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Gunnison Sage-grouse Listed as Threatened under Endangered Species Act


November 12, 2014

Contact: Courtney Sexton, csexton@defenders.org, 202-772-0253

Gunnison Sage-grouse Listed as Threatened under Endangered Species Act

Unique, imperiled sage-grouse will finally receive protections that could prevent extinction

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will list the imperiled Gunnison sage-grouse as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a move needed to prevent the bird’s extinction.  

The following is a statement from Mark Salvo, Director of Federal Lands Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife:

“The federal government announced protections for Gunnison sage-grouse, and not a moment too soon. The remaining birds are struggling to survive and continue to face habitat loss and degradation across their range. Listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is crucial for preventing extinction and supporting ongoing efforts, including the important voluntary local conservation efforts that will be critical to conserve and recover the grouse. In addition to increased funding, research and monitoring for the species, listing will also provide land managers with important and flexible tools that are available under the ESA to manage sustainable land use and development, while bolstering the birds’ chances for survival.”


Found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, Gunnison sage-grouse now number fewer than 5,000 birds scattered across seven populations that comprise less than ten percent of their historic range. Oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, development and other activities have fragmented and destroyed sagebrush habitat and contributed to the decline of the species. Audubon considers Gunnison sage-grouse one of the most endangered birds in the country and the Department of the Interior has reported that sagebrush steppe is among the most endangered landscapes in the country. According to John Fitzpatrick, the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “the Gunnison sage-grouse is the most biologically endangered bird species in all of continental North America.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service first determined that Gunnison sage-grouse warranted listing under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the Gunnison sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act and designating 1.7 million acres of critical habitat to support the species’ recovery.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.