OIPA director: Oklahoma can protect lesser prairie chicken

BY MIKE TERRY Modified: December 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm •  Published: December 14, 2012

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to list the lesser prairie chicken as a “threatened” species is just one more example of a heavy-handed federal regulatory agency encroaching on state rights.

Yes, the “threatened” status is more lenient than an “endangered” status and eliminates more punitive and restrictive measures that would surely erode Oklahoma economic activity in the bird's habitat in northwestern Oklahoma, where land-intensive industries of agriculture and energy production reign.

But the listing also is an example of the flawed Endangered Species Act and ignores Oklahoma's $26 million investment in conservation efforts to protect the lesser prairie chicken, a bird that is still openly hunted just across our border in Kansas.

Signed into law in 1973, the Endangered Species Act was created with good intentions — to protect at-risk plants and animals from going the way of the passenger pigeon and the Dodo bird. Unfortunately, the federal program has become a platform for radical environmental groups bent on shutting down oil and natural gas exploration, agriculture and other industrial development.

Since its inception, more than 2,000 species have been listed as either threatened or endangered. The list covers species in every state and includes every kind of creature imaginable, even bugs, worms, plants, snakes, spiders, bogs, moss, mice, rats and other species. Of those 2,000 listed as threatened or endangered, only 27 have been delisted, a success rate of roughly 1 percent.

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