For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Rob Mrowka, (702) 249-5821 or

Mono Basin Sage Grouse Is Endangered, But Protection Once Again Delayed

LAS VEGAS - In response to a petition and lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity
and other environmental and faith-based groups, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service announced today that a population of the greater sage
grouse found in the Mono Basin of California and Nevada warrants
protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that such protection
is precluded due to lack of resources.

delay of protection for the Mono Basin population of sage grouse is a
recipe for extinction,” said Rob Mrowka, an ecologist at the Center.
“To date, the Obama administration has not improved on the Bush
administration’s progress in providing protection to the nation’s most
endangered species.”

During his eight-year tenure,
Bush protected a mere 62 species, for a rate of fewer than eight
species per year. This compares to 522 protected under Clinton, or 65
species per year, and 231 species protected under George H.W. Bush, or
58 species per year. With only two species listed so far, the Obama
administration appears to have flatlined on listing. Under the
Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service can only delay
protection of species if it is making expeditious progress listing
other species considered a higher priority for listing.

“Delaying protection for Mono Basin sage grouse is clearly illegal and irresponsible,” said Mrowka.

The Mono Basin area population of sage grouse
is the southwestern-most population of the greater sage grouse and is
geographically isolated from other sage grouse populations. It is found
in Storey, Carson, Douglas, Mineral, and Esmeralda counties in Nevada
and in Mono, Alpine, and Inyo counties in California. “Because the Mono
Basin population of sage grouse exists at the periphery of the sage
grouse range and is genetically unique, it contains characteristics
that may well be critically important to the survival of the species as
a whole, particularly in light of climate change,” said Mrowka.

threats to Mono Basin sage grouse include degradation of habitat by
livestock grazing and invasive noxious weeds, fragmentation of habitat
caused by development, roads and transmission lines, ORV use, drought,
and loss of sagebrush due to the encroachment of junipers. Sage grouse
are also still hunted in Nevada and California. Populations have
declined up to 70 percent.

Like other sage grouse,
Mono Basin sage grouse are noted for their elaborate spring courtship
rituals and displays. Males and females gather on traditional display
areas called leks. Males strut, fan their tail feathers, and produce a
haunting sound from air sacs located on the sides of their necks to
attract willing females. An average of six to seven eggs are laid and
incubated for around 30 days.


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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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