The Kansas Senate has approved legislation declaring that the federal government has no authority to regulate prairie chickens in the state.
The 30-7 vote Friday evening sent the measure to the House, where passage would send it to Gov. Sam Brownback.
The measure is a response to the federal government’s March listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. The listing allows federal oversight of state conservation efforts.
The Kansas bill covers both the lesser prairie chicken and the larger, darker and more abundant greater prairie chicken. It allows the attorney general to file lawsuits to block federal attempts to regulate the birds and their habitats.
State officials fear conservation efforts will restrict agriculture and energy companies. Environmentalists say Kansas should work to increase the bird’s population.