Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the federal government to more aggressively protect the lesser prairie chicken.
The bird has been on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's threatened species list -- a level below endangered -- which means the species is likely to be in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future.
The distinction allows the agency to authorize an "incidental take" of prairie chickens by anyone involved in activities related to such things as oil and gas, agriculture, wind power, cellphone and radio towers, power lines, construction and roads.
"It's a loophole so big you could drive a truck through it," said Jason Rylander, a senior staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, who filed the lawsuit Tuesday with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians.
The organizations hope to push the agency into moving the bird to the endangered list to stop these exemptions.