The species, which was named in 2000, has a population of only a few thousand birds left. Of this small pool, many of them belong to small, isolated populations, and are vulnerable to genetic problems that could hasten their extinction, Fitzpatrick said.
"Finally, official protection under the Endangered Species Act qualifies the Gunnison Sage-Grouse for substantially increased federal funding and investments for state recovery actions, including landowner compensation."
There has already been pushback from opponents to the listing, because the decision is expected to hamper oil and gas exploration and ranching on 1.4 million acres of land. Colorado's Gov. John Hickenlooper has already threatened a lawsuit, saying, "We will do everything we can, including taking the agency to court, to fight this listing."
But conservationists will be there to defend the listing - and even want to take it a step further. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) says that the Gunnison sage-grouse only occupies 7 percent of its historic range now. They and other conservationists are calling for an upgraded listing to "endangered."