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Lesser prairie chicken proposed as ‘endangered’ species in New Mexico

Renowned mating dances and rituals of the lesser prairie chicken observed for hundreds of years could continue for decades to come as the federal government proposed new protections for the bird native to the vast prairies of eastern New Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday the results of a 12-month study and proposals to list the bird for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), identifying two distinct population segments (DPS) of the chicken.

The southern DPS, which lives among the shinnery oaks of eastern New Mexico and the southwest Texas panhandle, was proposed for an “endangered” listing, meaning it was at risk for extinction.

More:‘It’s our place to take care of them’: New Mexico landowners fight to save lesser prairie chicken