Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order takes effect

Posted by on 18. February 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order takes effect

In December of 2013, the Canadian government announced an emergency order to enhance protection of the critically endangered Greater Sage Grouse .  The order would restrict certain types of industrial activity (like gravel, oil or gas extraction, construction of new roads etc.) during important parts of the Sage Grouse’s life cycle and adopting land use practices in areas near the Sage Grouse habitat that could impact the dwindling populations. The emergency protection order came into effect today.

I wrote about the Greater Sage Grouse emergency protection order in a previous blog post.


Male Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) displaying on lek

Greater Sage Grouse on lek (breeding grounds) in Montana


The emergency protection order will impose restrictions to protect the Sage Grouse habitat on approximately 1,700 square kilometres of provincial and federal Crown lands in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The birds depend on silver sagebrush for food and shelter and share their habitat with many threatened prairie species like burrowing owls and swift fox. The new measures will not affect activities on private land, nor will they restrict grazing of domestic animals on leased provincial and federal Crown lands.

An emergency order is a rare conservation measure. It can be issued under Canada’s Species At Risk Act when a species faces “imminent threats to its survival” and existing protection measures are deemed inadequate. Between 1988 and 2006, the Greater Sage Grouse populations in Canada declined by nearly 90 percent. Some estimates show that there might be only 14 males left in Alberta (with the total population of approximately 30 birds) and only 17 males were counted at active breeding grounds in Saskatchewan. The emergency protection order is a last minute measure, brought in attempt to prevent the disappearance of Sage Grouse from Canada.