Service Seeks Comment on Proposal to List the Lesser Prairie-Chicken under the Endangered Species Act

Service Seeks Comment on Proposal to List the Lesser Prairie-Chicken under the Endangered Species Act
After a thorough review of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list two distinct population segments (DPS) of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. The lesser prairie-chicken currently occupies a five-state range that includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado and faces a number of threats, including, modification, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat.The Service’s scientific review of past, present and future threats to the lesser prairie-chicken and ongoing conservation efforts found the Southern DPS is in danger of extinction, and the Northern DPS is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future (see DPS boundary map below). Accordingly, the Service proposes to list the Southern DPS as endangered under the ESA and the Northern DPS as threatened with a 4(d) rule that tailors protections. “The loss of America’s native grasslands and prairies of the southern Great Plains has resulted in steep declines for the lesser prairie-chicken and other grassland birds,” said Service Regional Director Amy Lueders. “For more than two decades, the Service has supported and encouraged our partners’ voluntary efforts to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken. Together, we have made great strides in conserving key habitat and raising awareness about threats to the lesser prairie-chicken, but we still have much work to do to ensure we have viable lesser prairie-chicken populations. The Service will continue to closely partner with diverse stakeholders across the lesser prairie-chicken’s range to restore this iconic species.”
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