USFWS Delays Threatened and Endangered Statuses of Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Northern Long-Eared Bat

January 26, 2023

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) extended the effective dates of its decisions to list populations of the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened and endangered and to reclassify the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).

Last year, the USFWS announced a final rule listing a distinct population segment of the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened and another distinct population segment as endangered. At the same time, the USFWS announced a rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that prohibited take of threatened lesser prairie-chicken, with limited exceptions. The listing rule and accompanying 4(d) rule were scheduled to take effect on January 24, 2023. In other words, as of January 24, 2023, take of endangered and threatened lesser prairie-chicken would be prohibited, except as provided in the 4(d) rule.

On January 24, 2023, the USFWS published a rule extending the effective date of the listing rule and 4(d) rule by 60 days until March 27, 2023. The USFWS extended the effective date in part to allow land users to enroll in conservation mechanisms such as Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. Thus, the prohibitions of take of lesser prairie-chicken under the ESA and 4(d) rule will become effective on March 27, 2023.

Last year, the USFWS also announced a final rule that reclassified the northern long-eared bat, which had been listed as threatened, as endangered. The reclassification was scheduled to become effective on January 30, 2023. On January 26, 2023, the USFWS published a rule extending the effective date of the reclassification rule until March 31, 2023. The USFWS cited a need to finalize tools to facilitate section 7 consultation over projects such as wind energy development as justification for delaying the effective date of the reclassification.

Please contact Katie Schroder with questions about these listing decisions or delayed effective dates.

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