Phyllis Virden: Response to Luke Schafer
February 25, 2010
To the editor:
I'm responding to the article in Saturday's paper by Luke Schafer about the decline of sage grouse. He states the decline in sage grouse population is due to habitat loss.
I was raised between Yampa and Taponas in the 1940s and 1950s, and there were huge flocks of sage chickens throughout the area. Many sage brush patches were plowed up and huge lettuce and spinach fields were planted; all that is back in sage brush now.
Workers came to tend the crops in summers, there were ranchers and homesteads all through the valley, and there were working sawmills, a lot more human activity than now. There was no oil or gas drilling in that area, but the sage chickens were plentiful. I don't think there are any left there now.
The thing that changed is there were no raccoons there or here during that time, very few foxes and very few crows.
Sage chickens rest on the ground and have very little self-defense. Their coloring is all they have.
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Raccoons, crows and foxes can easily find the nests, and they all love eggs and baby chickens. There are other predators that like chicken and eggs, as well: coyotes, skunks and magpies.
Animal rights groups don't want to take measures to control predators and scavengers, so lets blame oil and gas locations.
The male sage grouse is just like most male species: when mating season comes around, they get the job done in spite of human activity.
If there never were another oil and gas location in the state, the sage chicken population still will decline as long as we don't control predators and scavengers.
Drilling is getting a bad and wrongful reputation and restrictions have been put in place to curtail the industry. Think of the jobs and tax dollars lost because of this. This area depends on coal, oil and gas development, ranching, and farming.
We could fill our beautiful area full of wind farms. I wonder how our wildlife would like living in the middle of those.