The House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee voted unanimously Friday to pass a memorial sponsored by Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, that opposes the listing of the lesser prairie chicken.
House Memorial 21 would request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not list the species as “threatened” under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
“The listing of the lesser prairie chicken would affect lands in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas,” Ezzell said in a statement. “It would affect ranchers, farmers, sportsmen, oil and gas exploration, and utility companies, among others.”
The memorial says agencies, such as the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Bureau of Land Management, have worked with landowners and lessees, as well as industry partners to protect and preserve the lesser prairie chicken.
Ezzell said there are already candidate conservation agreements in place to protect the habitat of the chicken, “which is our main goal.”
“We must work to protect the chicken by developing range-wide population and habitat goals, while still protecting our jobs and our livelihood in southern New Mexico,” she said.
Listings under the Endangered Species Act, Ezzell said, “often come without consideration for sound science.”
“This legislation is very important to me, as a listing would, no doubt, kill our jobs and destroy our livelihoods,” she said. “As we saw with the proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard, a listing can be avoided with the cooperation of all local officials and when the collaborative voices of all New Mexicans are heard.”
The Service will issue a final ruling in September and is now accepting public comments. There will be a Fish and Wildlife public hearing Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., at the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Performing Arts Center, 64 University Blvd.