Kansas AG to sue federal agencies over lesser prairie chicken listing

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 8:48 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach intends to sue federal agencies over the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach announced on Tuesday, Jan. 31, that he will file a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unless it withdraws a rule that lists the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

“The Biden administration’s listing of this species will have a devastating impact on Kansas ranchers, Kansas oil producers, and Kansas wind farms. Moreover, it is illegal,” Kobach said. “Kansas will lead the way in fighting against this overreach by the Biden administration.”

AG Kobach indicated that the rule change would require ranchers to seek federal permission to shift a cattle herd to a new field. It would also create tougher restrictions for energy pipelines, roads and other developments - which include oil drilling.

In his letter, Kobach noted the efforts of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to work with federal agencies, regional organizations, nonprofit organizations and private landowners to conserve the species and its habitat. He said the efforts have helped stabilize the population and expansion of the lesser prairie chicken’s range in the Sunflower State.

The AG has also argued that the administration failed to consider Kansans’ pre-existing and ongoing conservation and mitigation efforts. Those include relationships established by the KDWP and private landowners and voluntary actions to implement a range-wide conservation plan.

As required by law, Kobach said he sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Martha Williams to give 60 days’ notice of intent to file litigation for failure to follow Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act - with regard to the Final Rule the FWS issued on Nov. 25.

Kobach noted that Kansas is part of the “Northern Distinct Population Segment” where the lesser prairie chicken is to be designated a threatened species while birds in the southern segment will be considered endangered.

The AG indicated that the Final Rule is set to take effect on March 27. If it is not withdrawn, he said he will file litigation.

To read a full copy of the letter, click HERE.