Jan 15, 2014

Calgary, AB – This week experts from all over North America have gathered at the Calgary Zoo to determine how best to incorporate captive and wild conservation management techniques into an integrated plan to support the recovery of the greater sage grouse in Canada. Funded by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research, in collaboration with the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, is conducting this international multi-stakeholder Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) Workshop for the Greater Sage Grouse in Canada.

“The Greater sage-grouse is the largest grouse in North America and people probably know them best for their elaborate mating dance where the male struts and puffs up its chest to compete for mating opportunities,” said Dr. Axel Moehrenschlager, Head of the Centre for Conservation Research. “Tragically, the greater sage-grouse is one of the most endangered birds in Canada with only about 100 to 150 individuals left in the country.”

In Canada, the greater sage-grouse is found only in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan, but in 2011 and 2012 only 13 male sage grouse were found in Alberta. Entirely dependent on silver sage brush for food and shelter, habitat loss and destruction, drought and extreme weather, West Nile virus, predation pressure and sensory disturbance from vertical structures and chronic noise are all taking their toll on this fragile population.

“In 1998, the greater sage grouse were designated as Endangered and in 2013, the Federal Government announced an emergency order to protect the greater sage grouse,” continued Moehrenschlager. “This is the first time in Canada that the government has issued an emergency order under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.”

Greater Sage Grouse.
The workshop runs from January 14 to 17 and will build from previous work and existing recovery strategies using population modeling tools to assist in management action evaluation and decision making.

Interviews available with Dr. Axel Moehrenschlager on request.

Trish Exton-Parder
Lead, Media Relations
Calgary Zoo
Phone: 403.232.9381
Mobile: 403.371.9075
[email protected]