NPR on Sage Grouse Initiative

Sage Grouse vs transmission linesOn Wednesday, NPR had a piece on the Sage Grouse Initiative in Montana. There are photos and audio (or you can just read the article).

The initiative was started by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the piece says. It was joined by The Nature Conservancy, universities and state wildlife agencies. The initiative’s key tools seem to be portable electric fences, and widely distributed watering sites. That’s because having cattle graze intensely in small areas, leaving the grass in other areas to grow tall, as the sage grouse like it, is the goal of the program.

While sage grouse are found in only a few states, the effort to keep the species off the federal endangered species list should be of interest to all wildlife managers, particularly those managing other species at risk. At what point should we take action to keep a species from being listed? At what point does the species need to be listed so the protections of the Endangered Species Act can kick in and save it from extinction?

Stay tuned.

Photo: Greater sage grouse by Stephen Ting. Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Bighorn sheep will find a way.

How can landowners keep cattle (or sheep or other livestock) in while allowing pronghorn to migrate and tortoises to roam freely? It can be done, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department has 30 pages worth of advice and instruction on constructing a fence that can keep in what landowners want to keep in (and keep out what landowners want to keep out), while allowing wildlife passage. There is even a section on international border fencing.

While the focus is on Arizona species (pronghorn, mule deer, javelina, desert tortoises and Gila monsters), the advice can be adapted for other species and other areas of the country.

For doubters, there is even a section on the impacts of fencing on wildlife, complete with gruesome photos.

The 34-page PDF of fencing guidelines can be found here. 

Photo: Bighorn sheep will go over, under or through most fencing. Photo credit: Christine Page, courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish.