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Respect the grouse

One way to see greater sage grouse is to visit one of their communal breeding grounds, called a lek, during the spring.

Even though sage grouse need sagebrush landscapes to survive, their leks are often in open areas where males are better seen and heard by the females. The males put on a dramatic display at sunrise making lek viewing a popular recreational activity across the state in March and April.
Sage grouse are sensitive to disturbances and may be affected by weather, predators and human presence. There is never a guarantee birds will be present each morning, but it’s important to use proper ethics to ensure these birds are protected at their breeding grounds.

Lek viewing etiquette:

  • Arrive at lek sites at least one hour before sunrise.
  • Park away from the edge of a lek and never drive directly onto the location. Keep a distance from strutting grouse to prevent causing changes in their behavior.
  • Turn off vehicle lights and the engine.
  • Stay in your vehicle.
  • Use binoculars and spotting scopes to observe the birds.
  • Refrain from loud noises or sudden movements that may startle the sage grouse.
  • Stay at the lek until the birds are gone. No early departures from this show.
  • Leave pets at home. If you choose to bring them, keep them in the vehicle at all times.
  • Don’t trespass on privately owned lands.
  • Postpone your visit if roads are muddy.

Be especially cautious with viewing activities during late March and early April when breeding activity usually peaks. Late April is a better time to visit a lek because most of the breeding is complete but the males are still actively strutting.

- WGFD -

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