Sunday, July 29, 2012

They Are Back -- and apparently Recovering!

One of the delights of living North of Nowhere is the Wyoming Wildlife and getting to watch it.

For quite a number of years, we had a small group of sage grouse raise their young somewhere around us and they were frequently over by the buildings.  Several mornings, I made a s-l-o-w drive to the gate because the young grouse were in the road.  And young grouse do not move fast and tended to slowly mosey down the road ahead of my car rather than leaving the roadway.  Why they do that I don't know but it must surely make them a sad target on Wyoming's highways.

Grouse have become endangered in Wyoming due to 2 factors:  West Nile virus, to which they are highly susceptible, and oil and gas drilling, which disrupts their breeding/rearing.  In our area, I think West Nile hit the populations very very hard.  To the east of us, there was a lot of coal bed methane drilling and that probably affected the population also.  We have had NO grouse sightings for several years until last year when a large male and two females came through briefly.

But look whose BACK! This was taken out the back door Friday morning.

West Nile virus had 'died' down in our area so I am sure that has helped the population.  The coal-bed industry has died due to low gas prices and all those wells are now idle and shut-in with no new drilling.  That must have helped also.  This was the group of eight that showed up Friday morning.  Later, when we drove out the gate to go to a doctor's appointment, we saw four young grouse and there may have been more lurking in the brush we could not see.  That's 12!!!!

Sadly, now horizontal drilling is starting to take place RIGHT here where we live and also east of us.  Horizontal drilling take a much larger 'bite' out of the land requiring 20 acres for a drilling pad rather than one about the size of a half football field like the coal-bed.  If coal bed bothered these birds, what will all these large rigs do to them?    And what will it do to our sub-irrigated pastures that we rely on the water and the wildlife relies on also?

Frankly, I'm worried -- for us and for them.

The green line is our water hose and the tires are the horse trailer.  That's how unafraid they are!

We have had some rains over the past two weeks and in places the hills have gotten just a 'tad' greener; which lowers our fire danger!!  Hope we get more.

Over the years, we have seen antelope, deer, elk, badgers, red fox, otters, ducks, canadian geese, sand hill cranes, pelican(?) (couldn't get close), egret? (wasn't sure); sage grouse, turkeys, rattlesnakes (could do without them!); weasel, prairie dogs (not too fond of these either!) all on our little slice of Wyoming.  Sometimes in the summer we like to just sit out on the porch and watch our wildlife TV.  It's GREAT!

So I guess I will enjoy while I have it.  And hope for the best.


  1. I haven't seen grouse or pheasant in years. Glad they are rebounding in your little slice of heaven.

  2. how neat! I'm so glad you got a little community of grouse going on your place! Maybe if they stick to a small territory they'll be ok. The whole oil/gas drilling thing bothers me. We're close to all that oil field stuff in ND and it's moving closer adn closer to home. Got a gas line supposed to go through our hayfield soon. Not real happy about it, but not a lot you can do either.

  3. yay!!!! Wow they really are quite beautiful aren't they!

  4. Saw all 12 grouse in one group last night when I came home so they are still sticking around!

  5. I have been enjoying your blog and stories, but I can't figure out where exactly you are. We lived in Sheridan before the last move...a while ago :-) and I really loved it there. Maybe I haven't found the right post yet?

    Wish we could send some of our record rainfall down to your area!!