Court upholds protection for rare bird in Colorado, Utah

DENVER (AP) — A rare bird found only in Colorado and Utah will stay on the endangered species list, at least for now.

A federal judge in Denver on Friday upheld a 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species.

State and county governments in Colorado and Utah had challenged the decision. Colorado officials said they haven’t decided whether to appeal.

Only about 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse remain in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

The Gunnison grouse is related to the larger and more numerous greater sage grouse.

Greater sage grouse can be up to 2 feet (61 centimeters) tall and weigh 5 pounds (2.25 kilograms). The Gunnison birds are about one-third smaller.

Both are ground-dwelling birds known for the males’ elaborate mating rituals.

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