Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill meant to prevent federal regulation of the lesser prairie chicken, his office announced Saturday.
The bird was named to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s threatened species list, which is a step down from endangered, in March. The governor and other Republican leaders have accused the listing as federal overreach, despite assurance from the agency that it will come without any new regulations and that Kansas and neighboring states can proceed with their own preservation plan.
HB 2051, which Brownback signed Friday, declares state sovereignty over non-migratory wildlife. It will allow the attorney general to block any attempts by the federal government to regulate the bird in court. Lawmakers ditched an earlier provision, which would have enabled Kansas to fine or arrest federal employees attempting to enforce regulations on the birds.
“I continue to be very concerned about the validity and effect of this federal action,” Brownback said in a statement released Saturday morning.
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“I will take every possible action to protect the rights of Kansans from the economic effects of this listing. The listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened needs to be rescinded and reconsidered immediately,” he said.
Kansas has joined Oklahoma in a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the listing.
The governor spoke with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on May 8, according to the release, and reiterated his opposition to the listing.
Audubon of Kansas has said that the primary purpose of the listing is to enable more federal funds to go towards preservation efforts. But Republican lawmakers have repeatedly argued that it could open the state up to new regulations that will affect agriculture and the energy industry.