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Grouse ruling challenge stymied

Fri., April 30, 2010

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – A judge has dealt environmentalists an early setback in their attempt to challenge the federal government’s recent decision not to grant the sage grouse threatened or endangered species status.

The Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project filed a motion in federal court in March just days after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided against giving the bird special protection under the Endangered Species Act.

In the motion, the environmental group claimed the government’s decision was flawed and left out key information.

That motion was filed as a supplement to a previous WWP lawsuit that prompted the federal agency to reconsider its 2005 decision not to give the chicken-size bird endangered or threatened protection.

But on Tuesday, a federal judge rejected the group’s motion. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sided with federal lawyers who claimed the court no longer had any authority to consider legal issues related to the older case.

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