Friday's announcement begins a yearlong review that will include public meetings in four of the five states where the member of the prairie grouse family lives.
Fish and Wildlife says it made the decision based on evidence that the bird and its habitat are in decline. The agency already is working with state and federal agencies on a range-wide, voluntary conservation planning effort.
The chicken's range includes parts of New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas but nearly 85 percent of its grass and brush-land habitat has been affected by ranching and farming.
Ranchers, farmers and wind farms operators worry about a listing because it could increase regulations.
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