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Prairie chicken listing delayed

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will delay the implementation of the rule listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) under the Endangered Species Act. The agency will use the 60-day delay to ensure that livestock grazing plans and other voluntary protection measures are in place. The rule was originally scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday, January 24.

Under the rule, the southern distinct Lesser Prairie Chicken population in eastern New Mexico and the southwestern Texas Panhandle will be listed as an endangered species. The northern distinct population in the northeastern Texas Panhandle, southeastern Colorado, south-central Kansas and western Oklahoma will be listed as a threatened species.

Under the final rule, a provision for the threatened population section allows FWS to exempt certain agricultural activities, livestock grazing and controlled fires from a provision barring incidentally killing, harming or harassing prairie chickens, if those engaging in such activities commit to certain conservation practices. However, according to the agency’s announcement this week, so far only one entity has developed an applicable livestock grazing plan. The USFWS is working to put more conservation agreements in place before the rule goes into effect on March 24.

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