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States’ feathers ruffled as feds declare lesser prairie chicken threatened

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A day-old lesser prairie chicken is fitted with a tracking device for research, June 9, 2013 in Gove County, Kan. The federal government designates the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened, prompting praise from environmentalists and threats of defiance from lawmakers, land owners and businesses in the bird’s five-state habitat. MICHAEL PEARCE — MCT
WASHINGTON — The federal government on Thursday designated the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species, a long-anticipated announcement that politicians warned could set off a possible battle over states’ rights.
The lesser prairie chicken is a species of grouse with feathered feet and striped plumage. It lives in Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado.
The bird’s habitat has shrunk by more than 80 percent since the 19th century, as the once-open prairie has transformed into a mosaic of farms, ranches and towns, crisscrossed by roads, fences and power lines. The introduction of wind turbines and oil and gas wells further reduced the native grasslands preferred by lesser prairie chickens, which once were plentiful in the Great Plains.
Read more: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/27/us-usa-wildlife-prairiechicken-idINBREA2Q2CA20140327
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