KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) — Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach announced his intent to sue the Biden administration unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services withdraws a rule that lists lesser prairie chickens as a threatened species.
In 2019, conservationists filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect lesser prairie chickens under the Endangered Species Act.
Conservations have petitioned to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened for over 25 years, citing agricultural development as the primary culprit of habitat loss, according to the lawsuit.
“It’s a problem that goes beyond the lesser prairie chicken and is impacting a lot of other declining animal and plant species, as well,” Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the organizations suing the service, previously told WDAF-TV. “It’s a crisis for the natural world.”
“Species that deserve to be on the endangered species list are, you know, getting a ‘come back later’ note.”
In November, the U.S. government announced protections for the lesser prairie chicken, a rare bird found in parts of the Midwest, including one of the country’s most prolific oil and gas fields.
But Kobach sent the Biden administration a letter Tuesday, stating that listing the species as endangered will have a “devastating impact on Kansas ranchers, Kansas oil producers, and Kansas wind farms.”
“The rule change would require Kansas ranchers to seek the federal government’s permission to shift a cattle herd to a new field,” Kobach said in a news release. “It also creates tougher restrictions for energy pipelines, roads, and other development, including oil drilling.”
In his letter, Kobach argues that the Biden administration failed to adequately consider Kansas’ preexisting and ongoing conservation and mitigation measures, such as efforts by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and private landowners to establish a relationship and implement a range-wide conservation plan.
The final rule on the protection of lesser prairie chickens is to take effect on March 27. If the rule is not withdrawn, Kobach said he will pursue litigation.