FarmPolicy

August 20, 2019

Endangered Species Act- FWS Listings Concern Western States, Ag Interests

Recent articles point to concerns over U.S. Fish and Wild Service decisions to consider listing the sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken as additions to the Endangered Species Act. Generally, environmental groups support listing the birds, while western states, agricultural interests and developers oppose the additions.

May 16 Update: Greg Akagi reported at the Kansas Ag Network that, “Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has formally objected to an attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice to move a lawsuit challenging federal regulation of the lesser prairie chicken from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C.

“‘This is an issue of vital regional concern,’ Schmidt said. ‘It should be settled here, on the Great Plains, where people, economic activity and land use are affected, not removed to the East Coast simply to make the litigation more convenient for the federal government.’

“In March, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it would list the lesser prairie chicken as a ‘threatened’ species under the Endangered Species Act, triggering additional federal requirements in the areas where the species lives, including much of southwest Kansas. Soon after the listing was announced, Schmidt and the attorneys general of the states of Oklahoma and North Dakota, along with affected private parties, filed suit in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma challenging the process by which the listing decision was made. The State of Nebraska has recently filed pleadings seeking to join the litigation as a co-plaintiff.”

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