Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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California nixes sage grouse hunting season amid dwindling numbers

SMITH RIVER, Calif. – California wildlife officials are banning hunting of sage grouse for a season because of dwindling populations of the spikey-feathered native bird.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted 4-0 Wednesday not to allow hunting for any kind of sage grouse for 2017.

Sage grouse are best-known for their mating rituals. Male sage grouse fan their spiked head feathers, hoist their wings, and puff out their chests to try to catch the eye of females.

Conservation groups say cattle-grazing, oil-and-gas drilling and other development, and drought are erasing habitat for the sage grouse. Their numbers have fallen by half in California over the last five years, with just about 2,100 sage grouse believed to survive in the state, the Center for Biological Diversity conservation group says.

Other states are considering similar steps after also seeing a decline in sage grouse numbers: South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks recently proposed dropping this year’s hunt after it was reported that fewer male sage grouse were counted on mating grounds this year.

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