Lesser Prairie Chicken Listing Could Cause Headaches for Landowners, NCBA SaysFri, 16 May 2014 17:34:01 CDT
The lesser-prairie chicken was recently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Dustin Van Liew of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is very concerned with what that will mean for cattle producers.
"We filed comments on behalf of the cattle industry opposing that listing. Unfortunately, as we've seen with many wildlife species and this administration through the Fish and Wildlife Agency, they have gone ahead and listed that bird. That will probably have a huge impact on our industry based on the restrictions the agency can now place on cattle ranchers and any other users on private lands across the midsection of our country."
He said it is not as bad as if the bird had been listed as an endangered species, but the designation empowers bureaucrats and gives them tremendous latitude.
"Threatened and endangered are both designations under the Endangered Species Act that carry regulatory burdens. So, you can still violate that act even with just a threatened listing just by, quote unquote, harassing a species that is under the protection of the ESA and that's what's very concerning because it's not just killing or taking a species, but it could be modifying a habitat."
Van Liew said it is very difficult for landowners to understand what modifying habitat means because it could mean different things to different bureaucrats. The ESA also allows anyone to bring a lawsuit against landowners alleging that harm has been done.
"It is very concerning that anyone with a special interest outside of the industry or regulators themselves can come along and file a lawsuit."
He said that this is just another tactic used by the Obama administration to harass private landowners.
"The 'sue and settle,' especially with this administration, has really accelerated. This species, along with hundreds of others, was part of a mega-settlement in 2011 by radical special interest groups aimed at listing as many species as possible to drive their anti-agriculture, anti-use agendas."
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