Lesser prairie chickens have been on the waiting list for federal protection since 1999. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally proposed listing these rare birds last fall, as a result of a 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups to speed protections for hundreds of species around the country.
Now, in an inexplicable move, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a "special" rule for lesser prairie chickens that will allow many habitat-destroying activities to continue. The Service is even considering allowing hunting of these rare birds.
As an indicator species for the southern Great Plains, lesser prairie chickens tell a lot about the health of environments they inhabit. These medium-sized, gray-brown grouse live in the prairies of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Male lesser prairie chickens engage in an elaborate breeding display each spring to attract females -- a dance for which they've become famous.
Lesser prairie chickens' range has been reduced by more than 90 percent, and their population has declined by approximately 85 percent since the 1800s. They are threatened by habitat loss and degradation from livestock grazing, agriculture, oil and gas extraction, herbicides and uncharacteristic wild fires. Habitat fragmentation from fences and power lines and disturbances from roads, mining and wind-energy production also affect them. Climate change and drought are increasingly dire threats.
Please take action now and send a message to the Service. Ask that lesser prairie chickens be protected as an endangered species because of declining population numbers and habitat loss and fragmentation. Also urge that no "special" rules are adopted that allow hunting or any other activities that might be harmful.
June 8, 2013 Action Alert ID# 100
Add Your Voice To This Cause In A Matter Of Minutes >>