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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Utah and three other Western states are getting money from the federal Agriculture Department to help protect the sage grouse.
The population of the bird, about the size of chicken, has dwindled as its territory gets crowded by homes, cattle and oil and natural gas wells.
Two (m) million dollars will be available under the Grassland Reserve Program, which gives ranchers and farmers dollars and technical help in protecting grassland and shrubland where the bird lives.
The Agriculture Department says estimates of the current population generally range from around 140-thousand birds to 250-thousand or more. Experts say there were as many as two (m) million early in the 1800s.
In addition to Utah, states getting the current allocation are Colorado, Idaho and Washington.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)