Lesser Prairie Chicken CRA Vote Would Doom a Popular Southwestern Game Bird

Senate Should Instead Fund Voluntary Habitat Restoration

WASHINGTON D.C. —  A congressional resolution overturning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's determination that populations of lesser prairie chicken are threatened and endangered would not only remove protections for the bird, but it also could eliminate the possibility of any future federal protections. 

“Losing the lesser prairie chicken would be a blow to bird hunters and bird lovers nationwide,” said Lew Carpenter, director of conservation partnerships with the National Wildlife Federation and vice president of the North American Grouse Partnership. “Current conservation efforts are not at the scale necessary. We hope partisan politics will not put a halt to federal efforts to recover one of our region’s iconic birds. And recovery means recovery of the habitat, too. Without this listing and the on-the-ground work necessary for recovery, sharptail grouse and greater prairie chickens will be the next victims of poor habitat and over development on our grasslands. We have the tools to make this work. Congress should stay out of this and let the scientists decide.”
"We have been watching lesser prairie chicken populations dwindle for decades," said Mike Leahy, senior director of wildlife policy for the National Wildlife Federation. "This listing follows the science and the law, and the rule itself leaves landowners a good deal of flexibility. If we want to recover the lesser prairie chicken, we need to restore its habitat. The Endangered Species Act makes more funding available for landowners who want to restore habitat on their lands. A Congressional Review Act vote is not the right approach because it would not only overturn this particular listing, it would mean this bird could never be listed again no matter how bad things get. We don’t want to set the precedent using the Congressional Review Act to override science-based wildlife management. The Senate should vote no and should instead fund grasslands restoration via the Farm Bill, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, and the North American Grasslands Conservation Act.”
More information:

  • Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, there are now fewer than 30,000 lesser prairie chickens across a five-state region. 
  • The rule listing the lesser prairie chicken includes flexibility for landowners. For example, it exempts any “take” of the bird associated with the continuation of routine agricultural practices or the use of prescribed fire. 
  • USFWS works with private landowners to develop voluntary conservation agreements that will protect the lesser prairie-chicken and the native grasslands on which it depends, while providing that ranching, agriculture and other activities can continue regardless of whether the species is listed. 


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