Kansas ranchers file suit with U.S. Fish and Wildlife

A group of Kansas agricultural producers and the Kansas Natural Resource Coalition are suing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for its lesser prairie-chicken protections.

Attorney Charles Yates with Pacific Legal Foundation is representing the group of landowners and county boards of commissioners.

“The federal government has just imposed enormous regulations on land use across an enormous area of the country, a large area of western Kansas, and it hasn’t engaged in the proper process to do so,” he says.

The bird was added to the Endangered Species List early this year and several groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Kansas Livestock Association are also suing the agency over the decision.   

Yates tells Brownfield cattle producers could face significant civil and criminal penalties for violating the Endangered Species Act if they don’t have a proper grazing plan in place.

“Now cattle ranchers in this area, if they want to turn cattle out on native grassland habitats that could affect the species, then they have to go to a consultant and essentially have a government plan approved just to graze cattle on their own property,” he explains.

Yates argues the Fish & Wildlife Service is violating the constitutional separation of powers and expects a court decision to be made in the next 12 to 18 months.

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