Statement from the Center for Biological Diversity:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today (http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2013-16111_PI.pdf) that it is taking an additional six months to decide whether to protect the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act. The Service, which first concluded back in 1998 that federal protection for the lesser prairie chicken was warranted, is accepting public comments on the “sufficiency” and “accuracy” of the “available data” on the lesser prairie chicken.
“The clock continues to tick for the lesser prairie chicken, which has already lost well over three-quarters of its historic population and habitat,” said Noah Greenwald Endangered Species Program Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “What this dangerously imperiled bird needs right now is the protection of the Endangered Species Act, not the hollow, unenforceable promises of unproven conservation plans.”
Ø The science shows the lesser prairie chicken is in danger of extinction and needs to be protected as an endangered species right away.
o The bird’s population has dropped by an estimated 90 percent
o Less than 85 percent of the bird’s historic habitat remains
o The bird’s already strained population is now being threatened by drought and climate change.
Ø Politics are getting in the way of science
o The Fish and Wildlife Service is being pressured to rely on unenforceable, voluntary conservation plans, rather than the Endangered Species Act, to protect the lesser prairie chickens.
o These voluntary conservation plans, or elements of them, have been in place for years and have failed to conserve the lesser prairie chicken.
While voluntary conservation plans are not legally binding documents and have no track record of actually saving species, the Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals entrusted to its care.