U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologists recommended in early December that the greater sage grouse not be listed as an endangered species. Many opponents of sage grouse listing thought if listed under the Endangered Species Act, the species could become the “spotted owl” of Western ranching.
A final decision by FWS Director Steve Williams was expected by Dec. 29. Seldom has the director made a decision about listing a species that went against the finding of the experts.
There's been an unprecedented effort in 11 states — on more than 100 million acres — to help conserve the sage grouse. Local working groups comprised of agencies, organizations and individuals have been working to protect and improve sage grouse habitat.