08 August 2012 Coast to Coast: Saving a Grooving Grouse in the Sagebrush Sea Posted by: Julia Collins | 1 comment | Share: Coast to Coast” is a summer blog series highlighting some of America’s most imperiled wildlife. By using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new state-by-state endangered species map, we will tell stories about native plants and animals in unique landscapes where Defenders will be focusing its conservation efforts in coming years. Though few in number, the greater sage-grouse is easy to spot. With its hunched shoulders and a puffed white chest, the large, grounded grouse looks like a cross between a turkey and an opera singer. In springtime, males like to put on quite a show as they sashay between the sagebrush and enter their arena. But these brazen birds aren’t fighting to the death; they’re dancing for potential mates. The lucky ladies get to choose the guys with the best moves. Watch along with a bus full of Idaho high school students, who got to see this delightful dance up close during a field trip last spring: While these birds put on a dazzling display, they are dependent upon a natural landscape called the “Sagebrush Sea.” Stretching from Washington to Colorado, this arid ecosystem is covered with sagebrush, a key source of food and shelter for sage grouse. Once teeming with trees, streams, wildflowers and hundreds of unique species, the Sagebrush Sea is steadily shrinking. Agriculture development, resource extraction and weed infestation have all contributed to its decline. In recent years, wildfires caused by extreme temperatures and drought have brought even more danger to landscapes across the western United States. The resulting habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation has taken a toll on sage grouse over the last 50 years. Today, the species is only found in half of its historic range, and sage grouse aren’t the only ones in trouble. From rare pygmy rabbits to migratory birds that stop in the marshes that dot the Sagebrush Sea, hundreds of other species depend on this landscape. To save the sage grouse, we have to save the land that they and other species need to survive. Sage grouse were denied federal protection in 2004 and are currently stuck in limbo on the list of candidate species. But Defenders isn’t waiting to take action. We’re fighting for stronger protections on our public lands, where energy development threatens important wildlife habitat. We’re also working with our colleagues at The Nature Conservancy and the Sagebrush Cooperative to develop incentives to encourage private landowners to conserve wildlife. By protecting the Sagebrush Sea, we hope to ensure that America’s grooving grouse continues to have a place to strut his stuff. One Response to “Coast to Coast: Saving a Grooving Grouse in the Sagebrush Sea” dig that crow strut September 9th, 2012 Dig that sage grouse strut too!!! Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in It’s Time to Act for Right Whales Years after they agreed to expand critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales, we’re still waiting on NMFS to follow through. So we took to the courts to get this much-needed protection in place. How Should We Honor Earth Day? America has many worldwide firsts in conservation: we were the first nation to establish a national park, the first to create a national wildlife refuge, the first to approve a law protecting endangered species and the first to create a national day dedicated to conservation, Earth Day. But today, we are experiencing another period of crisis in America’s commitment to conservation. When did conservation become a polarizing political issue, when it has been, for the past century, a defining characteristic of American values and the American spirit? Ecological Insults and Injuries Revealed Four Years after Deepwater Horizon Four years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we’re beginning to see the full scope of how this ecological disaster is impacting our wildlife on land, air and sea.