Sage-grouse rider removed from defense bill

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.

Header Image: ©Tom Koerner/USFWS