New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.
A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.
Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.
Researchers studied sage grouse nests in Wyoming and Montana. They found the likelihood that at least one egg in a nest would hatch increased when the grass nearby was taller.
Biologists theorize that vegetation, including grass, provides cover that helps sage grouse hide their nests from predators.