Posted April 2, 2014
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced its final listing of the lesser prairie-chicken as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to an article by Agri-Pulse available here.
A “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future.
“The lesser prairie-chicken is in dire straits,” said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.  The population has been reduced by an estimated 84 percent over the last 15 years due largely to habitat loss and ongoing drought in the southern Great Plains.
FWS also included a final special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA to limit regulatory impact of the listing on landowners and businesses.  The rule allows five states, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado, to continue to manage conservation efforts and not subject certain activities to further regulation.  
The rule also says that conservation practices through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative and through “ongoing normal agricultural practices on existing cultivated land” are in compliance with the ESA and not subject to further regulation.”
Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie announced a renewed and expanded partnership with farmers and ranchers managing land with lesser prairie-chicken range, according to an NRCS news release available here.
“Our goal is to deliver a win-win for agricultural producers and wildlife,” said Bonnie.  “We want to help farmers and ranchers succeed for the long term while also protecting and improving habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken.  Often, what is good for prairie-chickens is good for ranching.”  More information on the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative is available here.


For more information on environmental law and conservation programs, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website hereand here.