PICT 64J1 Male Lesser Prairie Chicken in Flight - CPW

Kansas Attorney General plans to sue Biden administration over lesser prairie chicken rule

A male lesser prairie chicken flies above a lek, or breeding ground, in western Kansas. Colorado Parks and Wildlife terrestrial biologists last week completed a month of capturing and relocating hundreds of the endangered birds to grasslands in Southeast Colorado. This is the last of a four-year effort to re-establish the colorful birds on their native sand sagebrush and grasslands in Colorado. Courtesy CPW / Bill Vogrin.
Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach plans to sue President Joe Biden’s administration unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes the lesser prairie chicken’s threatened species status. 

Kobach sent the administration a written notice announcing his intent.

“The Biden administration’s listing of this species will have a devastating impact on Kansas ranchers, Kansas oil producers, and Kansas wind farms. Moreover, it is illegal,” Kobach said in a press release. “Kansas will lead the way in fighting against this overreach by the Biden administration.”

The rule change will mean Kansas ranchers will have to seek the federal government’s permission to move a cattle herd to a new field. Additionally, the rule will restrict energy pipelines, roads and oil drilling, according to Kobach’s office.

In his letter to the administration, Kobach said the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) is working with federal agencies, regional organizations, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners to protect the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat. He said these efforts have helped stabilize Kansas's lesser prairie chicken population.

Kobach said that the Biden administration failed to properly consider the state’s conservation efforts, including actions by private landowners. 

Kobach sent U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Martha Williams a letter providing a 60-day notice of the intent to file a lawsuit for, “failing to follow Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act with regard to the Final Rule the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” according to the release.

Under the Biden administration’s decision, Kansas will be part of the “Northern Distinct Population Segment” where the lesser prairie chicken will be designated as a threatened species. In the “Southern Distinct Population Segment”, the bird will be marked as an endangered species. 

The administration’s rule will take effect March 27, 2023, and Kobach will sue to stop it from happening. 

A copy of the letter Kobach sent the Biden administration is available here.