SOUTH DAKOTA GREATER SAGE-GROUSE ACTION PLAN

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SOUTH DAKOTA GREATERSAGE-GROUSE ACTION PLAN2021–2026SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF GAME, FISH ANDPARKS, PIERRE, SOUTH DAKOTAWILDLIFE DIVISION REPORT 2021-15NOVEMBER 2021

This action plan will be used by South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks staff on anannual basis and will be formally evaluated at least every five years. Plan updates and changes,however, may occur more frequently as needed.A supportive document to this action plan, the “Management of Greater Sage-Grouse in SouthDakota”, provides a historical background, research, management surveys and monitoring,challenges and opportunities, and citizen involvement related to greater sage-grouse and canbe found at TSManagement Plan Team—Paul Coughlin, Tim Olson, Travis Runia, Alex Solem, Stan Michals,Anna Kopp, Eileen Dowd Stukel, Trenton Haffley, Shelly Deisch, Hilary Morey, Faren Wolter, andChad Switzer of South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.All text and data contained within this document are subject to revision for corrections,updates and data analyses.Recommended citation:South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Division of Wildlife. 2021. South Dakotagreater sage-grouse action plan 2021–2026. Wildlife Division Report Number 2021-15. SouthDakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Pierre, South Dakota, USA.PUBLIC INVOLVEMENTA virtual public meeting was held on August 13, 2020 to facilitate opportunity for publicinvolvement at the beginning of the revision process. A draft of the “South Dakota GreaterSage-Grouse Action Plan, 2021–2026” was available for public comment from November 5–December 15, 2021.2

INTRODUCTIONThe greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) is the largest of allNorth American grouse, and often referred to as sage-hen, sage-chicken, or sage-cock. Adultmales can weigh in excess of 5 lbs (2.3 kg) and measure 27–34 in (69–86 cm) in length, whileadult females can weigh between 2–3 pounds (0.9–1.4 kg) and measure 18–24 in (46–61 cm).Both the male and female sage-grouse have a grayish-brown appearance, narrow pointed tailfeathers, and feathering to the toes. Female grouse are more cryptic in coloration and adultmales are distinguished by a dark throat surrounded by a V-shaped patch of white feathers onthe neck. During courtship display activities, males extend two skin sacs of a yellow-greencoloration found near the throat and possess pronounced yellow eyecombs.Sage-grouse are a sagebrush obligate “landscape species” and thus require large contiguoustracts of sage steppe habitat for population subsistence. Sage-grouse inhabit only 56% of theirpre-settlement distribution and populations have declined 80% from 1966–2019. Loss anddegradation of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), improper livestock grazing, fire, invasive plantspecies, construction of anthropogenic infrastructure, oil and gas development, and increasedmortality due to West Nile virus have been identified as the major contributing factors. Morefrequent drought associated with climate change could also be a threat. Overhunting was alsoa historic factor in the population decline. Declines in sage-grouse abundance and distributionin South Dakota (SD) are consistent with range-wide trends. Sage-grouse once inhabited thewestern third of the state outside of the Black Hills, but now primarily inhabit only portions ofButte and Harding counties. Sage-grouse is listed as a species of greatest conservation need inthe South Dakota Wildlife Action Plan because the species is indicative of or depends upon aunique or declining habitat.In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the greater sage-grouse waswarranted for protection under the ESA due to the loss and fragmentation of habitat and a lackof adequate regulatory mechanisms to stem habitat loss. The Service did not propose a listingrule at the time due to the need to address higher priority listing actions. When the Servicemade the warrante

3 INTRODUCTION The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) is the largest of all North American grouse, and often referred to as sage-hen, sage-chicken, or sage-cock. Adult males can weigh in excess of 5 lbs

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