One for 350

The nearly 67 million acres of sagebrush habitat on BLM-managed public lands are home to more than 350 species of animals, insects and plants. Some live nowhere else: if sagebrush is lost, the habitat no longer sustains them. For others, sagebrush lands are critical for breeding and seasonal migration: if sagebrush lands are lost or fragmented, their chances for survival decline, too. 

Many of these creatures are small and elusive. Adult sagebrush lizards are only 2 to 3.5 inches long and immediately scurry for cover at any sign of threat. 

a sagebrush lizard basks on rocks (Wyoming)
Sagebrush lizards eat a variety of the insects found in sagebrush habitat. | BLM-WY/Lisa Marks

The greater sage-grouse is the best-known avian inhabitant, but a number of migratory birds share the territory, spring through fall. 

a three-panel image of birds: sage thrasher, Brewer's sparrow and sagebrush sparrow
Left - right | USFWS/Scott Somershoe, USFWS/Tom Koerner, NPS/Andy Bridges

More than two-thirds of sage thrashers (above-left) and sagebrush sparrows (above-right) are found on BLM-managed public lands. Like the others, Brewer's sparrows (center) nest and breed on sagebrush lands, but they also winter on BLM-managed lands in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.  

The pygmy rabbit stays in sagebrush country year-round, never venturing far from its burrow, where it spends much of the day between dawn and dusk. 

a pygmy rabbit at the entrance to its burrow with snow
As its name suggests, the pygmy rabbit is the world's smallest rabbit species and the only one native to North America to dig its own burrow. | BLM/H.Ulmschneider - IDFG/R.Dixon


At the other end of the scale, the black-tailed jackrabbit is one of North America's largest hares and has a wider range of habitat. Still, they do best in areas where healthy sagebrush gives cover for foraging and to females giving birth and nursing young in shallow depressions, or forms, in the ground. 

a black-tailed jackrabbit in sagebrush habitat
Jackrabbits have long ears and powerful hind legs. | USFWS/Peter Pearsall


white-tailed prairie dogs standing in a line in sagebrush habitat
White-tailed prairie dogs build and guard their elaborate burrow systems beneath sagebrush lands in Wyoming, and parts of Colorado, Utah and Montana. | USFWS/Tom Koerner

Perhaps most prominent among sagebrush species are those that stand tallest -- mule deer and pronghorn. Both animals rely on healthy sagebrush lands for breeding and moving between areas they use in different seasons. 

a herd of pronghorn resting in sagebrush
A pronghorn herd rests in Wyoming sagebrush. | BLM-WY/George Soehn

GET INVOLVED | Review and comment on the draft environmental analysis of proposed options for strengthening protection of BLM-managed sagebrush habitat and the health of local Western communities. The comment period is open through June 13, 2024. 

Heather Feeney, Public Affairs Specialist

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