Current Project Status

June Progress Report

In June, we completed several activities including intensively tracking sage-grouse to find sage grouse nests, our ‘after hatch’ vegetation measurements at nests and random locations (all but for one active nest), insect sampling (sweep netting, pitfall traps, and ant mound surveys), and avian point-count surveys.  We continued intensively tracking hens (those who successfully hatched a clutch of eggs), brood survey data collection, brood location vegetation measurements, and less intensively tracking hens without hatched nests.  Because of the reduction in workload, we’ve reduced our field staff for the month of June.

In July, we plan on continuing to intensively track hens with hatched nests, conduct brood surveys, less intensively track hens without hatched nests, initiate our ‘utilization’ vegetation measurements, initiate our utilization mapping, continue our brood location vegetation measurements, and proof data.  We plan to finish field data collection for the 2016 field season in mid-August.  Below is a summary from each of our 5 field sites.

Brown’s Bench

We deployed 25 new radio collars in 2016.  In addition, 25 radio-marked hens whose collars were deployed in past years were confirmed alive at Brown’s Bench in March (at the outset of the 2016 field season).  Since March, we’ve documented 8 hen mortalities (8 of the 50 radio-marked hens).  One predator left a head and crop behind so we took advantage of this opportunity and had Roger Rosentreter, a botanist, examine the crop contents.  Roger found it contained ~20 ants, ~70% yellow flower parts (Crepis spp. and possibly Microseris spp.), ~9% leaf tissue (likely Crepis spp.), and 1% other material.  We are locating hens with hatched nests every 2-3 days and hens without hatched nests once per week.  We located 34 nests at the Brown’s Bench study site in 2016 and overall apparent nesting success was 38% (Table 1).  We completed our ‘after hatch’ vegetation sampling and insect sampling.  We took down the turbo tape and chargers for the temporary electric fence in the Corral Creek pasture.  The cattle were moved out of the Browns Creek pasture recently and the temporary electric fence successfully kept cattle out of this pasture (our ‘no grazing’ treatment).

Jim Sage

We deployed 25 new radio collars in 2016.  In addition, 19 radio-marked hens whose collars were deployed in past years were confirmed alive at Jim Sage in March (at the outset of the 2016 field season).  Since March, we’ve documented 4 hen mortalities (4 of 44 radio-marked hens); one of these was found in a Golden Eagle nest.  We are locating hens with hatched nests every 2-3 days and hens without hatched nests once per week.  We’ve located 21 nests at the Jim Sage study site (one nest was still active as of 28 June) and overall apparent nesting success was 35% (Table 1).  Cattle were removed from the Kane Springs pasture on approximately 7 June and the temporary electric fence successfully kept cattle in the pasture.  We will leave the temporary electric fence deployed as a neighboring, non-experimental pasture is scheduled to be grazed in summer and fall and, hence, cattle will need to be kept out of the Kane Springs pasture.

Big Butte

We deployed 20 new radio collars in 2016.  In addition, 15 radio-marked hens whose collars were deployed in 2015 were confirmed alive in March (at the outset of the 2016 field season).  Since March, we’ve documented 7 hen mortalities (7 of 35 radio-marked hens).  One mortality was likely due to a fence collision as it was found intact and within 20 m of a barbed-wire fence.  We recovered the carcass and had Roger Rosentreter, a botanist, examine the crop contents.  It contained approximately 90% ant parts and 10% vegetation.  We are locating hens with hatched nests every 2-3 days and hens without hatched nests once per week.  We located 28 nests at the Big Butte study site in 2016 and overall apparent nesting success was 29% (Table 1).  We completed our ‘after hatch’ vegetation and insect data collection.

Sheep Creek

We deployed 11 new radio collars in 2016.  In addition, 15 radio-marked hens whose collars were deployed in 2015 were confirmed alive in March (at the outset of the 2016 field season).  Since March, we’ve documented 2 hen mortalities (2 of 26 radio-collared hens).  We located hens with hatched nests every 2-3 days and hens without hatched nests once per week.  We located 15 nests at the Sheep Creek study site in 2016 and overall apparent nesting success was 33% (Table 1).  We completed our ‘after hatch’ vegetation and insect data collection.

Pahsimeroi

We had a total of 52 nests in the Pahsimeroi.  Of those, 12 hatched for a success rate of 23%.  There are another 14 collared birds that have either dropped a collar (1) or are in unknown status (13) and another 4 birds have been depredated since collaring. Our first nest hatched on May 1st with the last one hatching on June 21st with the majority of nests hatching the 2nd and 3rd weeks of May.  Ongoing work includes brood counts, analyzing nest assessments, and measuring grazing intensity.

Partners and Collaborators:

  • Idaho Bureau of Land Management
  • Jim Sage, Browns Bench, Big Butte, and Sheep Creek Permittees
  • Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Idaho Office of Species Conservation
  • Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
  • University of Idaho Rangeland Center
  • USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
  • Idaho Cattle Association
  • Public Lands Council
  • Idaho Conservation League
  • Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission
  • Idaho Sage-grouse Advisory Committee

Table1_June2016