New guide provides tools for ranchers, others in sage-grouse country

Nine brown birds in green field, red hillside in back.
Young sage-grouse congregate along an irrigation ditch in a freshly cut hay field. Photo: Leanne Correll

According to its authors, Landowner Guide to Sage-grouse Conservation in Wyoming: A Practical Guide for Land Owners and Managers is meant to enhance understanding and conservation of sage-grouse in Wyoming.

The new guide, which provides tools and resources, is available as a free download from University of Wyoming Extension at bit.ly/UWEpubs.

“It condenses scientific findings into a practical format that is easy to use and understand,” said Derek Scasta, a UW Extension range specialist and co-author.

In 70 compact pages, the guide covers basic sage-grouse biology, life stages, habitat needs, predator impacts, conservation planning and sagebrush monitoring.

More than 40 original Wyoming photographs and seven state-level maps illustrate the lives of these birds that coexist with cattle, other livestock and approximately 350 vertebrate wildlife species, including songbirds and small mammals.

Full-color photos show males in fall mating displays, the sagebrush shape that provides winter cover for nesting females, and the broadleaf flowering plants (forbs)  and insects that provide protein-rich food for chicks in spring. A wire mesh escape ramp in a livestock tank is presented as a simple alteration to reduce sage-grouse drowning.

“Sagebrush ecosystems are complex, and efforts to conserve sage-grouse are multifaceted,” said lead author and photographer Leanne Correll.

Correll heads an agriculture and natural resources consulting business in Saratoga and earned a master’s degree in rangeland ecology and watershed management from UW in 2017.

Wyoming is a sage-grouse stronghold, encompassing almost a quarter of the range-wide habitat and 37 percent of known male populations – more than any other state.

“Those who own or manage sage-grouse habitat play a critical role in conserving this umbrella species in Wyoming and the West,” said Correll. “They were the catalyst for developing this guide.”

Landowner Guide to Sage-grouse Conservation in Wyoming co-authors with Correll are Rebecca Burton and University of Wyoming professors Scasta and Jeffrey Beck.

Contributing support and expertise were local ranchers and conservation experts, other UW faculty members, and representatives of county, state, and federal agencies, including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The guide is one of many free publications available at  bit.ly/UWEpubs, covering sage-grouse, sagebrush, grasslands, grazing, conservation, and ranch economics.

For more information, contact Scasta at (307) 766-2337 or jscasta@uwyo.edu.