🔊Sound on🔊 Happy Earth Day to all the creatures in Earth. Let's meet one of the more extravagant animals that we share this planet with. This is a male greater sage-grouse as he dances for the privilege to breed. At this time every year across the sagebrush sea of the American West, these birds strut their stuff at dawn. Recent studies have shown that while this bizarre dance is extremely visual, the female sage-grouse are focused primarily on the sounds made during this display. The males that sound the ‘best’ to the females will earn the right to pass on their genes. In essence, female selection has shaped this display into what it is today. Sagebrush ecosystems have declines over 50% in the past 100 years and with it, the greater sage-grouse: estimated to have declined by 90%. In March of 2019, the current administration released plans to loosen protection for the imperiled sage grouse. As part of a larger effort to undermine the Endangered Species Act, the plan will affect nine million acres of land, making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill across 10 Western states. The architect of this plan is the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt (a former oil lobbyist). The previous 2015 plan allowed for mining, oil and gas drilling, hunting, fishing, livestock grazing, and recreation, in sage grouse habitat but provided responsible, science based safeguards. It was considered an incredible success of intense collaborative work between federal agencies, states, industry, and environmental groups. Even if states provide stronger protections (i.e. WY) the habitat will still be under less protections given the new plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a decision in 2020 whether the greater sage-grouse warrants federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.