On January 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) the reopening of the public comment period for a special rule originally proposed on May 6, 2013 that would allow for limited take of the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus). As we previously reported, the proposed special rule was revised on December 11, 2013 to include a five-state conservation plan for the species. The proposed special rule allows for take of the lesser prairie-chicken as long as such take is incidental to activities conducted by an individual enrolled in the conservation plan. The special rule is proposed pursuant to section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will only be implemented if the lesser prairie-chicken receives ESA protections.

Six congressional delegates from Kansas, one of the five states included in the conservation plan, formally requested that the Service extend the comment period. The Service stated that it was reopening the comment period because, when the special rule was revised in December to include the conservation plan, the final version of the conservation plan was not yet widely available to the public. The Service is reopening the comment period to give the public an opportunity to review the plan.

The Service has extended the comment period through February 12, 2014.