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Pentagon Objects To GOP Rider Blocking Protection Of Birds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is objecting to a defense bill's inclusion of a Republican proposal that would bar the Fish and Wildlife Service from using the Endangered Species Act to protect two chicken-like birds in the western half of the U.S.

The Defense Department says in a position paper that the measure inserted into the policy bill is unnecessary. The House-approved language would block endangered-species listing for the sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken, which roam more than a dozen states west of the Mississippi River.

The one-paragraph statement says the GOP provision "is not necessary to protect military testing and training," adding that the Pentagon "urges its exclusion" from the defense bill under negotiation in Congress.

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The Associated Press obtained a copy of the statement and confirmed its authenticity.