Environmentalists sue for more rules to protect sage grouse

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — “Environmental groups sued Thursday to force the Obama administration to impose more restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the decline of greater sage grouse across the American West.

“A sweeping sage grouse conservation effort that the government announced last September is riddled with loopholes and will not be enough to protect the bird from extinction, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Idaho.

“It follows several legal challenges against the same rules from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Mining companies, ranchers and officials in Utah, Idaho and Nevada argue that the administration’s actions will impede economic development.

“The ground-dwelling sage grouse, known for their elaborate mating ritual, range across a 257,000-square-mile region spanning 11 states.  From: bigstory.ap.org

GR:  Once again, private funding is required to force a public agency to do its job.  Human land use has already damaged much of the sage grouse habitat.  This lawsuit is particularly important, because protecting the bird’s full range will protect the remnants of habitat needed by it and many other species.

One of the first human land uses that will have to end is cattle grazing.  More lawsuits paid by private citizens will likely be required, but destructive grazing has already diminished the carrying capacity of the land so much that the number of cattle has declined substantially.  Wildlife has declined even more.  The reduced cattle production will dampen the desires of the livestock industry and their public government officials to fight to retain the right to continue the destruction.  One day, sage grouse and other members of its ecosystem might be safe at home on the range.

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