prairie chicken

7:41 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Lesser Prairie Chicken Threatened Species Listing Ruffles Feathers in Kansas

Rancher Wayne Keller scans the horizon for lesser prairie chicken. He says the 4-year drought in western Kansas has been especially hard on the birds.
Frank Morris KCUR

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days.

This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

Now, after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.

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Kansas Statehouse
7:49 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Kansas House Committee Advances Prairie Chicken Bill

A mounted pair of lesser prairie chickens on display in the Kansas Statehouse.
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas House committee has advanced a bill aimed at bucking federal regulation of the lesser prairie chicken. It was announced last week that the federal government would list the bird as a threatened species.

The bill says federal rules and policies surrounding the lesser prairie chicken have no effect in Kansas.

Washington Republican and chairwoman of the Kansas House Ag Committee, Sharon Schwartz, says the bill makes a statement. She says state and regional conservation plans would be better than federal regulation, which could hurt industry.

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