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AG Schmidt pushes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list Lesser Prairie-Chicken as threatened species

FILE - Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Source: Wikipedia)
FILE - Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Source: Wikipedia)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 4:23 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Attorney General Derek Schmidt is pushing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the Lesser-Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species as the agency has not accounted for voluntary actions to protect the species.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt says on Thursday he asked federal wildlife officials to not list the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species.

Last week, AG Schmidt said he submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during a public comment period as the agency considers whether or not to list the Northern Distinct Population Segment of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species under the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Schmidt said he has urged the USFWS to consider voluntary actions taken in Kansas to protect the species. He noted that since the mid-1990s, when the species was petitioned for threatened status, over 2 million acres of habitat have been added in Western Kansas.

“Practical considerations weigh in favor of the agency not listing the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species in the Northern Distinct Population Segment at this time,” Schmidt wrote. “The vast majority of the land within the known LPC range in Kansas is privately owned. Kansans have demonstrated that they care about the preservation of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken within the broader context of respect for private property rights, generational stewardship of the environment, and the State’s interests as a sovereign to fairly balance environmental and economic interests within its own borders.”

According to Schmidt, the comments are his latest efforts during his term as Attorney General to push back against the attempts to federally regulate the Lesser Prairie-Chicken population. In July 2016, he said the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas vacated a similar attempt by USFWS to add the LPS to the threatened or endangered list.

To read a copy of Schmidt’s comments to USFWS, click HERE.

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