TWIN FALLS -- State wildlife officials plan to spend up to $100,000 over the next two years poisoning ravens in three Idaho areas in an attempt to boost sage grouse populations.

Sage grouse have dropped throughout the West, said Mike Keckler, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Their population numbers have dropped and they have in Idaho, too. And there is some concern that sage grouse could be placed on the endangered species list, and the state of Idaho would like to prevent that from happening.

Idaho Fish and Game hopes to kill thousands of ravens by placing poisoned chicken eggs in strategic locations.

We don't know why raven populations have increased the way they have but we used to see them primarily in forested areas, now we're seeing them in the desert areas where sagebrush is and that's the primary habitat for sage-grouse, said Keckler. And we do know that ravens are a nest-predator on sage-grouse chicks and eggs and that is a factor. The question is how big of a factor is it in the overall decline of sage-grouse populations?

Poisoning is scheduled to start later this spring, and the study will last two years.

Biologist Ann Moser said an attempt to kill ravens by shooting them didn't work well because ravens are smart and not easy to get a shot at.

The agency is targeting ravens in eastern Idaho near the Idaho National Laboratory as well as the Curlew National Grasslands. The third targeted area is in Washington County near the Oregon border.

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