September 23, 2015
Greater Sage-Grouse Decision Benefits Elk,
Wildlife Habitat, Sportsmen
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation lauds a conclusion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that the Greater sage-grouse does not warrant federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
“This decision is both a testament and evidence of the cooperation of federal and state agencies, ranchers and other private landowners as well as many of our sister conservation groups,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “It is crucial that we continue to work together to conserve habitat that is vital to elk, sage grouse and other wildlife.”
“Together, we have shown that voluntary efforts joining the resources of private landowners, federal and state agencies, and partner organizations can help drive landscape-level conservation that is good for sage-grouse, ranching operations, and rural communities,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agriculture secretary. “Through the comprehensive initiatives on both public and private lands, the partnership has made and will continue to make monumental strides in supporting the people and wildlife that depend on the sagebrush landscape.”
Elk and sage grouse share 40 million acres of key habitat across 11 western states and up into Canada. Sagebrush serves as critical winter range and calving grounds for elk and year-round habitat for grouse.
Since its founding in 1984, RMEF has worked with its conservation partners to enhance well over half a million acres of sagebrush habitat.
“We’re all in on this because elk habitat overlaps with so many of these core sage grouse areas,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Land and Conservation. “The loss of sage-steppe not only hurts sage grouse but elk and hunters too.”
“This is truly a historic effort – one that represents extraordinary collaboration across the American West,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “The epic conservation effort will benefit westerners and hundreds of species that call this iconic landscape home, while giving states, businesses and communities the certainty they need to plan for sustainable economic development.”