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FWS Finalizes Agreement to Protect Lesser Prairie Chicken


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The FWS has reached a voluntary agreement with private landowners in an attempt to preserve lesser prairie chicken habitat and keep the bird from being listed as threatened (Credit: Marcus Miller, USDA-NRCS).

The FWS has reached a voluntary agreement with private landowners in an attempt to preserve lesser prairie chicken habitat and keep the bird from being listed as threatened (Credit: Marcus Miller, USDA-NRCS).

With a March 31 deadline approaching for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to make a decision on the listing status of the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), the agency has finalized a voluntary agreement with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), an advocate for the rights of member states and provinces to manage fish and wildlife within their borders.

The agreement titled the Range-wide Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances is designed to prevent further disturbances from oil and gas drilling activities on private lands within lesser prairie chicken habitat in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Landowners and companies that enroll in the agreement will take actions to protect prairie chicken habitat, or pay a mitigation fee if they harm habitat. In return, the FWS will not impose further restrictions on enrollees if the bird is listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Mitigation fees will go towards conservation and restoration on other private lands enrolled under the agreement. Though the goal of the agreement is to avoid prairie chicken listing, it is unclear whether it will be enough to keep the bird off the endangered species list; prairie chicken habitat would continue to be fragmented under the agreement, and some critics fear that most fragments would be too small to support a breeding population.

Sources: Greenwire (March 3, 2014), USFWS (accessed March, 2014)



This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.

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