gunnison sage grouse population
“We’re watching Gunnison sage-grouse go extinct in real time,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate with Wildearth Guardians. Colorado has the largest stable population (centered around Gunnison Basin) and six satellite populations, while Utah has only one satellite population, representing about 2 percent of the birds. DENVER, Colo. – A new survey of the Gunnison sage-grouse by Colorado Parks and Wildlife shows the imperiled bird’s three-year running average count has hit a historic low, with fewer than 1,600 birds remaining in 2020. They occur on open plains and in high valleys, only in the vicinity of sagebrush. This species has a very small occupied range. Gunnison Sage-Grouse on The IUCN Red List site -, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnison_grouse, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22728472/0. Fish and Wildlife Service. Males often position themselves side on to females to produce the loudest sound. It is currently protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act . These sounds help females to choose between males during mating season. WildEarth Guardians (www.wildearthguardians.org) is a conservation non-profit whose mission is to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Sage-grouse are frequently considered an indicator species for sagebrush habitats and the Gunnison sage-grouse’s decline spells trouble for other species that also rely on such habitats in Colorado, like mule deer, Brewer’s sparrow and elk. The Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) is a species of grouse endemic to the United States. “Clearly the status quo here is devastating these iconic birds,” said Ryan Shannon, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. It's losing ecosystem resilience, habitat stability, and a suite of other values that cannot be recovered.”. “But Colorado is losing something more than just this iconic bird. Females become mature when they are 1 year old and males at 2 years old. Nesting is from mid-April until June, after which hens may migrate some distance from the lek, seeking optimal nesting conditions. The Gunnison sage-grouse is federally listed as threatened . They are considered sedentary, but will travel long distances seeking food or shelter. By 2 to 3 weeks old they can make short flights and are able to feed themselves. These birds are found in south-west Colorado in the Gunnison Basin in the Gunnison and Saguache counties, and there are further small, fragmented populations within Colorado and a further one in south-east Utah. Gunnison Sage-Grouse Wikipedia article -, 2. From mid-March to late May, many males migrate to lek sites, often returning to the same one every season. The largest population, about 4,000 birds, inhabits the Gunnison Basin. Sage-grouse have a stomach specialized to digest the tough sage-brush, which is their main food. In the latest survey, 86% of all remaining sage-grouse were counted in the Gunnison Basin subpopulation. Over 85% of the existing individuals are thought to be in the Gunnison Basin population in Gunnison and Sagauche Counties, Colorado, USA (Gunnison Sage-Grouse Rangewide Steering Committee 2005). It is similar to the closely related greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in appearance, but about a third smaller in size, with much thicker plumes behind the head; it also has a less elaborate courtship dance. The Gunnison sage-grouse is smaller, and the male has a stronger banded pattern on its tail feathers. “The only way to save Gunnison sage-grouse is to immediately suspend further degradation of their habitat,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and executive director with Western Watersheds Project. In summer, once most of the eggs have hatched, hens and chicks will forage together. Despite being native to a country where the It is restricted in range to southwestern Colorado and extreme southeastern Utah, with the largest population residing in the Gunnison Basin region in Colorado. Sage grouse can fly well, despite their heavy bodies, and flying is a good response to danger, as their short legs mean that they cannot run fast. The current rangewide population is estimated at 5,000 birds across the eight population areas. A hen produces one brood per season, laying 6 to 8 eggs that she incubates for 25 to 27 days. The main threats to these birds are loss of habitat from human disturbance, their small population size and its structure, climate change, drought and disease. In winter, mothers and chicks separate into gender segregated flocks and may reunite in the spring when the flocks travel to lek sites. A male is very territorial and will defend his lek from intruders. Loss of habitat is the biggest driver of this bird’s population declines, and almost all Gunnison sage-grouse are found in Colorado.