DENVER (AP) – A federal decision on protecting the Gunnison sage-grouse in Colorado and Utah has been postponed again.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says a court granted a six-month extension. The deadline had been Friday.

About 5,000 Gunnison sage-grouse remain, including 4,000 in Colorado’s Gunnison Basin. They’re found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

Federal protection could bring restrictions on hundreds of thousands of acres where the birds live. Colorado officials have threatened to sue the Interior Department if the bird is listed as endangered.

The original decision deadline was in 2012. It has been extended at least four times for various reasons.

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

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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