FederalIssuesJudicialPaxton Prepares to Sue Biden Administration Over Listing of Prairie Chicken as Endangered Species

Texas is one of several states preparing to challenge the Biden administration’s decision to list the bird in the Endangered Species Act.
February 7, 2023
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is giving the Biden administration notice of intent to sue over the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) in the Endangered Species Act. 

The administrative rule, which Paxton’s office said was done in violation of federal law, will limit the use of land deemed as part of the chicken’s existing habitat. 

According to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), the LPC is a species of American grouse whose habitat occupies the southern great plains regions of five states, including Texas. 

A WAFWA study estimates the current population to be around 26,000, a decline attributed to the bird’s habitat loss. 

State wildlife agencies, including Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), have long established volunteer conservation programs with landowners to help with protecting the LPC numbers. With the federal rule set to go into effect in March, landowners in these programs will be protected from more strict regulatory conditions. 

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While TPWD says landowners need to be aware of this opportunity ahead of the listing, its Executive Director David Yoskowitz stated in a press release that the federal listing will make voluntary conservation efforts more difficult. 

“Although we believe that the listing decision jeopardizes years of voluntary conservation efforts by landowners and industry, we are obligated to make Texas landowners aware of options that could protect them from the negative consequences of incidental ‘take,’” said Yoskowitz.

According to TPWD, the “take” of a Lesser Prairie Chicken means to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect or to attempt to engage in any such conduct,” and “incidental take” means “takings that result from, but are not the purpose of, conducting an otherwise lawful activity.”

A take and an incidental take would both constitute federal violations. 

Paxton believes that the Biden administration violated laws pertaining to required notice for administrative rulemaking, and announced his intent to sue the Federal Department of the Interior. 

“I will not tolerate the Biden Administration’s efforts to run roughshod over the property rights of Texans and to stop our conservation efforts aimed at protecting Texas wildlife,” said Attorney General Paxton in a statement to the media. 

Paxton further characterized the decision as a “radical environmentalist agenda” that would crush economic development, which in turn provides funding for conservation. 

The attorney generals of Oklahoma and Kansas have also signaled their intent to file lawsuits seeking to block the proposed rule. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the rule would go into effect on March 27. 


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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.