“This proposal is motivated by politics and has no place in how we handle our nation’s wildlife,” stated Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer, Nationwide Audubon Society. “Congress shouldn’t let politics intrude the place science is evident. This hen will vanish from our grasslands with out these essential protections.”
The US Home Pure Sources Committee voted final week to make use of the Congressional Evaluation Act to reverse a November 2022 resolution by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to checklist the Lesser Prairie-Rooster below the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The committee additionally handed two different resolutions, Home Joint Resolutions 46 and 49, which additionally use the Congressional Evaluation Act to undermine science-based conservation selections below the ESA. These resolutions will transfer subsequent to the complete Home for a vote, which can be held this week.
Since formal nationwide hen monitoring started within the Nineteen Sixties, Lesser Prairie-Rooster populations have declined by 97 p.c throughout their vary. This decline is likely one of the most precipitous amongst all hen life within the U.S. and can in the end result in extinction if not addressed.
“We’re working out of time to save the Lesser Prairie-Rooster from extinction,” stated Jon Hayes, government director of Audubon Southwest and vice chairman on the Nationwide Audubon Society. “For years, landowners, neighborhood leaders, and conservationists have tried voluntary measures to keep away from itemizing, however the science has made it clear that our greatest efforts weren’t sufficient.”
The Lesser Prairie-Rooster was first proposed for ESA itemizing in 1995. Since then, the hen has been via a curler coaster of itemizing selections, court docket orders, and failed restoration efforts, all whereas the populations proceed to plummet. The species is managed individually within the northern and southern elements of its vary, which incorporates parts of 5 states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico).
“These resolutions set a harmful precedent for wildlife safety and trample on an actual alternative to display how we are able to save a species whereas bolstering rural economies,” stated Johnson.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has labored to make sure flexibility for landowners and land managers by providing regulatory certainty via voluntary packages for agriculture and sustainable ranching.
“New federal investments and incentives for landowners ensuing from Lesser Prairie-Rooster itemizing will make our grassland more healthy, enhance the infiltration of groundwater, sequester carbon, and make the rangeland extra resilient general,” added Hayes. “Cows want the identical wholesome grass and soils birds do.”
The FWS has additionally taken steps to create an Incidental Take Allow that vitality firms can apply for, permitting them to mitigate their predicted affect by restoring and defending the Lesser Prairie-Rooster habitat. This concept of “conservation banking” may show to be a path ahead that can assist to guard the hen whereas additionally accommodating the wants of trade.
Audubon’s Conservation Ranching program helps market incentives for ranchers that handle their rangeland for hen habitat. Partnerships like this present a win-win resolution for birds, just like the Lesser Prairie-Rooster, and beef producers.
Motion alert: Urge your members of Congress to maintain prairie-chickens listed
Learn extra from Jon Hayes: Collectively we are able to save the Lesser Prairie-Rooster
Due to the Nationwide Audubon Society for offering this information.
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