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Sage-grouse II

May 23, 2014 10:23 AM

Status: Victory

The fight to save Canada's endangered sage-grouse is heating up once again.

We took Canada's federal Environment Minister to court in a last-ditch effort to stop the Greater sage-grouse — known for its spectacular mating  dance  —  from becoming extinct in Canada.

Ecojustice, on behalf Alberta Wilderness Association, Wilderness Committee, Nature Saskatchewan and Grassland Naturalists, filed an application with the Federal Court, seeking a court order to force the Minister to issue recommendations for emergency protection of the iconic Prairie bird.

And months of procedural roadblocks and delays, we landed a big victory. In December 2013, the federal government finally introduced emergency protections for the sage-grouse. To our knowledge this is the first time Ottawa has explicitly stated its intention to introduce emergency protections for an endangered species. 

The sage-grouse, which was once found in sage-brush grasslands across the country, is now only found in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where it receives little protection from the provincial governments.

Listed as an ‘endangered’ species under the Species at Risk Act, the sage-grouse is in danger of becoming extinct in Canada within the next 10 years. Alberta’s population — estimated at around 30 birds — could be wiped out as early as next year.

Recent scientific research suggests that rapid encroachment of oil, gas and other development on the areas where sage-grouse spend the winter, breed, nest and raise their young is the leading factor in their extreme population drop. Nearly 90 per cent of Canada’s sage-grouse population died off between 1988 and 2006. ­To learn more, read our sage-grouse backgrounder.

Sage Grouses

Photo credit: Wayne Lynch


"It’s unfortunate that we have to ask the Court to intervene, but the federal government has left us no choice. Sage-grouse need immediate protection or they’ll disappear from Canada."
- Melissa Gorrie,
staff lawyer

Ecojustice staff:
Melissa Gorrie

Sean Nixon
Susan Pinkus


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