CALGARY, CAN. - Experts from throughout North America are meeting with ranchers and landowners at the Calgary Zoo for a three-day workshop to determine the best way of helping the sage grouse recover from the brink of extinction.
Dr. Axel Moehrenschlager, head of the zoo's Centre for Conservation Research, says sage grouse numbers have plummeted in the past two decades to less than 150 in the entire country.
He says predation, disease and other factors have also contributed to the bird's shocking decline.
Captive breeding and release is one strategy that will be discussed to save the bird.
Moehrenschlager points out that at one point, there were only 15 whooping cranes and 40 Vancouver Island marmots left.
But thanks to captive breeding, both now number in the hundreds.
Moehrenschlager says the situation is "very tricky" but the bird's fate is certain if nothing is done.
Moehrenschlager says the goal of the international multi-stakeholder workshop is to determine how to best incorporate captive and wild conservation strategies to save the sage grouse.
Last year the federal government announced an emergency order to protect the sage grouse, the first time such action has been taken under the Species at Risk Act.