The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rob Mrowka, (702) 249-5821 or

Nevada Approves Hunt of Imperiled Sage Grouse That Feds Say Warrants Endangered Species Act Protection


The state of Nevada will open an ill-advised hunting season on
Saturday for the greater sage grouse, a species that federal officials
said earlier this year warrants protection under the Endangered Species
Act. The protections have yet to be put in place, and meanwhile Nevada
wildlife officials have authorized hunting of this bird in parts of
eight counties.

"The state of Nevada is making it OK to hunt a species
that federal biologists say needs more protection. What does that say
about the state agency charged with protecting Nevada's wildlife?" said
Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based ecologist at the Center for Biological
Diversity, which is seeking federal protections for the grouse. "Rather
than allowing this priceless bird to be hunted, state officials should
be focusing on how to keep it off the path to extinction."

Sage grouse are large native birds that once numbered in
the millions in their sage-brush habitat. Today scientists estimate
that fewer than 200,000 remain across 11 U.S. states and two Canadian
provinces. The population has been declining for decades due to several
factors: habitat loss from oil, gas and mineral exploration; livestock
grazing; off-road vehicles; wildfire; nonnative weeds; drought; and
most recently renewable-energy developments.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in March
that the grouse warranted protections under the Endangered Species Act
but that such protection was precluded because other species were a
higher priority.

Nevada's hunting season for the grouse begins Sept. 18
and will last through Oct. 9. Hunting will be allowed in portions of
Churchill, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Nye, Washoe and White Pine

"While hunting is not a major contributor to the causes
of the grouse's decline, it's just common sense to reduce all
controllable risks to the species to maximize its chances for
recovery," Mrowka said. "State and federal wildlife agencies should be
working together, rather than at cross purposes, to help this
magnificent bird survive."

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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