On July 20, 2016, ten months after a U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas judge ruled that federal regulators erred in finding the lesser prairie chicken “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized its delisting decision. The decision not only validates the work of a public-private bird-conservation partnership, it will also test the viability of such state-based efforts.
Environmentalists concerned about the fate of the lesser prairie-chicken had their feathers ruffled twice over the past week.
First, the new GOP platform objected to the bird’s inclusion on the endangered species list. Second, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially stripped the chicken of its federally protected status.
"The Obama administration has dropped its appeal of a federal court decision that overturned the listed of the lesser prarie chicken as a threatened species."
A month after Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Junell upheld his September 2015 ruling overturning the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened,” a second-year update offered good news on the species.
It's been nearly two years since the lesser prairie-chicken was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and a little more than five months since a federal judge vacated that listing, removing federal protections. While some are dismayed at the reversal, a closer look at the issue is cause for cautious optimism.
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