Idaho's congressional delegation and Gov. Butch Otter sent a letter Monday to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, saying they will work to make sure that the sage grouse isn't added to the endangered list. The letter to Salazar says that state efforts, including conservation agreements with with ranchers and other groups, should protect the bird that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided was warranted, but precluded, from being added to the endangered species list.
"We are encouraged that the 'warranted but precluded' determination will continue to allow the Department of the Interior to work closely with states, private landowners, and other partners on collaborative solutions for conserving the species and its habitat so that there is no need to list the species in the future," the letter to Salazar said. "There is reason to hope that Federal and State partnerships can maintain and improve viable populations of this iconic species while also maintaining predictable levels of land use." Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Reps. Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson signed the letter.
The sage grouse, a chicken-sized bird with a large pointed tail, has been considered for the endangered species list since 2005 and rejected once. The conservation group Western Watersheds Project has sued to get the sage grouse on the federal list, and issued a news release after the latest Fish and Wildlife decision that further litigation could be coming.