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Recreational Disturbance of Sage Grouse

The Following discussion of Recreational Disturbance of Sage-Grouse in Montana was taken from the Montana Management Plan and Strategies for Sage-Grouse in Montana – Final 2005. Signatory agencies to the plan are the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Montana Natural Resource and Conservation; USDA Forest Service, Regional Office; USDI Bureau of Land Management; and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Sage-grouse are sensitive to disturbance at breeding (grounds) leks, at nest sites, and in critical wintering habitats. Human activity in these habitats may intentionally focus on sage-grouse (lek viewing, monitoring, photography, etc.), or may be incidental to other recreational activities (OHV use, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, etc.). Disturbances can be diminished or minimized at critical times and on seasonal ranges by concentrating use at designated times of year or day, restricting activities within 1.5 miles of leks (Joslin and Youmans 1999), and/or allowing certain types of use only at designated sites, e.g. viewing, photography at leks.

Monitoring sage-grouse populations and habitats is essential at leks and other critical habitats. Other multiple use activities also may disturb leks and other habitats. Recreational and monitoring activities should be considered cumulatively with other activities as part of assessing overall levels, effects, and approaches for managing human disturbance of sage-grouse. Hunting as a recreational activity does not concentrate human use on seasonal ranges.

Please access Montana Plan and Conservation Strategies for Sage-Grouse in Montana – Final on the Sage-Grouse Management page of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Web site.