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The Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) is one of seven subspecies of Sharp-tailed Grouse. Historically, Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse occurred within sagebrush-native bunch grass habitat throughout the intermountain region, extending from British Columbia, Washington, Idaho and Montana south through portions of Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Sharp-tailed Grouse populations range-wide began declining during 1880-1920 (Bart 2000). By 1936, the range of distribution had been reduced by two-thirds (Hart et al. 1950). Currently, Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse occur in only 5 % of their historic range-wide distribution and 4% of their distribution in Utah (Bart 2000). Within the United States, the largest remaining populations occur in southeastern Idaho, northern Utah, and northern Colorado. Although Sharp-tailed Grouse were never widely distributed throughout Utah, they were very abundant where they occurred (Figure 1). Since the early 1900s, agricultural developments, over grazing by livestock and big game animals and human population growth significantly reduced the quantity and quality of native grassland and shrub-grassland vegetation types used by Sharp-tailed Grouse. By 1975, isolated populations remained only in east Box Elder, Cache, Morgan, Summit, and Weber Counties in northern Utah. However, implementation of the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in 1987 benefited Sharp-tailed Grouse substantially and increased their distribution by approximately 400 percent by 2000 (Figure 1). Elimination or reduction in the acreage of CRP would result in population declines.


Publication 02-19