After President Trump stalled efforts for conservation of the Greater Sage Grouse, which were placed by Biden in 2015 when he was serving as Vice President, in 2021 President Biden is reviewing new rules to be put in place for the protection of this bird species.
Even though the Federal Court blocked Trump’s changes, it only prevented a more negative outbreak, instead of creating a more suitable environment for the species. The already shrinking habitat needs to be expanded on a larger scale, as intended by the Biden administration.
The bird which was a common sight in the U.S. West is now a rare view. This has largely happened due to developmental activities in the region, especially the oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires, and other activities that have catered to their decline in the past decades.
The strategy being offered is a comprehensive one, involving the evaluation of suitable habitats for the endangered species. This is often a point of tension, as any measures to effect conservation practices are protested against by industry workers and those engaged in large-scale agriculture practitioners.
This problem is widely prevalent in the energy-producing regions, especially where the Republicans are in power who profit over public own lands, and engage in legal battles with wildlife advocates, by calling the birds encroachers.
The Greater Sage Grouse which was spread across the region in millions are now less than half. Government statistics show a 65% decline in their population since 1986.
The bird, unfortunately, did not make it high up on the priority list even after being classified as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, stating that other species took priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Department.
Republican leaders in the Western states criticize the President’s steps, as they believe that states must have the autonomy to manage wildlife, and federal lands should be available for energy exploration as well as grazing.
Senator Cynthia Lummis also stated that “Wyoming knows how to manage the greater sage grouse, and I’m very concerned that greater federal control will do nothing for the birds, but be devastating for ranchers and energy producers,”. Wyoming also happens to be the state with the highest number of Greater Sage Grouse, and the Senator feels there are no changes necessary to avail them better protection.