Republican congressional leaders, including U.S. Representative from New Mexico Yvette Herrell, are fighting a proposal to provide federal protections to the lesser prairie chicken in multiple western states, arguing that such government action would damage the region’s oil and gas and other industries. to obstruct.
In June 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed designating the species as “endangered” in a southern population zone, which includes southeastern New Mexico and western Texas — the Permian Basin known as the most active oil field from the US.
A northern population of the chicken was suggested for an “endangered” designation, which included the northern Texas panhandle and areas of Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
More:Oil and gas impacts lead to lawsuit for federal action to protect fewer prairie chickens
An endangered designation means that a species is on the brink of extinction, and means that the federal government restricts certain land uses and activities that would kill individual chickens, while also requiring the government to devise a plan to control the population. to recover the species.