Research Team Assists Park Service with Sage-Grouse Surveys
Above: Tracks (L) and wing prints (R) indicate the presence of Greater Sage-Grouse (Center). Photo Credit: TRC Staff
Did you know? TRC’s research department doesn’t just collect data on raptors! Our Conservation Director, Bryan, has been leading and helping with multiple studies on Greater Sage-Grouse across western Wyoming since 2007. For the past six years, our research team at TRC has also worked with Grand Teton National Park to conduct detailed movement studies and to help conduct annual counts of sage-grouse in Jackson Hole.
Sage-grouse are known for their amazing spring courtship displays, at locations called “leks”. At the leks, which are generally at the same spot year after year, the males group up and literally puff up their chests in order to impress a congregation of lady grouse. Our team helps with weekly coordinated counts of males at these leks across the valley every spring, but we also help with a different population census conducted in the winter. Sage-grouse need sagebrush exposed above the snow for food and cover. In Jackson Hole, where we annually get over six feet of snow in the valley, there are only a few locations left where grouse can find exposed sagebrush during harsh winters.
We are helping keep a close eye on the small and declining population of grouse by sending our team out to help count grouse in these concentrated areas each winter. The good news is that numbers are up a little this year, but our population still appears to have 40% fewer birds than just 10 years ago.
We hope you enjoy these wintertime photos that our team captured last week of the sage under snow, and the many criss-crossed tracks of our local sage-grouse!