WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is placing the lesser prairie chicken on a list of threatened species.

The decision could affect oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in five central and southwestern states.

The decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service is a step below "endangered" status and allows for more flexibility in how the protections for the bird will be carried out under the Endangered Species Act.

The announcement is expected Thursday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the listing decision in advance.

The wildlife agency's director says he knows the decision will be unpopular with governors in the five affected states but that the bird is "in dire straits" and needs help.

The states are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.