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When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Gunnison sage-grouse as merely “threatened” last November, conservation groups immediately called foul because all the scientific evidence points clearly to a fully “endangered” listing. Today, Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the USFWS to ensure that the bird gets the status it deserves, and the better protections that come with it.
The current range of the Gunnison sage-grouse is a devastating seven percent of its historic habitat. Most of the remaining populations in Colorado and Utah are in grave danger of disappearing because of residential development, oil and gas development, livestock grazing, and climate change. By only listing the Gunnison sage-grouse as “threatened,” the Service is effectively declining to restrict land uses in the species’ habitat. These impacts to the bird will only increase the likelihood of its extinction.