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US gives protections to rare Midwest bird as prairie suffers


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. government says it will protect two populations of a rare prairie bird that’s found in parts of the Midwest, including one of the country’s most prolific oil and gas fields. The lesser prairie chicken’s range covers a portion of the oil-rich Permian Basin along the New Mexico-Texas line, and extends into parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas. The bird's habitat has diminished about 90% from historical levels. Officials say the prairies where the birds live are in peril as they get broken up and developed.