Archive for Friday, March 28, 2014

Brownback says state will sue feds over threatened’ listing of lesser prairie chicken

March 28, 2014, 3:01 p.m. Updated March 28, 2014, 3:55 p.m.


— Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday announced that Kansas will sue to try to stop the federal government from listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

"This is an overreach by the federal government and it's another example of the Obama administration aggressively and unnecessarily intruding into our daily lives," Brownback said at a news conference.

A day earlier, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife ruled that the lesser prairie chicken was in danger of extinction.

The agency placed the bird on its threatened list but said that in an unprecedented move it would defer to Kansas and four other states the job of managing conservation efforts and avoiding further regulation.

Brownback said that isn't good enough.

"It's the declaration of threatened. That was the line we did not want them to come across," Brownback said.

Brownback's chief counsel, Grant Laue, said the threatened species designation could impact remediation that would be required to offset the effects of taking habitat from the species. Brownback said the threatened designation could have a huge impact on agriculture, oil, gas and wind energy transmission lines.

A spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife said the agency doesn't comment on pending or ongoing litigation.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Secretary Robin Jennison said the lesser prairie chicken was in temporary decline in Kansas due to drought and that once normal weather patterns returned, the species would rebound.

"Our scientists understand Kansas much better than theirs do," Jennison said, referring to Fish and Wildlife scientists.

Kansas will join Oklahoma, and possibly other states, in fighting the threatened declaration in court.

Fish and Wildlife said the lesser prairie chicken has been in rapid decline due largely to habitat loss and drought. Once abundant across Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado, the population declined last year to a record low of fewer than 18,000 birds, an almost 50 percent drop from 2012.

The states' conservation plan has a goal of reaching 67,000 birds range-wide.

Fish and Wildlife said threats impacting the species were likely to continue into the foreseeable future and warranted listing the bird as threatened.

The decision by Fish and Wildlife was praised by some environmentalists and opposed by others who said the oversight procedure had too many loopholes for the states.


Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

Are you listening Gov. Brownback? Got someone following me on FACEBOOK?

A loud high-pitched obnoxious tone, followed by the familiar phrase

"This is a test of the Kansas Board of Regents Social Media Policy Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency... . the Kansas Legislature would already have a bill on your desk." The KS Legislature AND the Kansas Board of Regents serve notice that no state employee nor citizen is expected to have a thought on the Governor suing the federal government over the addition of the lesser prairie chicken to its list of threatened species.

My actual comment has not been posted due to restrictions on rational thought & civil discourse in the shallow end of the gene pool.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 6 months ago

Didn't you get the memo? No one is allowed to question the "great one's" dictates.

3 years, 6 months ago

"... Obama administration aggressively and unnecessarily intruding into our daily lives,"

As cute as that little bird is, is the lesser prairie chicken a daily part of any of our lives?

In case you do come across one, here is a recipe.

Cut the meat into hunks that will equal two or three bites.
Marinate in your favorite marinade (huckleberry or raspberry vinegrete works real well)
Take the pieces out and lightly dip in flour
Dip them into a beaten egg
Drop them into shredded coconut and press the coconut on
Quickly deep fry until the coconut just begins to brown

Bon apitite!

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 6 months ago

@ Leslie Swearingen - If you invite me for dinner I promise not to discuss politics, mind my manners, and leave at an appropriate time. Your recipe sounds delicious!

Clark Coan 3 years, 6 months ago

That's going nowhere. The Center for Biological Diversity will file a counter suit because the listing contains a weak recovery plan that is voluntary. I'm a member of CBD and they rarely lose.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 6 months ago

Instead of spending money on lawyers (for most of us our plumage is grand enough), spend it on preserving the habitat for the prairie chicken. If Kansas and the other states had already been doing a good job, the Feds wouldn't have had to intervene. Numbers don't lie. It's bad enough that our obsession with growing corn on the high plains has done nothing to help the pheasant population.

3 years, 6 months ago

Pheasant, um, um, darn this diet, all I can think of is food.

JM Andy 3 years, 6 months ago

OMG! You have GOT to be kidding. Education funding anyone? Economy? Jobs? Healthcare? Does this a-hole care about anything that MATTERS?!

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

If he can drain the state funds with avoidable lawsuits, he can push through his radical agenda to privatize everything.

Larry Sturm 3 years, 6 months ago

Brownback what have you been doing to Kansans maybe everybody should sue you for everything we don't like. Spending money on lawyers to sue the federal government over something you won't win is money in lawyers pockets that isn't necessary..

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

A few years back, my wife & I went out to Cimmaron National Grasslands about this time of year.

We stayed at the (redundant) El Rancho Motel, "in Elkhart, KS; the Cornerstone of Kansas."

We headed out to a prairie chicken blind situated on the edge of a lek. Think a 5-hole outhouse, for perspective, on one side a sheet of plywood to raise up & observe/photograph the booming grounds (IF you've never experienced a P C Boom you haven't "lived" in KS. We've been to 3!!!!)

In the quiet, we could pick out the heads of hens on the fringes of the lek, but no males.

Suddenly, we were startled by the roar of a Ford Excursion pulling up. We exited the blind, to see a guide get out of the dusty SUV & hold a finger up to his lip, signaling the birders they had arrived.

Out stepped 5 Swedes, who silently removed their graphite tripods, fast Canon telephoto lenses & began snapping pictures. Even though they were speaking in soft Swedish, we knew the sounds of their shutters snapping & the exotic attire/photo vests would alert the wary, well -> you can't use that word on, MALE prairie chickens, who would never come into the lek. So we quietly exited.

At the (redundant) El Rancho Motel the next morning, we went into the restaurant for breakfast. Large groups of birders were seated around the dining room. Following breakfast, I approached a boisterous group of out-of-state birders & introduced myself & said I was from Manhattan.

"Oh, you must know Ted Cable!" see:

I admitted that I knew Prof. Cable (I'd alerted local birders to a Snowy Owl's presence on Tuttle Creek Reservoir's prairie the year before). I asked them if they were going to the prairie chicken blind.

"Oh YES! We went last night. More or our group went out early this morning to beat the Swedes!"

In broken Swedish, I discovered the Nordic horde had flown into Denver to photograph Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. Because there was so little snow, their expedition service had ferried them to adjoining states to view scenery & wildlife. They were headed back to RMNP in anticipation of a forecasted snowstorm.

THIS IS THE KIND OF $ KS TOURISM COULD BRING. You would think the Gov who grafted our Dept of Tourism onto KDW&P would know that, wouldn't you? IF you're like me, you've come to expect too much . . . . .

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 6 months ago

And the leader of the trumpet section for the Koch Regime plays his wreched notes again. "The Federal Government is our ENEMY!!! We in KANSAS will not knuckle down to the oppressive, hated black President who is out to destroy our beautiful refuge o the f Republican Reich."

MerriAnnie Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

Is Brownback as stupid as he sounds?

Obama's fault? My god, the man is nuts.

If Bush II had been president, the Fish and Wildlife people would have done the same thing. If Bush I had been president... if Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhauer... was the president today, the Fish & Wildlife would have done the same thing.

The man has gone off the deep end trying to please the Koch boys in hopes he'll get re-elected governor and then run for President of the U.S.

It's eating at his guts and turning his brain to mush.

Have some personal pride, Sam. You sound like an idiot.

Here's what you should have said: Our state scientists disagree with the Fish and Wildlife. They do not think the lesser prairie chicken's are endangered or even will be in the near future even if we do nothing. Therefore, we are suing the Fish & Wildlife department (the Federal government) in hopes of forcing them to stop this action. END OF STATEMENT

When you added that it's Obama's fault you had me falling out of the chair laughing. Come on, man. Get a grip.

If/when the lesser prairie chicken goes out of existence, then you can celebrate because they will no longer mess with big energy company profits. You will have won. I don't know how other people in Kansas feel about the lesser prairie chicken, but I'd be interested in knowing... without the idiotic and hilarious blame game.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Smith - tonight's Topeka TV news coverage didn't do the Gov justice, one has to see more of his press conference (video available on cjonline) to appreciate his ineptitude (that likely should be capitalized) as he keeps reflecting on his prepared (by somebody else) remarks.

How do I feel about prairie chickens? At the age of 8, I started tagging along at the side of my father when he went quail hunting on my grandfathers pastures & fields near Rose, KS. I believe I was given a .410 shotgun @ 10. On opening day of quail season, Dad & our dog took one side of the hedgerow, & I took the abandoned two-track (reclaimed by prairie) on the other. Within a few steps, I kicked up a prairie chicken & took its life. My dad crossed over as the dog retrieved the bird. He was alarmed, he wasn't sure it was open season for prairie chickens.

We were a short distance from the '57 Chevy, so we walked back & dad counseled me on the topic of regulations & seasons. He went on to describe the days when great numbers of hunters (he called them Cox's Army) would surround a soybean field & wait for the large #s of chickens to fly in to feed.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

That was the only prairie chicken I ever saw while hunting with dad, which we did every year until I left KS for Missouri in 1981. The town of Cassody, in the Flint Hills of northern Butler County, called itself the Prairie Chicken Capital of the World. They held a fundraising breakfast every year on the opening of prairie chicken season.

I have been lucky enough to see prairie chickens a few more times in my lifetime, but they are not a common experience. They break cover & usually fly & glide for a long distance. I've seldom seen more than 1 or 2 at a time.

While riding on a ESU ornithology field trip bus to Flint Hills NWR, on KS 130 just N of Neosho Rapids, I looked out the window to see 6 prairie chickens in a line running N between 2 rows of soybeans. About 5 yards behind them, there was a bobcat crouched low & stalking them. I treasure that as an experience of a lifetime.

I forsake shotguns & rifles for many years & hunted with cameras. I have traipsed through many a prairie, often accompanied by my dog, or dogs. I can count on one hand the # of greater prairie chickens I have seen.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

The Nature Conservancy's Konza Prairie offers a guided ride out to a blind overlooking a prairie chicken lek. We took my mother on this experience when she was 80. We wore longjohns & took blankets & a thermos of hot tea to arrive at the blind in the darkness of a chilly April morning. As dawn approached, you could make out the hens in the taller grasses on the periphery of the lek.

Before long, a few males alit in the short grass of the lek & began to boom. They puffed up their "cheeks'" brilliant color & danced about, making a sound only they can boom. The males may race toward each other, feigning attack, to see who's "chicken." They will "flop" off the ground, hopping about. All in hopes of attracting the hens to come into the short grass of the lek.

This mating behavior can only play out on the short grasses of a lek. Perhaps the prairie grasses are shorter because of shallow depth of soil, or compacted clay soil (buffalo wallow). Only the chickens agree upon the location. To anthropomorphize, I would say the hens have chosen their viewing area, & the males fly in & "strut their stuff" with the hope of attracting a mate. It is a noisy ruckus, to be sure. Dr. Donald Distler, WSU, once played a tape of his experience at an underground blind covered with barn roofing. The males chose to dance on the roof of the blind, and the din on the recording is deafening.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

The Gov mentions KDWP&TOURISM working with other states on an alternative plan to increase lesser prairie chicken #s. Their plan would permit petroleum companies to choose where to claim drilling rights, and where the states propose to limit human disruption = idea that ever scarcer #s of lesser prairie chickens would choose to move off their historic leks & feeding grounds & find replacements where humans deem them to be suitable.

Many actual wildlife biologists, who are free to speak their minds, have serious doubts that this "plan" would be acceptable to the lesser prairie chickens. IF these alternative places exist, is seems logical the chickens would already be using them, & their #s would not be in such a severe decline. The plan is strictly a hypothesis. No study has ever been conducted to test its validity.

I spoke with the Swedes at length, as their English was more proficient than my Swedish. Each was a "professional" in terms of avocation. The $ they spent to come to the U.S. are farm more than we might spend to go on safari in Africa. The shortage of snow @ RMNP led them to convince their "expedition" guide to find alternatives. I believe they'd originally set out for the Comanche Nat'l. Grasslands in SE Colorado to see lesser prairie chickens there. The Forest Service told them there was yet no activity at the leks, but that Cimarron had reported activity. It was only by circumstances that they were in Elkart, spending their kronas. When we returned to Manhattan, a coworker of my wife's told her we had missed seeing a rare bird visiting Elkhart's sewage treatment plant lagoons. Yes, birders have active websites where they post "Rare Bird Alerts. Yes, Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers.

Lawrence Morgan 3 years, 6 months ago

And why aren't there pictures of the prairie chicken to go along with the article, so that people who don't know what they are can see the images (and a map) and get a much better idea of some of the many beautiful birds and animals of Kansas?

Lesser prairie chicken

Lesser prairie chicken by Lawrence Morgan

Lawrence Morgan 3 years, 6 months ago

And here's the range of the lesser prairie chicken.

range of lesser prairie chicken

range of lesser prairie chicken by Lawrence Morgan

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Morgan - I appreciate your posts.

When we lived in Michigan & Missouri, and spoke of Kansas, we had the habit of swearing people NOT to spread the fiction we shared of the beauty and wildlife of our state. This was because we found ourselves competing for elbow room every time we experienced nature in those states & other, more populated regions in our travels.

We took the same precautions when out-of-state friends would visit us. Camping one night on the bank of the Smoky Hill River west of Mushroom Rock SP, a friend from Missouri was spooked by the howling of coyotes in the night. "What was that?" It was incredulous that he had never heard a coyote before. I know he spent an uneasy night in his tent. He later lived in Colo Springs, & we would meet him at Scott, Cedar Bluffs, or other SPs devoid of visitors due to dry conditions.

We Kansans, and Gov Brownback, must be proud of the fact KS is 50th in per capita public lands.

I witnessed the fight to prevent the formation of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, when an ESU prof. & Chase Co. school board member testified before a Congressional Committee that his USD could not afford to bus school children from Cottonwood Falls to the TPNM. I'm sure many students lived farther from school than that short distance to TPNM.

After experiencing the state's propaganda campaign to bring the NBAF to Kansas, and the interminable crusade to subject all Kansans to a minority's will, we have decided to take our Federal retirement disposable incomes to another state where citizens can expect their vote to count.

That's a difficult decision, we're both natives. My ancestors brought the first steam-powered threaher West of the Mississippi to KS in the 1880s. When my great-great-grandfather died, 104 teams formed the procession to the cemetery in Sumner County.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Sam ALEC Brownback and his frivolous big government law suit. How can Sam claim he is about smaller government when he constantly intrudes on:

  1. human privacy

  2. women's rights

  3. wild animal rights

  4. Voters Rights

Then steals income tax dollars from blue and white collar workers and cuts off refundable tax dollar items going to the lower income populations of Kansas.

Sam ALEC Brownback is all about BIG Government but not just any BIG GOVERNMENT. Sam prefers ALEC BIG GOVERNMENT. Quite dangerous to the USA.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 years, 6 months ago

"overreaching Government, aggressively and unnecessarily intruding in our daily Lives". Nice to see Governor Brownback Talk about Something He actually Does Understand and support. Oh, and This might shed a little light on How that whole Voter Proof of citizenship case that Melgren ruled on is going to go. Sorry Kris. I doubt the US government will Capitulate to Your (or Arizona's for that matter)Demands. Good Luck with That, Though. The Voters are watching.

Phillip Chappuie 3 years, 6 months ago

This is my quote of the day. "Our scientists understand Kansas much better than theirs do," Jennison said, referring to Fish and Wildlife scientists. Really? My Pop can whip your Pop.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 6 months ago

I'd wager that no KDWP&T employee would dare utter a word otherwise to Brownback's "hypothesis" that lesser prairie chicken would move to a new location Jennison selected for a booming ground.

This "theory" leads one to believe it is based upon the historical precedent of removing Native Americans from their tribal lands, marching them to "reservations," and paying a private individual to distribute food, clothing & supplies. Jennison predicts lesser prairie chicken will relocate to his new "reservations?" Sorry, but as I was once certified to teach biology, chemistry & physics, IMHO -> this hypothesis lacks credibility.

That brings a Jerry Jeff Walker tune to mind:

3 years, 6 months ago

Joe, thank you for this link. It is so true that I am torn between laughing and crying.

Was it not President Obama who said that if you try something a hundred times and it does not work what makes you think it will the hundred and first time? Human nature is a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." Props to Winston Churchill.

Clark Coan 3 years, 6 months ago

You're a real man, governor, kicking a little bird when it's down and about to disappear from the earth forever.

Since you are a fundamentalist Catholic, don't you believe in conserving God's creation?

Julius Nolan 3 years, 6 months ago

Sam's "god' is the Koch Brothers and whatever they want, he works very hard at providing.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Sam worships the Wal-Mart billionaires as well who are knee deep in the same crap .

Please do not insult this family again as it brings out their vindictive nature.

Yes it okay to slam ALEC,Koch's, Walton Foundation,the Walton 1%, Third Way etc etc etc for they are as deceptive bunch.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 6 months ago

"Our scientists are better than your scientists."
Um...scientists don't operate that way, guv'nor. Well, unless they're on the Koch payroll.

Shaun Battles 3 years, 6 months ago

When did classification of endangered species become political? Either it's endangered or it isn't. Right?

3 years, 6 months ago

One would think, and if you go strictly by the number they are endangered, but I get the feeling that the fact that President Obama has absolutely nothing to do with making this decision, our governor is going to go the other way just to spite him.

P.S. Follow the money. I can visualize the lesser prairie chickens creeping about asking, "is it safe, is it safe?"

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

"When did classification of endangered species become political? Either it's endangered or it isn't. Right?"

It depends if wildlife might get in the way of new construction projects.

Dan Eyler 3 years, 5 months ago

I have seen more Prairie Chicken in the past two hunting seasons than any time in my life. I am amazed what a great job Kansans do to protect wildlife and practice conservation. I would spend any amount of money to keep environmentalists out of our state. There is nobody more dangerous than progressive environmentalists who know nothing about our state, determining what is best. Keeping Washington DC out of Kansas is critical to our economy, our environment and the lives of Kansans. One thing I have learned about progressives is they rarely leave their back yards, and spend more time fishing at a carnival from a child's plastic wading pool.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 5 months ago

Nice to see a response from a total Foxnews, GOPTeaParty poster. At least now we know what latest memo was.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 5 months ago

Glad you're having such luck,. When you refer to "past two seasons," was that the 2 seasons/year on Greater PC; or 2 seasons over 2 years? Hope you were able to restrain your hunting success, as the Daily Bag Limit is TWO for Greater; ONE for Lesser. Also, can you provide pictures (CAUTION: that's how KDWP&T "entraps" most poachers & violators; when they post Pics to prove their prowess)?

According to most CONSERVATIVES in Kansas, getting Washington DC to bring the NBAF to Kansas is critical to our economy, our environment and the lives of Kansans.

Kansas currently harbors two species of prairie grouse. The greater prairie chicken ( Tympanuchus cupido) is much more abundant than the lesser prairie chicken ( T. pallidicinctus). A third species of prairie grouse, the sharp-tailed grouse ( T. phasianellus) disappeared from it’s historic western Kansas range during the droughts of the 1930’s. Attempts to restore sharptails in the 1980’s and 1990’s, while initially promising, ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Two distinct forms of prairie chicken hunting occur in Kansas. In the eastern half of the state (east of U.S. Highway 281), an early season (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) allows hunters with dogs to take advantage of the tendency for young greaters to hold well at this time of year. Later in the fall, chickens gather into larger groups, often making it more difficult for hunters with dogs to get within gun range. By fall, many prairie chickens will begin feeding in cut sorghum, corn, or soybean fields. Since these birds often fly directly to specific fields when they leave their roosts in early morning, hunters can get pass shooting opportunities by positioning themselves at the margin of the field closest to the roosting area. This pass shooting is the more common way of taking greater prairie chickens during Kansas’ regular season (3rd Saturday in Nov. to Jan. 31st, Daily Limit = 2). The prairie chicken hunting season in southwest Kansas, where most lesser prairie chickens are found, is more restrictive in both season length (3rd Saturday in Nov. to Dec. 31) and allowable daily bag (Limit = 1). Since 1990, estimated greater prairie chicken harvests in Kansas have varied from a high of 59,000 in 1991 to a low of only 9,000 in 2002. Since hunting regulations were further restricted for southwest Kansas in 1995, harvest of lesser prairie chickens has typically amounted to a few hundred birds annually.

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