Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sage grouse live in some of the most remote, un-inhabited terrain left in the lower 48 states. Large intact sagebrush is key to the bird's welfare and survival. While warm season diets consist largely of green succulent plants such as dandelion leaves and even alfala, late fall over winter their diet is pretty much exclusively sagebrush leaves. Most studies put the winter diet at 100% sagebrush. Regardless of season sage grouse are never far from sagebrush; hens nest in sagebrush and for the first few weeks the young grouse feed almost exclusively on insects and plants associated with sagebrush. As summer deepens many birds return again and again to wet meadows, spring seeps and sometimes alfalfa fields though always sagebrush is nearby. Sage grouse have become a political lightning rod of late. With most states cowtowing to agricultural, mining and developers interests who fear severe restrictions should the big grouse be listed as endangered, seasons have been shortened severely, permits are often required and bag limits in some cases are but a single bird allowed. In Montana thanks to strong-willed biologists who refuse to buckle our season stands at 61 days, bag limit is 2 per day (some biologists tell me it would be 4 per day if not for the heavy handed political movement currently sweeping sage grouse country). The reason for the dichotomy is of course easy to figure out: Montana bases its management plan soley on science while all the rest are based pretty much on greed and emotional BS. So there you have it...

No comments:

Post a Comment