Archive for Tuesday, April 1, 2014

House panel approves another proposal to try to block federal government in protection of lesser prairie chicken

April 1, 2014


— Federal listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species continued to ruffle the feathers of some Kansas legislators.

On Tuesday, a House committee approved a bill that would allow Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to take legal action against the federal government if it tried to enforce federal law to protect the lesser prairie chicken.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it was putting the lesser prairie chicken on its threatened list because of a steep drop in the bird's population and loss of habitat. Gov. Sam Brownback said his administration would try to reverse the decision through litigation.

State Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, and chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, said the threatened listing would have a "devastating" impact on the state.

Earlier in the legislative session, the Senate approved a bill that would have allowed state officials to arrest federal officials and charge them with felonies if they tried to enforce protections for the bird.

Schwartz took up that measure Tuesday but said there was a lot of apprehension about the criminal penalties.

She pushed forward an amendment that removed the criminal penalty and substituted it with a provision allowing the attorney general's office to try to block enforcement through the judicial system.

Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas, said Schwartz's bill was better than the Senate-approved version, but he described the measure as "garbage in and still garbage coming out."

He said the reaction by Brownback and some legislators to the "threatened" listing has been off the mark.

The lesser prairie chicken is in real decline, he said, and Fish and Wildlife has given Kansas and other states great leeway in trying to restore the bird's population.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

This Kansas GOP is demonstrating a grand display of expertise in wasting time and tax dollars.

Kansas cannot afford this GOP ever.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago

State Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington (Washington County), and chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, ought to check into the lack of upland birds (pheasant & quail), and its "devastating" impact in her county. For a historical perspective, she could look at Cassoday in Butler Co., once proclaimed as Prairie Chicken Capital of the World. There was a time when large numbers of hunters flocked to Cassoday for the fund-raising pancake breakfast, to gas up, and spend $ on local crafts. The decline in greater prairie chicken numbers has put an end to that.

Acquaintances who have historically hunted on family/friends' farms in Washington Co have reported no coveys of quail the last few years; and 2013 pheasant nesting as unsuccessful due to repeated rising of creeks into the little remaining nesting cover.

IF Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism "scientists" were the know-it-alls Secretary Jennison makes them out to be, the ever downward trend since the 1980s high mark in successful quail harvest numbers would have been reversed in the last 30 years.

KDWP&T's lack of success in reintroducing the sharptail grouse, and their dismal stewardship of quail habitat on private property, correlate with a lack of optimism among wildlife biologists, hunters, birders and farmers that KDWP&T has any expertise in wildlife management beyond turkeys & deer.

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