Yakama Nation Wildlife Images
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation Wildlife, Range & Vegetation Resources Management Program



History of the Sage-grouse on the Yakama Reservation

The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are an important cultural and wildlife resource for the Yakama people. Young tribal hunters were taught stalking techniques with sage-grouse as the quarry. As their skills increased, hunters shifted their focus to larger game such as deer and elk to feed their families and their communities. Sage-grouse courtship displays inspired traditional dance of teh Yakamas that continues to be passed down through the generations. With each passing generation, however, these traditions are being lost. The loss of sage-grouse as a cultural resource has contributed to the slow decay of the Yakama culture.

The sage-grouse is believed to have been extirpated from the Yakama Reservation since the 1960's. The reasons for their extirpation off the Yakama Reservation was likely habitat degradation largely due to historic sheep and cattle grazing.

Habitat Assessments and Restoration for Sage-grouse

Habitat assessments were done in east Satus in 2001 to assess the suitability for sage grouse. Approximately 1/3 of the assessed acreage was considered suitable for winter and brood habitat. There is currently restoration work being done in East Satus to increase suitable acreage.

Reintroduction of the Sage-grouse on the Yakama Reservation

In 2006, our program released 36 grouse, 24 males and 12 females, with plans to release more in August, and in future years.


Getting Birds From Hart Mountain, Oregon

Hart Mountain, Oregon   Grouse

Picture 1 - Hart Mountain, Oregon,
Picture 2 - Sage-grouse receiving radio transmitter.

Nathan Burkepile, project leader, putting on transmitter.   Grouse

Pictures - Nathan Burkepile (on left), project leader, placing on transmitter.

First Relocations, Yakama Reservation

Taking birds to release cage, picture by Carol Craig.   Taking birds to release cage, picture by C. Craig.

Pictures - Grouse are taken to a release cage, to decrease stress.

Preparing for first release, picture by H. Simmons-Rigdon.   Premature release, picture by C. Craig.

Pictures - Preparations made for very first release, with one accidental premature release!

A prayer, picture by C. Craig   Fly away, picture by H. Simmons-Rigdon

Picture 1 - A prayer is given,
Picture - The final bird is released.

Second release, picture by K. Strathmann   Arlen Washines, picture by K. Strathmann

Picture 1 - Nathan Burkepile (Project Leader),
Picture 2 - Arlen Washines (Program Manager).

Grouse with radio transmitter, picture by K. Strathmann.   Grouse with radio transmitter, picture by K. Strathmann

Pictures - Placing radio transmitter around neck, extremely important for finding birds and knowing success of release efforts.

For more information on this project please contact Nathan Burkepile at 865-5121, x6332