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New deal between U.S., state of Idaho gives landowners an incentive to protect sage grouse

February 15, 2010 |  2:42 pm

Sage grouse BOISE, Idaho — Federal wildlife officials are hailing an agreement between the U.S. and the state of Idaho as the first of its kind for a bird being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The accord signed Friday gives landowners an incentive to protect the sage grouse. Those who voluntarily restore the chicken-sized bird's habitat would be protected from future regulations if the bird is granted endangered status.

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

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

-- Associated Press

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Photo: A male sage grouse performs a dance designed to win him a female. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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