From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 17 - July 25, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Sage grouse and prairie dog petitions are in

by Cat Urbigkit

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officials confirmed Tuesday that the agency has received petitions to list two more western Wyoming wildlife species as federally protected animals pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

Chuck Davis of the FWS's Denver regional office said in an interview that his agency received a petition to list the white-tailed prairie dog and also received two petitions to list sage grouse.

The sage grouse petitions were filed by different people and apparently use different terminology: the Greater Sage Grouse and the Eastern Sage Grouse. The terminology is the result of confusion of the taxonomy of the bird's various populations, Davis said.

One of the grouse petitions was filed by Randy Webb who actually placed a copyright notice on his petition to list the animals, thus the federal agency was trying to resolve the copyright issue with media requests for access to the documents as this issue went to press, Davis said.

So while this federal agency must take the next 90 days to examine the issue and make an initial determination whether the species warrants federal protection, a draft of the sage grouse conservation plan is scheduled to be presented to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission at its meeting in Evanston today.

The National Wildlife Federation's petition to list the black-tailed prairie dog as an imperiled species over a year ago prompted state officials to begin preparing a plan for this species, but the WG&F Commission declined to take action. This species resides east of the Continental Divide. The species native to Sublette County is the white-tailed version, which is the subject of the new petition.

The 363-page white-tailed prairie dog petition was filed by a coalition of seven environmental groups and Utah author Terry Tempest Williams. The groups include the Center for Native Ecosystems of Colorado, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance of Laramie, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance of Utah, American Lands Alliance of Washington, D.C., Forest Guardians of New Mexico, the Ecology Center of Montana and Sinapu of Colorado.

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