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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

We’re Listing it as Threatened, But States, Partnerships Will Conserve Lesser Prairie-Chicken

We have determined that the lesser prairie-chicken warrants listing as a threatened species.  

lesser prairie chicken

The lesser prairie-chicken inhabits areas of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Credit: Greg Kramos/USFWS

A “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. It allows us to ensure the bird’s protection while providing some measure of flexibility in implementing measures under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

The ongoing drought and past habitat loss and fragmentation throughout the chicken’s range of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas have devastated the species – the 2013 estimate had the population at 17,616 birds, almost 50 percent fewer than 2012. 

We first identified the lesser prairie-chicken as a candidate for federal protection under the ESA in 1998, and since then, have worked with the states, federal agencies, conservation organizations, landowners and other partners to protect the species’ habitat and address the threats it faces. 


Conservation in Indian Country: Strengthening Our Relationships with Tribes

As the conservation community faces immense challenges to make wildlife conservation relevant and important to a rapidly growing and changing society, we are privileged to have as partners Native American Tribes, who understand the value of their natural heritage. 

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Manager Charlie Blair talks with Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Sioux.Credit: Charles Traxler/USFWS

With Tribes at our side, we have given many imperiled species a better chance in the modern world.

In the Southwest, I think about the efforts of the Pueblos with Rio Grande species like the silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.

Tribes have certainly been vital partners our ongoing work to recover the black-footed ferret.  Six of the 20 ferret reintroduction sites are on Tribal lands. I could go on for ages

I had the good fortune to help our team release about 20 ferrets on Lower Brule Tribal lands in central South Dakota a few years ago. It was one of the highlights of my conservation career. I want to expand and magnify that feeling of accomplishment and success, strengthening our partnership wherever possible.

That’s why I’m proud to announce the selection of Scott Aikin as the Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Native American Liaison.


Want to Know How to Succeed at Conservation? Ask A Hunter

The folks at the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) invited me to speak at the association’s first-ever North American Whitetail Summit this week, and I jumped at the chance. 

deer hunters
A father and son spend time deer hunting at Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri. Credit: Carol Weston

It’s hard to find anyone who has done more to sustain and conserve the nation’s natural resources than sportsmen and sportswomen. 

More hunters pursue whitetail deer than any other game species in the United States, and whitetail hunting contributes millions of dollars each year to local economies. 

All hunters play an integral part in conservation and always have. 

Throughout the country, you’ll find hunting groups getting young people interested in spending time outdoors, restoring habitat and financing conservation. 

Heck, without waterfowl hunters, we might not know the honks of geese or the quacks of ducks. 

Driven by the urgent threat of market hunting and later, the environmental catastrophe of the Dust Bowl, waterfowl hunters organized themselves a century ago to plan and build a solid future for waterfowl hunting.  

One part of that plan was the Federal Duck Stamp that waterfowl hunters are required to purchase and carry. Taxing themselves? What an out-of-the-box idea. It worked. Since 1934, the money from sales of Federal Duck Stamps has purchased or leased more than 6 million acres of wetlands habitat in the United States. 


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