A team of international experts, including conservation officials from the Calgary Zoo, has come up with a five-point plan to save the greater sage grouse from extinction.
The federal government recently issued an emergency order to protect the bird across 1,700 square kilometres of Crown land in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. It’s estimated there are no more than 137 greater sage grouse left, and models suggest that, given current survival rates, the species will be extinct in Canada within two to five years.
The zoo held a symposium last month to “bring together some of the best minds to explore intensive conservation management techniques that could be utilized to counteract the immediate risks to this small, fragile population,” said Axel Moehrenschlager, head of the zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research.
Among the five recommendations are protection and restoration of the bird’s habitat; looking at ways to reduce the number of ravens and other predators; and establishing a captive breeding centre in order to boost the number of sage grouse or reintroduce the species if it becomes extinct.
“We are hopeful that we can still bring this species back from the brink of extinction,” said Moehrenschlager.