Congressman’s town hall is for the birds


(Rep. Pearce congressional office)

Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-N.M) held three public town halls in his district this week not to talk about Obamacare, or tax reform, or even the economy in general.

Pearce wanted to talk to his constituents about chickens.

(AP Photo/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Jon McRoberts)
(AP Photo/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Jon McRoberts)

Late last month the Fish and Wildlife Service added the lesser prairie-chickens to the list of threatened animals under the Endangered Species Act, which has upset ranchers, farmers and oil companies in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado where these particular grouse gravitate. The federal agency, in making the announcement, said “it will limit regulatory impacts on landowners and businesses,” but that hasn’t quelled concern.

So Pearce, a former oil executive whose top campaign contributors are from the oil and gas industry, set out during his break from Washington to lend a sympathetic ear about the chickens.

“Their choices affect your right to farm your land, graze your cattle, or continue the energy boom that’s created so many good-paying jobs throughout Southeastern New Mexico. Federal officials owe New Mexicans an explanation for why their extraordinary cooperative efforts to preserve lesser prairie chicken habitat were not good enough,” Pearce said in a press release announcing the not one, not two, but three meetings on the subject.

Federal officials were on hand at the town halls to answer questions, Pearce’s office told the Loop. Constituents asked if unintentionally harming a bird on private property would result in jail time. The officials did not answer this. The people in attendance argued predators are more to blame for the declining population than man-made hindrances like fences and wires.

Guess Pearce’s constituents don’t want to be blamed for fowl play.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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Colby Itkowitz | April 16