lesser prairie chicken

The Kansas Farm Bureau with support from the Kansas Corn Growers Association is working to put a price tag on saving the prairie chicken. Their message is economic disaster. Jim Sipes is a farmer in Stanton County. There’s been a large reduction in the amount of intent to drill permits that began prior to the drop in oil prices. Sipes says the decrease is largely due to the $46,000 to $83,000 mitigation fee per drilled well companies have to pay for disrupting the bird’s habitat. He says it’s even worse for the wind industry. Three projects have been stopped, and the mitigation fee for each wind tow is $400,000 to $1 million depending on the value of the habitat. There’s also a fee for transmission lines which is roughly $870,000 a mile. These costs are associated with the species having the threatened tag. If the chicken is listed as endangered, it will change everything.

Kevin Rolle flickr/creative commons

The Kansas Biological Survey at KU has been awarded a $2.1 million contract to play an essential role in the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan, a program resulting from the bird being listed as an endangered species in May of last year.  Companies that enroll in the plan, pay mitigation fees and follow recommended conservation measures are exempted from provisions of the Endangered Species Act and protected from penalties.

J.N. Stuart/Flickr Commons

Clay Cooper signed the first Lesser Prairie-Chicken conservation plan in Texas, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service "Working Lands for Wildlife" partnership -- an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill this week that tells the U.S. government it has no authority to regulate prairie chickens within the state of Kansas.  The bill also threatens lawsuits against federal conservation efforts in an escalating dispute over reversing the population decline of the lesser prairie chicken according to a recent article from the Topeka Capital-Journal.

J.N. Stuart/Flickr Commons

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.


Gov. Sam Brownback recently announced that Kansas is joining a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the designation of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species according to a recent article in the Wichita Eagle.


The Oklahoma Attorney General and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance recently filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for “colluding” with environmental groups to bypass public procedures for rule-making to enact endangered species regulations said a recent article by StateImpact Oklahoma.

The federal government officially endorses a conservation plan, known as the Range Wide Plan, an unlikely partnership between those who might compromise the grassland habitat of the prairie chicken and landowners.

Greg Kramos/USFWS

Landowners in Texas tend to be skeptical of more government involvement when it comes to protecting the lesser prairie chicken, a rare bird inhabiting the portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, according to an article in The Texas Tribune.