Photo credit: Tatiana Gettelman
The Greater Sage-grouse is currently at risk of an “endangered” listing, a move that would virtually shut down huge swaths of land to other uses in 11 western states. Estimates of annual lost economic activity stand at $5.6 billion, with coal, natural gas, crude oil, uranium, wind and livestock industries facing an enormous hit if the land is deemed off limits. Lost tax revenues and employment will only compound the damage.
Past strategies to avoid listing have been exclusively focused on habitat preservation and compensatory mitigation. The U.S. Department of the Interior alone has spent $760 million toward the effort. But is it enough?
Photo credit: Rick McEwan
In 2017 the Wyoming legislature took the step of adopting legislation authorizing the captive raising of Greater Sage-grouse by certified bird farms within the state. Wyoming Game and Fish developed accompanying rules, and the Governor signed off in November 2017. [ Read more about Wyoming's efforts ]
Advocates of captive raising affirm the endeavor is not in lieu of habitat preservation and mitigation, but an additional effort to ensure conservation and avoid listing.
Western States Sage Grouse Recovery Foundation is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization founded to leverage this opportunity to explore captive breeding. The Foundation has contracted with Diamond Wings Upland Game Birds, which received certification in 2020 to raise the birds, and boasts over 10 netted acres and over three-quarters of a million game birds raised in recent decades. [ More about the Farm ]
With the addition of private funding and learnings gleaned from the Calgary Zoo’s recent success in breeding, hatching and raising the bird in captivity, the Foundation proposes to apply similar science to raise the species in northwestern Wyoming.
Diemer's roots run deep in Wyoming as well as his love of the land and wildlife. Diemer ranches in central Wyoming running both cattle and bison herds. He is active in business, agricultural and political groups around the state. He is currently a manager of Diamond Companies in Casper, WY and a former manager of True Companies from 1972-2006.
Paul, a fourth generation native of Wyoming, grew up in Meeteetse and Cody and is an avid motorcycle enthusiast, fly fisherman and hunter. Paul is a Manager with Jonah Energy and serves on The Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees and is past chairman of the BLM Resource Advisory Council. He also serves on Governor Mead's Sage Grouse Implementation Team since its founding in 2007.
Steve is currently Land Manager for Kirkwood Oil and Gas LLC, a private company in Casper, WY operating oil and gas properties in Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. He serves on the Board of Casper College and Petroleum Association of Wyoming.
The Nicolaysen family ranch, Cole Creek Sheep Company, has been in operation since the 1890's. Jon and his family have worked hard to ensure the success of the ranch by diversifying the operation and making the best use of the land. Jon works in the management of the ranch, in Real Estate Development and Oil Exploration.
As Assistant Professor of Biology at Northwest College in Wyoming, Eric brings years of academic experience to the Foundation, including research interest in conservation biology. Eric's extensive and practical, bird-focused fieldwork lends scientific expertise to the captive breeding project.