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Idaho sage grouse numbers flat, hunting could be restricted

| August 17, 2020 10:07 AM

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Sage grouse numbers have remained mostly flat this year, according to data from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Each year the department counts number of birds at leks, the communal breeding grounds where male grouse put on elaborate breeding displays in hopes of attracting females. Idaho's sage grouse declined by about 53% from 2016 to 2019, and birds north of the Snake River have been disappearing in even greater numbers, The Times-News reports.

Sage grouse were once common in a large swath of the U.S. stretching from western Nebraska to eastern California. The birds now occupy just half of their historical range, and biologists estimate that there are fewer than a million sage grouse left.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is proposing one two-day hunting season in September in some areas north of the Snake River and one seven-day hunting season in September in a region south of the Snake River, with hunters allowed to take one bird per day.