Friday, October 31, 2014

Brownback joins chicken fight

By The Herald Staff | 5/12/2014

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback is crying fowl over the federal government’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken on the endangered species list as “threatened.”

The governor on Friday signed Senate Substitute for Substitute House Bill 2051, which gives the state sovereignty over non-migratory wildlife, according to a news release. The bill allows the Kansas attorney general to block any attempts by the federal government to regulate the bird in court. Lawmakers removed an earlier provision, which would have enabled Kansas to fine or arrest federal employees attempting to enforce regulations on the birds, according to the Wichita Eagle.

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback is crying fowl over the federal government’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken on the endangered species list as “threatened.”

The governor on Friday signed Senate Substitute for Substitute House Bill 2051, which gives the state sovereignty over non-migratory wildlife, according to a news release. The bill allows the Kansas attorney general to block any attempts by the federal government to regulate the bird in court. Lawmakers removed an earlier provision, which would have enabled Kansas to fine or arrest federal employees attempting to enforce regulations on the birds, according to the Wichita Eagle.

“I continue to be very concerned about the validity and effect of this federal action,” Brownback said. “I will take every possible action to protect the rights of Kansans from the economic effects of this listing. The listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened needs to be rescinded and reconsidered immediately.”

State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, and state Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, voted to approve the bill. State Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, voted against it.

Kansas joined an Oklahoma-led lawsuit earlier this spring against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services over the listing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services said the lesser prairie chicken falls under the Endangered Species Act because of the threat for the birds to become endangered or extinct in the foreseeable future. The ruling affects the chickens in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

The population of the lesser prairie chicken declined last year to a record low of 17,616 birds, an almost-50-percent reduction from the 2012 population estimate, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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