Species Profile

Greater Sage-Grouse phaios subspecies

Scientific Name: Centrocercus urophasianus phaios
Other/Previous Names: Sage Grouse (British Columbia population)
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: December 2021
COSEWIC Status: Extirpated
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: Historically this large grouse had a restricted distribution in Canada, occurring only in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, where it was last observed in the 1960s. It persists in small numbers in the United States, including a rare and declining population in Washington State. The species is dependent on sagebrush-dominated landscapes, which have been substantially degraded and reduced in extent in both Canada and the adjacent United States.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Has not been reported since the 1960s. Designated Extirpated in April 1997. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000, April 2008, and December 2021.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Extirpated
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

Go to advanced search

Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Reasons for extirpation | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Greater Sage-Grouse phaios subspecies

Greater Sage-Grouse phaios subspecies Photo 1



Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest grouse in North America. It is one of two Centrocercus species; the other is the Gunnison Sage-Grouse, Centrocercus minimus, restricted to the Gunnison Valley of Colorado. Two subspecies of Greater Sage-Grouse are known from Canada: C. u. urophasianus in Alberta and Saskatchewan and C. u. phaios in the south Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The latter form is extirpated. Preliminary genetic analysis indicates Greater Sage-Grouse north of the Missouri River form a single population which is likely further divided into 3 sub-populations: Sage Creek (western Saskatchewan, Alberta, and northern Blaine County, Montana), Grasslands (Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan and northern Phillips and Valley Counties, Montana), and South of the Milk River (southern Blaine, Phillips, and Valley Counties). (Updated 2017/05/25)


Distribution and Population

Greater Sage-Grouse exhibit a near-obligate relationship with sagebrush and are found within the sagebrush range in western North America. Grouse found in Alberta and Saskatchewan are at the northern edge of the species’ range and represent less than 1% of the global population. Based on historical accounts, there has been a 90% reduction in range and substantial declines in the number of breeding locations. (Updated 2017/05/25)



Greater Sage-Grouse inhabit the mixed grassland ecoregion of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which has been reduced significantly. Their distribution is closely associated with that of silver sagebrush. Specific attributes within the sagebrush community are required during breeding, nesting, brood-rearing and over-wintering. Herbaceous cover for nesting and brood-rearing may be limited for Greater Sage-Grouse in Canada. (Updated 2017/05/25)



Greater Sage-Grouse are long-lived and chick survival may be driving population declines. Productivity is associated with local vegetation, age and condition of the breeding female, spring precipitation, anthropogenic disturbances, and spatial distribution and density. Nest initiation rates, clutch sizes, and nesting and breeding success are normal-high compared to rates reported in the species range. This suggests that intrinsic reproductive rates and success are not factors limiting the population. However, chick survival is low and may be the demographically limiting factor. Given their small population in Canada, Greater Sage-Grouse are susceptible to climate and stochastic events. Extended drought may exacerbate the already limited amount of herbaceous cover for nesting and brood-rearing and degrade silver sagebrush habitat. Greater Sage-Grouse are difficult to raise in captivity and are not good candidates for translocation. Currently, however, adequate gene flow exists in Canada. (Updated 2017/05/25)


Reasons for extirpation

Current population declines are likely due to an accumulation of causes but loss and degradation of habitat is thought to be the most important limiting factor. This has occurred through cultivation of rangeland for agriculture and overgrazing in the United States of America, expansions in oil and gas exploration and changes in hydrology. The effect of West Nile Virus and loss of genetic variability are not fully understood, but may have serious implications for a small population. (Updated 2017/05/25)



Federal Protection

The Greater Sage-Grouse phaios subspecies is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Greater Sage-Grouse phaios subspecies (Centrocercus urophasianus phaios) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

11 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

Recovery Strategies


  • Emergency Order for the Protection of the Greater Sage-Grouse (2017-11-01)

    The purpose of the Emergency Order for the Protection of the Greater Sage-Grouse, made pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is to address the imminent threats to the survival and recovery of the Greater Sage-Grouse, including by protecting the habitat identified in the Emergency Order to help stabilize the population and begin its recovery.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008-08-28)

    2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.


  • Agricultural Producers and the Sage-Grouse Recovery Strategy (2015-01-15)

    Successful recovery of the Sage-Grouse requires involvement of agricultural producers, local stakeholders and governments at all levels. For its part, the Government of Canada starts with developing a Recovery Strategy. The Recovery Strategy is a planning document that describes current scientific knowledge on threats to species and identifies critical habitat needed for the survival and recovery of the Sage-Grouse. The Recovery Strategy also identifies measures that could be taken to help stop the decline of Sage-Grouse. Voluntary stewardship actions by agricultural producers are important to Sage-Grouse recovery, and assistance is available from the Government of Canada to support activities recommended in the Recovery Strategy.
  • Summary and Questions & Answers: Emergency Order – Greater Sage-Grouse (2013-12-04)

    The purpose of the Emergency Order for the Protection of the Greater Sage-Grouse is to address the imminent threats to the survival and recovery of the Sage-Grouse to help stabilize the population and begin its recovery. The Government of Canada’s goal is to achieve the best protection for the Greater Sage-Grouse, while minimizing impacts on landowners and agricultural producers. The Emergency Order will come into force on February 18, 2014. The prohibitions contained in the Emergency Order only apply to habitat on federal and provincial crown lands in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. Grazing will not be regulated by the Emergency Order. In areas where grazing can be modified to improve Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, the Government of Canada will provide incentives for voluntary stewardship measures through programs like the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.
  • The Greater Sage-Grouse (2013-08-29)

    The Greater Sage-Grouse is a large ground-dwelling bird that has finely marked brown, black, beige and white upper parts, a black belly, and a long pointed tail. It is the largest grouse species found in North America. Within the white breast feathers of the male Greater Sage-Grouse, there are two large air sacs that are inflated and deflated as part of a spectacular mating display.

Related Information

  • Information on the Sage Grouse Recovery Strategy and Emergency Protection Order (2014-09-25)

    The Sage-Grouse is an endangered bird species that depends on the unique prairie ecosystem in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 2012, there were estimated to be roughly 100 adults remaining in Canada. The population has declined by 98% since 1988. The Government of Canada’s plan for successful recovery of this species includes the Emergency Protection Order, which focuses on imminent threats to the species in the wild, the Amended Recovery Strategy, which will guide recommended voluntary stewardship activities on Sage-Grouse habitat, and a joint program with the Calgary Zoo to breed and rear Sage-Grouse chicks in a safe environment to help increase the population in the wild.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
Date modified: