Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 14, 2023


Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223,

California Commission Advances Protection for California Sage Grouse

Charismatic Dancing Birds Threatened by Habitat Loss, Grazing

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California Fish and Game Commission elevated the greater sage grouse to a candidate species today, providing full California Endangered Species Act protections to the birds for at least a year. In the interim, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will conduct a scientific review and recommend whether the birds should be permanently protected under the Act.

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

“What a relief to see California’s beautiful dancing sage grouse move a step closer to permanent protections,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center. “These special birds have endured so much habitat loss and their populations are plummeting. It was the right call to grant sage grouse candidate status while the department uses the best science available to review their plight.”

Sage grouse risk disappearing from California because of habitat loss, fragmentation and other threats from land development, mining, invasive species, wildfire, climate change, competition from domestic and feral livestock, and off-road vehicles. 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.

Greater sage grouse. Credit: Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management Image is available for media use.

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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