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Associated Press, Published December 03 2009

Feds: prairie bird may warrant endangered status

BILLINGS, Mont. — Federal officials say a wide-ranging prairie songbird may warrant protections under the Endangered Species Act.

The Sprague's pipit, which nests on the ground, has seen nearly four-fifths of its population disappear in the last four decades. It breeds in the northern Great Plains and southern Canada and winters from Arizona and Texas to Louisiana, Mississippi and northern Mexico.

In 2008, the environmental group WildEarth Guardians petitioned for the bird to be listed as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

After an initial review found protections may be warranted, the service announced Wednesday it will conduct a more thorough review before making a final decision.

Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota as well as south-central Canada. Wintering occurs in the southern States of Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

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