Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation statement on announcement that Greater Sage Grouse will not be listed under the ESA – Sept. 22, 2015

LARAMIE, WY, Sept. 22, 2015–The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Sept. 22, 2015 that protection under the Endangered Species Act for the Greater Sage Grouse is not warranted and is withdrawing the species from the candidate species list. 

According to the USFWS website, a status review conducted by the Service has found that the greater sage-grouse remains relatively abundant and well-distributed across the species’ 173-million acre range and does not face the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

The statement by the USFWS continued:  “The Service’s decision follows an unprecedented conservation partnership across the western United States that has significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat.”

“We are naturally pleased with the USFWS decision to not list the sage grouse as it is a species that should have never been proposed for listing,” said Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Executive Vice President. 

According to Hamilton, this 2015 decision shows the collaborative effort by many parties to avoid a listing can result in a correct decision.   “Listing a species causes a lot of problems and doesn’t necessarily benefit the species,” Hamilton continued.  “We have always said those working the land know better how to manage the land and all of its features than those thousands of miles away.”

According to the Wyoming Farm Bureau, local input and individual population management, versus one-size-fits all, strategies are crucial for determining what is working on the local level. 

“Local input facilitates strategies which will more acceptable to local residents and will also be better able to take into account local conditions and resource uses,” said Brett Moline, WyFB Director of Public and Government Affairs.  “Local monitoring efforts will also be useful to determine what is working at the local level.”

Livestock grazing is both compatible with and beneficial to greater sage-grouse habitat conservation.   Moline explains the benefit:  “Resource users such as ranchers are the stewards of the greater sage-grouse habitat on both the private and public land they use. Ranchers provide an outstanding line of defense against fire and noxious weeds.  Ranchers typically manage forage for optimum production, and are the primary providers of private land open space in Wyoming.  Without livestock producers utilizing and protecting private lands of the west, large areas of greater sage-grouse habitat would be in jeopardy. The benefits provided by ranching relate directly to several identified threats to greater sage-grouse habitat, including wildfire, invasive plants, and predation.”

“As with any ESA determination, we know lawsuits will follow,” Hamilton concluded.  “We have seen this time and time again with the abuses of the ESA.  It is not about the species, but about land control.” 

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general agriculture organization.  The primary goals of the organization are to protect private property rights and help members achieve an equitable return on their investment.  Visit www.wyfb.org.

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