In a smart play on the tradition of a Thanksgiving turkey receiving a Presidential pardon, the Western Grouse Project is requesting that President Obama pardon endangered and threatened grouse in the American West. Prairies are neglected within our system of national parks and forests. The few grasslands in public ownership receive inadequate management from the Bureau of Land Management, and prairie ecosystems suffer losses of diversity as a result.
Grouse are an emblematic component of these ecosystems, and protecting them also means protecting plants, rodents and other creatures that share their habitats. The Gunnison Sage Grouse of Colorado and Utah is among our most endangered birds, with an estimated 4,000 individuals remaining. The Mono Basin Sage Grouse is a genetically distinct population along the California-Nevada border, and the federal government will issue a decision next year on whether to list those populations and the more widely distributed Greater Sage Grouse as threatened or endangered.
All these birds deserve protection, and we need to set aside more sagebrush and prairie for wilderness and conservation purposes. With better land management, these birds ought to rebound toward their historical abundance, at which time they can be delisted and treated as game birds.