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Agreement means feds to decide on prairie bird designation

Prairie Chickens Kansas
Posted at 2:55 PM, Sep 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-15 16:55:23-04

DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement that will require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a recommendation by May 2021 whether the lesser prairie chicken should be federally protected as a threatened or endangered species.

The agreement was reached Thursday between the federal agency and three conservation groups: the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.

The groups sued the federal government in June to force it to make a designation for the lesser prairie chicken and its habitats.

Once a designation is proposed, there will then be a public comment period followed by a final determination made later by Fish and Wildlife. The agency also could decide that no federal protections be provided for the bird.

It was listed as threatened in 2014 but a federal court overturned the designation.

The grouse roams parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, but the groups said fewer than 38,000 remain .