Sage-grouse rider removed from defense bill

©Tom Koerner/USFWS

Congressional committee members have removed an amendment from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 that would have impacted conservation and management of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The amendment, which would have prevented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from taking action to list the species as threatened or endangered, has been a major point of contention as Congress worked to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Representative McCain (R-AZ) has been vocal about his opposition to the rider, saying that non-defense issues should stay out of the bill. However, Representative Bishop (R-UT), who introduced the rider, maintains that it addressed a national security issue because having a threatened or endangered species on military bases could impede training and other defense efforts.

In August, The Wildlife Society wrote a letter to Congress asking that several amendments in the defense bill, including the one impacting sage-grouse conservation, be removed in order to maintain science-based decision making in Endangered Species Act listings.

Read more about pending wildlife policy in the lame duck session.