Prairie chicken listed as threatened; will impact Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico

By Matthew Daly

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 27 2014 1:42 p.m. MDT

This March 2007 photo provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shows a male lesser prairie chicken in a mating stature in the Texas panhandle. The Obama administration is placing the lesser prairie chicken on a list of threatened species, a move that could affect oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in five central and southwestern states.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Jon McRoberts, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is placing the lesser prairie chicken on a list of threatened species.

The decision could affect oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in five central and southwestern states.

The decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service is a step below "endangered" status and allows for more flexibility in how the protections for the bird will be carried out under the Endangered Species Act.

The announcement is expected Thursday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the listing decision in advance.

The wildlife agency's director says he knows the decision will be unpopular with governors in the five affected states but that the bird is "in dire straits" and needs help.

The states are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

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