The University of Arizona

The Greater Sage-Grouse Story: Do We Have It Right?

Matthew A. Cronin


On the Ground
• Greater sage-grouse were found to be threatened
or endangered with extinction in a preliminary
assessment in 2010, with a final decision on an
Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing due in 2015.
• ESA criteria regarding endangered status (in
danger of extinction), threatened status (likely to
become in danger of extinction), the foreseeable
future (in which a species will become in danger of
extinction), and a significant portion of a species
range (without which a species will be in danger of
extinction) are not definitive, rely on predictions, and
are all concerned with species extinction, not simply
population declines.
• The 2010 ESA determination for sage-grouse relies
on observations of declining populations, predictions
from models with uncertain assumptions, incomplete
population data, and anticipated habitat changes.
Prediction of species extinction from this information
can be considered speculation, and insufficient for an
ESA listing.
• Wildlife management without the encumbrances of
the ESA and its associated litigation and regulation
can be used to maintain and enhance species that
are not in immediate danger of extinction, such as

Keywords: Greater sage grouse, Centrocercus
urophasianus, extinction, endangered species act,
predictive models.

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