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Fish and Wildlife

Many species of wildlife call the deserts of Eastern Oregon home, including sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, elk, pygmy rabbits, golden eagles, steelhead, bull trout, cougar and bobcats.

Many people do not realize that deserts are full of life! Oregon’s high desert supports a remarkable diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are unique and endangered.

Greater Sage-Grouse  By Kevin Smith
Greater sage-grouse.
Photo: Kevin Smith

Our high desert is dominated by sagebrush—making this habitat, called the Sagebrush Steppe, the perfect home for many animals that are dependent on sagebrush for food and shelter. These desert-dwellers are called sagebrush obligate species and include the Greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit, sage thrasher, and pronghorn antelope.

Eastern Oregon’s wetlands attract tens of thousands of migrating birds, including waterfowl such as sandhill cranes, pelicans, and tundra swans. Important populations of native fish, such as chinook salmon, steelhead, redband and bull trout ply Oregon’s desert rivers.

JD Steelhead
Summer steelhead.
Photo: Greg Burke
These fragile desert lands and rivers are threatened by changes in climate, improper livestock grazing, off-road vehicle use, mining and road building. Loss of habitat and other human activities is driving many of these desert species toward extinction. Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the Greater sage-grouse is warranted for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and is considered a "candidate" species under ESA. Bull Trout are currently listed as threatened under ESA, as well as the Lost River sucker, the Foskett speckled dace, and the Warner sucker all found in rivers and streams in Oregon's desert.

Each of ONDA's primary programs works to ensure that these fragile species and the ecosystems that they depend on for survival are protected and home to healthy and diverse populations of fish and wildlife.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
Bend, OR 97702
Tel: (541) 330-2638

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