FWS announces status review for Gunnison sage grouse
74 Fed. Reg. 61100 (Monday, November 23, 2009)/ Volume 74, Number 224 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of Intent to Conduct a Status Review of Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus)
ACTION: Notice of intent to conduct status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), give notice of our intent to conduct a status review of Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus). We conduct status reviews to determine whether the species should be listed as endangered or threatened under the Act. Through this notice, we encourage all interested parties to provide us information regarding Gunnison sage-grouse.
KEITHINKING: Audubon considers the Gunnison sage grouse one of America's Top 10 Endangered Birds. Other groups obviously agree; the status review is a byproduct of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups who argued that the FWS improperly found listing of the species to be warranted but precluded by higher priorities, and who further argued that the decline in species abundance necessitated immediate emergency rulemaking.
The sage-grouse (Centrocercus spp.) is the largest grouse in North America and was first described by Lewis and Clark in 1805. Sage-grouse are most easily identified by their large size; dark brown color; distinctive black bellies; long, pointed tails; and association with sagebrush habitats. Sage-grouse are known for their elaborate mating ritual where males congregate on strutting grounds called leks and ‘‘dance’’ to attract a mate. See YouTube video. During the breeding season males have conspicuous filoplumes (specialized erectile feathers on the neck) and exhibit yellow-green apteria (fleshy bare patches of skin) on their breasts. Gunnison sage-grouse are smaller than greater sage-grouse (C. urophasianus), weighing approximately one-third less. Their filoplumes are longer and give the appearance of a ‘‘ponytail’’ during the courtship display, unlike the filoplumes on greater sage-grouse. Photo from Bureau of Land Management,caption info from FWS notice.