Sage Grouse Management

Sage Grouse

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.

Management Plan


Goal of the plan

To provide for the long-term conservation and enhancement of the sagebrush steppe/mixed-grass prairie complex within Montana in a manner that supports sage grouse and a healthy diversity and abundance of wildlife species and human uses.

The Draft Management Plan and Conservation Strategies for Sage Grouse in Montana will help Montana:

  • Minimize impacts of wildfire or prescribed fire on sage grouse habitat.
  • Maintain sage grouse hunting without impacting the viability of sage grouse populations and the publics sage grouse hunting opportunity.
  • Maintain and enhance sagebrush rangelands to provide productive sage grouse habitat while providing for grazing and the other uses of Montana's sagebrush grasslands desired by society.
  • Engage in mining and oil and gas development and minimize impacts to sage grouse and sagebrush habitats.
  • Minimize impacts of noxious weeds and other invasive species on sage grouse.
  • Teach and inform Montanans and others about sage grouse populations and habitat needs, to help coordinate Montana's conservation plan on public and private lands.
  • Continue to provide electric service to customers (which requires power lines and generation facilities) while minimizing impacts to sage grouse and sagebrush habitats.
  • Where appropriate, manage predation rates to enhance sage grouse survival and production using either indirect control (reduction of perch sites, elimination of denning site, or improved habitat conditions) or direct control where legal and cost effective.
  • Continue to provide sage grouse viewing and other recreational opportunities while minimizing impacts to sage grouse and sagebrush habitats.
  • Manage existing and future roads to minimize road-related disturbance, loss of habitat, degradation of habitat, and mortality of sage grouse.
  • Manage vegetation to maintain the health of the sagebrush community, enhance sage grouse habitats, and meet the needs of other species and human uses.
  • Maintain sage grouse habitat where the effects of other wild herbivores (especially ungulates) are reducing the quality of the site for use by sage grouse.

Contact Us

  • Catherine Wightman

  • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
  • P.O. Box 20070
  • Helena, MT 59620-0701
  • (406) 444-3377
  • E-mail