• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

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House Vote to End Lesser-Prairie Chicken Protections Ignores Clear Science

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The US House has voted to advance a bill that would use the Congressional Review Act to rescind the November 2022 decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list the Lesser Prairie-Chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bill narrowly passed the Senate in May on a 50-48 vote. The White House has indicated that President Biden would veto any such bill that makes it to his desk.

“These kinds of political attacks ignore science and have no place in how our nation manages wildlife,” said Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer, National Audubon Society. “President Biden should keep his commitment to veto this bill without pause. Given their imperiled state, Lesser Prairie-Chickens will vanish from our grasslands without these necessary protections.”

Since formal nationwide bird monitoring began in the 1960s, Lesser Prairie-Chicken populations have declined by 97 percent across their range. This decline is one of the most precipitous among all bird life in the U.S. and will ultimately lead to extinction if not addressed.

This vote happens as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which has prevented extinction for 99 percent of the species it has protected. This bill would not only reverse the recent listing decision, but also seeks to prevent the US Fish and Wildlife Service from issuing substantially similar protections in the future.

Lesser Prairie-chicken, copyright Andrew Spencer, from the surfbirds galleries

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken was first proposed for ESA listing in 1995. Since then, the bird has been through a roller coaster of listing decisions, court orders, and failed recovery efforts, all while populations continue to plummet. The species is managed separately in the northern and southern parts of its range, which includes portions of five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico).

Read more from Audubon Southwest’s Jon Hayes: Together We can Save the Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Audubon’s statement on the Senate vote: Senate Ignores Science With Vote to End Lesser-Prairie Chicken Protections

Audubon’s statement on the House Natural Resources Committee vote: Committee Vote Undermines Science and Threatens the Lesser Prairie-Chicken