Greater Sage-Grouse Population Grows in Wyoming

By Joshua Rapp Learn

A greater sage-grouse in Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Wyoming.
Image credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS, licensed by cc 2.0

Greater sage-grouse populations are burgeoning in Wyoming, according to the state Game and Fish Department.

Agency representatives recently said that there were 1.7 greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) chicks per hen — the same as last year and more than double the recent 2012 low of 0.8 chicks to a hen.

“It is good to see that sage grouse numbers are still climbing. We know populations are cyclical, and we are in a wet period that benefits sage grouse and their habitat,” said Tom Christiansen, the sage-grouse program coordinator for the state agency, in a release.

Part of the data was gathered through hunters who harvested grouse and donated their wings through a special barrels set in hunting areas so the agency can track populations in central and southwest Wyoming.

“We appreciate hunters who provided wings. Their participation helps us manage the bird and build on previous years’ data,” Christiansen said.

The 10-year average was 1.3 chicks per hen, but that number increased to 1.7 for both 2015 and the year before, due in part to favorable moisture patterns during the spring and summer. These weather conditions usually result in more grass and prairie plants, which also means more insects will be around for young chicks to feed on.

Joshua LearnJoshua Rapp Learn is a science writer at The Wildlife Society.

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