Billings, Montana – An Interior Department official says the
federal government must take immediate action to conserve shrinking
sage grouse populations.
In recent months, Interior tightened oversight of some new oil
and gas activity in Wyoming and Montana, in a bid to slow
development in areas with high numbers of sage grouse.
That came despite questions raised by industry representatives.
They argue the evidence linking sage grouse declines to drilling is
Julie Jacobson is Interior's deputy assistant secretary for
minerals management. She says a lawsuit, hanging over the agency,
has forced it to act before the bird can again become a candidate
for the endangered species list.
Two years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a
petition to have the sage grouse listed as threatened or
endangered. A lawsuit, pending before a federal judge in Idaho,
seeks to force the government to reconsider.