The Sage Grouse is a candidate for designation as a threatened or endangered species. As the Interior Department considers the bird’s fate, several research projects are underway across the west to study its behavior, movements and nesting patterns. Wildlife biologist Bryan Bedrosian locates the birds at night. Sage Grouse sleep out in the open so they can see predators coming. But this also blows their cover. “The way we see them is by a really powerful spotlight we bring out," Bedrosian said. "And through binoculars we can pick up the shine, the reflection of their eye." Using this common technique researchers can spot a group of sleeping grouse for 800 meters. To capture them Bedrosian deploys rock music and what looks like an over-sized butterfly net. “We go up to them playing loud music so it distracts them, covers up our foot steps, disorients them a little bit to what’s happening,” he said. With almost 44 percent of Sage Grouse habitat lost to agriculture, urban development, road construction, energy production and other causes, scientists like Bedrosian are providing vital information that may help this chicken-sized desert bird from going extinct. What researchers discover could restrict future land usage, especially in Wyoming where sagebrush, the birds’ primary environment, covers more than half the state.
For millennia, water has spread across the broad expanse of the Florida Everglades. But in the last 100 years or so man has blocked its path with roads and dug canals to drain and reroute its course. Now some parts of the Everglades have too much water and some have too little. "The problem is the Everglades are our water supply." said Eric Buermann of the Southern Florida Water Management District. "And there's only 40 percent of the natural Everglades left after man's drainage and decimation of the natural environment." Investing almost $1 billion the state for Florida has instituted a research program to correct the growing problem. Engineers hope to apply what scientists learn to get water running again where there's too much of it and let it flow into places where there's much too little of it, like the Everglades National Park.