The federal government is offering legal protections for landowners who help protect the lesser prairie chicken.
The protections should ease land-owner and energy industry concerns that they would not be able to operate in the bird's habitat if the prairie grouse is listed as a threatened species.
Those who take steps to preserve habitat will receive a letter guaranteeing they will not be fined or prosecuted if lesser prairie chickens are found dead on their property.
The decision would affect the plains of Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide by March 30 whether to list the bird as a threatened species.