Sage Grouse Biology & Ecology

Sage Grouse Biology & Ecology



I would now like to formally begin today's conference introduce David na ghal hello to everybody participating this morning today's webinar is entitled sage-grouse biology and ecology a primer will be two presenters today myself Dave Noggle I'm at the University of Montana and on the science advisor for the nrcs sage-grouse initiative in my colleague Christian Hagan who's at Oregon State University also be co-presenting and he's the science advisor for the lesser prairie chicken initiative sage grouse are a focal species for the health of the sagebrush ecosystem a lot of folks call them a canary in the coal mine so to speak they're the largest of our seven North American growl species they're also long lived up to seven years they're a sagebrush obligate critter that are dependent on sagebrush for every facet of their life history males are larger about twice the size six pounds much bigger than the two to three pound female and of course they're famous for their lacking or breathing displays in spring that are happening right now in the field there's two different species the first is the greater sage-grouse showing on this map their historic range is the dark and light green color the dark green is their current range across 11 states and to prairie provinces best estimates are 200,000 to 500,000 greater sage-grouse across about a hundred and sixty-five million acres the second species central circus minimus is shown in tan this is the gunnison sage-grouse there's about 5,000 individuals that remain for this species most of them are in Colorado the dark tan on the map shows their current range with their story being in the lighter tan there's also two greater sage-grouse DPSS or distinct population segments the first one runs along the California and Nevada border and it's called the bi-state DPS and there's a second one north of there in the state of Washington called the Columbia Basin distinct population segment both of those are circled in red greater sage-grouse today is a state managed species in 2010 it was warranted but precluded under the Endangered Species Act and today sits as a candidate the calendar is slated for September 2015 for a final Endangered Species Act decision on whether to list it or not and in the two prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan it's already an endangered species under Sarah which is the species at risk act in the federal equivalent of the United States ESA a gunnison sage-grouse final determination under GSA is expected in summer 2014 and for the bi-state distinct population segment in Nevada and California its proposed threatened but of course recently that decision was backed up six months and lastly the Columbia Basin dps in Washington is currently a candidate species good morning this is christian Hagan so as David mentioned we've seen about a fifty percent contraction and the distribution of the species that combined with the ongoing threats facing the species and the population trends depicted in these particular figures are some of the reasons why we see stage where else being considered for the endangered specie bath so these figures show the population trends based on those let counts are those those breeding bird displays that they've mentioned a moment earlier which we've been to the state Fish and Wildlife agencies to tracking fairly closely since about the mid-1960s and what these figures show is that we seen a long-term decline or reduction and abundance of grouse arguably more recently there's been a stabilization of populations but abundances are lower than they did in the past next a part of understanding some of the ebbs and flows we see in the populations we really need to understand their life history and perhaps more importantly for those of you in the field doing the conservation work to better things for sage-grouse it's important to understand how we might see these species the species respond to some of those conservation actions so I'm going to take you back to your biology 101 or your ecology 101 and think about the are versus K selected species right so the R selected species was the mouse and the case selected species was the elephants and so in our case within game birds sage-grouse is that elephant and the pheasant is that mouse and really its habitat driven right so in the pheasant world the habitat is highly variable highly unpredictable right during these modified agricultural landscapes that can kind of change at the drop of the hat the sagebrush biome on the other hand is very despite constant actually being predictable sure at the harsh environment but it's quite predictable right historically the primary driver that would change the configuration of that sagebrush was fired but we know from the science that's out there that fire return intervals at a minimum for about every 30 years and in some cases like the low sagebrush areas fire return intervals are estimated somewhere over a hundred years you've got me a little in a low sagebrush plant that could be a hundreds of 200 years old so very different habitat and so what that equates to is two different approaches and surviving in that landscape and ensuring that the species continues to persist and so prophetic met highly unpredictable landscape all of their investment is and reproductive out right much like our mouths and so we see females laying 12 to 14 eggs in the clutch because they're lucky to be alive a year maps in two to three years and so they've got to take that chance to get as many copies of their own gene out into the landscape sage-grouse on the other hand because I habitat is more constant be predictable and they're long-lived I female easily living for six years very very different from from a fellow they don't have to invest it is heavily in the clutch of eggs so they only have about seven to nine minutes and in fact we know compiling radium earth females when the habitats are in poor condition we've seen up to twenty percent twenty-five percent of a population of female actually forego nesting in a given year because they are hard-wired to know that they should have another chance the following year to try and mask next so when we look at those facets of reproductive output stage browse and see that on average when a female lays a culture then about forty to fifty percent of those nests or successful ago successful now we see about forty percent of the chicks survives for 35 days and then from there in an average year average conditions you see about two of those chips out of those out of those grooves actually get recruited into the spring population that for to secure a time frame for a female subject to live the quakes about a sixty to seventy percent annual survival rate next and so really the fascinating one of the most fascinating components of this road is it select based made system and its really not unlike collecting system of prairie chickens or sharp-tailed grouse if you're from that part of the country but these lecs are black give a little bit of trivia here Black is the Scandinavian word that means to play so these are highly traditional sites males show extreme fidelity kebede areas returning to the same breeding ground year after year after year but the lack so the sedated mentioned earlier that sage grouse are Canarian coal mine for the sagebrush biome the lack is very much a canary in a coal mine for the local population in the local nesting habitat so the only reason the boys are where they are in the landscape is because the females have basically established that there is suitable nesting habitat in the vicinity so the mating system provides two things one it provides us an indicator of population health in terms of the amount of nesting habitat that's in the vicinity and it allows us an opportunity to monitor populations over time and so you know remember call back those population trend figures i showed you state Fish and Wildlife agencies have been counting sage-grouse on Lex since like the 1940s and what we've learned from counting nails on lacked over time is that they're their distributions are highly clumps so if we look at this example from northern Montana we see that all that Club distribution basically equate their that twenty-five percent of the legs account for fifty-three percent of the population so you're looking at a fraction of the area containing most of the birds which becomes really important as we begin to think about where we want to spend conservation dollars in conservation efforts for the species that further can be examined in the distribution of nest they relate to black sites so following radio mark burgess is a great example from wyoming and there's others from across the range but this is a great example from Wyoming which when we follow these emails in the Lance we found that seventy-five percent of those females are nesting within four miles of where they were captured so you put a four-mile radius circle around the leg that's 50 square miles that's a fairly substantial landscape but we also know that the distribution of those maps in that circle is not a random amount those two are also highly clustered and so we take the club distribution of mass escape the clump distribution of Lex and then that allows us to further inform our conservation targeting tools for where we're going to go on the landscape so we took Lex across 11 western states conducted some GIS analyses at the request of the bureau of land management and the core area concept was born and so the map that you're looking at here shows the distribution of knowing Lex buffered out from breeding sites by four miles the distance that a majority of females will distribute themselves from lack of capture and it kind of looks like a thunderstorm map if you were at home at night watching The Weather Channel and the red areas are the smallest amount of area that encompasses 25% of the known breeding distribution if you add orange to red it's fifty percent and if you add yellow to orange and red it's seventy-five percent of the known breeding population and light blue and compasses a hundred percent and so what you see across this huge 165 million acre occupied landscape is that seventy-five percent of the birds are in about twenty-five percent of the land base and so this became an initial decision support tool for folks knowing that conservation resources are limited and wanting to maximize return on investment so if we do a conservation practice we can benefit many birds stead of goobers but that initial decision support tool was only based on breeding sites and so now that concept has morphed into what we call packs or priority areas for conservation as delineated by States which the dark purple sites now include all seasonal habitats where State Game and Fish agencies and their partners with local base knowledge have now refined those sites and we have it for all 11 western states and it's published in the 2013 conservation objectives team report by the Fish and Wildlife Service commonly referred to as the cop greater sage-grouse populations vary greatly by state and so shown here are is a ranking of the 11 western states and two Canadian provinces in terms of percent range wide population and how average male count per lakh roughly corresponds to overall population size by state four states contain about eighty-three percent of birds Wyoming Montana Nevada and Idaho the other states including Oregon Utah Colorado California into the DPS of Washington the Dakotas and the two small remaining populations in Canada are important in maintaining sage-grouse distribution and in maintaining their connectivity between populations surface ownership inside of those core areas where we have comprehensive data also varies by state so here for the 11 western states on average rate range wide within those high bird distribution abundance areas it's about forty five percent ownership by BLM and about thirty-nine percent private other major players include u.s. Forest Service with seven percent BIA with two in the National Wildlife Refuge System of Fish and Wildlife Service with one percent interesting to look across the range and how we would apply conservation has a lot to do with surface ownership and it varies highly you can see states like California and Nevada that are heavily skewed towards public surface or on the flip side other places like the Dakotas state of Washington are almost entirely private genetic diversity and sage grouse is a story of isolation by distance and maintaining connectivity in those lower abundant states is really important to keep distribution of birds and so courtesy of Sarah oiler McCants at the US Geological Survey this map shows how she went out and surveyed Geno types of birds at these green dot locations and then the pie charts and the colors within them represent the proportion of common haplotypes and so you can see like haplotype X the yellow tends to be a Western genetic characteristic where haplin dominant haplotype a the blue moves more into the eastern range and by the time you get up into management zone one in the northeastern part of the range that maroon color that ej haplotype is dominant and so connectivity between these packs so that we don't end up with isolated biological zoos maintaining that connectivity and knowing how to do that is a big deal and ensuring that connectivity really requires us to take this landscape perspective because what we're dealing with in the landscape scale species here's a great example from Idaho right so if you look at the very top row of the table right shows the annual seasonal range this is for one bird a thousand square miles this is a more mobile population and dates going to talk about migration here in a moment but what this drives home right so a thousand square miles if you've ever been to Rocky Mountain National Park it's roughly two rocky mountain national parks for this bird to fulfill its life history needs throughout the course of a year but they don't use every square inch again you know to re-emphasize the distribution of the species across the range is clumped but even within the seasonal range of an individual bird highly clumps a highly disproportional use of certain areas than others to meet the various needs that they have throughout the year so the other lines in the table show similar you know show the area needed for spring and summer used in autumn use and winter usually depending on the year would be probably someone more along the line that we see summer bird use you know a couple hundred square miles so vast landscapes are required for this species next so if I'm a sage barrels sitting on this hilltop looking out this is what I like to see sagebrush from Horizon to Horizon if I'm a bird or a population looking out the mid silk I've things are actually probably quite good for this for this particular population having a landscape this large provide options for these birds to be to be able to select nest sites to select nest sites to fulfill other life church who needs and we're going to talk more specifically here in a few minutes about those different seasonal habitat uses but they've got to have options with regards to where to place their nest you see the meadow in the background there that's a great place to rear young so that vast landscape affords and the opportunities to seek out the appropriate habitat and as they've mentioned sage-grouse truly are sagebrush obligate and so in this particular slide I need you to envision you're on a plane at about 10 or 20,000 feet if we're not measuring canopy cover with the transect we're up on a plane and and what this slide really drives home and not only do these birds need large landscapes in which to have various options but it needs to be staged brush dominated and so just assuring percent sagebrush in the landscape on the x-axis and we've got a portion of Lex and basically the probability of black persistence on the y-axis what this basically shows is that if you have less than about fifty percent of that landscape in sagebrush dominant of codominant cover that the likelihood of persistence declines dramatically you get above fifty percent and probably more on the order of seventy percent or more and a likelihood of persistence into the future increases dramatically next migration in sage grouse is characterized three different ways first of all migration is a movement greater than six miles some populations are resident meaning that their breeding summer and winter seasonal habitats are all juxtaposed such that that landscape supports that population year-round other populations are stage one migratory meaning that they will breed summer raise their young in one landscape but then move a considerable distance to spend the winter somewhere else and come springtime they'll go right back to those breeding habitats other populations are two stage migratory meaning that there's a pair of significant movements during the year where they'll move from breeding to summer and again to winter and back again knowing in the landscapes that you live and work what the science is and how those populations that you work on every day how they move and whether they're resident or migratory is important to know one example is the longest known annual migration documented to date it's a 300 mile round trip from Saskatchewan to sit down to central Montana and back this happens to be a stage one migratory annual obligate event or birds go from summering habitat which is silver sage brush in Canada grasslands national park and surrounding private lands but then that habitat gets covered up by northern snows and so there's no food in winter and of course sagebrush is the only thing that sage grouse eat in winter and so those birds make a massive movement south to winter in Wyoming ensis big sagebrush and on the wintering grounds this migratory population actually mixes with a resident population and then those northern birds break off come springtime and head right back to the Lexx where they had bred the previous spring this is a map showing the vastness of that migration and it makes you consider the size of the conservation effort that's required to maintain migratory movements in the northern part of the graphic you can see in pink grassland National Park those birds come down from grasslands jump the milk river and winter in largely state-owned and in green Bureau of Land Management owned sagebrush habitats in 2011 we had an epic winter and those birds winter food actually got covered up where they typically winter and so they pushed again another 50 to 75 miles south some of them even jumped the Missouri River wintered on Charles M russell National Wildlife Refuge where there were some wind strip wind swept hilltops that had enough sagebrush not a single bird died in winter they adapted well and in springtime went right back to the Lexx in canada and just south of the border in the US and so this is a great example of fidelity in sage-grouse this faithfulness and how they're hardwired to the particular landscapes where they live and so despite these large annual movements this fidelity keeps them in landscapes where they were born and so fidelity makes populations quick to decline but typically slow to recover and that's why in many populations with anthropogenic effects or vegetative effects you see lags where birds might take a year or two to respond to the event but then they're typically slow to recover and so maintaining these habitats rather than trying to restore them is a key message in sage-grouse conservation there are 27 different kinds of sagebrush species and when you include subspecies and hybrids they vary greatly across the 11 states in Canada we have a pocket guide to sagebrush published by prb o conservation science and on your screen you can log on and read it and become familiarized with the species subspecies or hybrid in your area we're learning a lot more about the chemistry of sagebrush and sage grouse foods and sage grouse select these brows plants at multiple scales broadly across habitat types but then specifically within a patch and even locally within an individual plant and Fries new work is showing how these birds select for higher nutritional content and try and stay away from these nasty secondary metabolites largely we've learned that their dietary constraints can limit the use of the landscape and it links back to Christians comment on why these are landscape species so that these birds have options and a large buffet from which to choose and so now we're going to talk about that buffet and this is the calendar wheel on the right-hand side of your screen is a nice depiction that really breaks out the year as it as it pertains to sage grouse and we're going to take those five different categories and really reduce them to kind of three legs of the stool so you've got on the right you've got Lex nesting and early brood rearing we're going to combine that and talk about breeding habitats late brew bring really becomes summer for most aged girls fall and winter ostensibly or the same thing because we're there we're really looking at a shift in diet to sagebrush and the only thing that really differentiates all from winter is the amount of snow on the ground so when we talk about lucking habitats that the lectin season starts in March goes into May selecting habitats they are open ridges sometimes they're you know human disturbed areas or a salt lick or something has occurred but the birds require an open right the male's want to be seen and because they're so busy fighting for the rights to breed and so on they want to be able to see and detect predators from a distance so even though they're in these open areas generally speaking there's a stand of fairly dense thicker cover of sagebrush close behind so that they can escape into that cover if in the event there is a predator the vicinity oftentimes you have completed their breathing activities for the day they will saunter off in the sagebrush and just remain within a few hundred yards of that website well there are loaf and feed throughout the day so but you know sometimes it gets confusing because so much of the enamel season games that you see in the literature select based and so on so forth and so folks want to go out and create lacks because there's perception that for somehow limiting but while it's well-intentioned it's really not conservation action that we want to get involved with because the left sites are not a limiting factor right as we mentioned earlier that black is a canary in a coal mine from the street of the next habitat in the vicinity but by the same time if we are conducting for conservation activity in the vicinity of black you want to be sure that we minimize disturbances to those websites and the early morning hours from march to may sort of a recent research from an out of Idaho and other places have indicated that census close to Lex can be can be problematic and there's some really great decision tools out there to help you identify which fences are segments percentage of a potential problem for grouse and so there's tools out there figure out which of those fences perhaps should be moved next so focusing in on sort of the brew or the female aspect of the population during during the breeding season like which is nesting and early brood it's important to note that sagebrush is the predominant cover for browse connect it provides concealment covers predators and provides the thermoregulatory controls that the female needs to incubate that mouse right so she's sitting on its nest for 26 days she gets off once in the morning just to feed and believed herself she gets off once in the evening to do the same but she needs tremendous cover and I mean that not necessarily terms of total canopy just very very well concealed cover and certainly hope soon helps with that to some degree and so with regard to nest and you know we want to see about the general rule about fifteen to twenty five percent canopy cover of sagebrush to hide that nap you get an ugly brood rearing the amount of sagebrush becomes not quite as its critical and so a lot of times when you're sitting in your pickup who's in the habitat we often overestimate how much sagebrush is actually on the way that's good so this particular slide is a great job in depicting what fifteen percent canopy cover of sagebrush looks like now oftentimes folks I think that panel on the left which is about five percent cover is good adequate and really it's not based on regular punter studies we know that when canopy cover drops below about ten percent in most areas really hems avoid those for nested what they prefer is on the right there and greater for nasty another important component to nesting cover is the herbaceous tight so some additional vertical screening adjacent to the shrub as well as in the inner spaces between those shrubs really like to see seven inches or more of that herbaceous heights for for nesting better basis hype and then the herbaceous covered becomes very very important for early brewery so that both of the herbaceous component go ahead and get net so max the herbaceous cover then provides the food source for these for these young chicks and for the hand and even other adult furs so as we move in from nesting the early brood rearing little basis component itself provides food it also provides food for invertebrates which become a key component to to the diet of sage-grouse I'm going to focus here on the brood rearing but a lot of it the diet here also pertains to adult birds males and females as well so enough and lower center of your panel there you'll see a sage grouse chick that's less than a week old so that little fur ball or attaches out about mid May we want to turn into a football to the five-pound football I football season so it takes a tremendous amount of protein and calories to take that football and turn it into a football and those highly herbaceous habitats are absolutely vital in getting us at sage grouse lack a muscular Gizem so unlike pheasant oil prairie chickens gage wells cannot digest hard scene they are relegated to do sagebrush the leaves of Forbes and other soft plants and bugs that's yet they get a quite a bit of their water from from that herbaceous component but they're always foraging near stage those couple the herbaceous component highly important but there's always sagebrush cover nearby and as summer continues right the birds what we like to refer to as the green line that follow that grain so in some cases for populations have the ability to actually follow that green line up the mountainside so as the snow is receding which sometimes it's well into June and even really July the verge of following a green up up the mountain and in other cases populations have the ability to move down in elevation right down to wet meadows some irrigated cane fields alfalfa field sometimes this is where you'll see sort of the interface of stage browse and agriculture again seeking out that highly succulent green forage and the invertebrates that go along with it but really the most fascinating aspect of this bird's life history in terms of single habitat is winter and has David Illustrated very nicely those extreme movements who sell out of Canada and it is one aspect of their life histories no they showed strong fidelity to all these seasonal use areas winter is probably one place but they do show the greatest flexibility in terms of being able to move to different areas depending on the severity so there's places in Oregon for example that we have these tremendous low sage flaps they're usually upon high green sweat bridges that generally stay free of snow throughout most of the winner if you're not familiar it's low stage those plants are generally the size of its Adolf's often times smaller but there are tremendous in terms of all the sagebrush is there one about the highest and protein and so they'll seek those areas out so they can persist there but when they do have deeper snow packs you know they'll move into the areas where sagebrush here has exposed above the snow path which generally are your big stages Wyoming insufficient big where it is exposed above the snow so the structure is a little bit harder to define the critical piece is it available above the smell a one little fun fact about sage grouse and winter is when the snow conditions are just right they'll actually snow burrow they'll actually Berlin to the snow roost overnight much like we see ruffed grouse doing in the forests of the northern us men to Canada yes so to kind of bring the seasonal habitat use to a rap here this particular figure shows us how stem cells are selecting some of these different vegetation structures over between nesting and brood rearing and so if you look on the y-axis we've got a sale of negative one to one so if you're above zero your selected for your below zero selected against so the white circles our nest site selection very shades of grey or different definition the brood would so what we see is that faith brush cover selected for nest sites as it as it relates to random point in the surrounding landscape alternatively change brush cover is selected against relative to Sydney save brushes in brood rearing area that selected against relative to random point than the surrounding landscape / asp cover grass canopy cover centrally selected for all life history stages as it pertains to random points in the surrounding landscape forbes obviously much selected much more for an uber an area and mess and grass height again received selection for and essentially of all life history stages again as it relates to random point and the surrounding landscape and we could relate overlay to some degree wintering with nest and we look at the structure sagebrush generally those damn that adequate for nesting certainly have the qualities to provide nested or a winner in a range but but it's not always the case the important thing to remember is I you know provides you some figures the numbers with respect to sagebrush cover graph height etc it's always important to remember that those are just guidelines for the general rules you always need to refer to notes or your ecological your local information and Tuukka logical site potential is going to help determine what real what the site's really capable of so let's shift gears a bit and cover aspects of disease predation and hunting sage grouse are susceptible to disease specifically West Nile virus and in that cycle alekstar salas is the competent vector showing here as this mosquito species where if you look at its proboscis it has that white ring around it and so imagine that mosquito poking its proboscis into your arm in summer and as it draws a blood meal it regurgitates a small component of its gut contents back into the host and that's the way that incidental hosts like humans and horses which we monitor for West Nile virus can become infected another incidental host is sage-grouse to date through drawing blood and monitoring populations we know that resistance to this disease remains low and so there's no signs yet that of adaptation where mother nature is taking care of this problem for us we've monitored West Nile virus and published work across these 12 populations and the top four populations you can see that they were tested for West Nile virus and had positive tests and on average survival rates were about ten percent lower in infected versus non-infected populations in the initial outbreak years we monitored populations as the virus swept across from the east coast to the Pacific across North America and in those outbreak years in Wyoming Montana and Alberta we found that about twenty-five percent of all reproductive females suffered mortality during those years lower survival occurs during outbreak years it affects all sex and age classes tends to be a range white issue and West Nile should now be considered an endemic disease and is most severe with periodic outbreaks in mid to low elevations where impacts can be greatest in higher elevations there's fewer growing degree days and less of a chance for the disease to be impactful we've also learned that disease impacts can be compounded when additional surface water is put onto the landscape with things like energy development studies out of places like the powder river basin of Wyoming where you have to lower the head to bring up the gas during extraction there's millions of gallons of water that are put into thousands and thousands of surface ponds and what we've learned is that as those populations are impacted by energy development during outbreak years small X that are already impacted by energy development can wink out when they're hit with this compounding impact so the other thing that can kill a grouse is predators but recall survival is very high in the species so J Strauss have co-evolved with the suite of predators over time once they become adults more really predation is not an issue when you have adequate habitat in the vicinity where we're most concerned about growls mortality is really in the nest and the first two weeks after a nest attached chips are highly highly vulnerable during that time of year so as long as we have good quality habitat population should be able to persist just fine in the states of normal normal predator abundances and populations it's when the habitat becomes fragmented whether it be through anthropogenic disturbances or natural processes where where predation can be well I guess you could say there's have an unfair advantage if you will for growls so we have no cause the conference issue that is a great one especially in the work that folks like yourselves will be engaged in removing those trees remove those perches and hiding places for predators similarily you know eliminating old structures for Denning sites or old fences or old windmills as perch sites you know so there's some opportunities through the programs that NRCS is engaged in that can help alleviate some of that some of that predator risk those are of course all non-lethal methods you get into this whole discussion of predator control lethal predator control you know there may be some limited cases where you have small populations or reintroduction the population that some short-term lethal controls may be may be implemented but really is not a long-term solution it's really all about habitat restoration next the other thing that costs until eyebrows is a hundred so Dave mentioned in the very beginning stage bells are a state trustee sins and our a game species in 10 b 11 states the only stated is not a state of Washington where it is sacred listed so if of those ten states that harvest is technically legal only eight of those states actually held a hunting season in 2013 so two of the states had concerns over population levels and trend and they chose not just have a harvest 2013 seven of the ten states that still technically allow harvest to occur are now by permit only so those are you that are familiar with hunting you know familiar with you know free in the bag fiction possession for those you not hunters what that means is that you know in the past would go out you could hunt you can have up to harvest up the tree birds and the day and have six in the freezers well most states are moving away from that and we've gone to these permits so it's much like a deer tag or an elk tag to get your tag for one or two safe house for the season and your dodge and this little figure on the right which is the harvest trend in Oregon is reflective of the chain can harvest both as a function of population side but also on the right-hand side of that panel shows how hard it has been regulated and maintained at very low levels over the last 20 to 30 years so through that permitting system we ensure that harvest stays below five percent range wide the title regulations allow wildlife biologists to collect information from the wings of birds harvested by hunters so we can garner productivity estimate sex ratio hash dates across very broad scale that otherwise that data would just simply not be available and there's some recent information that suggests that we can actually estimate population size from some of hunter harvested datasets next so the primary threats being addressed across the range to reduce impacts and maintain healthy populations really depend on where you have your boots on the ground and so the eight primary threats identified in the conservation objectives team report or the cot and supported by woth was near term sage-grouse conservation strategy are shown on the slide and the next as Maps and so these maps show sage-grouse management zones in blue polygons and populations within those shaded light green the place that the threat is relevant is colored red and so in the Columbia Basin distinct population segments and large parts of management zone one in the northeast part of the range its agricultural conversion urbanization or subdivision in de sagebrush habitats is more widespread compared to energy development that has some impacts in the Western range but is really management zone 12 and 7 issue and the numerous other forms of infrastructure like power lines and roads is range wide and then more Western issues include the expansion of conifer into formerly unoccupied areas and then catastrophic wildfire in the Great Basin and other western states which is also linked to the invasion of exotic annuals like the nasty feedback loop with cheatgrass and then listed last by waffle ax is the need long-term for sustained investment to maximize return on investment for our conservation actions and so in closing one of the last messages that we wanted to leave you with we jokingly talked about the need to keep Humpty Dumpty up on the wall because once Humpty Dumpty falls he's just like sagebrush ecosystems they're difficult to put back together and so prevention in conservation is easier than restoration and as we all know in sage grouse arena today that's going to take the right policies and the right practices in the right places so thanks to everybody who's working on sage grouse and putting effort into this every day to help maintain healthy wildlife populations through sustainable ranching and we really appreciate your time today and data it looks like we do have two questions I came in via the notes tab okay first we have can you clarify what you mean by AJ conversion sure and so agricultural conversion is prolific up in management zone one in the northeastern part of the range Montana Dakotas and northeast Wyoming and also Alberta and Saskatchewan populations and so agricultural conversion is when a rancher decides to become a farmer and those sagebrush habitats are broken by the plow and turned in to wheat fields and maybe somebody working in the Great Basin or maybe in other western populations where agriculture conversions not a big deal it is listed as the primary stressor in the northeastern part of the range okay next we have how can you protect protect habitat and high priority areas when there are interstate transmission lines being planned and installed these transmission lines are part of the president's initiative of energy independence probably the major advance in sage-grouse conservation in the last five years is the idea of packs and so much of the public land policy and protection on private lands is geared towards reducing impacts of human infrastructure in these high bird abundance areas and so while not perfect and our national energy policy is still being shaped a primary interest by decision makers should be to route large infrastructure projects away from big sage-grouse populations to reduce the need for things like Endangered Species Act listings okay next you have a question about predation we hear a lot from producers how they think there has been an increase in eagles hawks etc is there any data out there showing an increase in these populations yeah so I think that probably the best data sets we have are on breeding bird survey data and I think where we see the largest increases is likely in Ravens I don't know that necessarily that he will show the same population growth that some of these other things do that but there is some data that would tend to point towards that but I guess I'll to encourage folks to think about it in the context of you know you you're hearing at from producers and it's a valid concern so the question is is what can we do about it and you know I would encourage you to sort of acknowledge and say yeah that may be going on you know what sort of steps can we take on your ranch to alleviate any perches or things that may be giving those critters and undue advantage because getting into the whole conversation about predator control is just something that is going to be too contentious there's not much we in the field can do about that anyway and so try to focus on the proactive things that you can do to alleviate perches and den sites and other things on the ranch with that producer okay hearing no other questions then again thanks for your time and we really appreciate the opportunity to present the information today have a great afternoon

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