Last week, a Texas district judge overturned the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listing of the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bird was listed last March after the FWS determined voluntary conservation efforts would not be enough to protect the bird. The Permian Basin Petroleum Association, along with other organizations, claimed that land use restrictions for the birds would “unduly” burden energy exploration and extraction.
Congress has tried multiple times to defund or overturn the listing through appropriation processes. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe emphasized that government interference is not necessary as farmers and ranchers have shown their capabilities in preserving their land and habitat. Industry in the area will now continue working under their non-federal conservation plans to help conserve lesser prairie chicken habitat.