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U.S. Wildlife Supports Conservation Plan for Lesser Prairie Chicken

First Posted: Oct 25, 2013 05:13 PM EDT

The Tympanuchus pallidicnctus, a chicken that's from the family of the grouse that are typically paler and smaller than their kin, the Greater Prairie Chicken, run around in five states near broad flat lands of the Great Plains. Yet approximately 84 percent of the prairies and grasslands have undergone land conversion that's resulted in a loss of habitat with lesser prairie chicken.  

The species is one of the candidates under the federal conservation for the Endangered Species Act. At this time, there are only an estimated 18,000 in the bird's population. But just in December 2012, the population was at close to 45,000.

The conservation plan proposed that landowners work to manage their land properties via the advantage of the lesser prairie chicken, while given financial incentives. This plan was drafted in order to avoid the impact of land development via the chicken's habitat, including oil and gas digging, which can possibly be done through collecting fees and enrollments.

The plan was proposed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife AGenecies (WAFWA), an agency that represents several states in North America, including Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, via 1,500 wild species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is currently considering the effectiveness of this approach and will determine if they will add the prairie chicken to a list of Endangered Species by March 2014.

"The prairie chicken's decline tells us native grasslands in the Great Plains are in trouble. And by helping the lesser prairie chicken, we'll also be working to restore the health of our native grasslands - which support many hundreds of other species but also support the local economies in the communities of that region of the country," Dan Ashe, director for the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service said, via the SFGate.

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