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Lesser prairie chicken's status to be settled

Published on -9/3/2012, 2:42 PM

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Experts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are considering whether the lesser prairie chicken needs federal protection.

The Kansas State Research and Extension service says the agency has until Sept. 30 to decide whether to propose listing the bird as a threatened or endangered species.

The Manhattan Mercury (http://bit.ly/zesloR ) reported that the bird's range and numbers have been declining for years -- everywhere except Kansas.

The western part of the state is now home to at least half of the world's lesser prairie chicken population. The other birds live in nearby areas of Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

The area where the birds dwell is less than 8 percent of their historic range. And more than 90 percent of that current habitat is private property.

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Information from: The Manhattan Mercury, http://www.themercury.com

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