Colorado Sage-Grouse are Released into the Wild after Successful Study
I recently had the rare opportunity to watch Colorado Parks and Wildlife release three female Gunnison Sage-grouse on Poncha Pass in northern San Luis Valley, Colorado. Grouse are typically captured at night, transported to the release site, and then released very early the next morning. But this release was different…
The three hens were five years old (grouse typically live for two to five years in the wild). They were taken from the nest as eggs and hatched in captivity as part of a captive breeding program at the USDA National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. The program studied how to raise grouse in captivity and whether chicks raised in captivity could be released successfully into the wild. The study had run its course and was not renewed due to the success of habitat restoration efforts and stable sage-grouse populations in the Gunnison Basin, so it was time for the grouse to be released.
Before releasing the grouse, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff collected feather samples and attached radio transmitters to the grouse. The radio transmitters are among many tools that CPW and partners, including the BLM, use to monitor the Poncha Pass population.