Petroleum Association, 4 NM Counties Sue Feds Over Lesser Prairie Chicken

Published 06/11 2014 03:39PM

Updated 06/11 2014 03:41PM

Image from USDA
Image from USDA
MIDLAND, TX -- The Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four New Mexico Counties - Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt - sued the federal government on Monday over the listing of Lesser Prairie Chickens as a “threatened” species.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken is native to West Texas and surrounding states. The Fish and Wildlife Service stated back in March that the chicken’s population was on a rapid and severe decline.

Ben Shepperd, president of PBPA, said, “The Fish and Wildlife service did not properly consider all the evidence, nor did they follow some of their administrative procedures in considering all the conservation efforts that we and others have undertaken.”

Shepperd also said, “We believe and the scientists believe that [the decline] is mostly due to the extreme drought conditions we’ve had - not to farm and ranching and oil and gas activities.”

Shepperd says if the bird’s listing stays as threatened, it could have very dramatic effects on the economy and the Permian Basin as a whole.

“What this listing means is higher costs and higher administrative burden to operate and in some cases they may not be able to operate,” Shepperd said.

The lawsuit asked U.S. District Court Judge Robert Junell to “hold unlawful and set aside the Listing Decision.”

Lawyers for the federal government had not yet filed an official response to the lawsuit in court records.

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