Montana officials will decide Thursday whether to relocate dozens of sage grouse to Alberta to help restore the struggling bird population in the Canadian province.
Several Montana lawmakers oppose the plan. The Environmental Quality Council on Thursday sent a letter to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks requesting a three-year block on moving any of the chicken-sized birds out of the country.
Democratic Rep. Jim Keane of Butte says Fish, Wildlife and Parks should instead look to bolstering areas within the state where the bird is in decline.
Last year, federal officials announced restrictions on 67 million acres of public lands to protect the bird’s habitat and prevent it from becoming an endangered species.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks director Jeff Hagener says there are an estimated 120 sage grouse in Alberta. The proposal would ship 40 birds from Montana the first year.