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BEND, OR -- Several Oregon counties are leading the way to restore the sage grouse, in an effort to keep the bird off the endangered species list.  Fish and Wildlife Services is looking at possibly listing the bird because of reduced numbers in 11 western states.  Five more agreements involving Oregon counties were just signed Wednesday.  They are pledging to implement strategies to help boost sage grouse numbers. 
 
Brian Jennings is the Oregon coordinator for Back Country Hunters and Anglers. He tells KBND News, "The state of Oregon, the past 2-and a half to three years has held numerous meetings around the sage grouse with the group 'Sage-Con," which is a group of diverse stakeholders. Groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Oregon Natural Desert Association adn Back Country Hunters and Anglers are all coming together to prevent the sage grouse from being listed as threatened or endangered."
 
He says wildfire and invasive weeds are some of the biggest threats to the birds, along with juniper trees. "Junipers have spread like weeds in this country. They come down from the hillside and crowd out the sage and they suck up the water like crazy.  And, they offer perching points for birds of prey to attach the sage grouse. So, there are many efforts going on in Oregon to reduce the juniper out on the sage steppe."  The new agreements with Oregon counties includes continuing those efforts to protect sage grouse habitat.
 
Fish and Wildlife Services is expected to decide whether to list the bird, at the end of September.  

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