Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 5, 2017

Contact Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Trump Administration Threatens Iconic Bird Species

Interior Moves to Undermine Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plan

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration today formally launched a federal review expected to scale back protections for the greater sage grouse and open the door to more fossil fuel development in the imperiled bird’s vital habitat.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke opened public comment and triggered timelines that could ultimately give fracking, mining and livestock companies increased access to public land. The Secretary also formally announced his intent to abandon a proposal to protect 10 million acres of the most important sage-grouse habitat from new hard-rock mining claims. Today’s decision follows Zinke’s June announcement that he planned a review of sage-grouse conservation plans.

“This move shows Zinke’s total contempt for imperiled species and the places they need to live,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Zinke might as well form a shotgun posse to kill off these animals directly. The Trump administration is perfectly willing to wipe out sage grouse, and a host of other species, to reward its industry friends.”

Sage-grouse success also benefits pronghorn, elk, golden eagle, native trout and nearly 200 other bird species. Over the past 200 years, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing and development have reduced sage grouse range by nearly half, and the birds’ populations have steadily declined.

Zinke has been an outspoken critic of an unprecedented, years-long sage-grouse conservation effort covering 10 western states. At the insistence of certain states and industry, the final federal conservation plans weakened measures recommended by sage grouse experts assembled by the Department of the Interior. The plans also include loopholes, exemptions, modifications and waivers for compliance.

“Sage-grouse conservation plans already reflect major political concessions to western states and big industries,” said Spivak. “If Zinke truly cared about the public lands and wildlife he’s sworn to protect, he’d strengthen these modest plans to give grouse and their habitat the protection they need and deserve. Instead, sage grouse extinction will be part of Zinke’s legacy.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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