Managing prairie grouse has been largely a reactive process without any “true” management experiments being implemented, thereby limiting our ability to learn from management and enhance conservation efforts for declining prairie grouse populations. In a few cases where the potential existed for a passive or active adaptive approach, monitoring was insufficient to detect effects of changes in management practices. Similar problems appear to occur at planning stages in attempts to implement adaptive management for prairie grouse populations, preventing proper consideration of sound adaptive experiments that advance learning. Successful adaptive management begins with stakeholder gatherings following a policy planning process, which includes many steps, beginning with goal identification and understanding of uncertainties and culminating in model simulations to understand potential management policies. By following this process, the opportunity to implement successful management experiments can be enhanced. We discuss the successes and failures of prairie grouse management using 2 case studies, 1 for prairie sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) in Manitoba and 1 for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in southern Alberta. We describe ways in which active adaptive management could improve our understanding of prairie grouse population declines and outline a policy planning process that, if followed, will allow adaptive management to be successfully implemented, enhancing prairie grouse management and conservation.
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