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Group: Funds Meant For Prairie Chicken Conservation Misused

“ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Environmentalists are questioning spending by wildlife managers who oversee a conservation effort for the lesser prairie chicken after money was used on a building and salaries rather than on projects to help the bird.

Once listed as a threatened species, the chicken’s habitat spans parts of five states — including a portion of the oil-rich Permian Basin. Environmentalists have been pushing to reinstate federal protections for the the bird, while the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has been working with states and the oil and gas industry on a pair of voluntary conservation programs.

The Center for Biological Diversity pointed to an audit of the nonprofit association that was recently made public, saying the conservation program was not properly managed and money was wasted on the purchase of a building in Idaho to house staff. The group also claims the association wrongfully paid staff salaries about of the program’s endowment.”

Susan Montoya Bryan reports for the Associated Press May 1, 2020.