Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist or Reclassify From Endangered to Threatened Five Southwest Species, 55046-55051 [2013-21809]

Download as PDF 55046 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 174 / Monday, September 9, 2013 / Proposed Rules Dated: August 28, 2013. Samuel Coleman, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 6. [FR Doc. 2013–21886 Filed 9–6–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0102; FXES11130900000C6–123–FF09E32000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist or Reclassify From Endangered to Threatened Five Southwest Species Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status review. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to delist the Eriogonum gypsophilum (gypsum wildbuckwheat), and downlist the blackcapped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae), Echinocereus fendleri var. kuenzleri (Kuenzler hedgehog cactus), and Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii (Tobusch fishhook cactus) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of these species to determine if the respective actions of delisting and reclassifying are warranted. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also requires a status review of listed species at least once every 5 years. We are, therefore, electing to conduct each of these 5-year reviews simultaneously with the corresponding 12-month finding. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding these species. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act. DATES: We request that we receive information to consider for the status review on or before November 8, 2013. The deadline for submitting information tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:22 Sep 06, 2013 Jkt 229001 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section below) is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on this date. After November 8, 2013, you must submit information directly to the Division of Policy and Directives Management (see ADDRESSES section below). Please note that we might not be able to address or incorporate information that we receive after the above requested date. ADDRESSES: Document availability: You may obtain copies of the July 11, 2012, petition and the 5-year reviews for petitioned species on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0102. Written comments: You may submit information by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS– R2–ES–2013–0102, which is the docket number for this action. You may submit information for the status review by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2013– 0102; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept emails or faxes. We will post all information we receive on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Request for Information section below for more details). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Shaughnessy, Assistant Regional Director, Southwest Regional Ecological Services Office, 500 Gold Avenue SW., Albuquerque, NM 87102; telephone 505/248–6920; facsimile 505/ 248–6788. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)) requires that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 the petition and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the Federal Register. Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information with regard to a 90-day petition finding is ‘‘that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted’’ (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to promptly initiate a species status review, which we subsequently summarize in our 12month finding. Section 3(6) of the Act defines an ‘‘endangered species’’ as any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A ‘‘threatened species’’ is any species that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Under the Act, we maintain a List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for plants) (List). We amend the List by publishing final rules in the Federal Register. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years (5-year review). Section 4(c)(2)(B) requires that we determine: (1) Whether a species no longer meets the definition of threatened or endangered and should be removed from the List (delisted); (2) whether a species listed as endangered more properly meets the definition of threatened and should be reclassified to threatened (downlisted); or (3) whether a species listed as threatened more properly meets the definition of endangered and should be reclassified to endangered (uplisted). Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing those species currently under active review. Petition History On July 16, 2012, we received a petition dated July 11, 2012, from The Pacific Legal Foundation, Jim Chilton, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico Federal Lands Council, and Texas Farm Bureau requesting that the Eriogonum gypsophilum (gypsum wild-buckwheat) be delisted, and the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae), Echinocereus fendleri var. kuenzleri (Kuenzler hedgehog cactus), and Ancistrocactus tobuschii (an accepted synonym for Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii—Tobusch fishhook E:\FR\FM\09SEP1.SGM 09SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 174 / Monday, September 9, 2013 / Proposed Rules cactus) be reclassified as threatened based on the analysis and recommendation contained in the most recent 5-year review for these taxa. The petition appeared to meet all of the requirements of 50 CFR 424.14(a). Previous Federal Action Gypsum Wild-Buckwheat The gypsum wild-buckwheat was federally listed as threatened on February 18, 1981 (46 FR 5730, January 19, 1981). Critical habitat was designated at the time of listing for the Seven Rivers population in Eddy County, New Mexico. A recovery plan was issued March 30, 1984. The recovery plan has not been revised. A 5year review was completed on November 9, 2007, in which the Service recommended delisting the species. Black-Capped Vireo The black-capped vireo was federally listed as endangered without critical habitat on November 5, 1987 (52 FR 37420, October 6, 1987). A recovery plan was issued September 30, 1991. The recovery plan has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on July 26, 2007, in which the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened. Lesser Long-Nosed Bat The lesser long-nosed bat was federally listed as endangered without critical habitat on October 31, 1988 (53 FR 38456, September 30, 1988). A recovery plan was issued on March 4, 1997. The recovery plan has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on August 30, 2007, in which the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus The Kuenzler hedgehog cactus was federally listed as endangered without critical habitat on November 28, 1979 (44 FR 61924, October 26, 1979). A recovery plan was issued on March 28, 1985. The recovery plan has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on June 7, 2005, in which the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened. Tobusch Fishhook Cactus The Tobusch fishhook cactus was federally listed as endangered without critical habitat on December 7, 1979 (44 FR 64736, November 7, 1979). A recovery plan was issued on March 18, 1987. The recovery plan has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on January 5, 2010, in which the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:22 Sep 06, 2013 Jkt 229001 Species Information Gypsum Wild-Buckwheat Gypsum wild-buckwheat is a rare, regionally endemic, perennial plant species (Service 2007a, p. 8). It occupies gypsum soils and gypsum outcrops of the Permian-age Castile Formation. These habitats are dry and nearly barren except for common species of gypsophilic plants and gypsum wildbuckwheat. Gypsum wild-buckwheat reproduces both by producing seed and also by producing clone rosettes from rhizomes or rootsprouts. There are only three known populations of gypsum wild-buckwheat, and all occur in Eddy County, in southeastern New Mexico (Service 2007a, pp. 8–12). Only one population (Seven River Hills) was known at the time of listing. Two additional populations were discovered in 1988 in the Yeso Hills of southern Eddy County, New Mexico, one near Black River Village and another at Ben Slaughter Draw below Ben Slaughter Spring. For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of gypsum wild-buckwheat, see the 2007 5-year review of the species. Black-Capped Vireo The black-capped vireo is a small (10 to 12 centimeters (cm) (4 to 5 inches (in)) long), insect-eating, migratory songbird (Service 2007b, p. 7). They nest from Oklahoma south through central Texas to the Edwards Plateau, then south to the northern portion of Mexico. Breeding habitat is quite variable across its range, but is generally shrublands with a distinctive patchy structure. The shrub vegetation is mostly deciduous and generally extends from the ground to about 2 meters (m) (6 feet (ft)) above ground and covers about 30 to 60 percent of the total area. Open grassland separates the clumps of shrubs. Black-capped vireos may live for more than 5 years, and usually return year after year to the same territory to breed. They begin to migrate to the wintering grounds on Mexico’s western coast in July and are gone from Texas by mid-September (Service 2007b, p. 7). For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of blackcapped vireo, see the 2007 5-year review of the species. Lesser Long-Nosed Bat The lesser long-nosed bat is one of four members of the tropical bat family Phyllostomidae found in the United States. The bat’s core diet is believed to consist of pollen, nectar, and fruits of columnar cacti and agaves. These bats depend on caves and abandoned mines and tunnels for day roosting sites. Night PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55047 roosts include the bats’ day roosts as well as other caves, mines, rock crevices, trees and shrubs, and occasionally abandoned buildings. They migrate seasonally from Mexico to southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of lesser long-nosed bat, see the 2007 5year review of the species. Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus A Kuenzler hedgehog cactus individual may be single stemmed or branched. The stems are normally 15 cm (6 in) long and 10 cm (4 in) wide. Typical Kuenzler hedgehog cactus habitat occurs on gentle, gravelly to rocky slopes and benches on limestone or limy sandstone along the lower fringes of the pinyon-juniper woodland at elevations of 1,600 to 2,000 m (5,200 to 6,600 ft). The recovery plan for Kuenzler hedgehog cactus identified two populations of cacti in the Rio ˜ Hondo and Rio Penasco drainages in Lincoln County (Service 1985). However, by the time of the 2005 5-year review, there were 11 documented population centers (Service 2005). For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, see the 2005 5-year review of the species. Tobusch Fishhook Cactus The Tobusch fishhook cactus is a small, round cactus, usually 5.1 to 7.6 cm (2 to 3 in) tall and up to 8.9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter, with light yellow spines with red tips. The lower central spines are hooked at the tip, like a fishhook. It produces yellow to cream flowers about 3.0 to 3.8 cm (1 to 1.5 in) long and wide during February through March. The fruit is fleshy and green, ripening to pink or pinkish-brown by late spring or early summer. The seeds are black. The Tobusch fishhook cactus grows in discontinuous patches of very shallow, moderately alkaline, rocky loams or clay soils (primarily of the Tarrant, Ector, or Eckrant series) over massive, fractured limestone bedrock (usually the Edwards formation or an equivalent formation). The sites are open, in full sunlight, with a thin herbaceous cover of grasses and other herbaceous species, but within a matrix of woodland or savanna of live oak-juniper woodland community. In 1979 when the species was federally listed as endangered, fewer than 200 individuals had been documented in Bandera and Kerr Counties, Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Natural Diversity Database indicates that, by 1999, researchers had documented 3,395 extant individuals in 8 counties of the Edwards Plateau E:\FR\FM\09SEP1.SGM 09SEP1 55048 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 174 / Monday, September 9, 2013 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS (Bandera, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Real, Uvalde, and Val Verde). For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of Tobusch fishhook cactus, see the 2010 5-year review of the species. Evaluation of Information for This Finding Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424 set forth the procedures for adding a species to, or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We must consider these same five factors in delisting a species. We may delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best available scientific and commercial data indicate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for the following reasons: (1) The species is extinct, (2) The species has recovered and is no longer endangered or threatened, or (3) The original scientific data used at the time the species was classified were in error. In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species may warrant listing as threatened or endangered as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of factors that could impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a finding VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:22 Sep 06, 2013 Jkt 229001 that listing may be warranted. The information shall contain evidence sufficient to suggest that these factors may be operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species may meet the definition of threatened or endangered under the Act. In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information regarding threats to the gypsum wildbuckwheat, black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus, as presented in the petition and other information available in our files, is substantial, thereby indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Our evaluation of this information is presented below. Information Provided in the Petition The petitioner requested the Service delist the gypsum wild-buckwheat and reclassify the black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus as threatened based on the analysis and recommendations contained in the most recent 5-year reviews of these taxa. The petition cited the 5-year reviews for each of these respective species as supporting information for the petition, but provided no other information. Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in Service Files We completed 5-year reviews for each of these five species, which included recommendation of status changes. Each 5-year review contains general background and life-history information, an overview of recovery criteria, an analysis of threats to each taxon based on the five listing factors found in section 4 of the Act, and recommendation of status change. In each 5-year review conducted for the five petitioned species, we analyzed the threats specific to each taxon based on the five listing factors in section 4 of the Act. Gypsum Wild-Buckwheat The 2007 5-year review for the gypsum wild-buckwheat recommended delisting of the species. The rationale for this recommendation was that the primary threats to the species at the time of listing were no longer deemed significant (Service 2007a, p. 12). At the time of listing, gypsum wildbuckwheat was known from only a single population on the Seven Rivers Hills. Since the time of listing, two additional populations of gypsum wildbuckwheat were documented at Black River and Ben Slaughter Draw in Eddy County, Texas (Service 2007a, p. 12). PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 All three known populations contain between 11,000 and 18,000 plants. The listing determination for gypsum wild-buckwheat cited off-road-vehicles, grazing, and reservoir development as threats to this species (Service 2007a, p. 12). Due to the expanded range of the species at the time of the 5-year review, these stressors were no longer cited as threats to the species. However, all of the known gypsum wild-buckwheat habitat occurs in areas that are now known to have high potential for mineral extraction and associated development, especially oil and gas. At the time of the 5-year review, this new threat was thought to be mitigated by the Bureau of Land Management’s Special Management Areas classification on significant portions of each gypsum wild-buckwheat population. In summary, we found that the threats previously identified may no longer be acting on the species at a level that causes the species to be in danger of extinction. Further, the range of the species has expanded, and there is some level of management of newly identified threats in those areas. Therefore, we find there is substantial information indicating that the species may no longer in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future, and that delisting may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily on the analyses found in the 2007 5-year review, which was based on the best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of the 5-year review, we have received no information that would conflict with the conclusions found in that review. Black-Capped Vireo The 2007 5-year review for the blackcapped vireo recommended reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened. The primary rationale for this recommendation was that the magnitude of threats to the species has been reduced since the time of listing, and that the range of the species has expanded (Service 2007b, pp. 22–24). At the time of listing, the estimated population of black-capped vireos consisted of 256 to 525 pairs in Oklahoma (4 counties), Texas (21 counties), and Mexico (1 state). Since 2000, the known population consists of 6,200 vireos in Oklahoma (3 counties), Texas (38 counties), and Mexico (3 states) (Service 2007b, p. 22). The major threats to the black-capped vireo identified at the time of listing included habitat loss through land use conversion, grazing and browsing by domestic and wild herbivores, and brood parasitism by brown-headed E:\FR\FM\09SEP1.SGM 09SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 174 / Monday, September 9, 2013 / Proposed Rules tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS cowbirds (Molothrus ater). As discussed in the 5-year review, the threat of habitat destruction by domestic livestock appears to have decreased, based upon the decrease in density and abundance of livestock in those regions of particular concern during the original listing. However, it appears the density of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and exotic ungulates may have increased in the same regions, which may be a concern for habitat availability. Information discussed in the 5-year review concerning brownheaded cowbirds suggests that the species may be decreasing in abundance where its range overlaps the blackcapped vireo, at least in Texas. Additionally, in the black-capped vireo’s U.S. range, brood parasitism appears to be effectively managed at the major black-capped vireo populations occurring on public land, and supplemented by cowbird control programs on private lands. In summary, we found that threats to the species identified at the time of listing do not appear to be acting on the species as severely as previously thought. Further, the range and abundance of the species appears to have expanded, and some level of management exists in regard to threats in those areas. Therefore, we find there is substantial information that the species may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and that reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily on the analysis found in the 2007 5-year review, which was based on the best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of the 5-year review, we have received no information that would conflict with the conclusions of that review. Lesser Long-Nosed Bat The 2007 5-year review for the lesser long-nosed bat recommended reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened. The primary rationale for this recommendation was that information indicates the species may be more abundant than was known at the time of listing (Service 2007c). At the time of listing, the lesser longnosed bat occurred at relatively low population numbers (about 500 individuals in Arizona) and exhibited a declining trend (Service 2007c). Information gathered since the listing shows higher population numbers and a generally stable-to-increasing trend (Service 2007c). The primary threats identified at the time of listing were habitat destruction and disruption, disturbance of roosting sites, loss of food sources, and direct VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:22 Sep 06, 2013 Jkt 229001 killing by humans. Information in the 5year review suggests that these threats persist and may actually be increasing in some areas. However, the severity of these threats may be reduced as a result of the increased abundance of the species. In summary, we found that, while threats to the lesser long-nosed bat persist, the magnitude of these threats may be reduced due to the potential increased abundance of the species since the time of listing. Therefore, we find there is substantial information that the species may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and that reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily on the analyses found in the 2007 5-year review which was based on the best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of the 5-year review, we have received no information that would conflict with the conclusions found in the review. Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus The 5-year review for the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus recommended reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened. The primary rationale for this recommendation was that the threats to the species have been reduced as compared to the threats at the time of listing, and the distribution and abundance of the species has increased (Service 2005). At the time of listing, only two populations with fewer than 200 individuals were known. However, by the time of the 5-year review, an estimated 11 populations had a total of more than 5,000 individuals. While these populations are scattered and usually not locally abundant, this distribution reflects a wider range and higher overall abundance than was known at the time of listing. Further, most of the known populations of Kuenzler hedgehog cactus occur on Federal lands. Federal land management agencies have inventoried most of the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus habitats within their jurisdictions in order to consult with the Service and avoid serious impacts to occupied habitats. Threats at the time of listing were collection and habitat degradation due to road improvements, grazing, and real estate development. As discussed in the 5-year review, collection of Kuenzler hedgehog cactus from its natural habitats has not had a significant observable impact on the known populations. The potential threat of collection is likely mitigated to some extent by the fact that most populations are relatively remote and less likely to be impacted by casual collectors. PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55049 Further, commercial growers are offering greenhouse-grown plants and seeds to hobbyists who might have otherwise obtained their plants or seeds from natural populations. Habitat destruction due to road construction and home building has affected a very small portion of the area occupied by Kuenzler hedgehog cactus. At the time of the 5-year review, no significant mining or oil and gas production activities took place within the habitat of this cactus. Most of the known occupied habitats occur in relatively remote areas, which are unlikely to be converted to land uses other than open range for livestock grazing. Evidence continues to indicate that livestock grazing may continue to impact Kuenzler hedgehog cactus through increased erosion and removal of insulating cover that may affect the success of seedling establishment. In summary, we found that, while livestock grazing may continue to affect the species, collection and habitat modification due to development do not appear to be as severe as they were thought to be at the time of listing. Further, the range of the species appears to have expanded, and some level of management occurs in those areas. Therefore, we find there is substantial information that the species may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and that reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily on the analyses found in the 2005 5-year review, which was based on the best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of that 5year review, we have received no readily available information that would conflict with the conclusions found in the review. Tobusch Fishhook Cactus The 5-year review for the Tobusch fishhook cactus recommended reclassification from endangered to threatened. The primary rationale for this recommendation was that the primary threats to the species at the time of listing have been reduced or were not as severe as originally determined, and that the distribution and abundance of the species have increased (Service 2010). At the time of listing, only 200 individuals were known. The status of Tobusch fishhook cactus is now thought to be significantly more secure than when it was listed. The cactus has been documented at 10 protected sites, and its known range now extends to eight counties in the Edwards Plateau of central Texas. The threats identified at the time of listing were collection and habitat E:\FR\FM\09SEP1.SGM 09SEP1 55050 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 174 / Monday, September 9, 2013 / Proposed Rules modification and loss due to real estate development, livestock damage, and other natural factors. As discussed in the 2010 5-year review, legally propagated Tobusch fishhook cactus are now available, which suggests the threat of illegal collection may no longer be as severe a threat as it was at the time of listing. Further, livestock trampling and herbivory were not identified as significant causes of mortality or damage to Tobusch fishhook cactus plants. While a significant ongoing trend of subdividing large ranches persists in Texas, relatively little urban or industrial development was occurring within the range of the species at the time of the 5-year review. However, information discussed in the 5-year review indicates that the Tobusch fishhook cactus weevil parasitizes and kills plants, and further suggests that the weevil may have caused significant declines in some populations. In summary, we found that, while development and weevil parasitism may continue to impact the species, collection and livestock grazing do not appear to be acting on the species as severely as they were thought to be at the time of listing. Further, the range of the species appears to have expanded. Therefore, we find there is substantial information that the species may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and that reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily on the analyses found in the 2010 5-year review, which was based on the best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of the 5-year review, we have received no readily available information that would conflict with the conclusions found in the review. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Finding On the basis of our determination under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we find that information in the petition and readily available in our files presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that delisting the gypsum wild-buckwheat and reclassifying black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus from endangered to threatened may be warranted. Because we have found that the petition presents substantial information indicating that delisting the gypsum wild-buckwheat, and reclassifying black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus may be warranted, we are initiating status reviews for each taxon to VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:22 Sep 06, 2013 Jkt 229001 determine whether the petitioned actions are warranted. The ‘‘substantial information’’ standard for a 90-day finding, under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and 50 CFR 424.14(b) of our regulations, differs from the Act’s ‘‘best scientific and commercial data’’ standard that applies to a status review to determine whether a petitioned action is warranted. A 90day finding does not constitute a status review under the Act. In a 12-month finding, we will determine whether a petitioned action is warranted after we have completed a thorough status review of the species, which is conducted following a substantial 90day finding. Because the Act’s standards for 90-day and 12-month findings are different, as described above, a substantial 90-day finding does not mean that the 12-month finding will result in a warranted finding. 5-Year Reviews Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years. We are then, under section 4(c)(2)(B), to determine, on the basis of such a review, whether or not any species should be removed from the List (delisted), or reclassified from endangered to threatened, or threatened to endangered. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing those species currently under review. This notice announces our active review of the gypsum wildbuckwheat, black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus. Request for Information When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial information indicating that delisting or reclassifying a species may be warranted, we are required to promptly initiate review of the status of the species (status review). For the status review to be complete and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we request information on gypsum wild-buckwheat, black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus from governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We seek information on: (1) The species’ biology, range, and population trends, including: (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering; (b) Genetics and taxonomy; PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns; (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its habitat or both. (2) The factors that are the basis for making delisting and downlisting determinations for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which are: (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (c) Disease or predation; (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your information concerning this status review by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this personal identifying information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. Information and supporting documentation that we received and used in preparing this finding is available for you to review at http:// www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwesten Region Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). E:\FR\FM\09SEP1.SGM 09SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 174 / Monday, September 9, 2013 / Proposed Rules References Cited tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Southwest Region Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:22 Sep 06, 2013 Jkt 229001 Authors The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the Southwest Region Ecological Services Office. Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 55051 Dated: August 26, 2013. Rowan W. Gould, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2013–21809 Filed 9–6–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\09SEP1.SGM 09SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 174 (Monday, September 9, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55046-55051]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21809]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0102; FXES11130900000C6-123-FF09E32000]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To Delist or Reclassify From Endangered to Threatened Five 
Southwest Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status 
review.

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SUMMARY:  We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to delist the Eriogonum gypsophilum 
(gypsum wild-buckwheat), and downlist the black-capped vireo (Vireo 
atricapilla), lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae 
yerbabuenae), Echinocereus fendleri var. kuenzleri (Kuenzler hedgehog 
cactus), and Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii (Tobusch fishhook 
cactus) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. 
Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial 
scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned 
actions may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this 
notice, we are initiating a review of the status of these species to 
determine if the respective actions of delisting and reclassifying are 
warranted. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also requires a status review 
of listed species at least once every 5 years. We are, therefore, 
electing to conduct each of these 5-year reviews simultaneously with 
the corresponding 12-month finding. To ensure that this status review 
is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and 
other information regarding these species. Based on the status review, 
we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address 
whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 
4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

DATES: We request that we receive information to consider for the 
status review on or before November 8, 2013. The deadline for 
submitting information using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see 
ADDRESSES section below) is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on this date. After 
November 8, 2013, you must submit information directly to the Division 
of Policy and Directives Management (see ADDRESSES section below). 
Please note that we might not be able to address or incorporate 
information that we receive after the above requested date.

ADDRESSES: Document availability: You may obtain copies of the July 11, 
2012, petition and the 5-year reviews for petitioned species on the 
internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-
0102.
    Written comments: You may submit information by one of the 
following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS-R2-ES-2013-0102, which is the 
docket number for this action. You may submit information for the 
status review by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2013-0102; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will not accept emails or faxes. We will post all information we 
receive on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we 
will post any personal information you provide us (see the Request for 
Information section below for more details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Shaughnessy, Assistant 
Regional Director, Southwest Regional Ecological Services Office, 500 
Gold Avenue SW., Albuquerque, NM 87102; telephone 505/248-6920; 
facsimile 505/248-6788. If you use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)) requires 
that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or 
reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We 
are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, 
supporting information submitted with the petition, and information 
otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, we 
are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition 
and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
with regard to a 90-day petition finding is ``that amount of 
information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the 
measure proposed in the petition may be warranted'' (50 CFR 424.14(b)). 
If we find that substantial scientific or commercial information was 
presented, we are required to promptly initiate a species status 
review, which we subsequently summarize in our 12-month finding.
    Section 3(6) of the Act defines an ``endangered species'' as any 
species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. A ``threatened species'' is any 
species that is likely to become an endangered species within the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range. Under the Act, we maintain a List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for 
plants) (List). We amend the List by publishing final rules in the 
Federal Register. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we 
conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years (5-year 
review). Section 4(c)(2)(B) requires that we determine: (1) Whether a 
species no longer meets the definition of threatened or endangered and 
should be removed from the List (delisted); (2) whether a species 
listed as endangered more properly meets the definition of threatened 
and should be reclassified to threatened (downlisted); or (3) whether a 
species listed as threatened more properly meets the definition of 
endangered and should be reclassified to endangered (uplisted). Our 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing those species currently under active 
review.

Petition History

    On July 16, 2012, we received a petition dated July 11, 2012, from 
The Pacific Legal Foundation, Jim Chilton, the New Mexico Cattle 
Growers' Association, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico 
Federal Lands Council, and Texas Farm Bureau requesting that the 
Eriogonum gypsophilum (gypsum wild-buckwheat) be delisted, and the 
black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), lesser long-nosed bat 
(Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae), Echinocereus fendleri var. 
kuenzleri (Kuenzler hedgehog cactus), and Ancistrocactus tobuschii (an 
accepted synonym for Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii--Tobusch 
fishhook

[[Page 55047]]

cactus) be reclassified as threatened based on the analysis and 
recommendation contained in the most recent 5-year review for these 
taxa. The petition appeared to meet all of the requirements of 50 CFR 
424.14(a).

Previous Federal Action

Gypsum Wild-Buckwheat
    The gypsum wild-buckwheat was federally listed as threatened on 
February 18, 1981 (46 FR 5730, January 19, 1981). Critical habitat was 
designated at the time of listing for the Seven Rivers population in 
Eddy County, New Mexico. A recovery plan was issued March 30, 1984. The 
recovery plan has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on 
November 9, 2007, in which the Service recommended delisting the 
species.
Black-Capped Vireo
    The black-capped vireo was federally listed as endangered without 
critical habitat on November 5, 1987 (52 FR 37420, October 6, 1987). A 
recovery plan was issued September 30, 1991. The recovery plan has not 
been revised. A 5-year review was completed on July 26, 2007, in which 
the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened.
Lesser Long-Nosed Bat
    The lesser long-nosed bat was federally listed as endangered 
without critical habitat on October 31, 1988 (53 FR 38456, September 
30, 1988). A recovery plan was issued on March 4, 1997. The recovery 
plan has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on August 30, 
2007, in which the Service recommended downlisting the species to 
threatened.
Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus
    The Kuenzler hedgehog cactus was federally listed as endangered 
without critical habitat on November 28, 1979 (44 FR 61924, October 26, 
1979). A recovery plan was issued on March 28, 1985. The recovery plan 
has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on June 7, 2005, in 
which the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened.
Tobusch Fishhook Cactus
    The Tobusch fishhook cactus was federally listed as endangered 
without critical habitat on December 7, 1979 (44 FR 64736, November 7, 
1979). A recovery plan was issued on March 18, 1987. The recovery plan 
has not been revised. A 5-year review was completed on January 5, 2010, 
in which the Service recommended downlisting the species to threatened.

Species Information

Gypsum Wild-Buckwheat

    Gypsum wild-buckwheat is a rare, regionally endemic, perennial 
plant species (Service 2007a, p. 8). It occupies gypsum soils and 
gypsum outcrops of the Permian-age Castile Formation. These habitats 
are dry and nearly barren except for common species of gypsophilic 
plants and gypsum wild-buckwheat. Gypsum wild-buckwheat reproduces both 
by producing seed and also by producing clone rosettes from rhizomes or 
rootsprouts. There are only three known populations of gypsum wild-
buckwheat, and all occur in Eddy County, in southeastern New Mexico 
(Service 2007a, pp. 8-12). Only one population (Seven River Hills) was 
known at the time of listing. Two additional populations were 
discovered in 1988 in the Yeso Hills of southern Eddy County, New 
Mexico, one near Black River Village and another at Ben Slaughter Draw 
below Ben Slaughter Spring. For more information on the life history, 
biology, and distribution of gypsum wild-buckwheat, see the 2007 5-year 
review of the species.

Black-Capped Vireo

    The black-capped vireo is a small (10 to 12 centimeters (cm) (4 to 
5 inches (in)) long), insect-eating, migratory songbird (Service 2007b, 
p. 7). They nest from Oklahoma south through central Texas to the 
Edwards Plateau, then south to the northern portion of Mexico. Breeding 
habitat is quite variable across its range, but is generally shrublands 
with a distinctive patchy structure. The shrub vegetation is mostly 
deciduous and generally extends from the ground to about 2 meters (m) 
(6 feet (ft)) above ground and covers about 30 to 60 percent of the 
total area. Open grassland separates the clumps of shrubs. Black-capped 
vireos may live for more than 5 years, and usually return year after 
year to the same territory to breed. They begin to migrate to the 
wintering grounds on Mexico's western coast in July and are gone from 
Texas by mid-September (Service 2007b, p. 7). For more information on 
the life history, biology, and distribution of black-capped vireo, see 
the 2007 5-year review of the species.

Lesser Long-Nosed Bat

    The lesser long-nosed bat is one of four members of the tropical 
bat family Phyllostomidae found in the United States. The bat's core 
diet is believed to consist of pollen, nectar, and fruits of columnar 
cacti and agaves. These bats depend on caves and abandoned mines and 
tunnels for day roosting sites. Night roosts include the bats' day 
roosts as well as other caves, mines, rock crevices, trees and shrubs, 
and occasionally abandoned buildings. They migrate seasonally from 
Mexico to southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. For more 
information on the life history, biology, and distribution of lesser 
long-nosed bat, see the 2007 5-year review of the species.

Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus

    A Kuenzler hedgehog cactus individual may be single stemmed or 
branched. The stems are normally 15 cm (6 in) long and 10 cm (4 in) 
wide. Typical Kuenzler hedgehog cactus habitat occurs on gentle, 
gravelly to rocky slopes and benches on limestone or limy sandstone 
along the lower fringes of the pinyon-juniper woodland at elevations of 
1,600 to 2,000 m (5,200 to 6,600 ft). The recovery plan for Kuenzler 
hedgehog cactus identified two populations of cacti in the Rio Hondo 
and Rio Pe[ntilde]asco drainages in Lincoln County (Service 1985). 
However, by the time of the 2005 5-year review, there were 11 
documented population centers (Service 2005). For more information on 
the life history, biology, and distribution of Kuenzler hedgehog 
cactus, see the 2005 5-year review of the species.

Tobusch Fishhook Cactus

    The Tobusch fishhook cactus is a small, round cactus, usually 5.1 
to 7.6 cm (2 to 3 in) tall and up to 8.9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter, with 
light yellow spines with red tips. The lower central spines are hooked 
at the tip, like a fishhook. It produces yellow to cream flowers about 
3.0 to 3.8 cm (1 to 1.5 in) long and wide during February through 
March. The fruit is fleshy and green, ripening to pink or pinkish-brown 
by late spring or early summer. The seeds are black.
    The Tobusch fishhook cactus grows in discontinuous patches of very 
shallow, moderately alkaline, rocky loams or clay soils (primarily of 
the Tarrant, Ector, or Eckrant series) over massive, fractured 
limestone bedrock (usually the Edwards formation or an equivalent 
formation). The sites are open, in full sunlight, with a thin 
herbaceous cover of grasses and other herbaceous species, but within a 
matrix of woodland or savanna of live oak-juniper woodland community. 
In 1979 when the species was federally listed as endangered, fewer than 
200 individuals had been documented in Bandera and Kerr Counties, 
Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Natural Diversity 
Database indicates that, by 1999, researchers had documented 3,395 
extant individuals in 8 counties of the Edwards Plateau

[[Page 55048]]

(Bandera, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Real, Uvalde, and Val Verde). 
For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of 
Tobusch fishhook cactus, see the 2010 5-year review of the species.

Evaluation of Information for This Finding

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 424 set forth the procedures for adding a species 
to, or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be an 
endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    We must consider these same five factors in delisting a species. We 
may delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best 
available scientific and commercial data indicate that the species is 
neither endangered nor threatened for the following reasons:
    (1) The species is extinct,
    (2) The species has recovered and is no longer endangered or 
threatened, or
    (3) The original scientific data used at the time the species was 
classified were in error.
    In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual 
impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no 
response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If 
there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may 
be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat 
it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the 
risk of extinction of the species such that the species may warrant 
listing as threatened or endangered as those terms are defined by the 
Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The 
combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the 
species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of 
factors that could impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to 
compel a finding that listing may be warranted. The information shall 
contain evidence sufficient to suggest that these factors may be 
operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species 
may meet the definition of threatened or endangered under the Act.
    In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information 
regarding threats to the gypsum wild-buckwheat, black-capped vireo, 
lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook 
cactus, as presented in the petition and other information available in 
our files, is substantial, thereby indicating that the petitioned 
action may be warranted. Our evaluation of this information is 
presented below.

Information Provided in the Petition

    The petitioner requested the Service delist the gypsum wild-
buckwheat and reclassify the black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, 
Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus as threatened 
based on the analysis and recommendations contained in the most recent 
5-year reviews of these taxa. The petition cited the 5-year reviews for 
each of these respective species as supporting information for the 
petition, but provided no other information.

Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in 
Service Files

    We completed 5-year reviews for each of these five species, which 
included recommendation of status changes. Each 5-year review contains 
general background and life-history information, an overview of 
recovery criteria, an analysis of threats to each taxon based on the 
five listing factors found in section 4 of the Act, and recommendation 
of status change. In each 5-year review conducted for the five 
petitioned species, we analyzed the threats specific to each taxon 
based on the five listing factors in section 4 of the Act.
Gypsum Wild-Buckwheat
    The 2007 5-year review for the gypsum wild-buckwheat recommended 
delisting of the species. The rationale for this recommendation was 
that the primary threats to the species at the time of listing were no 
longer deemed significant (Service 2007a, p. 12).
    At the time of listing, gypsum wild-buckwheat was known from only a 
single population on the Seven Rivers Hills. Since the time of listing, 
two additional populations of gypsum wild-buckwheat were documented at 
Black River and Ben Slaughter Draw in Eddy County, Texas (Service 
2007a, p. 12). All three known populations contain between 11,000 and 
18,000 plants.
    The listing determination for gypsum wild-buckwheat cited off-road-
vehicles, grazing, and reservoir development as threats to this species 
(Service 2007a, p. 12). Due to the expanded range of the species at the 
time of the 5-year review, these stressors were no longer cited as 
threats to the species. However, all of the known gypsum wild-buckwheat 
habitat occurs in areas that are now known to have high potential for 
mineral extraction and associated development, especially oil and gas. 
At the time of the 5-year review, this new threat was thought to be 
mitigated by the Bureau of Land Management's Special Management Areas 
classification on significant portions of each gypsum wild-buckwheat 
population.
    In summary, we found that the threats previously identified may no 
longer be acting on the species at a level that causes the species to 
be in danger of extinction. Further, the range of the species has 
expanded, and there is some level of management of newly identified 
threats in those areas. Therefore, we find there is substantial 
information indicating that the species may no longer in danger of 
extinction now or in the foreseeable future, and that delisting may be 
warranted. This conclusion is based primarily on the analyses found in 
the 2007 5-year review, which was based on the best scientific 
information available at that time. Since the time of the 5-year 
review, we have received no information that would conflict with the 
conclusions found in that review.
Black-Capped Vireo
    The 2007 5-year review for the black-capped vireo recommended 
reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened. The 
primary rationale for this recommendation was that the magnitude of 
threats to the species has been reduced since the time of listing, and 
that the range of the species has expanded (Service 2007b, pp. 22-24).
    At the time of listing, the estimated population of black-capped 
vireos consisted of 256 to 525 pairs in Oklahoma (4 counties), Texas 
(21 counties), and Mexico (1 state). Since 2000, the known population 
consists of 6,200 vireos in Oklahoma (3 counties), Texas (38 counties), 
and Mexico (3 states) (Service 2007b, p. 22).
    The major threats to the black-capped vireo identified at the time 
of listing included habitat loss through land use conversion, grazing 
and browsing by domestic and wild herbivores, and brood parasitism by 
brown-headed

[[Page 55049]]

cowbirds (Molothrus ater). As discussed in the 5-year review, the 
threat of habitat destruction by domestic livestock appears to have 
decreased, based upon the decrease in density and abundance of 
livestock in those regions of particular concern during the original 
listing. However, it appears the density of white-tailed deer 
(Odocoileus virginianus) and exotic ungulates may have increased in the 
same regions, which may be a concern for habitat availability. 
Information discussed in the 5-year review concerning brown-headed 
cowbirds suggests that the species may be decreasing in abundance where 
its range overlaps the black-capped vireo, at least in Texas. 
Additionally, in the black-capped vireo's U.S. range, brood parasitism 
appears to be effectively managed at the major black-capped vireo 
populations occurring on public land, and supplemented by cowbird 
control programs on private lands.
    In summary, we found that threats to the species identified at the 
time of listing do not appear to be acting on the species as severely 
as previously thought. Further, the range and abundance of the species 
appears to have expanded, and some level of management exists in regard 
to threats in those areas. Therefore, we find there is substantial 
information that the species may no longer be in imminent danger of 
extinction, and that reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion 
is based primarily on the analysis found in the 2007 5-year review, 
which was based on the best scientific information available at that 
time. Since the time of the 5-year review, we have received no 
information that would conflict with the conclusions of that review.
Lesser Long-Nosed Bat
    The 2007 5-year review for the lesser long-nosed bat recommended 
reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened. The 
primary rationale for this recommendation was that information 
indicates the species may be more abundant than was known at the time 
of listing (Service 2007c).
    At the time of listing, the lesser long-nosed bat occurred at 
relatively low population numbers (about 500 individuals in Arizona) 
and exhibited a declining trend (Service 2007c). Information gathered 
since the listing shows higher population numbers and a generally 
stable-to-increasing trend (Service 2007c).
    The primary threats identified at the time of listing were habitat 
destruction and disruption, disturbance of roosting sites, loss of food 
sources, and direct killing by humans. Information in the 5-year review 
suggests that these threats persist and may actually be increasing in 
some areas. However, the severity of these threats may be reduced as a 
result of the increased abundance of the species.
    In summary, we found that, while threats to the lesser long-nosed 
bat persist, the magnitude of these threats may be reduced due to the 
potential increased abundance of the species since the time of listing. 
Therefore, we find there is substantial information that the species 
may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and that 
reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily 
on the analyses found in the 2007 5-year review which was based on the 
best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of 
the 5-year review, we have received no information that would conflict 
with the conclusions found in the review.
Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus
    The 5-year review for the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus recommended 
reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened. The 
primary rationale for this recommendation was that the threats to the 
species have been reduced as compared to the threats at the time of 
listing, and the distribution and abundance of the species has 
increased (Service 2005).
    At the time of listing, only two populations with fewer than 200 
individuals were known. However, by the time of the 5-year review, an 
estimated 11 populations had a total of more than 5,000 individuals. 
While these populations are scattered and usually not locally abundant, 
this distribution reflects a wider range and higher overall abundance 
than was known at the time of listing. Further, most of the known 
populations of Kuenzler hedgehog cactus occur on Federal lands. Federal 
land management agencies have inventoried most of the Kuenzler hedgehog 
cactus habitats within their jurisdictions in order to consult with the 
Service and avoid serious impacts to occupied habitats.
    Threats at the time of listing were collection and habitat 
degradation due to road improvements, grazing, and real estate 
development. As discussed in the 5-year review, collection of Kuenzler 
hedgehog cactus from its natural habitats has not had a significant 
observable impact on the known populations. The potential threat of 
collection is likely mitigated to some extent by the fact that most 
populations are relatively remote and less likely to be impacted by 
casual collectors. Further, commercial growers are offering greenhouse-
grown plants and seeds to hobbyists who might have otherwise obtained 
their plants or seeds from natural populations.
    Habitat destruction due to road construction and home building has 
affected a very small portion of the area occupied by Kuenzler hedgehog 
cactus. At the time of the 5-year review, no significant mining or oil 
and gas production activities took place within the habitat of this 
cactus. Most of the known occupied habitats occur in relatively remote 
areas, which are unlikely to be converted to land uses other than open 
range for livestock grazing. Evidence continues to indicate that 
livestock grazing may continue to impact Kuenzler hedgehog cactus 
through increased erosion and removal of insulating cover that may 
affect the success of seedling establishment.
    In summary, we found that, while livestock grazing may continue to 
affect the species, collection and habitat modification due to 
development do not appear to be as severe as they were thought to be at 
the time of listing. Further, the range of the species appears to have 
expanded, and some level of management occurs in those areas. 
Therefore, we find there is substantial information that the species 
may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and that 
reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based primarily 
on the analyses found in the 2005 5-year review, which was based on the 
best scientific information available at that time. Since the time of 
that 5-year review, we have received no readily available information 
that would conflict with the conclusions found in the review.
Tobusch Fishhook Cactus
    The 5-year review for the Tobusch fishhook cactus recommended 
reclassification from endangered to threatened. The primary rationale 
for this recommendation was that the primary threats to the species at 
the time of listing have been reduced or were not as severe as 
originally determined, and that the distribution and abundance of the 
species have increased (Service 2010).
    At the time of listing, only 200 individuals were known. The status 
of Tobusch fishhook cactus is now thought to be significantly more 
secure than when it was listed. The cactus has been documented at 10 
protected sites, and its known range now extends to eight counties in 
the Edwards Plateau of central Texas.
    The threats identified at the time of listing were collection and 
habitat

[[Page 55050]]

modification and loss due to real estate development, livestock damage, 
and other natural factors. As discussed in the 2010 5-year review, 
legally propagated Tobusch fishhook cactus are now available, which 
suggests the threat of illegal collection may no longer be as severe a 
threat as it was at the time of listing. Further, livestock trampling 
and herbivory were not identified as significant causes of mortality or 
damage to Tobusch fishhook cactus plants. While a significant ongoing 
trend of subdividing large ranches persists in Texas, relatively little 
urban or industrial development was occurring within the range of the 
species at the time of the 5-year review. However, information 
discussed in the 5-year review indicates that the Tobusch fishhook 
cactus weevil parasitizes and kills plants, and further suggests that 
the weevil may have caused significant declines in some populations.
    In summary, we found that, while development and weevil parasitism 
may continue to impact the species, collection and livestock grazing do 
not appear to be acting on the species as severely as they were thought 
to be at the time of listing. Further, the range of the species appears 
to have expanded. Therefore, we find there is substantial information 
that the species may no longer be in imminent danger of extinction, and 
that reclassification may be warranted. This conclusion is based 
primarily on the analyses found in the 2010 5-year review, which was 
based on the best scientific information available at that time. Since 
the time of the 5-year review, we have received no readily available 
information that would conflict with the conclusions found in the 
review.

Finding

    On the basis of our determination under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the 
Act, we find that information in the petition and readily available in 
our files presents substantial scientific or commercial information 
indicating that delisting the gypsum wild-buckwheat and reclassifying 
black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, 
and Tobusch fishhook cactus from endangered to threatened may be 
warranted.
    Because we have found that the petition presents substantial 
information indicating that delisting the gypsum wild-buckwheat, and 
reclassifying black-capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler 
hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook cactus may be warranted, we are 
initiating status reviews for each taxon to determine whether the 
petitioned actions are warranted.
    The ``substantial information'' standard for a 90-day finding, 
under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and 50 CFR 424.14(b) of our 
regulations, differs from the Act's ``best scientific and commercial 
data'' standard that applies to a status review to determine whether a 
petitioned action is warranted. A 90-day finding does not constitute a 
status review under the Act. In a 12-month finding, we will determine 
whether a petitioned action is warranted after we have completed a 
thorough status review of the species, which is conducted following a 
substantial 90-day finding. Because the Act's standards for 90-day and 
12-month findings are different, as described above, a substantial 90-
day finding does not mean that the 12-month finding will result in a 
warranted finding.

5-Year Reviews

    Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of 
listed species at least once every 5 years. We are then, under section 
4(c)(2)(B), to determine, on the basis of such a review, whether or not 
any species should be removed from the List (delisted), or reclassified 
from endangered to threatened, or threatened to endangered. Our 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing those species currently under review. This 
notice announces our active review of the gypsum wild-buckwheat, black-
capped vireo, lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and 
Tobusch fishhook cactus.

Request for Information

    When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial 
information indicating that delisting or reclassifying a species may be 
warranted, we are required to promptly initiate review of the status of 
the species (status review). For the status review to be complete and 
based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we 
request information on gypsum wild-buckwheat, black-capped vireo, 
lesser long-nosed bat, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, and Tobusch fishhook 
cactus from governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We 
seek information on:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its 
habitat or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making delisting and 
downlisting determinations for a species under section 4(a) of the Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action 
under consideration without providing supporting information, although 
noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 
4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any 
species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ``solely on 
the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.''
    You may submit your information concerning this status review by 
one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit 
information via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire submission--
including any personal identifying information--will be posted on the 
Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes 
personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your 
document that we withhold this personal identifying information from 
public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do 
so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Information and supporting documentation that we received and used 
in preparing this finding is available for you to review at http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, 
at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwesten Region Ecological 
Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

[[Page 55051]]

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Southwest Region 
Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the 
Southwest Region Ecological Services Office.

Authority

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: August 26, 2013.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-21809 Filed 9-6-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P