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HB 237: Sage-grouse farming – 2021

Summary: House Bill 237 would allow for development and certification of a farm-raised sage grouse program in Idaho.

ICL's position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Dead

Issue Areas: Fish and Wildlife, Sage grouse

Official Legislative Site

Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot) introduced House Bill 237 to allow the raising of sage-grouse.

Unfortunately, other sage-grouse rearing operations have failed to achieve the goal of supplementing wild populations of the threatened bird. Sage-grouse have been significantly impacted by the oil and gas industry, grazing, development, and wildfires. They are regularly considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

So that means, that raising sage grouse in coops is a good idea? Not quite.

Some background on why sage grouse rearing is a bad idea:

“The scientific literature is conclusive in establishing that the captive-rearing of wildlife in general should be used sparingly and as a last resort when other conservation alternatives are unavailable or have been exhausted. The most extensive research on raising sage-grouse in captivity is from Colorado, where the brood augmentation approach pursued was met with limited success recruiting individuals into wild populations….Therefore, we recommend that the current focus remain on conserving and restoring the habitats sage-grouse depend on, and that resources that could help habitat efforts not be diverted to investigate a management alternative that is currently unnecessary.”

The bill would require the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to develop a certification program and would also rope in the University of Idaho to develop best management practices and an annual report to the legislature.

According to Rep. Young, the bill was being introduced to “start a discussion” and hopes to bring the bill back for deliberation in 2022.