This article is almost too late because I am sick again. Make the best of it, please. I will be back tomorrow.
The spring survey of sage-grouse breeding grounds performed by CDFW showed much fewer sage-grouse in all California hunting zones. The state has four sage-grouse hunting zones.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife points out that hunting itself does not pose a risk to the survival of the species. However, the prolonged drought, the large Rush Fire of 2012, and the heavy winter storms of 2016-2017 contributed to severe habitat loss. These factors also contributed to a noteworthy degradation of the sagebrush ecosystem. As their name indicates, the sage-grouse is highly adapted to sagebrush habitats. Any deterioration of the sage-brush environment will have a significant effect on the strength and health of sage-grouse populations.
Sage-grouse (CDFW stock photo)
Scientific surveys found that over the last five years, sage-grouse populations decreased by between 47 and 62 percent in the four sage-grouse hunting zones. However, because of the heavy snow pack, some breeding grounds were not accessible. This could have resulted in an undercount of the breeding populations.
Notwithstanding this possibility, CDFW decided as a precautionary measure to implement the ban on sage-grouse hunting for the 2017 season.
CDFW projects the number of sage-grouse in 2017 to be around a low 1,341 and about 2,145 on the high-end.
The grouse occur in 11 western states and two Canadian provinces. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is coordinating the efforts to manage the grouse populations in the sagebrush habitats.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a proposal to list the sage-grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2015 as not justified. Barring any further deterioration of their habitat, these grouse will be able to rebound in due time.
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