DENVER (AP) – Federal wildlife managers have postponed by six weeks a decision on whether to protect the Gunnison sage grouse, a bird found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokesman Steve Segin confirmed the delay Wednesday. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet issued a statement earlier in the day welcoming the decision.

The Federal Register said the previous deadline was March 31.

Protecting the Gunnison sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act could impose land-use restrictions on hundreds of thousands of acres where the bird is found.

Bennet says the delay allows the Fish & Wildlife Service to consider local proposals for habitat preservation.

The Gunnison sage grouse is related to the greater sage grouse, which is at the center of a separate debate over federal protection.

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