Routt County, CO
The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (CSTG), a Colorado game species and designated species of concern, only inhabits 10 percent of its former range in North America due to habitat loss. Through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), private landowners agree to conserve and improve portions of their land for a yearly rental payment. The land enrolled in this United States Department of Agriculture program has helped the CSTG regain some of its former habitat. As a result, the species has made a come back, increasing in distribution and density.
Still, the lands enrolled through the CRP have lower plant species diversity than optimal CSTG habitat, resulting in less productive CSTG populations. Thus, wildlife managers would like to improve CSTG habitat in order increase productivity. However, researchers do not have an effective way to evaluate chick and juvenile survival and thus the response of CSTG to habitat treatments. Therefore, CPW initiated this research project to evaluate trapping and transmitter attachment methods to rigorously evaluate chick and juvenile survival of CSTG that have been previously used successfully with greater sage-grouse.
With CSTG tracking technology, wildlife managers can study the response of CSTG population to habitat treatments. Improved habitat quality could increase CSTG densities and occupancy, lead to improvements of unoccupied CRP lands so that populations can expand, and mitigate impacts related to other habitat loss issues, such as energy development.