populations.
- It is the result of more than two years of research and deliberation by the Montana Sage Grouse Work Group, which included a wide and diverse spectrum of Montanans.
- It responds to concerns about the loss of sagebrush habitat and declines in sage grouse numbers in the state.
- It includes conservation objectives for both sagebrush habitat and sage grouse populations.
- It provides guidelines and tools for assessing different habitats to obtain standardized results which will be useful in protecting, improving, and restoring habitat.
- It explains the roles of the federal, state, and tribal agencies involved in sagebrush and sage grouse management.
- It provides a framework for establishing local groups of diverse stakeholders to adapt the plan to their respective geographical areas.