Gunnison Country Wildlife

The public lands of Gunnison County are home to world-class populations of elk, mule deer and other big game, one of North America’s rarest birds, native cutthroat trout darting through clear mountain streams, and healthy stands of forest. Whether you like hunting, fishing, birding, or simply cherish solitude with wild critters, the public lands in and around Gunnison County are a paradise for wildlife.

HCCA’s Public Lands Program works diligently to protect wildlife and the public lands they depend on from ill-planned resource extraction, unsustainable recreation and bad environmental policy. Healthy and diverse native wildlife depend directly on healthy public lands. Happy wildlife viewing!

Gunnison Sage-grouse
A male Gunnison Sage Grouse put on a display early in the morning during a snow storm at Woods Gulch BLM area in Gunnison, CO.

A male Gunnison Sage Grouse put on a display early in the morning during a snow storm at Woods Gulch BLM area in Gunnison, CO.

The Gunnison Sage-grouse is a ground dwelling bird species endemic to a small number of populations in western Colorado and eastern Utah, whose survival is at stake and whose protection is often mired in controversy. At approximately 8% of its historic range, factors such as habitat destruction, subdivision development, mining and historic overgrazing are some of the adverse processes that undermine Sage-grouse populations in the region. Population size and individuals attending breeding grounds (called leks) have been showing declining numbers and approximately 40% of the leks in the Gunnison Basin alone have been classified as inactive. The Gunnison Basin population contains about 80% of the remaining birds, while other populations are quite small and display very little genetic diversity to sustain them long term. Collaborative efforts have been ongoing in Gunnison since 1995, in an attempt to stabilize and grow the Gunnison Basin population, with some promising results. HCCA has been involved in collaborative efforts in Gunnison since 1995, in an attempt to stabilize and grow the Gunnison Basin population, with some promising results.mapGUSGpresettlement

Organizations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature have deemed the Gunnison Sage-grouse as a globally endangered species, and the Audubon Society lists it as one of the top 10 endangered birds in North America. The bird is currently listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

In early 2017, the Bureau of Land Management is framing a series of new alternatives for land management plan amendments that will mitigate factors that threaten the Gunnison Sage-grouse. Click here for more information on this process.