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Commissioner Miller Issues Statement After Appeal Dropped for Lesser Prairie Chicken (5/13/2016)

AUSTIN - On Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department dropped its appeal to have the lesser prairie chicken listed as a threatened species under federal protection per the Endangered Species Act. Previously, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to take into account a multi-state voluntary conservation plan prior to listing the species as threatened. After this ruling, the lesser prairie chicken lost its “threatened” designation.

“We believe in sound decision-making, private property owners’ rights and the fact that government is not the answer to every problem, and I’m pleased to see the U.S. Justice Department has dropped its latest attempt to impede our rights,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “The latest action is a tremendous victory for Texas landowners who have been battling the burden of an overreaching federal government and can now work to protect the lesser prairie chicken through conservation methods that are working across many states.”

Texas farmers and ranchers have long taken great pride in protecting the Lone Star State’s natural resources. Approximately 95 percent of Texas land is privately owned, and Texas leads the nation with more than 130 million acres devoted to agriculture. Landowners are in charge of responsibly managing the state’s natural resources to help sustain 27 million Texans, feed and clothe the world, maintain a healthy environment and create jobs that power the Texas economy.

“I commend our municipalities, as well as our farmers and ranchers who for years have proactively invested millions of dollars and acres into the voluntary lesser prairie chicken conservation program,” Commissioner Miller said. “We must continue our efforts to fight federal overreach and protect our private property owners.”