Climate change, oil drilling threaten birds

June 12, 2019

Guardians and allies sued the Trump administration on June 12 for failing to protect lesser prairie chickens under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened” in 2014, but the decision was overturned after a lawsuit from the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four New Mexico counties. Guardians and allies petitioned the Service to protect the birds in September 2016, after which the agency promised to make a decision on the petition by the end of summer 2017. It never did.

Lesser prairie chickens live in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Oil and gas drilling, cropland conversion, livestock grazing, and roads and power lines are destroying and fragmenting their habitat. Climate change is an additional threat: when ground temperatures exceed a critical threshold, lesser prairie chicken eggs cannot survive.

Read the press release.

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