Seventeen sage grouse scientists, 14 of whom hold PhDs, have told Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that changes to greater sage grouse plans may cause continued population losses and land the bird on the threatened or endangered species list.
Studies by western wildlife managers suggest greater sage grouse numbers have been declining in the past several years which warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Zinke ordered a review of 98 Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management plans that would benefit grouse and their habitat.
The resulting report recommended changes to allow more oil and gas drilling, plus fewer restrictions on livestock grazing, among other things.
If that report is followed, the scientists say, it will detract from efforts to stabilize or increase sage grouse numbers and improve their habitat — efforts that are necessary to keep sage grouse off the list of threatened or endangered species.