Study maps preferred territory for sage grouse

Aug 6, 2012

A new study has determined which areas within the Atlantic Rim oil and gas field near Rawlins are most important for sage grouse.

The study’s author, Chris Kirol, was a grad student in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Ecosystems Science and Management. He says they put radio collars on sage grouse to track which areas they liked and which areas they avoided.

“Secondly, the more interesting part of our study is we looked at fitness outcomes, which few people have done,” Kirol said. “Not only where are the sage grouse using habitat, but how is that habitat likely to dictate how well they’re doing there? … And we found that when surface disturbance got to about four percent, the likelihood of a brood surviving to 40 days decreased.”

Kirol says he hopes energy companies will use studies like his to figure out where to place their wells so as to minimize the impact on sage grouse.