Judge rejects challenge on sage grouse listing

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- A federal judge has upheld the federal government's determination that sage grouse in the West deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that other species have higher priority.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Thursday granted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's request to rule against two environmental groups in their lawsuit seeking increased protections for the bird. Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians had sued in 2010.

Jon Marvel, executive director of the Idaho-based Western Watershed Project, says Friday he is still reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.

Wyoming and other western states have been concerned that granting full federal protections for sage grouse could have hindered energy development.