Word that the Justice Department was giving up in the legal fight over the lesser prairie chicken came as a relief, and confirmation that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shouldn’t have been so quick to list the bird as threatened in 2014. The five affected states, including Kansas, already had a conservation program underway, and the population has rebounded by 50 percent since 2013 as drought has eased. Now, after a federal court found fault with the listing, it’s appropriate that the Fish and Wildlife Service “intends to reassess the status of the species based on the court’s ruling and the best available scientific data.” Members of the Kansas congressional delegation celebrated the news, highlighting their efforts to overturn the listing. But species protection will always be best guided by science, not by the interests of energy producers or farmers and ranchers, or by acts of Congress. – Rhonda Holman
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