Prairie grouse populations are difficult to reestablish after extirpation. Following translocation, distances individuals move from the release site appear to affect restoration success. Previous authors have suggested assessing lek, nest–brood, and winter habitat when selecting release sites. We examined movement of 131 (66 M and 65 F) radiomarked Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) translocated during 1999–2002 as part of management effort to restore populations to historical ranges in northeastern Nevada, USA, an area where sharp-tailed grouse have not been observed in the wild since the 1950s. We released grouse at 2 sites. We chose the initial site based on its physiographic and vegetation similarities to capture sites in Idaho, USA, particularly shrub–steppe at lower elevations and mountain shrub at higher elevations, and used it during 1999 and 2000 (34 M, 18 F in 1999; 42 M, 26 F in 2000). Females released at this site moved greater distances than males through time, with no differences between years. We changed the release site based on nest locations of previously translocated females. The second site was 10 km south of site 1 and we used it in 2001 and 2002 (36 M, 22 F in 2001; 14 M, 5 F in 2002). Grouse released at this site moved substantially shorter distances than did the grouse initially released, and movement distances did not differ by gender or year. During 2004 we observed 23 grouse displaying on a lek near site 2 and observed no grouse near site 1. Our results support the hypothesis that nest-site availability is an important component to release-site selection insofar as sharp-tailed grouse in our study moved less when released into habitat that had been selected for nesting by previously released grouse.
Wildlife Society Bulletin
Vol. 34 • No. 5
Vol. 34 • No. 5
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus