U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision to list the lesser prairie-chicken as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
“Private citizens, industry and public land management agencies have put an impressive amount of effort toward a collaborative solution to protecting the lesser prairie-chicken habitat. We all had hoped those strong steps would avoid a listing. But years of severe drought have been hard on everyone in the five-state region; the Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the efforts haven’t yet been enough to conserve the bird’s habitat, and time was running out.
“I am relieved to see that the FWS decision supports these efforts by the state of New Mexico, ranchers and industry to conserve habitat while providing flexibility and certainty for landowners. Through the collaboration managed by the Center of Excellence in Carlsbad, New Mexico has been a leader in developing cooperative conservation practices. Fish and Wildlife officials have assured me that even with this listing, anyone participating in a voluntary conservation agreement will be able to continue business as usual, and there is still time to sign up.”