In March 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The final listing includes the 4(d) rule, which is a special rule allowing for incidental take of the LPC.
The 4(d) rule protects activities associated with:
Activities conducted pursuant to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA) Conservation Plan
Conservation practices carried out in accordance with a conservation plan developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
The continuation of routine agricultural practices on existing cultivated lands
In general, the ESA makes it unlawful for a person to “take” a lesser prairie chicken without a permit or authorization. Take is defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct.” Harm is defined to include significant habitat modification or degradation if it results in death or injury to a LPC by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Landowners who participate in the activities protected under the 4(d) rule would be exempt from the take prohibitions of the ESA and no additional actions would be required by the landowner.