Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 6, 2023


Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223,

California Agency Recommends Advancing Protection for Sage Grouse

Charismatic Dancing Bird Threatened by Habitat Loss, Grazing

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California Department of Fish and Wildlife late Wednesday recommended that the state’s greater sage grouse move toward protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

The action came in response to a 2022 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. The agency’s report, filed with the California Fish and Game Commission, concludes that the petition provides enough scientific information to show that protecting the birds as threatened or endangered in California may be warranted.

“This report is great news for California’s beautiful dancing sage grouse,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center. “The ongoing declines in nearly all of the birds’ populations doesn’t bode well for them. Legal protections will help reduce threats to sage grouse and their sagebrush habitat so they don’t slide further toward extinction.”

Sage grouse risk disappearing from California because of habitat loss, fragmentation and other threats from land development, mining, invasive species, wildfire, climate change and off-road vehicle use. Many of the sage grouse’s sub-populations in California are below the minimum population threshold, increasingly isolated and at imminent risk of disappearing.

Greater sage grouse are famous for their showy plumage and elaborate mating dances, during which the males make popping sounds with large, inflated air sacs. There are two separate units of greater sage grouse in the state: a northern California population in Lassen and Modoc counties and the bi-state sage-grouse population, which is found east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains straddling the California-Nevada border in Inyo and Mono counties.

The bi-state population is a genetically unique and isolated population of greater sage grouse, with nearly all subpopulations at risk of being wiped out. Only the Bodie Hills sage-grouse population in the bi-state area has shown strong stability in recent years.

Under the California Endangered Species Act, the next step is for the commission to decide whether to accept the recommendation and grant the imperiled birds candidate status while the department completes an in-depth analysis. The birds would be legally protected during that review period.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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