The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 17 - 12/21/00
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As Yet, No Word on Petition to List Sage Grouse
"It's been so quiet, it's scary," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pat Deibert last week on the lack of news from environmental groups concerning a threatened petition to list sage grouse as an endangered species.
Ms. Deibert said several environmental groups have taken the USFWS to court over the petition for the Gunnison sage grouse, and have petitioned to have the Washington state population of sage grouse listed, but the more broad and potentially significant petition for sage grouse throughout the West, including Wyoming, has not been forthcoming.
Last year, a representative with the American Lands Alliance, said a petition to list sage grouse would probably be filed with the USFWS in 2000. A petition to list sage grouse could have huge impact on oil and gas activity and livestock grazing here in Sublette County.
Jasper Carleton of the Biodiverstiy Legal Foundation, one of the groups working on the sage grouse issue, said in an interview Friday that right now the focus is on the Gunnison sage grouse in Colorado, which he describes as the "most imperiled." He said his organization is continuing to work on the status review for the range-wide sage grouse population - including the population in Wyoming. "You've got to do the science on these things first," he explains. Once the group completes the status review, it will decide whether to petition to have sage grouse listed.
"The trend is downward in all of the sage grouse populations," says Mr. Carleton. "We've lost the bird already in part of its historic range."
The American Lands Alliance operates the sagegrouse.org website, which discusses sage grouse and ongoing environmental group efforts to protect the birds.
Even if the groups did file a petition with the USFWS, Pat Deibert says it might be a while before her agency could address it. "We have been told that we don't have enough funding to work on any listing actions for this fiscal year," she said. The USFWS will focus on emergency actions and those listings driven by court cases, she concluded. <
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