State of New Mexico buys 7,500 acres to restore lesser prairie chicken

Habitat for the nearly-extinct lesser prairie chicken, known for its unique mating dances in prairies of southeast New Mexico, grew by 7,500 acres as the State of New Mexico purchased land from an energy company in the area.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish announced the partnership with NGL Energy Partners to buy the land to conserve it from development for the attempted regrowth of lesser prairie chicken populations.

The bird was thought to once number in the hundreds of thousands across the American West, with a range extending from southern New Mexico into Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas.

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Its numbers dropped dramatically in recent years, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider listing two population areas for protection.