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Mar 30, 2010 9:39 AM by Associated Press

Groups say they intend to sue over sage grouse

Three environmental groups say they intend to sue the Interior Department for not protecting sage grouse as an endangered or threatened species.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Desert Survivors and Western Watersheds Project said Monday the department violated the Endangered Species Act by deciding to classify sage grouse as merely a candidate for federal protection.

An Interior spokeswoman declined to comment, citing policy for matters in litigation.

The department on March 5 announced a warranted-but-precluded finding for sage grouse in 11 states. That means federal protection is considered warranted but isn't a sufficiently high priority to pursue for the time being.

Sage grouse are found in California, Colorado, the Dakotas, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Canada.

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