Governor Sam Brownback says a federal lawsuit by environmental groups over the lesser prairie chicken is an attempt to shut down agriculture and energy production in western Kansas.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington argues the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not doing enough to protect the bird.
The agency in March listed the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. But the three environmental groups contend the bird should be listed instead as “endangered,” which would prompt stronger conservation measures.
Brownback and other Kansas officials object to the species even being listed as threatened, arguing the designation will mean restrictions and expensive conservation fees for farmers, ranchers and energy producers.
The governor said the lawsuit could lead to economic devastation.