Funding Deadline Puts the Imperiled Bird in the Crosshairs as Congress Seeks Final Bill

“This is a critical moment for the greater sage-grouse and the incredible habitat it calls home. Inaction on a final bill or agreement on a long-term stopgap funding measure will keep the same harmful policies in place and could prove disastrous for the species. The sage-grouse and sound science should not be used as bargaining chips.” 

Mary Beth Beetham, legislative director for Defenders of Wildlife
Washington, DC

Today, more than 60 environmental groups—including Defenders of Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, Western Watersheds Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Natural Resources Defense Council—and their millions of members are calling on Congress and the Biden administration to take a stand for the greater sage-grouse as anti-wildlife members of the House and Senate appropriations committees threaten to derail a hard-fought win for the imperiled bird earlier this year.  

“Anti-wildlife members of Congress are holding the greater sage-grouse hostage and by extension hundreds of other species that would also benefit from its protection,” said Mary Beth Beetham, legislative director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Politics have no place when it’s the future of an iconic western species on the line, especially in a biodiversity crisis.” 

In a much-celebrated milestone for the sage-grouse, 2021 was the first year since 2014 that both the House and Senate appropriations bills did not include the harmful rider preventing federal protections for the greater sage-grouse. It was also excluded from President Biden’s budget request. However, that milestone may be in jeopardy as the temporary funding measure currently in place for this fiscal year’s appropriations expires this Friday, December 3.  

Due to increased pressure to fund the government, some members of Congress are refusing to negotiate a final appropriations bill until “legacy” riders—such as the sage-grouse rider—are added back in. 

If an agreement is not reached, an additional continuing resolution for temporary or possibly even year-long funding will be put in place and automatically include the riders.  

“This is a critical moment for the greater sage-grouse and the incredible habitat it calls home,” said Beetham. “Inaction on a final bill or agreement on a long-term stopgap funding measure will keep the same harmful policies in place and could prove disastrous for the species. The sage-grouse and sound science should not be used as bargaining chips.” 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

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