Never seen a sage grouse? Sadly, you might never get the chance.

The iconic Canadian bird is critically endangered and one environmental lawyer says the federal government is doing everything it can to smother discussions on the issue.

“Not only are we having to fight to try to get the court to compel the government to act as we feel it should, (the government is also) claiming what’s called cabinet confidence over this whole issue,” Ecojustice lawyer Melissa Gorrie told CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday.

The environmental group has been fighting it out with Environment Minister Peter Kent in federal court.

Are debates underway? Is the government prepared to issue an emergency protection order? The government has been mum on the subject and Gorrie worries they’re playing the system to avoid critical discussion on a species facing immediate disappearance.

“It’s a dangerous precedent,” said Gorrie. “We would never know what the situation is because it’s all under this claim of cabinet confidence.

“It’s not for us to know, it’s not for the public to know, it’s not for the courts to know.”

The sage grouse is best known for its dramatic walk. Each spring, as the weather warms, richly plumed males shake off the snow and strut their stuff for picky females.

The stakes are high, as dominant males can sometimes mate with up to 80 per cent of the females in a group.

At one time, Alberta and Saskatchewan were host to thousands of the chicken-sized bird. In recent years, that number has dropped to fewer than 100, and experts think the sage grouse could disappear entirely in the next decade.