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Mountain Plover Not Endangered, Agency Says

WASHINGTON (CN) - The mountain plover does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which last proposed listing the species last June.

As part of the research and public comment period started by the proposed listing action, the agency determined that there are at least 20,000 breeding pairs of the small bird, nearly twice what the agency has found is needed to establish a stable population.

Its name is a misnomer as the plover is native to the short-grass prairie and shrub-steppe landscapes of the western Great Plains and Rocky Mountain States and from southern Canada to northern Mexico.

The agency originally proposed listing the mountain plover in February 1999 but withdrew the listing proposal in September 2003.

WildEarth Guardians challenged the withdrawal in 2006 and, as part of a settlement agreement, the agency vacated the withdrawal and reopened the public comment period on the proposed listing.

After a full review, the agency determined that in addition to the new estimate of the number of breeding pairs, there was significant evidence that the plover makes use of plowed agricultural fields to make burrows as well has abandoned prairie dog borrows.

As a result of its determination, the agency is withdrawing its proposal to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act.

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