Sage-Grouse in Balance : Predators
Story by Heather Feeney, BLM Public Affairs Specialist
Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are one of more than 350 species that inhabit the sagebrush-steppe ecosystems of western North America. Females hatched this spring will live up to seven years; males will live an average of three years.
While some birds die from disease or collisions with fencing, wildlife biologists say that they generally don't die of old age. Sage-grouse are prey: the length of an individual bird's life is determined by how long it can evade encountering other animals -- predators -- that sit higher in the ecosystem's food chain.
The BLM is responsible for sage-grouse habitat on public lands, and so, we don't have authority to take direct actions to control predator populations. In addition, science shows that predator control measures are less effective and durable than identifying, conserving and restoring habitat and managing other uses of the land to avoid altering the vegetation and introducing novel predators.
With a commitment to improving outcomes for Greater sage-grouse, the BLM is evaluating the plans adopted in 2015 to manage sagebrush habitat on public lands. Monitoring data and new scientific information published since 2015 will help us determine whether there are other steps we should take to benefit sage-grouse and people in communities across the West who also rely on a healthy sagebrush-steppe.
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