fence collisions and sage grouse

The following is the beginning of a piece by Cat Urbigkit that showed up on Stephen Bodio’s Querencia blog yesterday:

Making headlines across the West of late is a two-page preliminary report issued by a Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist noting that barbed wire fences pose a collision hazard to Greater Sage Grouse. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to meet its court-ordered February deadline to determine if sage grouse should be granted Endangered Species Act protections, so the report will come into play there. Those who oppose livestock grazing on public lands are also latching onto the report as another reason to rid the western range of its agricultural industry, and its associated fences.

But everyone might be reading more into the report than it merits. WG&F biologist Tom Christiansen noted it all began when two separate falconers provided incidental reports that grouse had been injured or killed on the top wire of certain fences located near important grouse areas. The area is just to the southeast of where we ranch, in the border area of Sublette and Sweetwater counties. This area is believed to have one of the largest concentrations of sage grouse on the planet. It’s falconer Steve Chindgren’s stomping grounds (the falconer who is the subject of Rachel Dickinson’s Falconer on the Edge).

According to Christiansen’s report, “One of these falconers subsequently began marking such fences with aluminum beverage cans in a volunteer effort to reduce these mortalities.” (Click here to read the rest of the post . . .)

If you are not familiar with this blog, I urge you to check it out. Several people post regularly including Cat Urbigkit, Matt Mullenix, and Steve Bodio and the topics range from falconry to coursing dogs to natural history.

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