New Poll Finds Support among Hunters for Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation

By: Amos P. Eno
Posted on:11/24/2014 Updated:02/25/2016

In the last few months, much has been written on this blog about private landowners’ interest in conserving the greater sage-grouse, a species which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide to list as an endangered species by fall 2015.

I’ve spoken with a handful of landowners and conservation professionals, and researched statistics on the number of landowners implementing greater sage-grouse conservation programs on their land, but I’ve never been able to gather more than an anecdotal sense of how westerner’s feel about greater sage-grouse conservation. Now a new poll has.

The results of a recently released poll from the National Wildlife Federation and Southwick Associates showed that there is strong support for greater sage-grouse conservation among hunters in the eleven western states the bird inhabits, with a disproportionate number of respondents from Colorado, Montana and Nevada.

In all, 1,335 respondents answered four questions regarding the general use of public lands and the various forms of greater sage-grouse conservation. Here’s a breakdown of the survey questions:

Question One asked respondents to rate the importance of 11 different uses of federal lands. The results were positive, with the two highest rated land uses were providing habitat for fish and wildlife and, surprise, providing hunting and fishing opportunities, with 91.5% and 90.3% support respectively.

Importantly, almost 80% of respondents found providing refuge for rare and threatened wildlife and plants an important use of federal lands.

Question Two asked how important was it to take action in your state to protect the habitat where the sage-grouse and other wildlife live, with 9 out of 10 respondents saying it was somewhat or very important.

Question Three asked if hunters support steps taken by the Bureau of Land Management, even if it means limiting energy development, grazing rights or access for motorized recreation on those lands. 84% did.

Question Four touched on an issue that I’ve covered a lot with private landowners: Do hunters see value in providing state agencies with a greater role in protecting and restoring sage-grouse habitat on state-owned and private lands if it is part of a broader strategy to prevent the bird from being listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. All of the landowners I’ve talked to express a preference for local control of species’ conservation, and the poll largely echoed those opinions with over 80% in support.

View the full poll report here.