Home committee votes to delist the Lesser Prairie-Rooster

“This proposal is motivated by politics and has no place in how we handle our nation’s wildlife,” mentioned Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer, Nationwide Audubon Society. “Congress mustn’t let politics intervene the place science is obvious. This chicken will vanish from our grasslands with out these essential protections.”

The US Home Pure Assets Committee voted final week to make use of the Congressional Assessment Act to reverse a November 2022 decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to record the Lesser Prairie-Rooster underneath the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The committee additionally handed two different resolutions, Home Joint Resolutions 46 and 49, which additionally use the Congressional Assessment Act to undermine science-based conservation choices underneath the ESA. These resolutions will transfer subsequent to the total Home for a vote, which can be held this week.

Since formal nationwide chicken monitoring started within the Nineteen Sixties, Lesser Prairie-Rooster populations have declined by 97 % throughout their vary. This decline is among the most precipitous amongst all chicken life within the U.S. and can finally result in extinction if not addressed.

“We’re working out of time to save the Lesser Prairie-Chicken from extinction,” mentioned Jon Hayes, govt director of Audubon Southwest and vp on the Nationwide Audubon Society. “For years, landowners, neighborhood leaders, and conservationists have tried voluntary measures to keep away from itemizing, however the science has made it clear that our greatest efforts weren’t sufficient.”

The Lesser Prairie-Rooster was first proposed for ESA itemizing in 1995. Since then, the chicken has been via a roller coaster of listing decisions, courtroom orders, and failed restoration efforts, all whereas the populations proceed to plummet. The species is managed individually within the northern and southern components of its vary, which incorporates parts of 5 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico).

“These resolutions set a harmful precedent for wildlife safety and trample on an actual alternative to reveal how we will save a species whereas bolstering rural economies,” mentioned Johnson.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has labored to make sure flexibility for landowners and land managers by providing regulatory certainty via voluntary applications for agriculture and sustainable ranching.

“New federal investments and incentives for landowners ensuing from Lesser Prairie-Rooster itemizing will make our grassland more healthy, enhance the infiltration of groundwater, sequester carbon, and make the rangeland extra resilient total,” added Hayes. “Cows want the identical wholesome grass and soils birds do.”

The FWS has additionally taken steps to create an Incidental Take Allow that vitality corporations can apply for, permitting them to mitigate their predicted influence by restoring and defending the Lesser Prairie-Rooster habitat. This concept of “conservation banking” might show to be a path ahead that can assist to guard the chicken whereas additionally accommodating the wants of business.

Audubon’s Conservation Ranching program helps market incentives for ranchers that handle their rangeland for chicken habitat. Partnerships like this present a win-win resolution for birds, just like the Lesser Prairie-Rooster, and beef producers.

Action alert: Urge your members of Congress to keep prairie-chickens listed

Learn extra from Jon Hayes: Together we can save the Lesser Prairie-Chicken  

Because of the Nationwide Audubon Society for offering this information.

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