The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has completed a draft revision of a 2005 plan that addresses conservation of sage grouse within the state. The Department is accepting public comments on the revised plan through Aug. 1.
Sage grouse are native to the far southwestern corner of North Dakota and the population within the state has declined steadily over the past 30 years. The 2013 count indicated the lowest number of male sage grouse observed since Game and Fish biologists started the annual spring survey in the 1950s.
Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said the sage grouse plan was developed to address potential listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. “North Dakota is one of 11 Western states that has a sage grouse population,” Steinwand said, “and all states are developing conservation plans to address population decline throughout the sage grouse range.”
The plan lays out a framework that allows for local and public input that will help with conservation actions. The long-term goal is enhancement of sage grouse habitats in North Dakota, often through private-public partnerships, that will again support a healthy self-sustaining sage grouse population.