The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed in a settlement announced Friday to review the mountain plover's status and decide by July 31, 2010, whether it should be added to the endangered species list.
The agreement settles a lawsuit by two environmental groups that claimed a 2003 finding that the bird isn't in danger of going extinct was politically motivated.
Wildlife officials estimate there are from 5,000 to 11,000 plovers left. WildEarth Guardians and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, who sued, argue the bird is endangered by urban sprawl, conversion of prairie to agriculture, and threats to prairie dogs, whose burrows provide shelter.