Following a rigorous review of the best available scientific and commercial information regarding the past, present and future threats, as well as ongoing conservation efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing two Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Southern DPS of the lesser prairie-chicken is being listed as endangered. The Northern DPS of the lesser prairie-chicken is being listed as threatened. The Service is also finalizing a section 4(d) rule designed to conserve the Northern DPS of lesser prairie-chicken while allowing greater flexibility for landowners and land managers.
“The lesser prairie-chicken’s decline is a sign our native grasslands and prairies are in peril. These habitats support a diversity of wildlife and are valued for water quality, climate resilience, grazing, hunting and recreation,” said the Service’s Southwest Regional Director Amy Lueders. “The Service continues to work with stakeholders to develop voluntary conservation agreements that will protect the lesser prairie-chicken and the native grasslands on which it depends while assuring that oil and gas and renewable energy development, ranching, agriculture and other activities continue.”
The lesser prairie-chicken serves as an indicator for healthy grasslands and prairies – needing large, unfragmented parcels of intact native grasslands to maintain self-sustaining populations. This makes them an important measure of the overall health of America’s grasslands, a treasured and storied landscape.