A male great western sage grouse.

A male great western sage grouse.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Interior Department announced its decision this week that the greater sage grouse does not need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The federal government says the this is a result of the voluntary conservation efforts of government agencies and private landowners. But some environmental groups that pushed for the bird to be listed say they are disappointed and criticize the federal protection plans as flawed.