Landowners Continue Lesser Prairie-Chicken Conservation Efforts Amid Uncertainty on ESA ListingThu, 28 Apr 2016 17:32:56 CDT
Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, says that despite the litigation battle over listing - and then delisting - the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species, farmers and ranchers have continued to make great strides in conservation efforts.
“Landowners and ranchers across the prairie chicken range have been working to conserve the species, and the numbers on the ground are reflecting that.” Lane says. “We’re seeing rebounding populations and health prairie chicken counts.”
Reduced drought conditions across the LPC habitat have also helped increase the population. Lane says drought has been the primary factor affecting the LPC, but officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were not taking the severely dry conditions into account when originally attempting to list the bird as threatened.
“Unfortunately, with the Endangered Species Act, we see political considerations and outside influence start to press on these issues,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot time focusing on reforming the Endangered Species Act and getting back to a place where the Fish and Wildlife Service can focus on recovery and delisting species rather than being stuck in the rut they are right now on just the listing process.”
In February, a U.S. District Court upheld the September 2015 decision to overturn the “threatened” listing because some factors - including landowner conservation efforts - were not thoroughly considered during the listing process. Lane says it is now up to the FWS to determine whether the LPC should be reevaluated for listing under the Endangered Species Act. In the meantime, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is conducting an updated population count, which Lane says is looking positive.
“From what I’ve heard, preliminary numbers are showing some massive population gains in some of the eco regions,” he says. “It’s going to be interesting to see if the Fish and Wildlife Service can do the right thing here and let landowners do what they’re doing to conserve this bird.”
Lane gives a complete update on the lesser prairie-chicken debate during the latest edition of the Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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