Scientists whose study found a positive relationship between taller grass and sage-grouse nest success are concerned environmental groups are using findings to incorrectly label livestock producers as responsible for the birds’ decline.
The study is described in “Linking conservation actions to demography; grass height explains variation in greater sage-grouse nesting survival” published earlier this month in the journal Wildlife Biology. The article can be read at http://bit.ly/grassheight.
Dave Naugle, the study’s principal investigator and professor in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana, said the Center for Biological Diversity in a media release this week used the study to call for a uniform 7-inch stubble height requirement across sage-grouse range as a regulatory mechanism to shut down public lands grazing.
“The center’s messaging is an abuse of science,” said Naugle. “Twisting the facts to further an agenda only alienates partners and slows defensible policy making.”
The study period was 2003-2007. The scientists found a strong correlative relationship between grass height and nest success in northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana study sites, which has helped prompt new research, said lead author Kevin Doherty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado.
“Our research has helped to spur new research projects that are experimentally designed to evaluate if grazing systems can be used as a tool to increase sage-grouse populations,” he said.