PERC submitted a public comment to the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the proposed 4(d) rule for the northern distinct population segment of the lesser prairie-chicken.
When Endangered Species Act regulations make listed species a liability for states and private landowners, these regulations can discourage conservation. 4(d) rules offer a potential opportunity to mitigate this problem by better aligning the incentives of states and private landowners with the interests of rare species. However, this goal can only be achieved if the Fish and Wildlife Service thinks carefully and creatively about when to issue 4(d) rules and how to craft them. To comply with the statute’s text and purpose, any 4(d) rule for the lesser prairie-chicken should be focused on encouraging and rewarding voluntary conservation efforts by states and private landowners.
- Making species a liability for states and landowners discourages conservation
- The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to consider how 4(d) rules affect private landowners’ incentives to conserve and recover species
- Section 4(d) is also a federalism provision intended to encourage state-led recovery
- Therefore, any 4(d) rule for the lesser prairie-chicken should seek to reward and encourage state and voluntary conservation efforts