AG Lawsuit Challenges Endangered Status of Lesser Prairie-Chickens

  • The AGs of Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) and their respective Secretary and Director for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act by listing the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
  • According to the complaint, the USFW allegedly committed procedural and legal defects in the decision-making process for its Final Rule that declared two populations of the lesser prairie-chicken endangered and threatened. The USFW allegedly relied on unreliable data to determine that the lesser prairie-chicken’s population is trending downward, failed to consider existing voluntary conservation efforts in the states to protect the lesser prairie-chicken, and exceeded its authority by outsourcing its power to write and implement grazing management plans to unknown third parties.
  • The AGs argue that the rule, which took effect last month, places burdensome restrictions on farmers and ranchers and unnecessarily impedes energy development and production because property owners need to comply with new federal regulations wherever the birds are present. The AGs therefore request a finding that the USFW’s rulemaking is unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious, and that the rule should be vacated.