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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2016 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill to restrict the use of funds for enforcement of the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to list the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The amendment passed with a majority vote.

“I was pleased the Senate Appropriations Committee acted today to protect Kansas and rural America from the consequences of the listing of the lesser prairie chicken,” Sen. Moran said. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted prematurely when listing the lesser prairie chicken. The five states with habitat area – Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas – came together with stakeholders to develop a broadly supported plan to conserve the bird. However, they were not given adequate time to implement the conservation plan due to the federal government unnecessarily stepping in and listing the bird as a threatened species.”

“I am confident there are ways to conserve the species without burdensome regulations from the federal government that hinder economic development in rural communities,” Sen. Moran continued. “Rainfall this spring and conservation efforts at the state and local level will be far more effective at replenishing the lesser prairie chicken population than rules and regulations coming from Washington, D.C.”

During the hearing, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) opposed the amendment suggesting: “We should be supporting the Fish and Wildlife Service in its efforts, not blocking the agency from doing its job.”

In January 2015, Sen. Moran successfully secured a vote on a similar LPC amendment to Keystone XL pipeline legislation (S.1). Although the measure received the support of a bipartisan majority, it was not adopted because of a 60-vote threshold set for his amendment. Sen. Moran has continued to advocate for this important issue with his Senate colleagues, including by offering his amendment today to restrict funds related to the listing.

Approximately half of the LPC population is found in Kansas, while the bird’s range also includes Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The lesser prairie chicken population decreased during a historic drought that severely impacted much of the bird’s habitat area. However, from 2013 to 2014, annual aerial surveys show the LPC population increased by 20 percent, largely due to rainfall conditions in much of the habitat area that were closer to historic norms.