PICT 64J1 Male Lesser Prairie Chicken in Flight - CPW

Kansas Attorney General suing Biden administration over lesser prairie chicken

A male lesser prairie chicken flies above a lek, or breeding ground, in western Kansas. Colorado Parks and Wildlife terrestrial biologists last week completed a month of capturing and relocating hundreds of the endangered birds to grasslands in Southeast Colorado. This is the last of a four-year effort to re-establish the colorful birds on their native sand sagebrush and grasslands in Colorado. Courtesy CPW / Bill Vogrin.
Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach joined Texas and Oklahoma in suing President Joe Biden's administration Wednesday.

The states argue that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated federal law by designating the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species in Kansas under the Endangered Species Act.

“These DC bureaucrats have probably never even stepped foot in the state of Kansas, let alone seen a prairie chicken," Kobach said in a press release. "Yet there they sit in their offices 1,000 miles away making decisions that will directly affect Kansans’ lives. This listing will make drilling new oil wells in western Kansas almost impossible. It will force ranchers to get approval from federally designated agencies to graze cattle on their own property. It will have devastating impacts on Kansas ranchers, Kansas oil producers and even Kansas wind farms. And on top of that, it’s illegal."

PICT 64J1 Male Female Lesser Prairie Chickens - CPW

Male lesser prairie chickens can be heard stomping their feet in a mating dance, and they boom by inflating a red sac on their neck and quickly releasing the air. They also make a cackling noise that can be heard as they engage in mock battles, flying into the air and confronting rivals on the breeding grounds. Courtesy CPW / Bill Vogrin.

The lawsuit argues that the federal government fails to properly consider pre-existing and voluntary measures undertaken to protect the lesser prairie chickens. Plus, it says rainfall amounts, "are the dominant factor in prairie chicken populations," according to Kobach's office.

Additionally, the attorneys general argue that the rule restricts personal property rights and that the federal government has no constitutional authority to do it.

“Lesser prairie chicken numbers are substantially driven by rainfall,” Kobach said in the release. “Historically, their numbers decline when there is a drought, but they rebound dramatically once the rain returns.”

The full complaint is available here