The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing to issue a special use permit to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) to aerially drop multiple oral rabies bait vaccine units on various tracts of the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge as part of an ongoing Oral Rabies Vaccination Program (ORVP). The goal of the ORVP in the skunk study zone is to evaluate whether the oral rabies vaccine, bait and distribution method will be effective for controlling the skunk variant (strain) of the rabies virus. General and specific information about the overall ORVP in Texas can be found at the following TDSHS web address: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/rabies/orvp/A Draft Compatibility Determination has been prepared for this proposal and is available for public review and comment. The Draft Compatibility Determination is available on-line here.This comment period gives all interested parties an opportunity to provide input. The Service will be accepting comments until January 31, 2014. Comments should be submitted in writing to Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR at P.O. 519, Eagle Lake, TX 77434 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This action is part of an ongoing effort to control rabies in wildlife to address health and safety concerns throughout the state. As such, this action will be covered by the categorical exclusion found in the Department of Interior Manual, 516 DM 8.5C(5): The issuance or reissuance of special use permits for the administration of specialized uses, including agricultural uses, or other economic uses for management purposes, when such uses are compatible, contribute to the purposes of the refuge system unit, and result in no or negligible environmental effects. For more information about this proposal or to speak with our staff contact Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR, (979) 234-3021. The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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More than a century ago, up to one million Attwater’s prairie-chickens graced the coastal prairies of Texas and Louisiana. Each spring, males gathered to perform an elaborate courtship ritual. They inflated their yellow air sacs and emitted a strange, booming sound across a sea of grasses.