Prairie chicken hunting could end in SW Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State wildlife officials may ban the hunting of all prairie chickens in southwest Kansas to help the state comply with the federal government’s listing of the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports (http://bit.ly/1rLzTd4 ) that fewer than 100 lesser prairie chickens are taken by hunters each year, but the state Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism’s goal is to see that none of the birds are killed.

Christopher Tymeson, chief legal counsel for the department, said the proposal will be considered during a meeting of the Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission on June 19 in Pittsburg. The commission advises the department and sets regulations.

The ban would affect all or part of 28 counties. The prairie chicken season in southwest Kansas runs form Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, and hunters are limited to taking one each day.

Hunters seek the larger, darker and more abundant greater prairie chicken as game but sometimes kill lesser ones. The federal government in March listed the lesser prairie chicken has threatened because of a dramatic declined in its numbers.

The federal listing affects five states with prairie chicken habitats — Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The federal government said those states had fewer than 18,000 lesser prairie chickens in 2013, down almost 50 percent from 2012. Kansas officials contend drought is the primary reason and that the numbers will rebound.

The listing allows the federal government to oversee conservation efforts, and Gov. Sam Brownback and other Kansas officials contend it’s an overreach. But some environmentalists don’t think the federal government is being aggressive enough in preserving the bird’s habitat.

Kansas has joined Oklahoma in a federal lawsuit over the process the federal government used sin listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.

Also, the Kansas Senate has approved a bill declaring that the federal government has no authority to regulate prairie chickens in the state and making it a felony for federal employees to try. But a House committee rewrote the bill, jettisoning the felony provision in favor of one allowing the attorney general to go to court to block federal enforcement actions.

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Online:

Information about the prairie chicken bill: http://bit.ly/1grpgpD

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism: http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

 

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