DATE: May 9, 2005
CONTACT: Mike Brown (775) 753-0386
ELKO FIELD OFFICE: 2005-29
SAGE GROUSE FLIGHTS COMPLETED
After two weeks of flying over nearly 1.35 million acres, initial indications are that northeastern Nevada’s sage grouse populations are maintaining or increasing.
In April 2005, wildlife biologists from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Elko Field Office and Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) conducted helicopter flights over major blocks of land in northeastern Nevada – about 1 million acres that included portions of the Owyhee Desert, Tuscarora Range, and Independence Valley near Tuscarora; and approximately 350,000 acres south of Wendover and north of Montello. This was the sixth consecutive year the flights have been done.
BLM Wildlife Biologist Ken Wilkinson said, “We won’t have the final numbers until NDOW compiles the data and compares it with previous years’ information; but we did find 33 new sage grouse “leks” or breeding display areas and counted 1,570 male sage grouse. There are about 1000 documented leks in northeastern Nevada. Helicopters are the best tool for monitoring such huge acreages of habitat. We looked at leks that are documented and we searched in areas where we haven’t seen leks before but have a high probability of occurrence. Another benefit of the flights is that they help us identify areas where habitat improvement projects are needed. We’re fortunate that the NDOW biologists and El Aero pilots have years of experience doing this type of work with BLM.”
“The flights help us assess sage grouse habitat conditions,” Wilkinson continued. “Even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that listing sage grouse as a threatened species was not warranted, it’s critical that we continue to monitor them and follow through with the Governor’s conservation plans which were adopted statewide. In our area, the Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group developed the Elko County Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation Strategy which helps serve as the blueprint for sage grouse monitoring and habitat conservation efforts. That Strategy is part of the Governor’s overall plan for Nevada.”
For more information on BLM sage grouse conservation projects, contact Ken Wilkinson or Wendy Fuell at the BLM Elko Field Office, 3900 East Idaho Street, Elko, NV 89815 or call (775) 753-0200 .