The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 29, 2014

Our View: Playing chicken

— Apparently feathers could fly in Kansas if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The Lawrence Journal-World has reported that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is ready to wage a legal battle against the federal government if the plan goes forward.

Never mind that federal officials still have not determined whether the lesser prairie chicken is at risk of extinction in Kansas; a bill that Kobach is backing would exclude the lesser prairie chicken from federal protection. The proposed legislation asserts state sovereignty over nonmigratory wildlife and declares any federal law that might come into play as void. In fact, Kansas officials could charge federal officials with a felony for enforcing a federal law dealing with the lesser prairie chicken.

Since when did federal game agents become the bad guys?  

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Kansas is offering financial assistance for developing lesser prairie chicken habitat and efficient grazing management systems.

There’s no mention of anyone from that federal department being charged with a felony for providing money to ranchers who want to be good stewards.

This notion of ignoring some federal laws, all the while benefiting from others, is nonsense. If Kansans do not want the lesser prairie chicken protected, then they need to send that message to Washington via their U.S. representatives and senators.

The historical range of the lesser prairie chicken has shrunk by 84 percent because of development and agricultural activities. Those in the state who oppose placing the bird under the protection cite loss of jobs and development. We understand that opposition but don’t agree with the method being used to fight the battle.

Fear of regulation would appear to be winning over the loss of yet another species of the prairie chicken.

There’s got to be a better way to approach the problem.

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