Wyoming sage grouse head to help recovery in North Dakota

Wyoming is home to more sage grouse than any other state or province in the world. This resource may provide a huge boost for North Dakota, where sage grouse have been nearly extirpated. This week folks from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Utah State University spent nights out working hard to round up a few sage grouse, 60 in total, to then ship off to North Dakota.

“As a state we have led in sage grouse management and there is a strong commitment to help others succeed in conserving this species. It was a pleasure to help another state with this effort,” said Tom Christiansen, the sage grouse program coordinator for Wyoming Game and Fish.

The capture site was north of Rawlins where grouse densities are healthy and past studies provide a baseline of information from which the impacts of the translocation on the source population can be measured.

“The limited history of sage grouse translocations is not filled with successes, but there are not many options for North Dakota and this is worth trying,” said Christiansen. “Not only will the success of the translocation be monitored in North Dakota, but the impacts to the Wyoming population providing the birds will also be studied. The knowledge gained from the research will help us develop techniques that will hopefully increase the success of future translocations.” Similar translocations and studies are being conducted in Utah and California with the U.S. Geological Survey coordinating the research.

All told Wyoming sent 40 females and 20 males to North Dakota. Some were flown up and others made the trip by truck. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is footing the bill for this project and has also committed to providing wild rooster pheasants to Wyoming for use as breeding stock at the Department’s bird farms.

There is another translocation planned for next year as well.