If you saw this alarming headline on Colorado Public Radio’s website, there’s no need to panic because it’s not completely accurate —  grouse numbers are not decreasing due to a lack of protection from grazing or energy development.

Sage Grouse Numbers In West Continue To Decline After Federal Protection Rejection

In Montana, the drop in numbers is blamed on an extreme drought in 2017.  

Grouse numbers also continued to drop in 2019 in Oregon, Idaho , Nevada and Wyoming. Weather can affect populations from year to year, and wildlife officials say those short-term cycles are most directly responsible for the recent declines.

How did the headline go so wrong?

It’s an Associated Press story, and this was original headline they wrote, which was carried by most publications: 

Sage grouse numbers stumble in Montana, across US West

Colorado Public Radio should have stuck with the original headline. They do a disservice to their readers by suggesting the decline could have been prevented if only the grouse had been designated as endangered.

That designation, by the way, was rejected during the Obama administration.

Just thought that was worth mentioning.