New Bird Lawsuit While Another is Put on Hold

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Environmental groups have started a new court battle over protections for an imperiled bird on Western U.S. public lands but called a truce in a separate lawsuit involving the bird’s smaller cousin.

A lawsuit filed Monday claims the Trump administration ignored policies meant to protect the greater sage grouse when the government sold oil and gas leases across 475 square miles (1,230 square kilometers) in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

The suit asks the court to reverse those sales.

The greater sage grouse is a chicken-sized bird that ranges across 11 Western states.

Also Monday, environmentalists agreed to put on hold another lawsuit over protections for the Gunnison sage grouse, a smaller version of the bird which is found only in Colorado and Utah.

In return, the federal government agreed to come up with a recovery plan for the bird within 21/2 years. The environmental groups say that guarantees the plan won’t be dragged out for years.