Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe
Goal: Demand that lesser prairie chickens be granted “endangered” status to save them from misguided population control plans
Recently, conservation groups filed a legal petition to address the inadequate action taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to protect thousands of lesser prairie chickens inhabiting Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The birds face grave threats from human activity, including oil drilling and grazing by farm animals. FWS officials failed to take into account the birds’ swift, severe population decline, and in 2013, the agency designated them as “threatened” in lieu of “endangered,” leaving the birds vulnerable to mismanaged conservation plans enacted by the states they inhabit. The only way to stop the accelerated slaughter of these birds is to immediately award them endangered status.
In 2013 alone, the birds’ population declined by an estimated 50 percent, according to the conservation group Wild Earth Guardians. In addition to human activity driven by the oil and gas industry, drought is also taking a toll on the birds. Only approximately 17,000 birds remain in the wild, yet their “threatened” status allows for 1,300 birds to be killed each year.
Show your support for the lawsuit filed by Wild Earth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity by signing the petition below. Help these birds avoid extinction due to the greed associated with the oil and gas industry and urge FWS Director Daniel Ashe to oversee efforts that will ensure the long-term survival of this iconic species.
Dear Director Ashe,
I have recently learned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the lesser prairie chicken a threatened status in lieu of a more appropriate endangered status. Based on the recent sharp decline in the birds’ population and the serious threats they face due to human activity and climate change, the only way to avoid their inevitable path to extinction is to amend this designation.
Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have put forth inadequate management plans to maintain the birds’ population levels. The states’ plans include goals that are not sufficient to maintain the current population, and protected areas are not nearly enough to outweigh destructive human activity and environmental changes resulting from climate change.
I urge you to ensure that your agency’s mission is upheld and that the monetary interests of the oil and gas industry do not take precedence over preserving this species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Larry Lamsa via Wikimedia Commons