First the dunes sagebrush lizard, now it's the Lesser Prairie-Chicken that's being considered for placement on to the "threatened" list.
The potential area has ranchers, farmers, and the energy companies feeling quite threatened themselves. It once existed in abounding numbers, thriving in the grasslands of the central and south plains. But today, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the bird's range of grasslands and prairies has been reduced by 84 percent.
Lubbock hosted the third of four public hearings Monday night, where Fish and Wildlife explained its position, and those who cry foul got their say as well.
Approximately 250 people showed up for the hearing, with more than 60 signing up to comment. Representatives for the Texas Farm Bureau, the city of Lubbock, and for Congressmen Randy Neugebauer, Mike Conaway, and Mac Thornberry were all in attendance. Not to mention farmers and ranchers who came from all over West Texas. A noticeable theme among comments was the request to extend the listing.
"I don't believe that they have enough science to put this bird on the endangered species list, number one. So they're going to have to come up with some sound science," Joe Leathers, general manager of 6666 Ranch said.
"We need to all work together among ag groups, farmers, ranchers, everyone that has a stake in this, we need to work together to come to a plan," Barry Evans, a Plains Cotton Growers board member, said."We don't need a regulation. We just want to work together to come to a plan to do this, and use some experts to help encourage us and tells us some things we might be doing to increase a habitat."
The Fish and Wildlife Service will head to Roswell on Tuesday for the final hearing, but written comments are accepted until March 11.