|Our bird's eye view of the Bi-state sage-grouse leks|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:48|
The helicopters are back in their hangars, the biologists have all finished their reports, the data has been secured within spreadsheets, maps and databases, and the sage-grouse are winding down their annual mating cycle.
All this has culminated in the publication of a report prepared for the Nevada Department of Wildlife and California Department of Fish & Game that describes the findings of a comprehensive survey program to examine the distribution of important sage-grouse mating grounds, called leks, in a portion of western Nevada and Eastern California.
NWP’s Renewable Energy Coordinator Craig Mortimore designed the aerial survey program. This role also required him to ride herd on its implementation, including participating in several of the 12 early morning flights within the survey area spanning from Carson City south to Bishop, Calif. This geographic area is occupied by a distinct population segment of Greater Sage-grouse called the Bi-State Population. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service will soon contemplate whether to place this population under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
This survey was commissioned to collect additional information about the occurrence of breeding sites throughout the area. This knowledge is important in assessing the population’s health and planning for the protection of vital habitat.
The report, delivered May 15 to the agencies, describes the observation of 648 birds at 95 coordinates within the Bi-State area. Biologists observed contemporary activity on 14 known leks and also discovered at least five previously undocumented strutting grounds. Many more birds were randomly flushed by the helicopter. Ground follow-ups by the biologists will verify if these coordinates are truly leks.