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Friday, February 17, 2023

Concerns grow over listing lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act

By Bonner Cohen, Ph. D. February 14th, 2023

Plans by the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to place the lesser prairie-chicken (LPC) on the endangered species list have given rise to legislation in Congress aimed at blocking the Biden administration’s move.

The lesser prairie chicken’s numbers have fluctuated wildly over recent decades. Fearful that the small, flightless bird could wind up on the endangered species list, state and local officials have joined forces with landowners in the LPC’s habitat – which stretches from Texas to Washington state – to take steps aimed at stabilizing the creature’s population. Listing of a plant or animal under the ESA – either as threatened or endangered – triggers strict land-use restrictions that could have devastating economic consequences in areas affected by the listing.

Such is the threat an ESA listing of the bird would pose to the energy and agricultural sectors in states providing habitat for the LPC, that lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate have introduced Resolutions of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

“Placing the lesser prairie-chicken on the endangered species list should not be happening in the first place,” said Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas. “Farmers, ranchers, and others in Kansas and the region have been instrumental in the recovery of the species to this point while the climate activists demanding this rule have no understanding of the threat it poses to Kansas’s economy, especially in energy and ag industries.”

ESA’s Two-Percent Recovery Rate...........To

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