On March 5, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the sage grouse (sometimes called the greater sage grouse) was facing risks to its population such that a listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was warranted. However, in that same determination, FWS found that the sage grouse listing was precluded because listing other species was a priority. The agency made the same warranted but precluded determination regarding a distinct population segment of the sage grouse, the Mono Basin sage grouse (sometimes referred to as the Bi-State population). In a subsequent determination, FWS found that protection of the Gunnison sage grouse (a different species from the greater sage grouse) was warranted but precluded as well.
This report analyzes the process behind a warranted but precluded determination under the ESA. It also discusses what impact a warranted but precluded determination has on federal actions that may affect a species, with a particular analysis of impacts on the sage grouse. In the case of the sage grouse, whose habitat covers so much of the western United States, agency decisions, such as oil and gas leasing, will have to take into account this listing decision. Both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service have existing policies addressing how land management planning must consider species for which this determination was made.
Note: This summary was taken from the Congressional Research Service Report R41100 by Kristina Alexander