Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 8, 2017

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Secretary Zinke Undermines Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plans

Boon to Corporate Polluters Would Sacrifice Wildlife, Public Lands

WASHINGTON— Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans for a “review” that threatens to undermine efforts to protect the iconic greater sage grouse across 11 Western states. Zinke's plan could give big oil companies and other polluters new access to vital grouse habitat.

“Zinke's ‘review' is clearly a pretext to push the sage grouse to extinction in return for short-term profits for his corporate buddies. They might as well form a shotgun posse to kill off the species directly,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure this amazing bird and its habitat are protected.”

Background on Greater Sage Grouse Protection
The greater sage grouse, an iconic bird known and loved for its elaborate mating dance, is imperiled. As many as 16 million birds once ranged across 297 million acres of sagebrush grass lands, a vast area of western North America known as the “Sagebrush Sea.”

Over the past 200 years, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing and development have reduced sage grouse range by nearly half, and sage grouse populations have steadily declined. Today sage grouse are found in 11 Western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Protecting the greater sage grouse benefits a host of other species that depend on the Sagebrush Sea, including pronghorn, elk, mule deer, golden eagle, native trout and nearly 200 migratory and resident bird species.

The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing about half of the remaining sage grouse habitat. After years of inaction and prompted by a 2011 decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the bird for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the BLM initiated sage grouse protection planning.

This unprecedented five-year effort, led by the Department of Interior, resulted in land-use plans with new measures to conserve sage grouse and potentially prevent the need to list the species as endangered. The Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to list the greater sage grouse was predicated on the assumption that the public land management plans would be implemented and would reverse the decline of the greater sage-grouse.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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