In order to save a dwindling population of sage grouse, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has ordered restrictions on future structure building—such as oil drilling—near sage grouse habitat, the Associated Press reports.
The order, handed down Sept. 9, creates bird protection zones extending three-fifths of a mile around sage grouse breeding grounds—two-fifths of a mile short of the one-mile radius around breeding grounds recommended by an advisory council in January.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit settlement with environmental groups has given the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until September 2015 to determine whether federal protections for the bird should also take effect.
In Idaho, efforts are under way to poison raven eggs to protect sage grouse populations. Ravens are seen as a predator of sage grouse, though some environmentalists question
whether that will be effective, and have criticized the effort as failing to address the root cause of declining sage grouse populations: habitat destruction.
Sage grouse are found in 11 Western states and have lost more than half of their historic habitat to development, including agriculture, urban expansion and energy development.