BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho has entered an agreement with the federal government to give landowners protection and incentive for protecting sage grouse and its habitat in a southwest corner of the state.

The agreement is hailed by federal wildlife officials as the first of its kind for a bird being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The accord signed Friday would give landowners who voluntarily adopt habitat restoration measures protection from future regulations if the chicken-sized bird is granted endangered status.

For now, the incentives apply only to landowners in four Idaho counties, but similar programs are being considered in other western states.

Once prevalent in the sagebrush steppes stretching from the Dakotas to California, sage grouse populations and habitat are declining from threats posed by energy development, urban sprawl and wildfires.