Wyo. sticks with sage grouse 'core area' strategy

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A Democrat-to-Republican change in the Wyoming governor's office is having little if any policy effect on sage grouse, the state's most significant species considered for federal protection.

Gov. Matt Mead signed an executive order Thursday continuing Wyoming's strategy of designated "core areas" of sage grouse habitat. The order makes only a few minor changes to the sage grouse policy implemented by Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last year that the greater sage grouse deserved protection under the Endangered Species Act but that other species are higher priorities to protect as threatened or endangered.

The decision maintained the status quo for the greater sage grouse in the 11 Western states where they live. Fish and Wildlife has praised the Wyoming strategy as a model to follow.