Currently the sage grouse is not listed under the Endangered Species Act. And a bill before Congress would prevent that from happening anytime in the next decade.
This isn’t the first time that Utah Representative Rob Bishop has tried to block the sage grouse from being listed. But his previous attempts were shot down. This year, the idea seems to be getting more traction.
Brett Harti with the Center for Biological Diversity says if it passes, the amendment could have grave implications for sage grouse.
"It unfortunately will probably mean that the states will feel like the pressure has been taken off to take any actions to protect the sage grouse," Harti says.
Bishop’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. But in the past, he’s justified placing the amendment in a defense bill because he says if sage grouse are listed, it could jeopardize military training operations in his home state.
Harti says Endangered Species Act decisions should be informed by scientists, not Congress.
"When Congress interferes with that by saying that you cannot take action, that’s really harmful--not only to that species but to the conservation of wildlife across the board."
The amendment also includes language that would remove ESA protections for the American burying beetle.
Democrats are fighting to strike the provision from the defense bill.
Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.
Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.