Lesser prairie chicken doesn't get federal protection

From the Alamogordo Daily News - by Milan Simonich, Texas-New Mexico Newspapers - SANTA FE -- Those seeking federal protection for a rare bird of the Southwest say they lost an important round Friday at the hands of the Obama administration. A conservation group said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yielded to industrial interests by proposing a special rule harmful to the lesser prairie chicken's chances of survival.     Jay Lininger of the Center for Biological Diversity said the rule that would decrease the U.S. Endangered Species Act's normal protections for the prairie chicken. Similar rules lessened protection for polar bears and have been proposed for wolverines, he said. "We're disappointed the service is using a rule that is supposed to enhance wildlife conservation to lock the lesser prairie chicken into small areas of habitat, preclude their recovery and give blanket approval to industrial activities that are pushing them to extinction," Lininger said.      U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce took the opposite position. He said the plan by the Fish and Wildlife Service made good sense, and he questioned the motives of the Center for Biological Diversity.     Pearce, R-Hobbs, said the federal rule in question had proven to be an effective tool in prioritizing species management. "Unfortunately, CBD is consistent in their disdain for this approach. I have to assume this is the case because it could lead to the actual recovery of the species, which is not good for their sue-and-settle agenda that lines the pockets of their attorneys," Pearce said. read story