MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Sept. 22 2015 - In an important decision today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) took a huge step toward proving partnerships among private landowners, ranchers and federal and state agencies can result in conservation efforts removing the need to place a species on the Endangered Species List.
Billed as "the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history," the landscape-scale conservation effort across the western United States has significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species' breeding habitat.
"The fact that the Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with state agencies, private landowners and other conservation groups to help alleviate the threats facing the sage grouse is a huge step in the right direction for conservation," said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall. "For too long the Endangered Species Act has been viewed by many in the public as 'no good deed goes unpunished.' This decision shows that voluntary, cooperative efforts in conservation are not only essential for species recovery, but are seen as critically important by the wildlife management community."
According to the USFWS, despite long-term population declines, sage-grouse remain relatively abundant and well-distributed across the species' 173-million-acre range. After a thorough analysis of the best available scientific information, and taking into account ongoing key conservation efforts and their projected benefits, the USFWS determined the bird does not face the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future and therefore does not need protection under the ESA.
"As former director of the USFWS, I would like to congratulate my conservation colleagues for their science-based and deliberative approach to this sage grouse recovery effort," Hall said.
The effort to sage grouse recovery included: new management direction for BLM and Forest Service land use plans that place greater emphasis on conserving sage-grouse habitat; development of state sage-grouse management plans; voluntary, multi-partner private lands effort to protect millions of acres of habitat on ranches and rangelands across the West; unprecedented collaboration with federal, state and private sector scientists and a comprehensive strategy to fight rangeland fires.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.