Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 18, 2022


Lisa Belenky, (415) 385-5694,

Petition Seeks California Endangered Species Protection for Sage Grouse

SAN DIEGO The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition today to protect greater sage grouse in the state under the California Endangered Species Act. The petition, filed with the California Fish and Game Commission, demonstrates that most of the greater sage grouse populations in California have declined significantly and are at imminent risk of being wiped out.

“It’s alarming that nearly all sage grouse populations in California continue to decline, and these magnificent birds are now only found in a fraction of their former range,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior counsel at the Center. “More legal protections are needed because threats to sage grouse and their sagebrush habitat keep increasing. Years of voluntary conservation measures haven’t stabilized these populations or provided the protections these birds and their habitat need to survive in California.”

Sage grouse risk disappearing from California because of habitat loss and other threats from land development, mining, invasive species, wildfire, climate change, off-road vehicle use and increased predation. 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 extirpation. 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, once the petition is accepted as complete, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has three months to make an initial recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission. The commission will then vote on whether to move the petition forward for analysis at a public hearing.

Bi-state sage grouse
Bi-state sage grouse. Photo credit: Jeanne Stafford, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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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