TOPEKA – (September 9, 20201) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked federal wildlife officials to abandon plans to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species.
Schmidt last week submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the public comment period as the agency considers listing the Northern Distinct Population Segment of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Schmidt urged the USFWS to consider the voluntary actions taken in Kansas to protect the species. He noted since the mid-1990s, when the species was petitioned for threatened status, more than 2 million acres of habitat have been added in Western Kansas.
“Practical considerations weigh in favor of the agency not listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species in the Northern Distinct Population Segment at this time,” Schmidt wrote. “The vast majority of the land within the known LPC range in Kansas is privately owned. Kansans have demonstrated that they care about the preservation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken within the broader context of respect for private property rights, generational stewardship of the environment, and the State’s interests as a sovereign to fairly balance environmental and economic interests within its own borders.”
The comments are the latest efforts during Schmidt’s term in office to push back against attempts to federally regulate the Lesser Prairie Chicken population. In July 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas vacated a similar attempt by USFWS to add the LPC to the threatened or endangered list.
A copy of Schmidt’s recent comments submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can be found at https://bit.ly/3ySTM9t.