The Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Rockies, is advocating that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as an endangered species. The USFWS has an opportunity to list the bird as endangered next month.
In a media release from Audubon Rockies, the group says these birds are not only sacred to Native Americans in the region, but they are a unique species that deserves to be protected. The Gunnison Sage Grouse was recognized as the first new bird species to be described in continental North America in nearly a century.
The bird's habitat has been limited to the Gunnison Basin of western Colorado and a small piece of eastern Utah, according to the Audubon Society. There are less than 5,000 Gunnison Sage Grouse left in existence and the Audubon Society says their numbers are declining.
With a unique genetic structure they say the risk of losing even more of the species is a possibility, given such small isolated populations. If a severe weather event affected the area where the species lives, or if predation by house cats occurs, the risk is even greater.
Audubon Rockies says the USFWS has a great track record of bringing a species back from the brink of extinction and they're calling on people to come together to save the species. Ultimately, the USFWS will decide the fate of the Gunnison Sage Grouse in April.