Mule Deer Foundation Applauds Sage Grouse Decision
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) applauded a recent announcement by the Department of the Interior that the greater sage-grouse is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act. That decision, announced at a press event today at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, validates the years of hard work and collaborative conservation efforts by private landowners, non-profit organizations and federal and state agencies.
“We greatly appreciate this Administration’s decision that the greater sage-grouse will not be added to the endangered species list,” said Art Reese, a retired administrator of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and a member of the MDF board of directors. “The public/private conservation efforts to restore our sagebrush ecosystems across the West have been unprecedented and it is reassuring to know that those efforts were recognized and will continue to benefit all sagebrush dependent species.”
MDF has identified mule deer “conservation opportunity areas” where state biologists have identified the most immediate and pressing needs for mule deer conservation – nearly 17 million of those acres overlap with sage grouse priority areas of conservation. Because of these significant overlaps, MDF is working with the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) and state and federal agencies to restore habitat in these important areas. Conservation efforts have included juniper removal and restoration of native grasses and forbs in the sagebrush community, particularly in those areas within mule deer winter range, movement corridors or areas that have been severely impacted by wildfires. MDF is also partnering with state fish and wildlife agencies in Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming on their Mule Deer Initiatives where mule deer habitats significantly overlap with both greater and Gunnison’s sage grouse. In addition, research released by SGI in March of 2015 shows that conservation efforts undertaken in Wyoming to protect sage grouse core areas will also protect important migratory corridors for deer.
“Thriving sage grouse populations are an indicator that sagebrush ecosystems are healthy, and this is important for more than 350 species of plants and animals. These sagebrush habitats are particularly important for our mule deer and the conservation efforts undertaken by the Sage Grouse Initiative, federal land management agencies, state fish and wildlife agencies, and hundreds of other partners are definitely making a difference,” noted Miles Moretti, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “However our work is not done – we must ensure that all the conservation efforts that have been set in motion do not come to a screeching halt because the threat of an ESA listing is no longer hanging over our heads.”