Obama admin: Oil & gas drilling wiping out sage grouse in Wyoming

“Environmentalists hailed the new study, saying it bolsters their calls for BLM to better manage and plan energy development on federal land near critical grouse habitat.”

Energywire reports:

A recent academic study conducted for the Bureau of Land Management concludes that large-scale oil and natural gas drilling in northeast Wyoming’s Powder River Basin is wiping out greater sage grouse populations that were flourishing less than 20 years ago.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of Montana also concluded that Wyoming’s “core sage grouse area” approach is not having much of an impact in the basin, and that immediate steps must be taken to protect critical breeding areas, called “leks,” that are essential to the survival of the imperiled bird.

The wide-ranging 46-page study, conducted for BLM’s Buffalo Field Office in northeast Wyoming, also estimates that drilling activity can affect grouse more than 12 miles away, suggesting buffers around leks need to be larger, and that evaporation ponds associated with natural gas drilling have helped spread West Nile Virus outbreaks that have caused widespread grouse deaths…

Click for the study.

6 thoughts on “Obama admin: Oil & gas drilling wiping out sage grouse in Wyoming”

  1. It’s the explosion of predator numbers like coyotes and the increased popularity of falconing that is killing the sage grouse, something game departments wiil not admit. When most of the sheep ranchers in Wyoming went out of business in the 60’s the predator control stopped and coyote and fox numbers exploded. The grouse began to disappear. The last large population of sage grouse that I saw was in the middle of a uranium mine that was surrounded by a large sheep ranch.

    “Wyoming Wildlife” has blamed everything from sugery drinks to irrigation circles for the decline in sage grouse and pheasant population, it protects the Disneyfied image of predators.

  2. Sage grouse populations have been declining in direct proportion to the destruction of sagebrush-dominated habitats. They are already gone from British Columbia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. The sage brush was burned to make way for cattle grazing, so blame the American fondness for steak and hamburger.
    Men working the oil patch have much more important things to do than wander around the landscape killing weeds.

  3. “sage grouse populations that were flourishing less than 20 years ago.” Perhaps the grouse left their habitat in expectation of oil and gas production, having read the newspapers. Actually, oil and gas production has a far lesser effect on native fauna than most other activities.

  4. Sounds like another one of those wonderfully flawed junk science “studies”. Correlation is not causation. I guarantee you they did not control for such effects as growth in predator species, long term changes in local weather patterns, invasive species both plant and bug affecting food supply, etc., etc.

  5. Powder River Basin; great coal fields back in the 70s and people were saying coal mining would destroy grouse habitat. It is amazing how these environmental causes just keep being recycled. They can almost be correlated with sun spots.

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