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Cattle Groups, Including the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Challenge the Endangered Species Declaration for the Lesser Prairie Chicken

Fri, 03 Sep 2021 16:24:07 EDT

Cattle Groups, Including the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Challenge the Endangered Species Declaration for the Lesser Prairie Chicken Earlier this week, the National Cattlemen's Beef Assocation and state affiliates in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas (the “Livestock Associations”) submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in response to a June 1 proposed rule that would classify a northern population of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LPC) as threatened and a southern population as endangered. The proposal revives the Service’s previous efforts to list the LPC that was reversed in 2016 by a U.S. district court.

“The Livestock Associations believe the Service has incorrectly asserted that ESA protections are warranted at this time,” observing in the comments, “...the Service asserts that there is sufficient evidence to support the listing...” despite the fact that “...range-wide population estimates are, by all accounts, increasing across the range as a result of coordinated conservation efforts resulting from a centralized voluntary conservation method.” The groups emphasized to the Service that without protection of open space provided by agriculture and livestock operations, conservation efforts would be less successful.

The letter contends that the Fish and Wildlife Service has gotten it wrong on the status of the bird- saying the "ESA listing incorrectly asserts population stability change across range since 2016; Populations have nearly doubled since 2016." The organizations believe a case can be made that those population increases are the result of voluntary conservation efforts that farmers and ranchers have had a major part in accomplishing.

The state affiliates of the NCBA include the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, the Texxas Cattle Feeders Association, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers, the Kansas Livestock Association, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and the Colorado Livestock Association.

Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President of the OCA, says of the possible listing "The proposed designations of the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act represent not only is a disregard for the great conservation work that private land owners have and are doing, but more importantly, it is a significant proposed breach of private property rights. OCA is proud to be part of this strong coalition pushing back on this proposal that ignores the hard work and progress made in conservation and common sense practices by Oklahoma and adjoining state’s landowners."

You can read the complete letter from the groups by clicking on the PDF link below.




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