On December 11, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a revised special rule (pdf) that would provide for a limited exception to the protections currently proposed for the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The revised special rule incorporates a new five-state rangewide conservation plan for the species, and allows take of lesser prairie-chickens so long as such take is incidental to activities conducted by an individual enrolled in the rangewide conservation plan. Previous versions of the special rule referenced a conservation plan generally; the Service issued the revised rule to specifically reference the new rangewide plan.

As we previously reported, the special rule is proposed pursuant to section 4(d) of the ESA, and would only be implemented if the lesser prairie-chicken receives ESA protections. The Service also reopened the comment period on the proposal to list the species. According to the Service, comments on the revised special rule and the underlying listing proposal will be accepted through January 10, 2014.