Feds grant lesser prairie chicken ESA protections


A lesser prairie chicken on ranchland in the Red Hills of Kansas. Greg Kramos/Fish and Wildlife Service

The Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the lesser prairie chicken for protection under the Endangered Species Act after a yearslong evaluation determined immediate action is needed to save the bird.

FWS announced Thursday that the listing decision outlined in the final rule involves two separate distinct population segments with “fairly drastic” differences in outlook for survival. This takes into account the population numbers and habitat across the bird’s five-state region that includes parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, Clay Nichols, FWS’ lesser prairie chicken coordinator, said during an online briefing with reporters Thursday.

The new rule lists the southern distinct lesser prairie chicken population in eastern New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle as an endangered species. The northern distinct population in the northeast Texas Panhandle, southeast Colorado, south-central Kansas and western Oklahoma is being listed as a threatened species.


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