Prior to the 2020 fires, the birds were already in a precarious situation. The statewide population was estimated at 770 birds, living in only 8% of their historic range. Schroeder, a grouse biologist for WDFW, believes the fires destroyed half of the sage grouse’s remaining range.
That’s why the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote Friday whether to list the sage grouse as a state endangered species. Currently, they are state-listed as a threatened species. If the nine-person commission uplists them, it will make it easier for the state to receive federal money, commissioner Kim Thorburn from Spokane said.