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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- An environmental group is suing over the federal government's decision not to extend protections for a prairie dog found in four Southwestern states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says threats to the Gunnison's prairie dog won't cause the animal to become extinct soon or in the foreseeable future. Those threats include agriculture, grazing, urbanization and invasive species.

WildEarth Guardians says the agency is ignoring dramatic declines in the range and population of the animals, and discounting widespread threats. The group sued the agency in U.S. District Court in Arizona this month.

The agency has a policy not to comment on pending litigation.

The prairie dogs make their homes in grasslands and intermountain valleys of northern Arizona, southwestern and south-central Colorado, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah.

Associated Press,

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