Ken Rinker: Sage grouse population

To the editor:

I can remember when there were a lot more sage grouse in this area than there is now.

There also were a lot more small-scale farmers and ranchers that had alfalfa fields, on irrigated and dry land.

Sage grouse don’t eat much sagebrush if they have access to a green alfalfa field. They do survive mostly on sagebrush during the winter, but given the chance, will raise their young in an alfalfa field. The young birds are full-sized and capable of flying long distances by the time the alfalfa fields freeze down in the fall.

When I was younger, in the 1950s and 1960s, there were no red foxes in this part of the country. However, there were a few gray foxes, but the red foxes have migrated into our county in recent years. I suspect the red foxes may be detrimental to the sage grouse population.

I’m sure the federal bureaucracy and environmentalists will try to use the diminishing sage grouse population to destroy as much private enterprise as possible.

I think the grouse would be better served by encouraging people to plant widely dispersed alfalfa fields, providing access to clean water and maybe reducing the red fox population.

Ken Rinker

Comments

Luigi 4 years, 1 month ago

It may be true that predation by red foxes has reduced sage-grouse numbers. It's also true that sage-grouse thrived long before irrigated alfalfa fields existed. In some areas, grouse may benefit from the creation of wet meadow habitat, but there are many factors that influence the health of sage-grouse populations and their habitat. It's important to look at the big picture and see how we can best manage sage-grouse, other plants and animals, and human needs in a way that's as sustainable as possible.

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