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Vess Oil Corp. chairman J. Michael Vess said Tuesday his company has abandoned three western Kansas sites where it was ready to put up drilling rigs after the federal government put the lesser prairie chicken on a list of protected animals.

Vess appeared with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at a news conference Tuesday.

Vess Oil won’t explore another 10 to 15 sites because of the listing, Vess said.

The oil boss blamed the federal government for his firm’s decision to end drilling and exploration in parts of Kansas.

The federal government announced the listing in March and said it’s justified by the steep decline in the bird’s population in recent years, the AP reported.