US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE Mountain-Prairie Region (September 27, 2010)


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it 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 (ESA), but that proposing the species for protection is precluded by the need to address other higher priority species.

The Service has completed a comprehensive status review — known as a 12-month finding — and determined that there is sufficient scientific and commercial data to propose listing the species as threatened or endangered throughout its range. However, the Service is precluded from beginning work immediately on a listing proposal because its limited resources must be devoted to other higher priority actions.

The Service will add the Gunnison sage-grouse to its list of candidate species and review its status annually. When a “warranted but precluded” finding is made for a species, the Service classifies it as a candidate for addition to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. If the Service proposes the Gunnison sage-grouse for protection under the ESA in the future, the public will have an opportunity to comment. As a candidate species, the Gunnison sage-grouse will remain a state-managed species.

The Gunnison sage-grouse currently exists in seven populations, six in Colorado and one in both Colorado and Utah. These include the Gunnison Basin, San Miguel Basin, Monticello-Dove Creek, Pinon Mesa, Crawford, Cerro Summit-Cimarron-Sims Mesa, and Poncha Pass populations. The Gunnison Basin population is the largest and represents the best opportunity for long-term conservation of the species. Gunnison sage-grouse historically occurred in southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, and southeastern Utah.

In April 2006, the Service published a finding that listing the Gunnison sage-grouse as a threatened or endangered species was not warranted. The Service determined that the rangewide population of the Gunnison sage-grouse was stable and threats to the species were not significant to current, known populations.

The Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) will continue to work cooperatively to further the conservation interests of the sage-grouse. Since 2006, the CDOW has worked with private landowners, who have expressed an interest in participating in voluntary conservation efforts, to implement conservation actions under a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA).