Laramie, Wy – New research suggests coal-bed methane development is adversely affecting sage grouse in parts of Montana and Wyoming.
Grouse populations have been decreasing in the gas fields of the mineral-rich Powder River Basin.
University of Montana researchers found that mating sites in developed areas did not see a rebound in the population, but a rebound did occur elsewhere in the basin in 2004 and 2005. And mating sites in extensively developed areas showed far lower population trends than those away from development.
Researchers note the findings are preliminary, but they say the
results support the notion sage grouse are avoiding developed areas, and may be moving to undeveloped, nearby habitat.