U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) led a letter to Interior Sec. Bernhardt expressing concern about the decision-making process for listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act. Inhofe was joined by U.S. Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
In the letter, the Senators remind regulators that legislative intent is clear—voluntary conservation efforts should be fully considered, evaluated and determined to be grossly inadequate prior to any listing consideration of the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act.
“…by listing the LPC in spite of the unprecedented level of voluntary conservation efforts across five states, the FWS would significantly reduce the incentive for stakeholders to pursue future initiatives to preserve the LPC and other species,” the senators write. “This report language makes very clear that Congress intends for the FWS to strive to use voluntary conservation from the private sector and impacted states before engaging a listing of the LPC.”
This is especially significant, as private sector conservation efforts have resulted in successive increases in the Lesser Prairie Chicken population.
“As demonstrated by annual aerial surveys, the unprecedented private sector initiative to preserve LPC habitat has resulted in successive increases in the LPC population,” the senators continue. “Recognizing that adequate precipitation is also a significant factor in successful breeding of the LPC, the combination of wet weather and habitat protection has yielded remarkable results.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.