WICHITA, Kan. — Federal wildlife regulators have endorsed a voluntary conservation plan for the lesser prairie chicken drafted by five range states.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ plan calls for financial incentives to landowners managing their land for the species’ benefit.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday it will consider the plan’s effectiveness when it makes a final decision next year on whether to list the bird as an endangered species.
FWS director Dan Ashe says when regulators first proposed in December 2012 to list the bird, there were fewer than 45,000. A survey this past year counted 18,000 across its range in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.