Ranchers: Lesser Prairie Chicken = Greater Government Intervention

Sep 29, 2013

Credit 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.

The lesser prairie chicken is listed as a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may decide to give the species the same designation next year.

Many private landowners express reluctance to become involved in conservation programs explicitly mentioning protection for the lesser prairie chicken, while skepticism is not nearly so high for conservation initiatives that don't specifically mention the bird.

Uses of private land such as grazing and oil drilling can negatively affect lesser prairie chicken habitat. These conservation initiatives reward property owners for not disturbing this habitat, or for paying to build new habitat desirable to the bird in exchange.

The U.S. population of the lesser prairie chicken has decreased to 17,000 birds-- half of what it was last year.