RE: [BirdYak] sage grouse
Many things here...
1. If you are using golden or peterson guide for range map of sage
grouse, thats very out of date. Use the well-written WDFW greater sage
grouse recovery plan:
In that document you will find that the Washington population has been
limited to two areas, one centered on the Training Center and a larger
population centered in Douglas county. Greater sage grouse (as just
about all other shrub-steppe obligate species) are mainly limited by
habitat loss. Habitat loss was one of the main reasons behind pygmy
rabbit loss as well and same for ferruginous hawk and other species that
are declining. Using your analogy we should just accept that all of
these species should be let to go and convert more habitat.
2. Sage grouse have been shown to use CRP lands (a form of converted ag
fields to habitat) in Douglas County for nesting and frequently use
plowed fields for lekking due to the open nature of the landscape. Here
is another great resource: I was one of the field managers for this
3. The use of live fire for training is a neccessary training tool, but
as many in the Yakima birding community have expressed before, to do so
in the middle of prime fire season and without adequate fire control
measures leads to vast unchecked wildfires that have decimated large
areas of mature shrub-steppe habitat.
4. Extripation is a natural event that happens over time. However,
habitat loss is a human caused event and I for one don't believe that
humans have the right to take a species habitat and say " It is a fact,
deal with it.".
On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 3:09 PM, tulimgr wrote:
I just read Andy's conservation column on sage grouse and thought
I'd make a few comments about it on birdyak. First, the next time you
look in your golden or petersen birdbook, look at the map for sage
grouse. It is a dot in the middle of Washington state. It was the same
for pygmy rabbits. If I learned anything from the pygmy rabbit issue, it
is some wildlife die off, become extirpated, or extinct no matter how
hard we work to turn things around. It is a fact, deal with it.
With both sage grouse and pygmy rabbits, they will be extirpated from
our state, but not extinct. Populations can be found in other parts of
the northwest. They too are in decline.
As a tax payer, I question the state and federal funds spent on trying
to maintain a dying species. I think thresholds need to be developed
that stop funding and just let the species go. It seems there are times
when state or federal fish and wildlife agencies get involved you see
study after study after study with no clear improvement, just alot of
reading material that repeats past studies and makes the same
recommendations. Additionally, the last time I checked, grouse and
rabbits can't read...so this may be why they are not cooperating with
fish and game biologists.
I also find the inevitable contradictions in this article. Such as,
agriculture eliminated most of the sage grouse habitat. Then, it states
that in Moses Coulee, agriculture is helping the sage grouse. In the
case of the pygmy rabbit, wildlife biologists claimed that grazing would
keep the grasses mowed down to help prevent wildfires that would destroy
the mature stands of sage the rabbit needed as habitat.
And then there's the Firing Center comments about using live rounds
during training that cause wildfires. Consider the consequences of
sending soldiers into battle without having fired live rounds. Because
of birds??? Rabbits???
Extirpation followed by extinction has been happening on this planet for
quite some time. Somehow, we humans who care about nature got the idea
that extinction is a thing of the past, like when dinosaurs roamed the
earth. Biologists and conservationists should know better than anyone
that evolution did not stop with the Industrial Age. Evolution created
modern day man which is the culprit in most incidents of extirpation
and extinctions. This does not bode well for grouse and rabbits in the
Will the northwest survive without sage grouse and pygmy rabbits? Yes.
It progressed without mammoths, camels and three toed horses found in
our local fossil beds. It can also survive without hatchery fish, non
native sport fish, non native upland game birds, Rocky Mountain elk,
Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, Oregon and Wyoming antelope, buffalo,
etc, etc, etc. Get the message?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- The purpose of my original post was to have an objective discussion on the sage grouse. I appreciate one reply listed and the information shared. However, the poster missed the point of using the golden book and petersen guide maps to show the population, (by the way, these books are NOT outdated). The attempt was to demonstrate the scale of geographical isolation of these majestic birds birds. I used the pygmy rabbit example because you are looking at approximately the same scale of isolation. The Sage Brush Flats population is essentially gone. Too little too late. Perhaps because WDFW fought to keep cattle on the lease property there.
The poster tries to manipulate my comments in #1 paragraph by implying I said we should let endangered species go and convert more habitat, (your words, not mine). I did not say or imply any such thing (manipulating a simple comment is a pretty cheap shot fella). What I said was, as a tax payer, (and someone who buys hunting and fishing permits), why should we throw money away at a lost cause? Why not create a threshold system where we admit the species is close to extirpation or extinction and divert conservation funds to a species we may be able actually save?
I don't like losing the pygmy rabbit. I watched a state agency try transplanting from out of state populations, controlled breeding, etc to no avail. Not a bright idea to raise rabbits in captivity then release them into the wild for a coyote buffet. The point is, these agencies and a number of special interest groups make a good living supporting hair-brained ideas that are doomed to fail. I am very simply saying we should not spend money when it becomes apparent we have lost the battle. I find it interesting the poster was a "field manager" for one of those numerous studies that state the obvious.
The #3 paragraph is another one of those manipulative statements wanting us to believe that mature shrub steppe should not catch fire ever. The desert ecology is similar to forest ecology in that it is NOT a steady state mosaic of different stages of growth. Fire is a natural process in both. For eons it has been the same, fires burn mature stands of sage, it recovers as a grassy savannah supporting wildlife needing that type of ecology. Sage starts in and the savannah evolves back into mature sage supporting wildlife needing that type of ecology. This is arid lands ecology 101. Man made fires happen. (As a side note, mid west native americans used to burn thousands of acres of grass prairie to manipulate wildlife).
The firing center population suffers due to the training of troops, which causes loss of habitat due to fire and encroachment. Ok..we all know this, how many more studies are needed to explain the obvious. The sage grouse population has probably crossed the point of no return, get over it and stop wasting taxpayer and license fee monies.
The #4 paragraph is yet another manipulative comment meant to make us feel guilt and shame for man made habitat loss. Yet man-made habitat loss feeds, clothes, and houses all of these wildlife advocates, including me. It is cheap, irresponsible rhetoric that needs to go the way of the three toed horse and replaced with cold, hard, reality.
Taking species habitat is a fact, deal with it. This is not a socialist country where all the land is a collective managed by the government, (thank God). It is a mosaic of private land ownership, with state, federal, and tribal lands. What I find interesting is that major habitat loss in the Columbia Basin was caused by the Desert Land Act, and the federal governments development of Grand Coulee Dam and its associated "reclamation" projects. In other words, major habitat loss was caused by the federal government that is now trying to save species that it caused to be impacted. Needless to say I have a real problem with (government) people who try to use the term "habitat loss" without reviewing historical facts.
Joe from Tampico