Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it had added the lesser prairie chicken to its threatened species list.  The threatened species list is one-step below the Endangered Species List.

“The lesser prairie-chicken is in dire straits,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Our determination that it warrants listing as a threatened species with a special rule acknowledges the unprecedented partnership efforts and leadership of the five range states for management of the species. Working through the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA) range-wide conservation plan, the states remain in the driver’s seat for managing the species – more than has ever been done before – and participating landowners and developers are not impacted with additional regulatory requirements.”

“To date, we understand that oil and gas companies, ranchers and other landowners have signed up over 3 million acres of land for participation in the states’ range-wide conservation plan and the NRCS’ Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative,” said Ashe. “We expect these plans to work for business, landowners and the conservation of prairie-chickens.”

According to the FWS, the final rule to list the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened and the final special rule will publish in the Federal Register and will be effective 30 days after publication. Copies of the final rules may be found at the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/southwest.