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WyoFile: New sage grouse data 'alarming,' state biologist says

After a count of hunter-submitted wings in 2021, Wyoming’s greater sage grouse population appears headed for a sixth year of decline.

by Angus M. Thuermer Jr. January 7, 2022

The latest data on greater sage grouse in Wyoming indicate an “alarming” likelihood of populations regressing to a 1996 nadir, the state’s top grouse biologist said Thursday.

The preliminary data from hunter submitted sage grouse wings during the 2021 shooting season show a ratio of 0.8 chicks per hen. That’s below what’s needed to stabilize the shrinking population, Wyoming Game and Fish sagebrush and sage grouse biologist Leslie Schreiber said Thursday.

“Zero point eight chicks per hen is associated with a declining population because 1.5 chicks per hen is needed for population stability,” Schreiber said.

The wing data suggests that another key population metric anticipated in 2022 — a count of strutting males on breeding-ground leks — also will be lower, she said.

“Wyoming sage grouse populations are heading back to mid-1990s levels, which is alarming.” LESLIE SCHREIBER, GAME AND FISH BIOLOGIST

A lower count on leks in 2022 would extend the trend of declining numbers in Wyoming from five to six-years. Grouse have declined dramatically West-wide over recent decades. Game and Fish’s alarm, however, evidences a new worry. READ FULL STORY HERE