Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: GRA-2018-29637

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. GRA-2018-29637 is issued.

Scientific research for the conservation of the species
Activity necessary or beneficial to the species

Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus urophasianus; hereafter, GRSG) juveniles born and raised in captivity by the Calgary Zoo will be held in soft-release pens within the West Block of Grasslands National Park as part of an augmentation program for the breeding population. The soft-release pens will be taller than 1.2m high and will be erected in an area covered by the Emergency Protection Order for Greater Sage-grouse but will have perch deterrents. After a 1-2 week acclimation period in soft-release pens, the birds will be released with radio-transmitters attached and their survival/reproduction success (e.g., mortality, lek attendance, nest success) monitored.

Start Date: 2018-08-20   End Date: 2025-04-01

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Saskatchewan

Affected Species:

Alternatives: Population modelling suggests that even under the most optimistic conditions (no habitat loss, climate change or West Nile virus impacts) recent reproduction and survival rates are too low to sustain this population and predicts that extinction from Canada is likely within 10-15 years if conservation action is not taken (Lloyd et al., 2014). Among population management strategies to address the decline in numbers, these conservation translocations were considered to be an urgent need. Release of chicks into wild broods would require capturing and handling wild hens to attach transmitters needed for locating wild broods. This is not yet possible due to logistics and timing. Hard-release of juveniles is expected to result in a lower post-release survival rate than soft-release techniques. Post-release survival of juvenile sage-grouse is expected to be higher than adults that have been in captivity for a longer period of time.Releases may be conducted during Fall or in the subsequent Spring. At lek sites, release at times of the day different than dawn or dusk is not possible, as these windows will maximize the chances of developing association with wild birds and flocks, which will consequently maximize site fidelity, survival and conservation gain. Use of a vehicle is also required to minimize transportation time and stress on the animals being released. Mitigations: Soft-release pens will be built with perch deterrents and the effect of attracting predators closely monitored. Birds will be released in acclimation (i.e., soft-release) pens and into the wild depending on health test results. The pens will have perch deterrents to avoid providing additional perching opportunities for avian predators. VHF tracking of released hens to assess their reproduction rate and brood survival will be suspended if any released hens will be determined to be nesting in close proximity to other wild hens. A truck-mounted antenna will be used to track GRSG from the roads and help reduce disturbance to flocks. If releasing birds at a lek site, the presence of operators in proximity of the lek will be limited to a maximum of 1-2 hours within any given day, and for not more than three non-consecutive days within the month of April, to minimize disturbance to resident GRSG. Jeopardy to Survival or Recovery The activity is expected to help stop/reverse the population decline and inform restoration/enhancement strategies for Greater Sage-grouse nesting and brood rearing habitat. The techniques used in this project will be closely monitored and are not likely to jeopardize survival or recovery of Greater Sage-grouse. The juveniles are born and raised in captivity and any mortality should not impact the wild population.

Contact Person(s)
Parks Canada
Species Conservation and Management
Natural Resource Conservation
Parks Canada
30 Victoria Street 3rd floor
Gatineau, QC
J8X 0B3
Tel: 888-773-8888
Fax: 819-420-9273

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