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Environmental groups to sue over Gunnison sage grouse, saying protections aren't strong enough


DENVER — Two environmental groups plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to list the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species instead of giving it the more protective endangered status.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project filed a formal notice Thursday, the first step toward filing a suit.

They say threatened status leaves too many loopholes for oil and gas wells and other development that could harm the birds.

The state of Colorado has also threatened to sue, but for the opposite reason. Gov. John Hickenlooper has said federal officials should have given state and local conservation efforts a chance before listing the birds as threatened.

A dwindling population of about 5,000 Gunnison grouse remain, only in Colorado and Utah.

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