Lesser prairie chicken loses federal protection

©USFWS

On July 20, following a September 2015 court order, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally removed federal Endangered Species Act protections from the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus).

The court ruled that the previous listing did not take into account the conservation efforts of five southwestern states that had established their own plans for conserving the lesser prairie chicken. While the court order mandated USFWS to remove the bird’s current protections, it does not preclude the agency from listing the bird in the future. Rather than appeal this decision, USFWS has decided to undergo a thorough re-evaluation of the bird’s status, taking into account the multistate conservation plan. However, riders in both the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, passed by the House of Representatives before Congress’s summer recess, aim to prevent any allocated funds from being used to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened or endangered.

Read more about the lesser prairie chicken at ABC News.