NCBA to sue Interior over lesser prairie chicken ruling

The lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a grassland bird found in southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle. Photo courtesy The Hagstrom Report

Only a day after the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would delay implementation of the listing of the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said it has filed a notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the listing as a first step in court toward overturning the listing and revoking FWS’s final rule for both the Northern and Southern Distinct Population Segments (DPS).

“The lesser prairie chicken only survives today because of the voluntary conservation efforts of ranchers,” said NCBA Associate Director of Government Affairs Sigrid Johannes. “The science has proven repeatedly that healthy, diverse rangelands — like those cultivated by livestock grazing — are where the lesser prairie chicken thrives. There are numerous places where this listing goes seriously wrong, and we are defending cattle producers against this overreaching, unscientific rule.”

The listing was set to take effect at the end of January, but has been delayed until March 27. The states included in the species’ range are Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. In addition to NCBA, the case is being brought by lead plaintiff Permian Basin Petroleum Association along with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, and New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association.

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