Threatened bird leads feds to block some drilling

Jun 18, 2014 by Nicholas Riccardi

The federal government is declaring more than 400,000 acres in Colorado and Utah off-limits to energy exploration to protect a little-known bird.

The Gunnison sage grouse is related to the better-known greater sage grouse. The federal government is considering listing both birds as endangered species. That could prohibit development and agriculture in huge chunks of the West.

Of the two , the Gunnison sage grouse is far less common and its habitat is restricted to southwestern Colorado and a small chunk of Utah. The protections announced this week formalize what the is doing to conserve that bird.

Western states are bracing for far more sweeping restrictions to protect the greater sage grouse if it's listed as endangered.

Explore further: Sage grouse losing habitat to fire as endangered species decision looms

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