ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Wildlife managers in several states will begin surveys later this month to track the population of a grouse that has been the focus of an ongoing legal battle over whether it warrants federal protection.

Officials say aerial surveys for the lesser prairie chicken in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas will start March 16 and run through mid-May.

lesserprairiechickenone Texas Among States To Begin Surveys For Lesser Prairie Chicken

(credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The lesser prairie chicken was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014. That decision was vacated two years later as a result of a lawsuit and a subsequent court ruling. Environmentalists then petitioned to have the bird’s status reviewed.

As part of a range-wide voluntary conservation plan, economic incentives are offered to landowners and companies that set aside land to reduce impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.

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