Study: Climate Change Could Reduce Sage Grouse Habitat

Apr 13, 2015

Credit Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

Government scientists say a warming climate could significantly reduce the amount of greater sage grouse habitat in portions of Wyoming, a key stronghold for the troubled bird species.

The chicken-sized grouse already has seen dramatic declines in recent decades due to disease, oil drilling, grazing and other factors.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists said a warming climate could become an even greater risk, reducing nesting habitat by 12 percent by 2050.

The findings were published in the journal Ecological Indicators. Scientists analyzed past climate patterns across 3,200 square miles and compared that with precipitation projections to predict future conditions.

Sage grouse range across 11 Western states and two Canadian provinces.

The U.S. Interior Department is to decide this fall if the birds should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.