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Elk WILDLIFE DIVISION
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Oregon Sage-Grouse Population Information

Effective conservation requires knowledge regarding the population size and trend of a species.  ODFW is the lead agency for sage-grouse population monitoring in Oregon.  Population monitoring of sage-grouse is conducted using spring lek surveys, summer brood routes, and hunter harvested wing analysis.

Lek Surveys

Sage-Grouse congregate on leks (communal breeding areas) each spring to breed.  Sage-grouse show strong attachment to these lek sites, returning year after year to the same places on the landscape to breed.  The oldest continually active sage-grouse lek in Oregon has been monitored since 1941.  This breeding behavior allows biologists to count breeding sage-grouse males on leks annually, as a measure of population trend, these data also allows the estimation of sage-grouse population size.  The March 15th – April 30th sage-grouse lek survey season is a large data collection effort, with more than 100 staff members from ODFW, partner agencies, and volunteers typically spending upwards of 750 combined mornings surveying more than 700 individual leks.

Summer Brood Routes

ODFW Biologists count sage-grouse hens and chicks along established routes to monitor production annually.  These counts are used to develop a chick/hen ratio as a measure of annual reproductive success.

Wing Analysis

Successful sage-grouse hunters in Oregon’s conservative controlled sage-grouse hunt are provided with envelopes to return wings from harvested sage-grouse to ODFW.  These wings are analyzed by ODFW staff following the hunting season.  Plumage patterns on sage-grouse wings provide a wealth of information regarding the population structure and reproductive output of Oregon’s sage-grouse population.  From wing analysis, biologists can estimate sage-grouse gender ratios, chick production, nest success, and date of hatch - information which would be challenging or impossible to collect at a broad-scale using other means.

Oregon Sage-Grouse Population Reports

Data from these analyses are synthesized in an annual sage-grouse population report, which was first developed in 2016.  Annual reports are available through the links below:

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