Conservationists want a federal judge to allow them to join a legal battle over a type of sage grouse found only along the California-Nevada line in opposition to a lawsuit filed by off-road vehicle enthusiasts trying to overturn U.S. protections for the bird.
Four national environmental groups filed the formal request to intervene in the bi-state grouse case in federal court in Reno on Friday.
That's the same day the Trump administration finalized changes to sweeping federal land use plans easing restrictions on energy companies across 11 Western states where the greater sage grouse lives.
The conservationists argue that's one of the reasons they should be granted intervenor status for the bi-state grouse, which they say is more imperiled than the larger population of greater sage grouse.
Scientists say as few as 5,000 of the chicken-sized, ground-dwelling birds remain.
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