Feds Declare Lesser Prairie Chicken Threatened; State Feathers Ruffled

"WASHINGTON — The federal government on Thursday designated the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species, a long-anticipated announcement that politicians warned could set off a possible battle over states’ rights.

The lesser prairie chicken is a species of grouse with feathered feet and striped plumage. It lives in Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado.

The bird’s habitat has shrunk by more than 80 percent since the 19th century, as the once-open prairie has transformed into a mosaic of farms, ranches and towns, crisscrossed by roads, fences and power lines. The introduction of wind turbines and oil and gas wells further reduced the native grasslands preferred by lesser prairie chickens, which once were plentiful in the Great Plains."

Lindsay Wise reports for the McClatchy Washington Bureau March 27, 2014.

Source: McClatchy, 03/28/2014