Fighting Legislative Threats to Nongame and Endangered Species

Ferruginous Hawk. Photo by Ron Klataske

On numerous occasions, one or more members of the Kansas Legislature who are generally opposed to conservation of imperiled wildlife--if the presence of an at-risk species and/or critical habitat delay or impede, in any way, development activities--have attempted to eviscerate the 1975 Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. On every occasion, Audubon of Kansas has stepped forward to alert members and others who care about wildlife conservation, prepared science-based position papers for testimony before legislative committees, and made known the importance of this Act through outreach to the media. 

To Native Prairie 

On three occasions in recent years, one or more members of the Kansas legislature have proposed legislation that would eliminate perpetual conservation easements—making them virtually useless as an instrument to protect native grasslands, wetlands and other natural landscapes or agricultural land use in recognition of public interests and the legacy of families who want stewardship to continue into the future. Senate Bill 425 promoted by Senator Larry Powell during the 2016 legislative session was the prototype for this assault on conservation easements. Audubon of Kansas has been a staunch supporter of conservation easements and has been a major force in opposing bills designed to cripple the Uniform Conservation Easement Act. Fortunately, all have failed to receivelegislative approval.

To Prairie Dogs and the Short-grass Prairie Ecosystem 

AOK is building support for the repeal of the century-old Kansas statutes compelling landowners to exterminate prairie dogs on their land.  AOK successfully defended landowners in western Kansas who wished to maintain the short-grass prairie ecosystem including prairie dog colonies on their land.  Because their prairie dog towns hosted the federally listed black-footed ferrets, AOK attorneys were able to invoke the Endangered Species Act, which prevailed over Kansas's exterminationist statutes, allowing these western Kansas landowners to maintain wildlife on their land as they wished.  Prairie dogs are a keystone species, providing support for hawks, eagles, swift foxes, badgers, burrowing owls and multiple other species.

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