Species Description: The Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) is a species of sage-grouse found south of the Colorado River in Colorado and Utah. They are about one-third smaller than the greater sage-grouse, and males have more distinct, white barring on their tail feathers, longer and more dense filoplumes on their necks. Female Gunnison and greater sage-grouse have nearly the same plumage, but the female Gunnison is again about one-third smaller than the greater sage-grouse. Male Gunnison sage-grouse conduct an elaborate display when trying to attract females on breeding grounds, or leks in the spring. They will strut, flap their wings against their white pouches and utter a distinct series of sounds by vocalizing and popping two air sacs within their pouches. Nesting begins in mid-April and continues into July.
Location: Historically, Gunnison sage-grouse were found in the southwestern portion of Colorado, southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, and northwestern New Mexico. Approximately 5000 breeding Gunnison sage-grouse occur among 7 separate populations in SW Colorado and SE Utah. The largest population, about 4,000 birds, inhabits the Gunnison Basin.
The separate populations in Colorado are: Pinon Mesa, Crawford, San Miguel Basin, Gunnison Basin, Dove Creek, Cerro Summit-Cimarron-Simo Mesa, and Poncha Pass. The Utah population is near Monticello. Click for a map courtesy of Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Habitat: Gunnison sage-grouse require a variety of habitats such as large expanses of sagebrush with a diversity of grasses and forbs and healthy wetland and riparian ecosystems. It requires sagebrush for cover and fall and winter food.
Recent Actions: On January 11, 2013 Service proposed to protect the Gunnison sage-grouse as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. We are also proposing to designate 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for the species. We have extended the public comment period on both proposals until April 2, 2013.
September 27, 2010: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Gunnison sage-grouse, a bird species found only in southwestern Colorado and extreme southeastern Utah, warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that proposing the species for protection will be delayed while the Service addresses the needs of other higher priority species. The Gunnison sage-grouse will be added to the list of candidate species under the Endangered Species Act and will be proposed for listing when funding and workload priorities for other listing actions allow. As a candidate species, the Gunnison sage-grouse will not have Federal protection and will remain a state-managed species.
November 23, 2009: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating a status review of the Gunnison sage-grouse to determine whether the species warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Service intends to complete this 12-month review by the lawsuit settlement agreement date of September 15, 2010.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its status review of the Gunnison sage-grouse and determined that the species does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act at this time and is withdrawn from the list of candidates species.
On November 14, 2006, San Miguel County, Colorado and 9 additional parties filed a complaint and declaratory injunction relief related to the Service's withdrawal of the species from the list of candidate species.
On October 19, 2006, the Service and Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) finalized a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA). Under the CCAA, CDOW will enroll landowners who agree to maintain or improve habitat for the species on their non-Federal lands. On October 23, 2006, the Service issued CDOW a permit allowing for incidental take of Gunnison sage-grouse and the implementation of the CCAA.
On July 6, 2005, the Service issued a notice of availability and receipt of application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The permit application includes a proposed Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) between the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) and the Service. These documents are available below:
The Gunnison sage-grouse was a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. It was put on the candidate list in January 2000 shortly before the Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition for listing. Petition to List the Gunnison Sage-Grouse and Literature Cited in the Petition.
Return to Mountain-Prairie Home
Return to Mountain-Prairie Endangered Species Home Page
Privacy, Disclaimer, Copyrights Notice