Sen. Moran Urges Fish and Wildlife Service to Formally Extend Lesser Prairie Chicken Status Review Comment Period
Jan 24 2017
WASHINGTON – In a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today requested an extension of their deadline for comments and information relevant to the latest 90-day petition funding and status review of the lesser prairie chicken (LPC).
“Kansans are concerned about conserving the lesser prairie chicken and are interested in providing comments based on the most up-to-date information regarding the bird’s population and habitat area,” said Sen. Moran. “With results from WAFWA’s 2016 annual progress report expected to be finalized and made public in the near future, I urge the FWS to extend the deadline for comments to be submitted on the 90-day petition finding and species status review. Closing the comment period before the progress report regarding ongoing conservation efforts in the habitat area is finalized undercuts the ability of stakeholders to provide meaningful comments.”
On Nov. 30, 2016, the FWS issued a notice in the Federal Register regarding its 90-day finding that a petition to list the LPC as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) had presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that a listing may be warranted. The deadline for submitting comments was set for Jan. 30, 2017, before the completion of the 2016 LPC Range-wide Conservation Plan (RWP) Annual Progress Report developed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).
To stakeholders requesting a deadline extension in order to accommodate the best possible scientific information, the FWS has indicated an extension was unnecessary because it was open to receiving relevant information past the deadline. Sen. Moran today requested that the FWS reconsider their refusal to extend the deadline in order to help erase any confusion on when information may be provided to the FWS, and to grant stakeholders ample opportunity to provide comments.
The previous listing of the LPC as a threatened species was vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit because the FWS failed to adequately take into account the impact of local, voluntary conservation efforts in the habitat areas to conserve the bird.
Text of the letter can be found here.
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