Menu
Contact Us Search

Science Spotlight

Science Institute News

rss

Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Sage Grouse Relocation

Sage Grouse Relocation

Two women hold and measure a wild sage grouse (bird)
Two women in desert with net and bird box

Five agencies in two states recently partnered to help a tiny population of Greater Sage Grouse avoid extinction along the California-Nevada border. Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey are working together in this first-of-its kind study. On April 22, the bi-state team of scientists captured, inseminated, transported and released 17 of these female upland birds to a new habitat where they will hopefully flourish and repopulate. Eight male birds were also transported to Bodie Hills as part of the study.

The birds were captured near Bodie and moved to Parker Meadows, about 30 miles south. CDFW scientists have been tracking the number of Greater Sage Grouse in Parker Meadows for years, and it was evident that human intervention would be necessary to keep the group alive. Between 2002 and 2010, the number of males had dropped from about 17 to only four, and CDFW estimated that the entire population had a 70 percent chance of going extinct in the next five years.

Translocation was chosen as the best option to save them, as it would not only boost the number of birds in the area, but also immediately widen the gene pool.

The birds were captured at night, measured and radio-collared. The hens were also artificially inseminated with sperm from the males in the Bodie population before being transported and released to integrate into their new home. (link opens in new windowWatch video of the capture, insemination and release.)

Although biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey will be doing most of the hands-on work with the birds, CDFW biologists played an important role as well. Environmental Specialist Tim Taylor worked for months to obtain the proper land access permissions and assess the habitat near Bodie. Taylor identified several potential problems (including conifers, where raptors would likely perch while in search of prey, and barbed wire fencing) that needed to be removed prior to the relocation. And Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Gardner, in Sacramento, was instrumental in securing grant funding – without which, this partnership project would not have been possible.

“It’s a long term thing – it’s going to take about five years to get results we are hoping for,” Taylor said. “But we’ve got a great crew and I’m confident we’re going to have success and keep that little population going.”

Read more about the link opens in new windowGreater Sage Grouse study.

Photos by Dan Hottle/USFWS



Recent Posts

  • For 21 Years, Volunteer Has Kept Tabs on Morro Bay’s Black Brant Posted 2 days ago
    Banded black brant feeding on eelgrass Volunteer John Roser in the field at Morro Bay Flock of black brant in flight above Morro Bay Black brant in Morro Bay John Roser began hearing the stories shortly after he moved to Los Osos, San ...
  • CDFW Gets a Jump on Preserving Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frogs Posted last week
    It does not take a leap of faith to believe that CDFW scientists have gained the upper hand in bolstering the population of yellow-legged frogs in the High Sierra. Over the past three decades, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs have become ...
  • California Fish and Game, Volume 103, Issue 3 Posted 2 weeks ago
    The latest issue of California Fish and Game, 103-3, makes a significant contribution to the body of research related to longfin smelt in California. A paper titled, “Historic and contemporary distribution of Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) along the California ...
  • The Challenges of Studying Roosevelt Elk Posted 3 weeks ago
    For residents of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the majestic Roosevelt elk is a common sight. Although Roosevelt numbers were dwindling in California by the 1920s, conservative management strategies and limited hunting opportunities have helped them to rebound. Today, ...
  • Badly Burned Ursines Get Back on their Feet – Thanks to Teamwork and Fish Skin Posted 3 weeks ago
    The tilapia skin is visible on the bottom of the bear's paw. Veterinarians perform an ultrasound to check on the progress of the second bear's pregnancy. Acupuncture needles assist with pain management. After placing the second bear, the team moved the first ...
Read More »

CDFW Science Institute logo