Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards, as per the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

Recovery Strategy for the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus urophasianus) in Canada [Proposed] 2007

Executive Summary

The Greater Sage-Grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus urophasianus is the largest of the North American indigenous grouse species and is a sagebrush obligate within the sagebrush range of southeastern Alberta, southwestern Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada. This report deals with the C. u. urophasianus population that occupies habitat in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan at the northern fringe of the North American Greater Sage-Grouse range. In the U.S., C. urophasianus phaios was considered the western subspecies and C. urophasianus urophasianus the eastern subspecies, however using genetic and ecological data (Benedict et al. 2003), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the two Sage-Grouse subspecies would be considered one species (Centrocercus urophasianus) across its range.  In Canada, COSEWIC and SARA still list the scientific name as Centrocercus urophasianus urophasianus and the common name as Greater Sage-Grouse, urophasianus subspecies.

Greater Sage-Grouse (hereafter known as Sage-Grouse) are dependent on sagebrush for food and shelter, thus the silver sagebrush-grassland communities of the native Canadian prairie provide necessary habitat.  Currently, Sage-Grouse inhabit approximately 6000 km2 of sagebrush range in the two provinces.  Both the range and size of Sage-Grouse populations have declined considerably in all parts of their North American range.

Threats to Sage-Grouse populations in prairie Canada include habitat loss and degradation (agriculture and industry), habitat fragmentation (agriculture, industry, utility, and transportation infrastructure), predation (low annual recruitment), altered landscape hydrology (altered food and habitat resources), diseases, direct mortality factors, and climate fluctuation (compounding effects).  Recovery of Sage-Grouse populations is considered to be feasible because:  a) the population currently remains unchanged at low levels with sufficient numbers of birds and active leks to produce offspring for population growth; b) there currently exists ‘source’ habitat that yields positive net production, and sub-optimal habitat that yields poorer recruitment but could be improved to produce net population gains; and c) mitigation and manipulation of land uses can minimize or eliminate threats to the birds and their habitat.  Initiatives identified within this strategy will test and refine unproven techniques for development of landscape-scale best management practices for optimal Sage-Grouse production and maintenance.

The following goals focus on the elimination of further losses to population numbers and habitat, while striving to improve availability of quality habitat for population increases via short and long-term targets:

·        No loss of active Sage-Grouse leks or Sage-Grouse population numbers in any portion of the current Sage-Grouse range in Alberta and Saskatchewan,

·        By 2012, improve Sage-Grouse population status and productivity within Alberta and Saskatchewan so that all populations within the current range show a positive trend in the number of strutting males at leks and the number of active leks for the period 2000 to 2012, and,

·        By 2026, achieve a stable or increasing Sage-Grouse population with:

1)      ≥ 365 strutting males at leks in Alberta and ≥ 500 strutting males at leks in Saskatchewan, and

2)      ≥16 active leks in Alberta and ≥ 30 active leks in Saskatchewan.

Objectives include the following: monitoring populations to measure progress towards goals; ensuring habitat connectivity to preserve gene flow; determining causative factors for population declines and best management practices to enable recovery; identifying, protecting and enhancing key habitat; and integrating Sage-Grouse conservation activities with broader prairie grassland landscape-scale management and conservation initiatives.  Critical habitat for Sage-Grouse has not been identified in this document but a schedule of studies to identify critical habitat has been included.