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March 1, 2021

Groups threaten suit over rare bird’s fate in Colorado, Utah

DENVER (AP) — Two wildlife conservation groups said Wednesday they intend to file a lawsuit contending that several federal agencies are relying on an outdated plan to save a rare bird found only in Colorado and Utah.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Watersheds Project argue that conservation measures adopted in 2013 to protect the Gunnison sage grouse have failed to protect the bird and its sagebrush habitat. The grouse is on the Endangered Species List.

The groups claimed in a letter that the Gunnison sage grouse population has dropped by 40% since 2013. They cite Colorado Parks and Wildlife data suggesting bird numbers have declined to a three-year running average of just 1,788 as of 2020.

Bird populations in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah have been affected by federal agencies’ authorization of grazing and development and by noncompliance with the 2013 plan, the groups said.

The groups informed the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Parks Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of their intent to sue unless those agencies take action to address alleged shortcomings.

Emails seeking comment from those agencies weren’t immediately returned.

The Gunnison grouse is related to the larger and more numerous Greater sage grouse.

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Associated Press

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