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Politics: Protections for western bird will get new look under Biden

Federal Judge to Hear Arguments Over Lifting Protections of Gray Wolves in Parts of U.S.

  Federal Judge to Hear Arguments Over Lifting Protections of Gray Wolves in Parts of U.S. The decision came during a hearing on whether gray wolves were properly classified under the Endangered Species Act. An attorney for the U.S. Justice Department argued that they were not, saying that gray wolves, in particular, are not distinct enough to make up a species. Your browser does not support this video "Congress was very clear in the statute," argued Michael Eitel of the Justice Department's natural resources division, "if there is not that species, the service does not have the ability to regulate it.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday said it will consider new measures to protect greater sage grouse, a bird species once found across much of the U.S. West that has suffered drastic declines in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures.

FILE - In this April 20, 2013 file photo, male Greater Sage Grouse perform their mating ritual on a lake near Walden, Colo.  The Biden administration is considering new measures to protect the ground-dwelling bird that was once found across much of the U.S. West. It has lost vast areas of habitat in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this April 20, 2013 file photo, male Greater Sage Grouse perform their mating ritual on a lake near Walden, Colo. The Biden administration is considering new measures to protect the ground-dwelling bird that was once found across much of the U.S. West. It has lost vast areas of habitat in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2012 file photo a man tosses dirt on a fire as he tries to save his home on Bettas Road near Cle Elum, Wash.  Federal officials are considering changes to land use plans across much of the U.S. West to help conserve greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that’s seen huge areas of habitat destroyed by wildfires and human activities.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2012 file photo a man tosses dirt on a fire as he tries to save his home on Bettas Road near Cle Elum, Wash. Federal officials are considering changes to land use plans across much of the U.S. West to help conserve greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that’s seen huge areas of habitat destroyed by wildfires and human activities. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

The announcement of a range-wide habitat evaluation for greater sage grouse came after the Trump administration tried to scale back conservation efforts adopted when Biden was vice president in 2015.

Fight over US wolf protections goes before federal judge

  Fight over US wolf protections goes before federal judge BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. government attorney urged a federal judge Friday to uphold a decision from the waning days of the Trump administration that lifted protections for gray wolves across most of the country, as Republican-led states have sought to drive down wolf numbers through aggressive hunting and trapping. Wildlife advocates argued that the state-sponsored hunts could quickly reverse the gray wolf’s recovery over the past several decades in large areas of the West and Midwest. They want U.S.

A federal court blocked Trump's changes. But Biden administration officials said the attempt set back conservation efforts — even as the chicken-sized bird's habitat was further ravaged by wildfires, invasive plant species and continued development.

Industry groups have resisted further restrictions, such as wide buffers where drilling would be prohibited. Biologists have said those buffers are needed to protect sage grouse breeding areas where the birds engage in elaborate annual mating rituals.

FILE - In this April 20, 2013 file photo, male greater sage grouse perform mating rituals for a female grouse, not pictured, on a lake outside Walden, Colo. The Biden administration is considering new measures to protect the ground-dwelling bird that was once found across much of the U.S. West. It has lost vast areas of habitat in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this April 20, 2013 file photo, male greater sage grouse perform mating rituals for a female grouse, not pictured, on a lake outside Walden, Colo. The Biden administration is considering new measures to protect the ground-dwelling bird that was once found across much of the U.S. West. It has lost vast areas of habitat in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Some environmentalists insisted that the 2015 plans didn't go far enough because of loopholes that allowed grazing and drilling on land that sage grouse need.

Conservatives take on Big Bird over COVID vaccine, latest in yearslong tussle

  Conservatives take on Big Bird over COVID vaccine, latest in yearslong tussle Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, went there. He took on Big Bird and the fowl’s advocacy for the COVID-19 vaccine. Cruz tweeted that Big Bird’s effort to encourage kids to get vaccinated was "Government propaganda…for your 5 year old!" ONE YEAR UNTIL 2022 MIDTERMS, REPUBLICANS PREDICT THEY’LL WIN BACK HOUSE, SENATE MAJORITIES © Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, in February. Recently, the senator called out Big Bird's efforts to vaccinate kids.

Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Nada Culver said “everything's on the table” as the agency launches its evaluation of sage grouse habitat, with no set deadlines for action.

“From changes to the buffers, to how we manage energy development, to how we manage every other activity....we are evaluating it and we are looking for input on what are the most important things to look at,” Culver said.

Greater sage grouse once numbered in the millions across all or portions of 11 Western states. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey said earlier this year that their numbers are down 65% since 1986.

In 2010, U.S. wildlife officials said drastic habitat losses meant protections for sage grouse had become warranted for under the Endangered Species Act. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not take any action at the time, saying other species took priority.

In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined protections were no longer needed after other federal agencies and states adopted sweeping land use plans meant to halt or reverse the species’ decline.

The quirky birds with long, pointed tail feathers are known for elaborate courtship display in which male birds puff up air sacs in their necks to make a popping sound.

Federal officials said in May response to a court order that they would consider reviving a ban on new mining on large expanses of public lands to help the birds.

A temporary ban on mining was imposed under former President Barack Obama but dropped by the Trump administration. The affected lands totaled 10 million acres (4 million hectares) in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Sue Bird Seeks Historic Fifth Olympic Gold Medal in Tokyo .
The 40-year-old WNBA star boasts a U.S. national team resume that very few athletes in Olympic history can match. After two decades of dominance, she's chasing a historic fifth gold medal in Tokyo. View the original article to see embedded media.TOKYO — Sue Bird says she doesn’t think too often or too much about her Olympic experience. Not with another WNBA title to defend when the season resumes later this summer. Not the sheer, immense, staggering totality of wins, medals and passport stamps. Not the history involved. It happens fast, she says, plus she’s terrible at math.

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