October 6, 1995 – The Center and allies petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect lesser prairie chickens as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  

June 9, 1998 – The Department of the Interior determined that lesser prairie chickens warranted listing under the Act, but claimed that listing was precluded by the need to first list other species that were higher priorities for protection. The bird was placed on the “candidate species” list. (Such a “warranted but precluded” finding must be reviewed every 12 months to determine if a candidate species' listing priority has changed.)

2008 – In its annual candidate notice of review, the Fish and Wildlife Service changed the prairie chicken's “listing priority number” from an 8 to a 2, reflecting the change in the magnitude of its threats from moderate to high.

2011 – The Service entered into a landmark settlement agreement with the Center in which the agency committed to submit to the Federal Register either a proposed listing or a negative listing determination for the prairie chicken by September 30, 2012.

November 30, 2012 – The Service issued a proposed rule to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, as a result of our 2011 settlement.

May 6, 2013 – The Service reopened the comment period regarding its threatened listing and issued a proposed section 4(d) rule exempting implementation of certain comprehensive lesser prairie chicken conservation programs and conservation practices on privately owned agricultural lands.

March 27, 2014 – The Service announced its decision to issue final rules listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species with a 4(d) rule and stating that designating critical habitat was not determinable.

June 17, 2014 – The Center and two partners filed a legal challenge over the Service's failure to adequately protect the lesser prairie chicken by designating the bird as “threatened” rather than “endangered,” a distinction that allowed the agency to authorize ongoing “incidental take” of prairie chickens under a series of unproven, voluntary conservation agreements.

September 1, 2015 – After a lawsuit by a Texas oil trade group, the Texas court vacated the Service's rule listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.

May 11, 2016 – The Service announced it would not attempt to overturn the 2015 Texas court decision. 

July 19, 2016 – The lesser prairie chicken was officially removed from the endangered species list.

Lesser prairie chicken photo by Kevin Rolle/Flickr