Feds revise proposal for lesser prairie chicken

ALBUQUERQUE — Environmentalists are criticizing federal wildlife officials for their plan to revamp proposed protections for a prairie grouse found in several western states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that it will reopen the comment period on the proposal to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

At issue is a special rule that would take effect if the grouse is listed. It would give landowners in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and other states more flexibility by allowing prairie chickens to be killed as part of certain activities.

The agency says the rule would foster conservation, but the Center for Biological Diversity says the measure would allow habitat-destroying activities to continue and limit protections for the bird.

Oil, gas and wind producers have been developing habitat conservation plans in hope that the grouse is not listed.

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