Friday, October 29, 1999The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that a petition seeking the listing of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act contains enough information to warrant a full assessment of the species' status.
There is only one known Columbian sharp-tailed grouse population in Montana. That population contains fewer than 10 birds and is located near Libby in northwestern Montana.
The petition to list the bird was received from the Biodiversty Legal Foundation in 1995. The petition requested listing of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse as threatened throughout its known historic range in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The bird no longer exists in California, Oregon or Nevada. Biologists have, however, undertaken reintroduction efforts for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse are brownish-gray with many small buff and black markings, a white belly, and a long, mostly white, wedge-shaped tail. It is the smallest of six recognized subspecies of sharp-tailed grouse. Studies have shown that a key component to healthy Columbian sharp-tailed grouse populations is suitable wintering habitat containing deciduous trees and shrubs.
Comments should be sent to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 11103, East Montgomery Dr., Spokane, WA 99206.