By Associated Press - Monday, August 10, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana has hired a former state employee to lead a team of about five people dedicated to protecting a struggling bird species.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation hired Carolyn Sime on Friday to be the state’s first Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program Manager.

Sime wrote a master’s thesis in 1991 on the ground-dwelling bird and worked as a wildlife biologist at Fish, Wildlife and Parks for 20 years. She is currently a law clerk to a federal judge in Helena.

Sime’s team will be tasked with counting and mapping sage grouse as well as distributing about $10 million in state grants to preserve the bird.

Montana and other Western states are taking steps they hope will make it unnecessary for the federal government to add the animal to a list of threatened or endangered species.

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