U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and five Senators sent a letter to the Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Daniel Ashe requesting a 60-day extension of the comment solicitation period and a six-month extension of any final decisions on the proposal by FWS to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species. Senators on the letter include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).
"The outcome of this listing proposal is vitally important to many sectors in the local economies of our states, including agriculture; oil and gas development; ranching; transportation; and wind energy," wrote Sen. Cornyn.
"Listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act would negatively impact these sectors for many years to come. With this in mind, and knowing that conservation efforts are ongoing and that the science evaluating the status of the species is still developing, it is imperative to provide sufficient time to evaluate the true health of the species rather than simply hold fast to arbitrary court-mandated deadlines that do not account for ongoing species recovery developments."
The letter acknowledges that the wild life agencies in five states home to the Lesser Prairie Chicken, including Texas, are working hard to finalize and submit a conservation plan by mid-March, the same time as the comment period is scheduled to end. The 60-day extension would allow state agencies time to incorporate comments to the Service's proposal as well as allow the states to complete this spring's aerial population survey, which is conducted in the month of April.