Kansas to lead efforts to block U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the birds as a threatened species
TOPEKA – (January 31, 2023) – Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach will sue the Biden administration unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdraws a rule that lists the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. Kobach announced his intent to file a lawsuit in a written notice to the administration.
“The Biden administration’s listing of this species will have a devastating impact on Kansas ranchers, Kansas oil producers, and Kansas wind farms. Moreover, it is illegal,” Kobach said. “Kansas will lead the way in fighting against this overreach by the Biden administration.”
The rule change would require Kansas ranchers to seek the federal government’s permission to shift a cattle herd to a new field. It also creates tougher restrictions for energy pipelines, roads, and other development, including oil drilling.
In his letter, Kobach noted efforts by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) to work with federal agencies, regional organizations, nonprofit organizations and private landowners to conserve the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat. Their efforts helped stabilize the lesser prairie chicken’s population and expansion of its range in Kansas.
Kobach argues that the Biden administration failed to adequately consider Kansas’ pre-existing and ongoing conservation and mitigation measures. Those efforts include relationships established by KDWP and private landowners and their voluntary actions to implement a range-wide conservation plan.
As required by law, Kobach sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Martha Williams giving a 60-day notice of the intent to file litigation for failing to follow Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act with regard to the Final Rule the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued on November 25, 2022.
Kansas is part of the “Northern Distinct Population Segment” where the lesser prairie chicken is to be designated a threatened species, while birds in the “Southern Distinct Population Segment” will be designated an endangered species. The Final Rule is to take effect March 27. If the rule is not withdrawn, Kobach said he will file litigation.
A copy of the letter is available at https://bit.ly/3HKoIk5.