A state agency has looked into populations of a native bird across Texas and four other states.

Texas Parks and Wildlife has released the conclusions of the first range-wide lesser prairie-chicken aerial survey conducted in the spring of this year, and found several breeding areas that were previously unknown.

This data may well be important, since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is considering whether to list the lesser prairie-chicken under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The surveys, orchestrated by biologists from TPWD, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado, encompassed more than 300,000 square miles, and will produce the first ever statistically valid estimate of the number of breeding areas, known as leks, and the total population of birds.

The lesser prairie-chicken has been considered a candidate under the Endangered Species Act since 1998, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated that it will release a proposed rule on the bird’s status for public comment this fall.

Population of the bird has been largely increasing in Kansas for the last 15 years, and declining in southern portions.