Lesser Prairie-Chicken Listed Under ESA
March 28, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) this week announced its final listing of the lesser prairie-chicken as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). FWS said it determined that the lesser prairie-chicken is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future and warrants listing as "threatened" under the ESA. Under the law, a "threatened" listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future; it is a step below "endangered" under the ESA.

FWS also included a final special rule of the ESA that is supposed to limit regulatory impacts on landowners and businesses from the listing. The rule will allow the five range states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, to continue to manage conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities such as oil and gas development and utility line maintenance that are covered under the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' (WAFWA) range-wide conservation plan.

The special rule also says conservation practices through the U.S. Department of Agricultures'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.

The final rule and the final special rule will be published in the Federal Register and will be effective 30 days after publication.