California puts hold on hunting for dwindling sage grouse - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

California puts hold on hunting for dwindling sage grouse

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FILE - In this July 25, 2005, file photo, a sage grouse stands in a meadow at the Smith Creek Ranch, east of Fallon, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File) FILE - In this July 25, 2005, file photo, a sage grouse stands in a meadow at the Smith Creek Ranch, east of Fallon, Nev. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

SMITH RIVER, Calif. (AP) — California wildlife officials are banning hunting of sage grouse for a season because of dwindling populations of the spikey-feathered native bird.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted 4-0 Wednesday not to allow hunting for any kind of sage grouse for 2017.

Sage grouse are best-known for their mating rituals. Male sage grouse fan their spiked head feathers, hoist their wings, and puff out their chests to try to catch the eye of females.

Conservation groups say cattle-grazing, oil-and-gas drilling and other development, and drought are erasing habitat for the sage grouse. Their numbers have fallen by half in California over the last five years, with 1,300 to 2,100 sage grouse believed to survive in the state, according to the state.

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