As feds delay decision, advocates work to protect rare bird

A male lesser prairie-chicken in the Red Hills of Kansas. (Photo by Greg Kramos/USFWS)

Champions of the lesser prairie-chicken are awaiting word whether the rare dancing grouse will be relisted under the Endangered Species Act two months after a final decision was expected.

The Center for Biological Diversity notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday that it would sue the agency for failing to protect the birds under the ESA if it did not do so within 60 days.

The delay is not good because it creates uncertainty, said Wayne Walker, CEO of LPC Conservation, the only private conservation bank for the lesser prairie-chicken in the bird’s range, which includes western Oklahoma.

Conservation banks work with landowners to preserve habitat needed to save species in danger of dying out while allowing essential economic drivers to continue development.

“They (landowners) get what they need financially, and the bird gets what it needs,” Walker said.

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