That's the number of species that the Department of Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service have pledged to evaluate over the next six years for Endangered Species Act protections. The pledge is part of a settlement with one of the key litigants in a series of cases brought against the federal government over its inaction on more than 250 threatened species, including the western sage grouse. Under the settlement with Wild Earth Guardians, the government also pledged to prioritize species that have already been deemed to be at "potential risk," a population that includes the sage grouse. According to the New York Times
, the Fish and Wildlife service has been unable to make progress on a growing backlog of work that was created, in part, by conservation groups petitioning and then suing the agency in an effort spur it into action. The settlement also raises the average number of new listings annually to 50 - up from an average of 29 under the Obama administration and just eight annually under George W. Bush.