Area sage grouse numbers declining for third straight year

Each year, several Pinedale Game & Fish personnel get out before dawn to count the number of sage grouse on strutting grounds, called leks, throughout the region as another measure of population trends. Although the final counts haven’t been tabulated, numbers are expected to be down again. “Persisting snow and winter weather this spring hampered our ability to conduct as many lek surveys,” said Pinedale Wildlife Biologist, Dean Clause.

“Based on my lek monitoring and talking to several others, I am sure male lek numbers will be down from last year. And based on poor chick survival the past two years, a decline was anticipated.”

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Each fall, hunters deposit wings from harvested birds in “wing barrels” for biologists to analyze and determine a chick:hen ratio. In 2018, the statewide data showed a ratio of .83 chicks per hen, which was a third consecutive year being below the 1.5 chicks per hen managers like to see for a stable to increasing population. So, managers are expecting numbers to be somewhat depressed again this year.

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