Kansas delegates condemn listing of lesser prairie chicken as threatened species

(KWCH)
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:47 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Delegates representing Kansas in Washington, D.C. are speaking out against the Biden administration’s recent decision to list the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act.

“This decision threatens to place unnecessary restrictions on farmers, ranchers, and energy producers,” said Senator Jerry Moran. “Kansas and surrounding states are committed to preserving the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat area and have contributed millions of public and private dollars to conservation efforts. This work has resulted in successfully conserving habitat area and increasing the population of the bird. The choice to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened despite voluntary, locally-driven conservation efforts will negatively impact critical industries in Kansas and will remove any incentive for similar local efforts for wildlife conservation in the future.”

Senator Roger Marshall said the announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is “a disappointment” that shows favor of “government micromanagement of agriculture and heavy-handed regulation.”

“Listing the lesser prairie chicken will hurt our state’s economy, hinder our oil and gas independence, increase utility costs, and prevent the development of renewable energy in prime Western Kansas locations,” Marshall said.

On the Congressional side, Rep. Tracy Mann also weighed in, calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final rule “more than another example of federal overreach.”

“It is a proxy war on American agriculture and energy sectors that are vital to our economy,” Mann said. “Farmers, ranchers, and landowners are the original conservationists, and the federal government should get out of their way to let them do what they do best.”

The responses from Senators Moran and Marshall and Rep. Mann aren’t the first time within the past couple of years that Kansas’ delegation has spoken up on this issue. In May 2021, Moran and Marshall joined colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Interior secretary not to list the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act.

In July 2021, the senators and Rep. Mann said they led a group of their colleagues in requesting a 90-day extension to the comment period for the proposed listing of the lesser prairie chicken.

The lesser prairie chicken’s range covers a portion of the oil-rich Permian Basin along the New Mexico-Texas state line and extends into parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas. The habitat of the bird, a type of grouse, has diminished across about 90% of its historical range, wildlife officials said.