U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) spoke on the Senate floor Thursday night to call for a vote on his amendment to reverse the decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Sen. Moran’s amendment was made pending to S.1, the Keystone XL pipeline legislation, Votes on S.1 are expected to continue next week.
Approximately half of the lesser prairie chicken 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 the historic drought that severely impacted much of the bird’s habitat area. However, from 2013 to 2014, annual aerial surveys show the lesser prairie chicken population increased by 20 percent, largely due to rainfall conditions in much of the habitat area that were closer to historic norms.