Secretary of State Kris Kobach's proposal (SB 276) to nullify federal protection of prairie chickens is stunning in its hubris and recklessness.

Kobach is already infamous for fearing imagined voting irregularities; now it seems he believes protecting valued but vanishing species could undermine the state's sovereignty.

SB 276 asserts state officials "have successfully managed lesser prairie chickens ..." A new study concludes lesser prairie chicken numbers declined 50 percent in 2013. Wildlife biologists estimate more than 90 percent of the population has now vanished.

Ignore for a moment the overwhelming likelihood that SB 276, if passed, would be overturned in court. Dwell instead on what motivates it: species loss cannot be allowed to hold up commercial development.

But species loss is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The human species survives because of the rich biodiversity that ensures clean air and water, and healthy soil. When species extinctions spike, it's a warning Earth is becoming less habitable.

And spiking they are. Species are going extinct at 100 to 1,000 times the rate they once did, and that rate is rising exponentially.

Faced with such dire warnings, what responsible leader would propose doing away with measures to prevent species loss? What will spook Mr. Kobach next?

Duane Schrag