Friday, April 14, 2017

Sage grouse are being airlifted into southwestern North Dakota

Sage grouse are being airlifted into southwestern North Dakota with high hopes that this native bird can be saved here. The operation airlift started last week, and it may be another week until the state Game and Fish Department crew is able to capture enough wild birds in Wyoming to meet its goal of 40 females and 20 males. The once plentiful bird has declined to near extinction in this state and the ongoing project to transplant them and hopefully reinvigorate the population has an air of desperation. “We’re at the end of our rope here, and we’re doing whatever we can to keep the population from being extirpated,” said upland game management supervisor Aaron Robinson. “Extirpated” is another word for disappeared or wiped out. No question, the numbers here are bleak: There are maybe 10 males, where once 400 strutted and danced for the hens in the claypan flats and big sagebrush country in southwestern Bowman County, edging up into Slope County, Robinson said. West Nile is one killer over time but so is the lost big sagebrush habitat, fragmented by the development of oil and gas wells. Robinson is catching some shuteye when he can and is up all night with the crew, searching for and spotlighting grouse on a lek, or dancing grounds, in southern Wyoming near Rawlins. It’s spring and the birds are congregating for the annual mating ritual, though the females are for some reason hanging back this year. When enough birds are ready to go, they’re individually boxed, flown in and quietly released on a known lek on remote Bureau of Land Management land in Bowman County. The quick flight in a Cessna 182 is less traumatic to the birds than a nine-hour drive...more

No cost figures are given.

No comments: