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Colorado plans to file lawsuit challenging federal protection for Gunnison sage grouse

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DENVER — Colorado officials plan a lawsuit challenging the federal government's decision to protect the Gunnison sage grouse, arguing it wasn't warranted.

John Swartout, an adviser to Gov. John Hickenlooper, said Friday state attorneys are reviewing the decision and will file a notice of intent to sue, a required first step.

He didn't know when that would happen.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month listed the Gunnison grouse as threatened. About 5,000 remain, only in Colorado and Utah.

Hickenlooper said officials should have given state and local conservation efforts a chance to work.

Some environmental groups also plan to sue, saying threatened status is too weak and that the birds should be considered endangered, which carries stronger protections.

Federal protection could bring restrictions on agriculture and oil and gas wells.

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