Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Straight-Horned Markhor as Threatened With Special Rule, 73173-73185 [2013-28879]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions provided. You may download the comments. The comments are imaged documents, in either TIFF or PDF format. Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically search the Docket for new material. N. Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may use the RIN that appears in the heading on the first page of this document to find this action in the Unified Agenda. In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA proposes to amend 49 CFR part 592 as follows: List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 592 Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. PART 592—REGISTERED IMPORTERS OF VEHICLES NOT ORIGINALLY MANUFACTURED TO CONFORM TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS 1. The authority citation for part 592 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Pub. L. 100–562, 49 U.S.C. 322(a), 30117, 30141–30147; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50. 2. Amend § 592.6 to add subparagraphs (d)(1)(i) and (ii): ■ § 592.6 Duties of a registered importer. ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 * * * * * (d) * * * (1) * * * (i) The vehicle is not required to comply with the parts marking requirements of the theft prevention standard (part 541 of this chapter); or (ii) The vehicle complies with those parts marking requirements as manufactured, or as modified prior to importation. * * * * * Issued on November 27, 2013. Daniel C. Smith, Senior Associate Administrator for Vehicle Safety. [FR Doc. 2013–28877 Filed 12–4–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–59–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003; FXES111309F2130–134–FF09E22000] RIN 1018–AY42 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Straight-Horned Markhor as Threatened With Special Rule Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule; revision. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), notify the public that we are making changes to our proposed rule of August 7, 2012, to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) from endangered to threatened. We propose to combine the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) and the Kabul markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros) into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) due to a change in taxonomy. We have conducted a status review of the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros) and propose to list this subspecies as threatened under the Act. We are also proposing a concurrent special rule. The effects of these regulations will be to protect and conserve the straight-horned markhor, while encouraging local communities to conserve additional populations of the straight-horned markhor through sustainable-use management programs. DATES: We will consider comments and information received or postmarked on or before February 3, 2014. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by January 21, 2014. ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ If your comments will fit in the provided comment box, please use this feature of http:// SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73173 www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our comment review procedures. If you attach your comments as a separate document, our preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R9–ES–2011– 0003; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Information Requested under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for more information). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone 703– 358–2171; facsimile 703–358–1735. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action We are proposing to combine two subspecies of markhor currently listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), the straighthorned markhor (C. f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros), into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros), based on a taxonomic change. We conducted a status review of the newly combined subspecies and are issuing a proposed rule to list the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros) as threatened under the Act. We are also proposing a special rule that would allow for the import of sporthunted straight-horned markhor trophies under certain conditions. This regulation would support and encourage conservation actions of the straighthorned markhor. II. Major Provision of the Regulatory Action If adopted as proposed, this action will eliminate the separate listing of the straight-horned markhor and Kabul markhor as endangered and list the combined straight-horned markhor E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 73174 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 subspecies as threatened in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h), and would allow the import of sport-hunted straight-horned markhor trophies under certain conditions at 50 CFR 17.40. This action is authorized by the Act. Previous Federal Actions On June 14, 1976, we published in the Federal Register a rule listing the straight-horned markhor, or the Suleiman markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni), and the Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros), as well as 157 other U.S. and foreign vertebrates and invertebrates, as endangered under the Act (41 FR 24062). All species were found to have declining numbers due to the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of their habitats or ranges; overutilization for commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational purposes; the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or some combination of the three. However, the main concerns were the high commercial importance and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to control international trade. Later, the Suleiman markhor and the Kabul markhor were considered by some authorities to be the single subspecies C. f. megaceros (straighthorned markhor). These subspecies currently remain listed as separate entities under the Act. On March 4, 1999, we received a petition from Sardar Naseer A. Tareen, on behalf of the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Central Asia Sustainable Use Specialist Group, requesting that the Suleiman markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros) population of the Torghar Hills region of the Balochistan Province, Pakistan, be reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Act. On September 23, 1999 (64 FR 51499), we published in the Federal Register a finding, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, that the petition had presented substantial information indicating that the requested reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. We opened a comment period, which closed January 21, 2000, to allow all interested parties to submit comments and information. A 12-month finding was never completed. On August 18, 2010, we received a petition dated August 17, 2010, from Conservation Force, on behalf of Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida, The Conklin Foundation, Grand Slam Club/ VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, Jerry Brenner, Steve Hornaday, Alan Sackman, and Barbara Lee Sackman, requesting the Service downlist the Torghar Hills population of the Suleiman markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros), in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan, from endangered to threatened under the Act. On June 2, 2011, we published in the Federal Register a finding that the petition had presented substantial information indicating that the requested reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review (76 FR 31903). We opened a comment period, which closed August 1, 2011. On February 1, 2012, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, and other organizations and individuals filed suit against the Service for failure to conduct a 5-year status review pursuant to section 4(c)(2)(A) under the Act (Conservation Force, et al. v. Salazar, Case No. 11 CV 02008 D. D. C.). On March 30, 2012, a settlement agreement was approved by the Court (11–CV– 02008, D. D. C.), in which the Service agreed to submit to the Federal Register by July 31, 2012, a 12-month finding on the August 2010 petition. On August 7, 2012, the Service published in the Federal Register a 12-month finding and proposed rule to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) from endangered to threatened (77 FR 47011). Information Requested We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available. Therefore, we request comments and information from other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, and any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek clarifying information concerning: (1) Distribution, habitat selection, diet, and population abundance and trends of this subspecies. (3) The effects of habitat loss and changing land uses on the distribution and abundance of this subspecies. (4) The factors that are the basis for making a listing/delisting/downlisting determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act, 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 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. (5) Information on the status of habitat measures being implemented in the Torghar Conservation Project. (6) Information on whether changing climatic conditions are affecting the subspecies or its habitat. Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as full references) to allow us to verify information you provide. 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.’’ Prior to issuing a final rule on this proposed action, we will take into consideration all information we receive. Such information may lead to a final rule that differs from this proposal. All comments, including names and addresses of commenters, will become part of the administrative record. Public Hearing At this time, we do not have a public hearing scheduled for this proposed rule. The main purpose of most public hearings is to obtain public testimony or comment. In most cases, it is sufficient to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, described above in the ADDRESSES section. If you would like to request a public hearing for this proposed rule, you must submit your request, in writing, to the person listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by the date specified above in DATES. Background Taxonomic Classification The markhor (Capra falconeri) is a species of wild goat belonging to the Family Bovidae and Subfamily Caprinae (sheep and goats) (Valdez 2008, unpaginated). When the markhor was first listed under the Act in 1975, seven subspecies of markhor were generally recognized: Capra falconeri jerdoni (straight-horned or Suleiman markhor), C. f. megaceros (Kabul markhor), C. f. cashmirensis (Kashmir markhor), C. f. falconeri (Astor markhor), C. f. ognevi (Uzbek markhor), C. f. heptneri (Tajik markhor), and C. f. chialtanensis (Chiltan markhor) (64 FR 51499, September 23, 1999; Roberts 1977, p. 196). In 1975, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 188, 191) recognized 3 subspecies of markhor based on horn shape and body E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 characteristics: C. f. jerdoni and C. f. megaceros were combined into C. f. megaceros (straight-horned markhor); C. f. cashmirensis and C. f. falconeri were combined into C. f. falconeri (flarehorned markhor); and C. f. ognevi and C. f. heptneri were combined into C. f. heptneri (Heptner’s markhor). Many authorities consider C. f. chialtanensis to be Capra aegagrus chialtanensis (Chiltan wild goat) (64 FR 51500, September 23, 1999). In our June 2, 2011, 90-day petition finding, and August 7, 2012, proposed rule to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni), we requested information on the taxonomy of C. f. jerdoni and C. f. megaceros to determine if these constitute a single subspecies. We have reviewed the available information, including information submitted by the public. While scientists have not reached a consensus on the correct classification of markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Frisina 2012, pers. comm.), the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) all follow Grubb 2005 (p. 701), which recognizes three subspecies of markhor as recommended by Schaller and Khan (1975 pp. 188, 191) (ITIS 2013a, unpaginated; ITIS 2013b, unpaginated; Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History 2011, unpaginated; CITES Resolution Conf. 12.11. (Rev. CoP15) 2010, p. 3; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894). Currently, the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C.f. megaceros) are listed as separate subspecies under the Act. We propose to revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h) to maintain consistency with ITIS, IUCN, and CITES to reflect the current scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature. In the Proposed Regulation Promulgation section of this document, we propose the taxonomic change to reflect the combining of the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C.f. megaceros) into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C.f. megaceros). Subspecies Information Due to the proposed taxonomic change, we have conducted a status review of the newly combined straighthorned markhor subspecies. For most of the straight-horned markhor populations, there is no detailed information on distribution, population VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 estimates, or threats to the subspecies; most information that is available predates the onset of hostilities in the region in 1979. However, the Torghar Hills population of the straight-horned markhor has been extensively studied since the mid-1980s due to the implementation of a conservation plan in this area. Therefore, this status review mainly consists of information related to this population. When possible, we have included general information on the status of the populations outside of the Torghar Hills. For these particular populations, for which we lack information, we request additional information from the public during this proposed rule’s comment period (see Information Requested, above). Species Description Markhor are sturdy animals with strong, relatively short, thick legs and broad hooves. They are a reddish-grey color, with more buff tones in the summer and grey in the winter. The legs and belly are a cream color with a conspicuous dark brown pattern on the forepart of the shank interrupted by a white carpal patch. They also have a dark brown mid-dorsal stripe that extends from the shoulders to the base of the tail. The tail is short and sparsely covered with long black hairs, but is naked underneath. Adult males have an extensive black beard followed by a shaggy mane of long hairs extending down the chest and from the fore part of the neck. There is also a crest of long black and dark brown hairs that hang like a mane down either side of the spine from the shoulders to the croup (Roberts 1977, p. 197). Horns are straight with an open, tight spiral resembling a corkscrew (Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 189). Life History Straight-horned markhor are associated with extremely rugged terrain with precipitous cliffs, rocky caves, and bare rock surfaces interspersed with patches of arid, steppe vegetation. They can be found from 600 meters (m) (1,969 feet (ft)) up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) in elevation (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Mitchell 1989, p. 8; Johnson 1994b, p. 5). Markhor are diurnal in feeding activity. They are most active in the early morning and late evening (Mitchell 1989, p. 8). Wild pistachios are a preferred food for straight-horned markhor (Johnson 1994, p. 12; Roberts 1977, p. 198), although in general they are known to feed on grasses and leaves, and twigs of bushes. Markhor seek water in the late afternoon; they may need to PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73175 descend to valley bottoms for water, but only after darkness (Roberts 1977, p. 198). Markhor are gregarious, with females, their young, and immature males associating in small herds, but competition with domestic goat flocks may drive markhor populations to higher terrain and result in larger herds. Adult males live solitary lives, taking shelter under rock overhangs or natural caves. They only join the females and young during the rut, which for the straight-horned markhor peaks around mid-November and lasts about 2 weeks. Males may attach themselves to one particular territory or herd. Fighting between rival males also occurs during this time. Markhor reach sexual maturity around 3 years of age. Females usually give birth to one young, but twins are not uncommon. A young markhor will remain with its mother until the rutting season or until the next young is born. After this, the female will drive the older young away if it approaches too closely. In the wild, it is possible that markhor can live up to 18 years of age, but perhaps few males live beyond 11 or 12 years (Ali 2008, p. 16; Mitchell 1989, p. 9; Roberts 1977, pp. 198–199). Range and Population Historically, the straight-horned markhor inhabited a wide range in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, it has been reported that this subspecies survives only in the Kabul Gorge and the Kohe Safi area of Kapissa Province, and in some isolated pockets in between (Ali 2008, pp. 17–18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, p. 208; Schaller and Khan 1975, pp. 195–196). However, no surveys have been conducted in the area, and it is likely that this subspecies has been extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.). In Pakistan, the straight-horned markhor is found in the mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. There is one unconfirmed report of the subspecies in Punjab Province (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894). Within Baluchistan, the straighthorned markhor has been reduced to small, scattered populations on all the mountain ranges immediately to the north and east of Quetta, including Murdar, Takhatu, Zarghun, Kaliphat, Phil Garh, and Suleiman. It is reported that the straight-horned markhor still survives in the Shingar Range on the border of Balochistan and South Waziristan. The greatest concentration is in the Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar Range on the border with Afghanistan, E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 73176 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules within a community-based management program, the Torghar Conservation Project (Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142–143; Johnson 1994b, p. 16; Roberts 1977, p. 198; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 196). Within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the subspecies is reported to still survive in the area of Sheikh Buddin, as well as the Sakra Range, Murghazar Hills, Khanori Hills, and Safed Koh Range; however, the occurrence in Safed Koh has been questioned due to a lack of information (Ali 2008, p. 18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Roberts 1977, p. 198). Limited information is available for populations throughout most of the straight-horned markhor’s range. Many historical populations were extirpated due to over-hunting (Johnson 1994b, p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 10). In Afghanistan, very few straight-horned markhor survive; perhaps as few as 50–80 occur in the Kohe Safi region, with few in other isolated pockets (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 195). However, as stated above, this subspecies may be extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.). In Pakistan, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195–196) estimated 150 in Takhatu, 20 to 30 in Kalifat, 20 in Zarghum, 20 in Shinghar, 20 around Sheikh Buddin, 50 in the Sakra Range, and at least 100 in Safed Koh. Few were estimated to survive in the Murdar Range, and a remnant population may have existed near Loralei in the Gadabar Range. Roberts (1969 in Valdez, 2008, unpaginated) believed the number of markhor in the Toba Kakar range was fewer than 500. In 1984, Tareen estimated fewer than 200 remained in the Torghar Hills (Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). Overall, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195–196) estimated fewer than 2,000 straight-horned markhor survived throughout the subspecies’ range. In general, markhor populations are reported as declining (Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 287; Valdez 2008, unpaginated). Hess et al. (1997, p. 255) and Habibi (1997, p. 208) concluded that the straight-horned markhor had likely not increased in recent years. Current estimates for populations of straight-horned markhor are lacking, with the exception of the population in the Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar Range. This population has been extensively studied due to the implementation of a community-based management program. In addition, as part of the use of annual export quotas for markhor sport-hunted trophies granted to Pakistan at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 CITES, Pakistan submits annual surveys of markhor populations, including populations within the Torghar Conservation Area (Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14); See discussion below under Summary of Threats). Based on surveys conducted from 1985 through 1988, Mitchell (1989, p. 9) estimated 450 to 600 markhor inhabited the Torghar Hills. Regular surveys of the managed area have taken place since 1994, when Johnson (1994b, p. 12) estimated the population of markhor to be 695. Later surveys estimated the population to be 1,296 in 1997; 1,684 in 1999; 2,541 in 2005; 3,158 in 2008; and 3,518 in 2011 (Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Shafique 2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Although most of the mountain ranges in Balochistan have not been formally surveyed, Johnson (1994b, p. 16) concluded that Torghar was the last remaining stronghold for the subspecies. Summary of Threats Throughout the range of the straighthorned markhor, over-hunting, keeping of large herds of livestock for subsistence, deforestation, and the lack of effective federal and provincial laws have devastated populations of straighthorned markhor and destroyed vital habitat (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255). Small-scale hunting has been a longstanding tradition of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 283; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 2). However, prior to the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1979, few animals were hunted, as weapons were primitive and ammunition scarce and expensive. After the beginning of the war, there was an influx of more sophisticated weapons, such as semi- and fully-automatic rifles, and cheap ammunition was more accessible. This proliferation of arms and increased likelihood of a successful kill, combined with millions of displaced people dependent on wild meat for subsistence, led to excessive hunting of wildlife and critically low populations of straight-horned markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 284; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; MAIL 2009, p. 4; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 2, 4; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). In an effort to manage diminishing wildlife populations, national bans on hunting were implemented in Pakistan PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 in 1988, 1991, and 2000. However, the ban had little impact on the recovery of wildlife populations (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5). In 2005, Afghanistan banned hunting for 5 years, but there was no enforcement and most Afghans were either unaware of the Decree or ignored it (Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 291; MAIL 2009, pp. 4, 23, 24). Additionally, the markhor (Capra falconeri) is a protected species under Afghanistan’s Environmental Law of 2007, the Balochistan Wildlife Protection Act of 1974 (BWPA), and the North-West Frontier Province Wild-life (Protection, Preservation, Conservation, and Management) Act (NWFPWA) of 1975, which extends to all of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Under these laws, hunting, killing, or capturing of markhor is prohibited (MAIL 2009, p. 23; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 58; Official Gazette No. 912, dated 25 January 2007, Article 49; BWPA 1977, p. 15; NWFPWA 1975, Third Schedule). Today, the straight-horned markhor has been extirpated from much of its former range due to over-hunting, and they survive only in the most inaccessible regions of its range (Habibi 1997, p. 205; Johnson 1994b, p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 10), despite laws intended to provide protection from hunting. We have no information on the extent of poaching currently taking place in most of the subspecies’ range, but information suggests that hunting remains a threat to most remaining populations of this subspecies (UNEP 2009, p. 10; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255). However, increases in populations of ungulates, including markhor, have occurred in conservation areas managed specifically for trophy hunting (University of Montana 2013, unpaginated; Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; WCS 2012, unpaginated; Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Government of Pakistan 2009, p. viii; Ali 2008, pp. 21, 38, 64; Shafique 2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Virk 1999, p. 142; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Currently, only one conservation plan is being implemented for the straight-horned markhor, the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP) in Torghar Hills, Pakistan. In the early 1980s, local tribal leaders became alarmed at the significant decline in the markhor population in the Torghar Hills (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). The population had reached a critical level, estimated at fewer than 200 (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 1994b, p. 14; Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). The tribal leaders attributed the decline to an increase in poaching due E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules to the significant increase in weapons in the area during the Soviet-Afghan War (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). After unsuccessful attempts to receive assistance from the Balochistan Forest Department, they turned to wildlife biologists in the United States, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Together, they developed the TCP, an innovative, community-based conservation program that allows for limited trophy hunting to conserve local populations of markhor, improve habitat for both markhor and domestic livestock, and improve the economic conditions for local tribes in Torghar (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4 Johnson 1994b, pp. 1–2). In 1985, the TCP was launched and covered most of the Torghar area (approximately 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles)). First, tribal leaders implemented a ban on all hunting activities by tribesmen in the Torghar Hills. Then, local tribesmen were hired as game guards to assist in population surveys and prevent poachers from entering the Torghar Hills. Guards were placed at points of entry into the protected area to inform migrating tribesmen of the hunting ban, who, in turn, agreed to the ban so as not to jeopardize their passage through the Torghar Hills. Support for the program, including salaries for the game guards, is raised through fees for limited trophy hunting of markhor within the TCP, mostly by foreign game hunters. Currently, markhor fees are $35,000 U.S. dollars, 80 percent of which goes to the TCP and the other 20 percent goes to the Pakistani government. In the beginning, 7 game guards were hired; currently, 82 game guards are employed. The number of markhor allowed to be hunted each year is based on surveys conducted by game guards and wildlife biologists (Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142, 146– 147; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Numbers of animals taken have ranged from 1 to 5 animals per hunting season, or less than the 2 percent of the total population recommended by Harris (1993 in Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182) annually for trophy hunting (Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 146–147, 149; Ali 2008, p. 20; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1997, pp. 403–404). Because markhor have a polygynous mating system, reproduction rates have not been affected by the removal of a limited number of adult males (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182), as evidenced by the continuing increase in the Torghar Hills population. VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 As a result of the TCP, poaching has been eliminated in the Torghar Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Johnson (1994b, p. 15) attributed the markhor population growth to the substantial reduction in mortality when uncontrolled hunting was stopped. The markhor (Capra falconeri) is protected under CITES, an international agreement between governments to ensure that the international trade of CITES-listed plant and animal species does not threaten species’ survival in the wild. Under this treaty, CITES Parties (member countries or signatories) regulate the import, export, and reexport of specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant and animal species. Trade must be authorized through a system of permits and certificates that are provided by the designated CITES Management Authority of each CITES Party. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are Parties to CITES. The straight-horned markhor was listed in CITES Appendix I, effective July 1, 1975. An Appendix-I listing includes species threatened with extinction whose trade is permitted only under exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. The import of an Appendix-I species generally requires the issuance of both an import and export permit. Import permits for Appendix-I species are issued only if findings are made that the import would be for purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species and that the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes (CITES Article III(3)). Export permits for Appendix-I species are issued only if findings are made that the specimen was legally acquired and trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species, and if the issuing authority is satisfied that an import permit has been granted for the specimen (CITES Article III(2)). Straight-horned markhor in the Torghar Hills, and other subspecies of markhor within community-managed conservation areas in Pakistan, may be legally hunted and exported. In 1997, at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, the Government of Pakistan submitted a proposal for approval of an annual export quota for sport-hunted markhor trophies to act as an incentive to communities to conserve markhor. During that same meeting, the Conference of the Parties approved an annual export quota of 6 sport-hunted markhor trophies for Pakistan (Resolution Conf. 10.15). Due to the success of conservation programs in Pakistan, CITES increased the annual PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73177 export quota to 12 markhor in 2002, to further encourage community-based conservation (Ali 2008, p. 24; Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14)). Furthermore, because the straighthorned markhor is listed as an Appendix-I species under CITES, legal international trade is very limited; most of the international trade in straighthorned markhor specimens consists of trophies and live animals. Data obtained from the United Nations Environment Programme—World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP–WCMC) CITES Trade Database show that from July 1975, when the straight-horned markhor was listed in Appendix I, through 2011, a total of 86 specimens were reported to UNEP–WCMC as (gross) exports. Of those 86 specimens, 40 were trophies, 45 were live animals, and 1 was a body. In analyzing these data, it appears that one record may be an over-count due to a slight difference in the manner in which the importing and exporting countries reported their trade. It is likely that the actual number of straight-horned markhor specimens in international trade during this period was 84, including 40 trophies, 43 live animals, and 1 body. Exports from range countries included: 39 trophies from Pakistan, 1 trophy from Afghanistan, and 1 body from Afghanistan. It should be noted that the straight-horned markhor trade data provided above are based on reported trade to UNEP– WCMC in both the subspecies Capra falconeri jerdoni and the subspecies Capra falconeri megaceros. It should also be noted that the markhor at the species level (Capra falconeri) was transferred from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I in 1992, and since then, international trade was likely in some cases reported to UNEP–WCMC at the species level rather than the subspecies level. Therefore, it is possible that, between 1992 and 2011, some international trade in Capra falconeri jerdoni and Capra falconeri megaceros may have been reported to UNEP– WCMC at the species level. It was not possible to determine whether the trade reported at the species level represented trade in straight-horned markhor or trade in other markhor subspecies. Because there has been limited trade in straight-horned markhor, totaling 86 specimens over 37 years, we believe that international trade controlled via valid CITES permits is not a threat to the subspecies. Habitat modification has also contributed to the decline of the straight-horned markhor. People living in rural areas heavily depend on natural resources; habitat throughout the range of the straight-horned markhor has been E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 73178 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules negatively impacted by domestic livestock overgrazing and deforestation from logging and collection of wood for fuel, charcoal, and building materials (Kanderian et al. 2011, pp. 281, 284, 287; WWF 2011, unpaginated; MAIL 2009, p. 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 15; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895). Much of the land where straighthorned markhor occur is owned by local tribes whose subsistence is largely dependent on keeping large herds of primarily sheep and goats. Livestock often exceed the carrying capacity of rangelands, leading to overgrazing, a halt to natural regeneration, and subsequent desertification of native vegetation. Overgrazing and competition with domestic livestock for forage is known to have resulted in the decline of wild ungulates and pushed their occurrence to range edges (WWF 2011, unpaginated; Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 145, 154; UNEP 2009, p. 8; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15–17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 180; Tareen 1990, p. 4; Mitchell 1989, pp. 4–5; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 197). Throughout the markhor’s range, millions of displaced people and a high human population growth rate have created a tremendous demand for natural resources. Straight-horned markhor habitat and food sources are suffering significant declines due to illegal logging and collection of wood for building materials, fuel, and charcoal (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Smallwood et al. 2011, p. 507; WWF 2011, unpaginated; MAIL 2009, pp. 3, 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15–16; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Hasan and Ali 1992, pp. 8–9, 12–13). Several Afghan and Pakistani laws protect wildlife and its habitat in these countries. Protected areas, such as national parks, sanctuaries, and game reserves may be designated under Afghanistan’s Environmental Law, the BWPA, and the NWFPWA (MAIL 2009, pp. 22–23; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 58, 65–67; Environmental Law 2007, Articles 38, 39, 40, and 41; NWFPWA 1975, sections 15, 16, and 17). However, no designated protected areas contain the straight-horned markhor. Article 45 of Afghanistan’s Environmental Law dictates that grazing of livestock shall be managed and controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 Food to minimize the impact on, and optimize use of, vegetation cover. Given that overgrazing of livestock is a wideranging threat to Afghanistan’s environment (UNEP 2009, p. 8; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15–17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated), it appears that the Environmental Law has not yet been effectively implemented. Also, Presidential Decree No. 405 and No. 736 prohibit the cutting of forests to preserve and maintain forests as a national asset. However, these decrees are unfamiliar to most Afghans or are ignored (MAIL 2009, pp. 5, 23). In Balochistan, the Forest Act of 1927 allows for the creation of various classes of forests, the reservation of state-owned forest land, and for the provincial government to assume control of privately owned forest land and declare government-owned land to be a protected area. It also prohibits grazing, hunting, quarrying, and clearing land for cultivation; removal of forest produce; and the felling or lopping of trees and branches in reserved and protected forests (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 46). However, this law does not provide for sustainable use, conservation, or the protection of endangered wildlife within forests. Other legislation related to forests in Balochistan restricts subsistence use, but focuses on maximizing commercial exploitation. This may be because these laws date back to the early 20th century and reflect priorities of that time. Provincial amendments have done little to alter the focus of these laws. Enforcement of forest laws is lacking, and where enforcement is possible, penalties are not severe enough to serve as a deterrent to violators. Furthermore, these laws may be overridden by other laws in favor of development and commercial uses (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 42–43). The Land Preservation Act of 1900 is a Punjab law that, by default, was applied to the Balochistan province shortly after its establishment in 1970. This law allows the government to prevent soil erosion and conserve subsoil water. Activities such as clearing, breaking up, and cultivating land not ordinarily under cultivation; quarrying stone and burning lime; cutting trees and removing forest produce; setting fire to trees, timber, and forest produce; and herding and pasturing goats and sheep are prohibited. However, the government may permit inhabitants to carry out such activities (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 39). In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the NorthWest Frontier Province Forest, Ordinance, 2002 (No. XIX of 2002) consolidates and amends the laws PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 relating to protection, conservation, management, and sustainable development of the forests and natural resources of the province. It allows the government to declare forest land as a reserved forest (Forest Ordinance 2002, section 4). Within a reserved forest, it is illegal for a person to cultivate, clear, break up, or occupy any land; construct a building, road, enclosure, or any infrastructure, or alter or enlarge any such existing structures; trespass, graze, browse or drive cattle; set fire, cut, fell, uproot, lop, tap, or burn any tree listed in Schedule I; quarry stone, burn lime or charcoal, or collect or remove forest produce; pollute; or hunt, shoot, fish, or set snares or traps (Forest Ordinance 2002, section 26). Given that deforestation is a widespread problem in Pakistan, it appears that this provincial law has not been effectively implemented. Despite federal and provincial laws, declines in markhor populations and significant degradation of habitat have continued. Enforcement is lacking and very difficult to achieve due to the remoteness of many areas, the political situation in remote areas, conflicting policies, lack of understanding of the need and importance of conservation, and economic constraints (MAIL 2009, pp. 5, 23; UNEP 2009, pp. 4, 29; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 39, 42–43; Hess et al. 1997, p. 243). Additionally, many of the areas where the straight-horned markhor occurs are on tribal lands, which are generally governed by tribal law, and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas where federal and provincial laws do not apply (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 144; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 13, 24; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 23; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Johnson 1994a, p. 1). In areas where existing laws are applicable, it does not appear that they have provided adequate protection given the severe declines in straight-horned markhor and threats the markhor continues to face from habitat loss and poaching. Afghanistan and Pakistan are Parties to major multilateral treaties that address natural resource conservation and management (MAIL 2009, p. 32; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, p. 31). Among these are the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Combating Desertification (MAIL 2009, p. 34; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31). In becoming a Party to these treaties, both countries assumed obligations to implement the treaties’ provisions, which in many cases require legislation. However, participation in treaty activities or laws to implement obligations are lacking (MAIL 2009, pp. E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules 32–33; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 65, 58). Therefore, these treaties do not provide adequate protections to ameliorate threats faced by the straighthorned markhor. Although international, federal, and provincial laws do not appear to effectively provide protection to markhor habitat from overgrazing and deforestation, the TCP has taken steps to create better habitat for both markhor and domestic livestock. In our August 7, 2012, proposed rule, we determined that key areas in the steeper, upland slopes and higher elevation of the Torghar Hills are not easily accessible and, therefore, are not impacted by human settlement or grazing pressure. However, we expressed concern that grazing pressure may increase in these upland areas due to a combination of drought conditions and the tradition of keeping large herds of domestic livestock. The lower slopes and valleys have been denuded of trees for livestock grazing and collection of fuel wood (Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 3, 8; Frisina et al. 1998, pp. 9–10). Demand on these resources increases during the biannual migration of local and nearby tribes and their herds through the Torghar Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 180; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4). As forage becomes limited in the lower slopes and valleys, due to drought conditions and grazing pressure, domestic herds are likely to move to higher elevations in search of forage (Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13). Recognizing that protecting markhor and its habitat can generate greater income for the community than relying solely on traditional livestock production, tribesmen of the Torghar Hills requested that the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection (STEP), the community-based, nongovernmental organization established to administer the TCP, integrate habitat management measures to protect markhor and create better habitat for both markhor and their domestic animals. A habitat management plan was developed in 2001. The plan emphasizes range management, improved agriculture, and water storage projects to improve habitat conditions, and reduce grazing pressure, eliminate the need for domestic herds to utilize upper slope areas, and, therefore, reduce interactions between domestic livestock and markhor around forage and water resources (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152; Woodford et al. 2004, pp. 180, 184; Frisina et al. 2002, pp. 3, 8, 16; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 7, 11). Additionally, STEP plans to plant woodlots of VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 indigenous trees to meet the fuel wood and timber requirements of the local tribes and develop orchards and croplands. Agriculture is seen as an alternative to raising livestock, thus reducing grazing pressure (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 11). The STEP will also train locals in livestock management and agricultural practices (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152). Although we do not know the extent to which the different stages of the management plans described above have been implemented, we have received new information on the markhor and its habitat in the TCP. Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and its habitat are secure under the current management scenario. Disease transmission was identified as a potential threat to the Torghar Hills straight-horned markhor in our August 7, 2012, proposed rule. The potential for disease transmission stems from livestock-wildlife interactions due to overgrazing by large herds of livestock, drought conditions, and the migration of flocks through the Torghar Hills. The risk of transmission was linked to future and continued habitat and livestock management. The risk of disease transmission is particularly severe if large numbers of domestic livestock are present during periods of drought. During these circumstances, resources are limited and interactions would be more frequent around available water sources and in the vegetated upper slopes. Additionally, there were concerns that interactions would likely increase in the TCP if domestic livestock herds grew and the markhor population expanded (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 183). In addition to implementing measures to improve habitat conditions at lower elevations, eliminating the need for domestic herds to utilize upper slope areas, and thereby, reduce interactions between domestic livestock and markhor around forage and water resources, STEP has discussed the establishment of a community-based Animal Health Service; the herdsmen within the TCP have agreed to this measure. As it is not feasible to vaccinate markhor in mountainous terrain, STEP will train and equip tribesmen to act as ‘‘barefoot vets’’ with the responsibility of vaccinating domestic sheep and goats, and administering appropriate anthelmintics (drugs that expel parasitic worms) as they travel through the TCP. Veterinary care will be effective only if range and livestock management plans are PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73179 implemented, and have the potential to result in smaller, healthier domestic livestock herds (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 185). Currently, there is no evidence of disease transmission between livestock and markhor (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 184; Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13). The plans developed by STEP to improve habitat for markhor also lowers the risk of disease transmission by addressing livestock management and minimizing interactions between domestic livestock and wildlife. With these actions, coupled with the planned Animal Health Service, the risk of diseases being transferred from domestic livestock to markhor is significantly reduced. Although we do not know the status of the habitat management plans or the Animal Health Service, Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and domestic livestock have minimal rangeuse overlap, and the markhor’s habitat is secure under the current management scenario. Therefore, we have no information that indicates that disease transmission is a current threat to the Torghar Hills markhor. However, because the larger Torghar Hills population is within an area that heavily relies on domestic livestock for subsistence, it is more likely to interact with domestic sheep and goats than the other populations. In the event of a disease outbreak, the Torghar Hills population would be particularly vulnerable. Because the other extant populations are critically low, declining, and continue to face threats from poaching and habitat loss, the single population in the Torghar Hills will not provide a sufficient enough margin of safety for the subspecies to withstand this type of catastrophic event. In the rest of the straight-horned markhor’s range, we have no information on the occurrence of disease or the risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep and goats. Overgrazing of domestic livestock has contributed to habitat loss in other mountain ranges, suggesting large livestock herds have also been maintained in these areas, but we do not have information on herd size or the likelihood of livestock-wildlife interactions. Given the extremely small population estimates of straight-horned markhor outside of the Torghar Hills, it may be that interactions are rare. We found no information indicating that the current threats to the straighthorned markhor, as described above, are likely to improve in the future. Threats to this subspecies are driven by past and E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 73180 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules current conflict, the needs of millions of displaced people, and an expanding human population. Current regulatory mechanisms in place to protect the markhor and its habitat are not being implemented effectively in most of the range to reduce or remove threats to the subspecies. With the exception of the Torghar Hills, no other management plans are in place to specifically address the straight-horned markhor. Therefore, the tremendous pressure put on natural resources, and the impacts to the straight-horned markhor and its habitat, will likely continue unless the natural resources of Afghanistan and Pakistan are effectively protected. In the Torghar Hills, the TCP has eliminated poaching of straight-horned markhor and managed the habitat such that the population has steadily increased since the TCP’s inception and both the population and its habitat are currently secure. Because the TCP has incorporated economic incentives for the local community and is supported by the community, we believe the protections and management provided by the TCP will continue. The narrow geographic range of the straight-horned markhor and the small, scattered, and declining populations make this subspecies particularly vulnerable to threats and more susceptible to extinction. Furthermore, small scattered populations may experience decreased demographic viability and increased susceptibility to extinction from stochastic environmental factors (e.g., weather events, disease) and an increased threat of extinction from genetic isolation and subsequent inbreeding depression and genetic drift. Although the Torghar Hills population is subject to a management plan, and the protections provided by that management plan has led to an increasing population, a single stable population does not provide a sufficient margin of safety for the subspecies to withstand effects from catastrophic events, such as disease. ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Finding Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors: A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 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. In considering whether a species may warrant listing under any of the five factors, we look beyond the species’ exposure to a potential threat or aggregation of threats under any of the factors, and evaluate whether the species responds to those potential threats in a way that causes actual impact to the species. The identification of threats that might impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a finding that the species warrants listing. The information must include evidence indicating that the threats are operative and, either singly or in aggregation, affect the status of the species. Threats are significant if they drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of the species, such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened, as those terms are defined in the Act. As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the subspecies and considered the five factors in assessing whether the straight-horned markhor is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. We examined the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by the straighthorned markhor. We reviewed the 1999 petition submitted by the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection and IUCN, the 2010 petition submitted by Conservation Force, information available in our files, other available published and unpublished information, and information received in response to the August 7, 2012, proposed rule. Today, the straight-horned markhor occurs in small, scattered populations in the mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, Pakistan. Although there are reports that this subspecies survives in Afghanistan, it has likely been extirpated. In general, markhor populations are reported as declining and have likely not increased since 1975. However, there is one exception to this declining population trend, the Torghar Hills population in the Toba Kakar Range. Due to the implementation of a conservation plan, the Torghar Hills population has increased from fewer than 200 in the mid-1980s to 3,518 currently. Straight-horned markhor have been significantly impacted by years of PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 conflict and the accompanying influx of sophisticated weapons. Easy access to accurate weapons and millions of displaced people dependent on wild meat for subsistence led to excessive hunting and the extirpation of straighthorned markhor from much of its former range and a severe reduction in remaining populations. Additionally, tremendous pressure has been placed on natural resources from millions of displaced people and an expanding human population. Deforestation for livestock grazing, illegal logging, and collection of wood for building materials, fuel, and charcoal, to meet the needs of the growing population, continues to impact straight-horned markhor habitat. Several federal and provincial laws are in place to provide some protection to natural resources, but they are subject to broad exemptions, allowing for overriding laws favoring development and commercial use, and enforcement is lacking. However, in the Torghar Hills, the population of straight-horned markhor and its habitat have been effectively managed by the TCP such that both are secure under the current management scenario. Due to the establishment of the TCP, the cessation of uncontrolled poaching, and the hunting of only a limited number of trophies in the Torghar Hills, the population has increased substantially since TCP’s inception in 1985. Furthermore, due to the TCP, straighthorned markhor habitat is secure and is no longer impacted by overgrazing or collection of wood. Because the TCP has incorporated economic incentives for the local community and is supported by the community, we believe the protections and management provided by the TCP will continue in the foreseeable future. We are not aware of other populations of straight-horned markhor under the same level of management. Information indicates that hunting and habitat loss remain as threats in the rest of the straight-horned markhor’s range; without effective and enforcement of federal and provincial laws, we believe these threats will continue into the foreseeable future. Section 3 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,’’ and a ‘‘threatened species’’ as ‘‘any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ Most of the straight-horned markhor populations are small and declining. Threats to this subspecies from hunting and habitat loss still exist and will E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 likely continue into the foreseeable future. Current regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to ameliorate the negative effects of these threats on the subspecies and will likely remain ineffective until changes in implementation are made. Therefore, we expect that most straight-horned populations will continue to decline into the foreseeable future. However, although most remaining populations of straight-horned markhor are critically low, continue to face threats from overhunting and habitat loss, and will likely continue to decline, implementation of the TCP has eliminated threats from hunting and habitat loss in the Torghar Hills. This population has continued to increase since the inception of the TCP and, today, is the only stronghold of the species. Furthermore, because of the protective measures provided to the Torghar Hills population by the TCP, we believe that the threats identified under Factors A, B, and D are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the subspecies is presently in danger of extinction, and, therefore, does not meet the definition of endangered under the Act. However, the straight-horned markhor occupies a narrow geographic range and threats acting on those critically low populations and are likely to continue in the foreseeable future. A single stable population does not provide a sufficient margin of safety for the subspecies to withstand effects from catastrophic events (e.g., disease). These factors indicate that the straight-horned markhor continues to be at risk of extinction and will likely become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future due to those continuing threats. Therefore, on the basis of the best scientific and commercial information, we find that the straight-horned markhor meets the definition of a ‘‘threatened species’’ under the Act, and we are proposing to list the straighthorned markhor as threatened in its entirety. Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment Section 3(16) of the Act defines ‘‘species’’ to include any species or subspecies of fish and wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Under the Service’s ‘‘Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act’’ (61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), three elements are considered in the decision concerning the establishment and VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 classification of a possible distinct population segment (DPS). These elements, which are applied similarly for additions to or removals from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, include: (1) The discreteness of a population in relation to the remainder of the species to which it belongs; (2) The significance of the population segment to the species to which it belongs; and (3) The population segment’s conservation status in relation to the Act’s standards for listing, delisting, or reclassification (i.e., is the population segment endangered or threatened?). Discreteness Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation. (2) It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. We reviewed available information to determine whether any population, including the Torghar Hills population, of the straight-horned markhor meets the first discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS policy. We found no evidence that any population was markedly separated from other markhor populations as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Additionally, we are not aware of measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity that provide evidence of marked separation. With respect to Torghar Hills, the boundaries are unclear and appear to grade into other ranges within the Toba Kakar Mountains. Additionally, Johnson (1994b, p. 15) noted that, if the Torghar Hills population reaches carrying capacity, it could become a source of emigrants for other mountain ranges in the area and that intermountain movement is probably already taking place. Since that publication, the Torghar Hills population has increased from 695 markhor to 3,518, indicating a greater likelihood that intermountain movement of markhor will or is already taking place. We currently do not know the extent, if any, that markhor are moving from the Torghar Hills into PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73181 other mountain ranges; however, it appears that they could. Movement may require markhor to cross unsuitable habitat (e.g., the TCP is surrounded by less severe topography and valleys typically not preferred by markhor), but there is no reason that they could not cross, especially if carrying capacity is met, thereby creating a need to emigrate to other suitable areas in adjacent ranges. Therefore, without evidence of marked separation, we determine that none of the populations of the straighthorned markhor meet the first discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy. We next evaluated whether any of the straight-horned markhor populations meet the second discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS policy. A population segment may be considered discrete if it is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. Although the straight-horned markhor is reported to occur in Afghanistan, it has likely been extirpated. Additionally, we found no significant differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms in Afghanistan and Pakistan; therefore, none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor meet the second discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy. We determine, based on a review of the best available information, that none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor, including the Torghar Hills population, meet the discreteness conditions of the 1996 DPS policy. Because we found that the straighthorned markhor populations do not meet the discreteness element under the Service’s DPS policy, we need not conduct an evaluation of significance under that policy. We conclude that none of the straight-horned markhor populations qualify as a DPS under the Act. Significant Portion of the Range Having determined that the straighthorned markhor meets the definition of threatened throughout its range, we must next consider whether the straighthorned markhor is in danger of extinction within a significant portion of its range. The Act defines ‘‘endangered species’’ as any species which is ‘‘in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,’’ and ‘‘threatened species’’ as any species which is ‘‘likely to become an endangered species within E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 73182 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ The phrase ‘‘significant portion of its range’’ (SPR) is not defined by the statute, and we have never addressed in our regulations either: (1) The consequences of a determination that a species is either endangered or likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range, but not throughout all of its range; or (2) what qualifies a portion of a range as ‘‘significant.’’ For the purposes of this finding, we interpret the phrase ‘‘significant portion of its range’’ in the Act’s definitions of ‘‘endangered species’’ and ‘‘threatened species’’ to provide an independent basis for listing; thus there are two situations (or factual bases) under which a species would qualify for listing: a species may be endangered or threatened throughout all of its range; or a species may be endangered or threatened in only a significant portion of its range. If a species is in danger of extinction throughout an SPR, then that species is an ‘‘endangered species.’’ The same analysis applies to ‘‘threatened species.’’ Based on this interpretation and supported by existing case law, the consequence of finding that a species is endangered or threatened in only a significant portion of its range is that the entire species will be listed as endangered or threatened, respectively, and the Act’s protections will be applied across the species’ entire range. We conclude, for the purposes of this finding, that interpreting the SPR phrase as providing an independent basis for listing is the best interpretation of the Act because it is consistent with the purposes and the plain meaning of the key definitions of the Act; it does not conflict with established past agency practice, as no consistent, long-term agency practice has been established; and it is consistent with the judicial opinions that have most closely examined this issue. Having concluded that the phrase ‘‘significant portion of its range’’ provides an independent basis for listing and protecting the entire species, we next turn to the meaning of ‘‘significant’’ to determine the threshold for when such an independent basis for listing exists. Although there are potentially many ways to determine whether a portion of a species’ range is ‘‘significant,’’ we conclude, for the purposes of this finding, that the significance of the portion of the range should be determined based on its biological contribution to the conservation of the species. For this reason, we describe the threshold for ‘‘significant’’ in terms of an increase in the risk of extinction for the species. We conclude that a VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 biologically based definition of ‘‘significant’’ best conforms to the purposes of the Act, is consistent with judicial interpretations, and best ensures species’ conservation. Thus, for the purposes of this finding, and as explained further below, a portion of the range of a species is ‘‘significant’’ if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction. We evaluate biological significance based on the principles of conservation biology using the concepts of redundancy, resiliency, and representation. Resiliency describes the characteristics of a species and its habitat that allow it to recover from periodic disturbance. Redundancy (having multiple populations distributed across the landscape) may be needed to provide a margin of safety for the species to withstand catastrophic events. Representation (the range of variation found in a species) ensures that the species’ adaptive capabilities are conserved. Redundancy, resiliency, and representation are not independent of each other, and some characteristic of a species or area may contribute to all three. For example, distribution across a wide variety of habitat types is an indicator of representation, but it may also indicate a broad geographic distribution contributing to redundancy (decreasing the chance that any one event affects the entire species), and the likelihood that some habitat types are less susceptible to certain threats, contributing to resiliency (the ability of the species to recover from disturbance). None of these concepts is intended to be mutually exclusive, and a portion of a species’ range may be determined to be ‘‘significant’’ due to its contributions under any one or more of these concepts. For the purposes of this finding, we determine whether a portion qualifies as ‘‘significant’’ by asking whether without that portion, the representation, redundancy, or resiliency of the species would be so impaired that the species would have an increased vulnerability to threats to the point that the overall species would be in danger of extinction (i.e., would be ‘‘endangered’’). Conversely, we would not consider the portion of the range at issue to be ‘‘significant’’ if there is sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation elsewhere in the species’ range that the species would not be in danger of extinction throughout its range if the population in that portion of the range in question became extirpated (extinct locally). PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 We recognize that this definition of ‘‘significant’’ (a portion of the range of a species is ‘‘significant’’ if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction) establishes a threshold that is relatively high. On the one hand, given that the consequences of finding a species to be endangered or threatened in an SPR would be listing the species throughout its entire range, it is important to use a threshold for ‘‘significant’’ that is robust. It would not be meaningful or appropriate to establish a very low threshold whereby a portion of the range can be considered ‘‘significant’’ even if only a negligible increase in extinction risk would result from its loss. Because nearly any portion of a species’ range can be said to contribute some increment to a species’ viability, use of such a low threshold would require us to impose restrictions and expend conservation resources disproportionately to conservation benefit: listing would be rangewide, even if only a portion of the range of minor conservation importance to the species is imperiled. On the other hand, it would be inappropriate to establish a threshold for ‘‘significant’’ that is too high. This would be the case if the standard were, for example, that a portion of the range can be considered ‘‘significant’’ only if threats in that portion result in the entire species’ being currently endangered or threatened. Such a high bar would not give the SPR phrase independent meaning, as the Ninth Circuit held in Defenders of Wildlife v. Norton, 258 F.3d 1136 (9th Cir. 2001). The definition of ‘‘significant’’ used in this finding carefully balances these concerns. By setting a relatively high threshold, we minimize the degree to which restrictions will be imposed or resources expended that do not contribute substantially to species conservation. But we have not set the threshold so high that the phrase ‘‘in a significant portion of its range’’ loses independent meaning. Specifically, we have not set the threshold as high as it was under the interpretation presented by the Service in the Defenders litigation. Under that interpretation, the portion of the range would have to be so important that current imperilment there would mean that the species would be currently imperiled everywhere. Under the definition of ‘‘significant’’ used in this finding, the portion of the range need not rise to such an exceptionally high level of biological significance. (We recognize that if the species is imperiled in a E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules portion that rises to that level of biological significance, then we should conclude that the species is in fact imperiled throughout all of its range, and that we would not need to rely on the SPR language for such a listing.) Rather, under this interpretation we ask whether the species would be endangered everywhere without that portion, i.e., if that portion were completely extirpated. In other words, the portion of the range need not be so important that even the species being in danger of extinction in that portion would be sufficient to cause the species in the remainder of the range to be endangered; rather, the complete extirpation (in a hypothetical future) of the species in that portion would be required to cause the species in the remainder of the range to be endangered. The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to analyzing portions of the range that have no reasonable potential to be significant or to analyzing portions of the range in which there is no reasonable potential for the species to be endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial information indicating that: (1) The portions may be ‘‘significant,’’ and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction there or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Depending on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it might be more efficient for us to address the significance question first or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a portion of the range is not ‘‘significant,’’ we do not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is ‘‘significant.’’ In practice, a key part of the determination that a species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats to the species occurs only in portions of the species’ range that clearly would not meet the biologically based definition of ‘‘significant,’’ such portions will not warrant further consideration. After reviewing the potential threats throughout the range of the straight- VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 horned markhor, we find that threats appear to be affecting the subspecies in the portion of the range outside of the Torghar Hills more severely, particularly with respect to overhunting. Applying the process described above for determining whether this subspecies is endangered in a significant portion of its range, we consider significance first to determine if this portion of the straight-horned markhor’s range warrants further consideration. As stated above, a portion of the range of a species is ‘‘significant’’ if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction rangewide. We find that if there was a loss of the straighthorned markhor populations outside of the Torghar Hills, the remaining population in the Torghar Hills would not be in danger of extinction. The Torghar Hills population, under the management of the TCP, has been steadily increasing since the inception of the TCP in 1985. Poaching, the greatest cause of substantial markhor declines, has been virtually eliminated in the Torghar Hills. Furthermore, the straight-horned markhor and its habitat are stable under the current management. Given the level of the abundance and protection within Torghar Hills as a result of management under the TCP, we find that this population would continue to persist, despite the hypothetical loss of the range outside of Torghar Hills. In contrast, based on the information available, the populations outside of Torghar Hills are small and fragmented. We have no information to suggest that habitat for populations outside of Torghar Hills is optimal, and, instead, the information suggests that these populations likely exist on lands that are subject to overgrazing by domestic livestock, which is the dominant land use and the primary means of subsistence for local tribes. Therefore, the portion of the range outside of the Torghar Hills does not meet the definition of ‘‘significant’’ and does not warrant further consideration. Available Conservation Measures Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition, requirements for Federal protection in the United States, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and encourages and results in conservation actions by Federal and State governments in the United States, foreign governments, PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 73183 private agencies and groups, and individuals. Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions within the United States or on the high seas with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is being designated. However, given that the straight-horned markhor is not native to the United States, we are not designating critical habitat for this species under section 4 of the Act. Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited financial assistance for the development and management of programs that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful for the conservation of endangered and threatened species in foreign countries. Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to encourage conservation programs for foreign endangered species and to provide assistance for such programs in the form of personnel and the training of personnel. The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered and threatened wildlife. These prohibitions, at 50 CFR 17.21 and 17.31, in part, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to ‘‘take’’ (take includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt any of these) within the United States or upon the high seas; import or export; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any endangered or threatened wildlife species. It also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken in violation of the Act. Certain exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies. Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered species and 17.32 for threatened species. For endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. For threatened species, a permit may be issued for the same activities, as well as zoological exhibition, education, and E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 73184 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 special purposes consistent with the Act. Special Rule Section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary may, by regulation, extend to threatened species prohibitions provided for endangered species under section 9 of the Act. Our implementing regulations for threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.31) incorporate the section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife, except when a special rule is promulgated. For threatened species, section 4(d) of the Act gives the Secretary discretion to specify the prohibitions and any exceptions to those prohibitions that are appropriate for the species, and provisions that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. A special rule allows us to include provisions that are tailored to the specific conservation needs of the threatened species and which may be more or less restrictive than the general provisions at 50 CFR 17.31. The Service recognizes that there is a reasonable argument for the proposition that controlled sport hunting (i.e., noncommercial) may provide economic incentives that contribute to the conservation of certain wildlife populations. These incentives may be direct, such as generating funding for essential conservation measures through licensing fees. They may also be indirect, such as focusing governmental attention on the need to protect species of economic value. Well-managed conservation programs, including those that incorporate sport hunting, can significantly contribute to the conservation of wildlife, improve wildlife populations, and greatly enhance the livelihoods of the local people. The primary objective of a wellmanaged trophy-hunting program is not hunting, but the conservation of large mammals (Shackleton 2001, p. 7). The key lies in ensuring a sufficient number of mature males remain in the population to maintain normal reproduction rates. For species with polygynous mating systems, removing some of the males from a population does not necessarily affect the growth rate of the population. If a fraction of the mature trophy males are removed, normal reproduction can be maintained and any long-term genetic impacts from removing ‘‘genetically superior’’ individuals from a population can be minimized (Shackleton 2001, p. 10). Many hunters are willing to pay relatively large fees for the privilege to hunt. If the money is used to conserve the species that is the focus of the conservation program, the program may VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 be sustainable. Additionally, habitat restoration may also be achieved. Incorporating the needs of the local people creates an incentive to conserve wildlife and ensures the success of the program (Shackleton 2001, pp. 7, 10). In recognizing the potential of conservation programs, including those based on sport hunting, we are proposing a special rule to allow the import of sport-hunted markhor trophies taken from established conservation programs without a threatened species permit issued under 50 CFR 17.32, provided that certain criteria are met. Importation of a personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor may be authorized by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Director) without a threatened species permit if the trophy is taken from a conservation program that meets the following criteria: (1) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation program’s areas can be shown to be sufficiently large to sustain sport-hunting and the populations are stable or increasing; (2) regulating authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data on populations; (3) the conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation program and the species, and the funds derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to the community and the species; (4) regulating authorities have the legal and practical capacity to provide for the long-term survival of the populations; (5) regulating authorities can determine that the trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an established conservation program. The Director may, consistent with the purposes of the Act, authorize by publication of a notice in the Federal Register the importation of personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor, taken legally from the established conservation program after the date of such notice, without a threatened species permit, provided that the applicable provisions of 50 CFR Part 23 have been met. As discussed above, hunting of markhor is allowed through a Pakistani Government exemption, and export of markhor in Pakistan is allowed only from community-managed conservation areas in accordance with CITES provisions. To encourage communities to conserve populations of markhor, the Conference of the Parties to CITES granted Pakistan an annual export quota of 12 markhor sport-hunted trophies taken through community-based programs. CITES Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14) recommends that CITES PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Authorities in the State of import approve permits of sport-hunted markhor trophies from Pakistan if they meet the terms of the Resolution. This proposed special rule, if made final, would similarly facilitate support for these conservation programs. Therefore, we find this special rule would provide necessary and advisable conservation measures that are needed for this subspecies. Peer Review In accordance with our policy, ‘‘Notice of Interagency Cooperative Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities,’’ that was published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert opinion of at least three appropriate independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure listing decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analysis. We will send copies of this proposed rule to the peer reviewers immediately following publication in the Federal Register. We will invite these peer reviewers to comment, during the public comment period, on the specific assumptions and the data that are the basis for our conclusions regarding the proposal to reclassify the straight-horned markhor as threatened under the Act and to promulgate the proposed special rule. We will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period on this proposed rule during preparation of a final rulemaking. Accordingly, our final decision may differ from this proposal. Required Determinations Clarity of Rule We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (a) Be logically organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) Use clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible. If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the names of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1 73185 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 234 / Thursday, December 5, 2013 / Proposed Rules which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) We have determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental assessment, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations adopted under section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). References Cited A list of all references cited in this document is available at http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003, or upon request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program, Branch of Foreign Species (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as amended at 77 FR 47011 (August 7, 2012), as set forth below: Authors The primary authors of this proposed rule are staff members of the Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ■ List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Proposed Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we propose to further amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter Species PART 17—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; 4201–4245; unless otherwise noted. 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by removing the entry for ‘‘Markhor, Kabul’’ and revising the entry for ‘‘Markhor, straight-horned’’ in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read as follows: ■ § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. * * * (h) * * * Historic range Common name Vertebrate population where endangered or threatened Status * * Afghanistan, Pakistan * Entire .......................... * T Scientific name When listed * Critical habitat Special rules MAMMALS * Markhor, straighthorned. * * Capra falconeri megaceros. * * 3. Amend § 17.40 by adding a new paragraph (a) to read as follows: ■ § 17.40 Special rules—mammals. ehiers on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS-1 (a) Straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros). (1) General requirements. Except as noted in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, all prohibitions of § 17.31 of this part and exemptions of § 17.32 of this part apply to this subspecies. (2) What are the criteria under which a personal sport-hunted trophy may qualify for import without a permit under § 17.32 of this part? If, upon receiving information on an established conservation program for straighthorned markhor: (i) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation program’s areas can be shown to be VerDate Mar<15>2010 13:56 Dec 04, 2013 Jkt 232001 * Frm 00075 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 * 15 * sufficiently large to sustain sport hunting and are stable or increasing; (ii) Regulating authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data on populations; (iii) The conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation program and the species; and the funds derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to the community and the species; (iv) Regulating authorities have the legal and practical capacity to provide for the long-term survival of the populations; and (v) Regulating authorities can determine that the sport-hunted trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an PO 00000 * * NA 17.40(a) * established conservation program, the Director may, consistent with the purposes of the Act, authorize by publication of a notice in the Federal Register the importation of personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor, taken legally from the established program after the date of such notice, without a Threatened Species permit issued under § 17.32 of this part, provided that the applicable provisions of 50 CFR Part 23 have been met. * * * * * Dated: November 19, 2013. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2013–28879 Filed 12–4–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\05DEP1.SGM 05DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 234 (Thursday, December 5, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 73173-73185]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28879]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2011-0003; FXES111309F2130-134-FF09E22000]
RIN 1018-AY42


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the 
Straight-Horned Markhor as Threatened With Special Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; revision.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), notify the 
public that we are making changes to our proposed rule of August 7, 
2012, to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri 
jerdoni) from endangered to threatened. We propose to combine the 
straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) and the Kabul markhor 
(Capra falconeri megaceros) into one subspecies, the straight-horned 
markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros), under the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act) due to a change in taxonomy. We have 
conducted a status review of the straight-horned markhor (C. f. 
megaceros) and propose to list this subspecies as threatened under the 
Act. We are also proposing a concurrent special rule. The effects of 
these regulations will be to protect and conserve the straight-horned 
markhor, while encouraging local communities to conserve additional 
populations of the straight-horned markhor through sustainable-use 
management programs.

DATES: We will consider comments and information received or postmarked 
on or before February 3, 2014. Comments submitted electronically using 
the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received 
by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.
    We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the 
address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by January 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R9-ES-2011-0003, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a 
comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!'' If your comments will fit in 
the provided comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our comment review 
procedures. If you attach your comments as a separate document, our 
preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple 
comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet 
in Microsoft Excel.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-ES-2011-0003; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Information Requested under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for more 
information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of 
Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203; 
telephone 703-358-2171; facsimile 703-358-1735. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    We are proposing to combine two subspecies of markhor currently 
listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), the 
straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (Capra 
falconeri megaceros), into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor 
(C. f. megaceros), based on a taxonomic change. We conducted a status 
review of the newly combined subspecies and are issuing a proposed rule 
to list the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros) as threatened 
under the Act.
    We are also proposing a special rule that would allow for the 
import of sport-hunted straight-horned markhor trophies under certain 
conditions. This regulation would support and encourage conservation 
actions of the straight-horned markhor.

II. Major Provision of the Regulatory Action

    If adopted as proposed, this action will eliminate the separate 
listing of the straight-horned markhor and Kabul markhor as endangered 
and list the combined straight-horned markhor

[[Page 73174]]

subspecies as threatened in the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h), and would allow the import of sport-hunted 
straight-horned markhor trophies under certain conditions at 50 CFR 
17.40. This action is authorized by the Act.

Previous Federal Actions

    On June 14, 1976, we published in the Federal Register a rule 
listing the straight-horned markhor, or the Suleiman markhor (Capra 
falconeri jerdoni), and the Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros), as well as 
157 other U.S. and foreign vertebrates and invertebrates, as endangered 
under the Act (41 FR 24062). All species were found to have declining 
numbers due to the present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of their habitats or ranges; overutilization for 
commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational purposes; the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or some combination of 
the three. However, the main concerns were the high commercial 
importance and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to 
control international trade.
    Later, the Suleiman markhor and the Kabul markhor were considered 
by some authorities to be the single subspecies C. f. megaceros 
(straight-horned markhor). These subspecies currently remain listed as 
separate entities under the Act.
    On March 4, 1999, we received a petition from Sardar Naseer A. 
Tareen, on behalf of the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection 
and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Central 
Asia Sustainable Use Specialist Group, requesting that the Suleiman 
markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros) population of the 
Torghar Hills region of the Balochistan Province, Pakistan, be 
reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Act. On September 
23, 1999 (64 FR 51499), we published in the Federal Register a finding, 
in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, that the petition had 
presented substantial information indicating that the requested 
reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. We 
opened a comment period, which closed January 21, 2000, to allow all 
interested parties to submit comments and information. A 12-month 
finding was never completed.
    On August 18, 2010, we received a petition dated August 17, 2010, 
from Conservation Force, on behalf of Dallas Safari Club, Houston 
Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida, The Conklin Foundation, 
Grand Slam Club/Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, Jerry Brenner, Steve 
Hornaday, Alan Sackman, and Barbara Lee Sackman, requesting the Service 
downlist the Torghar Hills population of the Suleiman markhor (Capra 
falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros), in the Balochistan Province of 
Pakistan, from endangered to threatened under the Act. On June 2, 2011, 
we published in the Federal Register a finding that the petition had 
presented substantial information indicating that the requested 
reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review (76 
FR 31903). We opened a comment period, which closed August 1, 2011.
    On February 1, 2012, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, and 
other organizations and individuals filed suit against the Service for 
failure to conduct a 5-year status review pursuant to section 
4(c)(2)(A) under the Act (Conservation Force, et al. v. Salazar, Case 
No. 11 CV 02008 D. D. C.). On March 30, 2012, a settlement agreement 
was approved by the Court (11-CV-02008, D. D. C.), in which the Service 
agreed to submit to the Federal Register by July 31, 2012, a 12-month 
finding on the August 2010 petition. On August 7, 2012, the Service 
published in the Federal Register a 12-month finding and proposed rule 
to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) from 
endangered to threatened (77 FR 47011).

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available. 
Therefore, we request comments and information from other concerned 
governmental agencies, the scientific community, and any other 
interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek 
clarifying information concerning:
    (1) Distribution, habitat selection, diet, and population abundance 
and trends of this subspecies.
    (3) The effects of habitat loss and changing land uses on the 
distribution and abundance of this subspecies.
    (4) The factors that are the basis for making a listing/delisting/
downlisting determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act, 
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.
    (5) Information on the status of habitat measures being implemented 
in the Torghar Conservation Project.
    (6) Information on whether changing climatic conditions are 
affecting the subspecies or its habitat.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
full references) to allow us to verify information you provide. 
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.''
    Prior to issuing a final rule on this proposed action, we will take 
into consideration all information we receive. Such information may 
lead to a final rule that differs from this proposal. All comments, 
including names and addresses of commenters, will become part of the 
administrative record.

Public Hearing

    At this time, we do not have a public hearing scheduled for this 
proposed rule. The main purpose of most public hearings is to obtain 
public testimony or comment. In most cases, it is sufficient to submit 
comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, described above in the 
ADDRESSES section. If you would like to request a public hearing for 
this proposed rule, you must submit your request, in writing, to the 
person listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by the date specified 
above in DATES.

Background

Taxonomic Classification

    The markhor (Capra falconeri) is a species of wild goat belonging 
to the Family Bovidae and Subfamily Caprinae (sheep and goats) (Valdez 
2008, unpaginated). When the markhor was first listed under the Act in 
1975, seven subspecies of markhor were generally recognized: Capra 
falconeri jerdoni (straight-horned or Suleiman markhor), C. f. 
megaceros (Kabul markhor), C. f. cashmirensis (Kashmir markhor), C. f. 
falconeri (Astor markhor), C. f. ognevi (Uzbek markhor), C. f. heptneri 
(Tajik markhor), and C. f. chialtanensis (Chiltan markhor) (64 FR 
51499, September 23, 1999; Roberts 1977, p. 196). In 1975, Schaller and 
Khan (1975, pp. 188, 191) recognized 3 subspecies of markhor based on 
horn shape and body

[[Page 73175]]

characteristics: C. f. jerdoni and C. f. megaceros were combined into 
C. f. megaceros (straight-horned markhor); C. f. cashmirensis and C. f. 
falconeri were combined into C. f. falconeri (flare-horned markhor); 
and C. f. ognevi and C. f. heptneri were combined into C. f. heptneri 
(Heptner's markhor). Many authorities consider C. f. chialtanensis to 
be Capra aegagrus chialtanensis (Chiltan wild goat) (64 FR 51500, 
September 23, 1999).
    In our June 2, 2011, 90-day petition finding, and August 7, 2012, 
proposed rule to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C. f. 
jerdoni), we requested information on the taxonomy of C. f. jerdoni and 
C. f. megaceros to determine if these constitute a single subspecies. 
We have reviewed the available information, including information 
submitted by the public. While scientists have not reached a consensus 
on the correct classification of markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; 
Frisina 2012, pers. comm.), the Integrated Taxonomic Information System 
(ITIS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna 
and Flora (CITES) all follow Grubb 2005 (p. 701), which recognizes 
three subspecies of markhor as recommended by Schaller and Khan (1975 
pp. 188, 191) (ITIS 2013a, unpaginated; ITIS 2013b, unpaginated; 
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History 2011, unpaginated; CITES 
Resolution Conf. 12.11. (Rev. CoP15) 2010, p. 3; Valdez 2008, 
unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894).
    Currently, the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) and Kabul 
markhor (C.f. megaceros) are listed as separate subspecies under the 
Act. We propose to revise the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h) to maintain consistency with ITIS, IUCN, 
and CITES to reflect the current scientifically accepted taxonomy and 
nomenclature. In the Proposed Regulation Promulgation section of this 
document, we propose the taxonomic change to reflect the combining of 
the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C.f. 
megaceros) into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C.f. 
megaceros).

Subspecies Information

    Due to the proposed taxonomic change, we have conducted a status 
review of the newly combined straight-horned markhor subspecies. For 
most of the straight-horned markhor populations, there is no detailed 
information on distribution, population estimates, or threats to the 
subspecies; most information that is available predates the onset of 
hostilities in the region in 1979. However, the Torghar Hills 
population of the straight-horned markhor has been extensively studied 
since the mid-1980s due to the implementation of a conservation plan in 
this area. Therefore, this status review mainly consists of information 
related to this population. When possible, we have included general 
information on the status of the populations outside of the Torghar 
Hills. For these particular populations, for which we lack information, 
we request additional information from the public during this proposed 
rule's comment period (see Information Requested, above).

Species Description

    Markhor are sturdy animals with strong, relatively short, thick 
legs and broad hooves. They are a reddish-grey color, with more buff 
tones in the summer and grey in the winter. The legs and belly are a 
cream color with a conspicuous dark brown pattern on the forepart of 
the shank interrupted by a white carpal patch. They also have a dark 
brown mid-dorsal stripe that extends from the shoulders to the base of 
the tail. The tail is short and sparsely covered with long black hairs, 
but is naked underneath. Adult males have an extensive black beard 
followed by a shaggy mane of long hairs extending down the chest and 
from the fore part of the neck. There is also a crest of long black and 
dark brown hairs that hang like a mane down either side of the spine 
from the shoulders to the croup (Roberts 1977, p. 197). Horns are 
straight with an open, tight spiral resembling a corkscrew (Schaller 
and Khan 1975, p. 189).

Life History

    Straight-horned markhor are associated with extremely rugged 
terrain with precipitous cliffs, rocky caves, and bare rock surfaces 
interspersed with patches of arid, steppe vegetation. They can be found 
from 600 meters (m) (1,969 feet (ft)) up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) in 
elevation (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Mitchell 1989, p. 8; Johnson 
1994b, p. 5).
    Markhor are diurnal in feeding activity. They are most active in 
the early morning and late evening (Mitchell 1989, p. 8). Wild 
pistachios are a preferred food for straight-horned markhor (Johnson 
1994, p. 12; Roberts 1977, p. 198), although in general they are known 
to feed on grasses and leaves, and twigs of bushes. Markhor seek water 
in the late afternoon; they may need to descend to valley bottoms for 
water, but only after darkness (Roberts 1977, p. 198).
    Markhor are gregarious, with females, their young, and immature 
males associating in small herds, but competition with domestic goat 
flocks may drive markhor populations to higher terrain and result in 
larger herds. Adult males live solitary lives, taking shelter under 
rock overhangs or natural caves. They only join the females and young 
during the rut, which for the straight-horned markhor peaks around mid-
November and lasts about 2 weeks. Males may attach themselves to one 
particular territory or herd. Fighting between rival males also occurs 
during this time. Markhor reach sexual maturity around 3 years of age. 
Females usually give birth to one young, but twins are not uncommon. A 
young markhor will remain with its mother until the rutting season or 
until the next young is born. After this, the female will drive the 
older young away if it approaches too closely. In the wild, it is 
possible that markhor can live up to 18 years of age, but perhaps few 
males live beyond 11 or 12 years (Ali 2008, p. 16; Mitchell 1989, p. 9; 
Roberts 1977, pp. 198-199).

Range and Population

    Historically, the straight-horned markhor inhabited a wide range in 
the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, it 
has been reported that this subspecies survives only in the Kabul Gorge 
and the Kohe Safi area of Kapissa Province, and in some isolated 
pockets in between (Ali 2008, pp. 17-18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; 
Habibi 1997, p. 208; Schaller and Khan 1975, pp. 195-196). However, no 
surveys have been conducted in the area, and it is likely that this 
subspecies has been extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. 
comm.). In Pakistan, the straight-horned markhor is found in the 
mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. There is one 
unconfirmed report of the subspecies in Punjab Province (Valdez 2008, 
unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894).
    Within Baluchistan, the straight-horned markhor has been reduced to 
small, scattered populations on all the mountain ranges immediately to 
the north and east of Quetta, including Murdar, Takhatu, Zarghun, 
Kaliphat, Phil Garh, and Suleiman. It is reported that the straight-
horned markhor still survives in the Shingar Range on the border of 
Balochistan and South Waziristan. The greatest concentration is in the 
Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar Range on the border with Afghanistan,

[[Page 73176]]

within a community-based management program, the Torghar Conservation 
Project (Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142-143; Johnson 1994b, p. 16; 
Roberts 1977, p. 198; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 196).
    Within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the subspecies is reported to still 
survive in the area of Sheikh Buddin, as well as the Sakra Range, 
Murghazar Hills, Khanori Hills, and Safed Koh Range; however, the 
occurrence in Safed Koh has been questioned due to a lack of 
information (Ali 2008, p. 18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 
1997, p. 255; Roberts 1977, p. 198).
    Limited information is available for populations throughout most of 
the straight-horned markhor's range. Many historical populations were 
extirpated due to over-hunting (Johnson 1994b, p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 
10). In Afghanistan, very few straight-horned markhor survive; perhaps 
as few as 50-80 occur in the Kohe Safi region, with few in other 
isolated pockets (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; 
Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 195). However, as stated above, this 
subspecies may be extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. 
comm.). In Pakistan, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195-196) estimated 
150 in Takhatu, 20 to 30 in Kalifat, 20 in Zarghum, 20 in Shinghar, 20 
around Sheikh Buddin, 50 in the Sakra Range, and at least 100 in Safed 
Koh. Few were estimated to survive in the Murdar Range, and a remnant 
population may have existed near Loralei in the Gadabar Range. Roberts 
(1969 in Valdez, 2008, unpaginated) believed the number of markhor in 
the Toba Kakar range was fewer than 500. In 1984, Tareen estimated 
fewer than 200 remained in the Torghar Hills (Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). 
Overall, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195-196) estimated fewer than 
2,000 straight-horned markhor survived throughout the subspecies' 
range.
    In general, markhor populations are reported as declining 
(Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 287; Valdez 2008, unpaginated). Hess et al. 
(1997, p. 255) and Habibi (1997, p. 208) concluded that the straight-
horned markhor had likely not increased in recent years. Current 
estimates for populations of straight-horned markhor are lacking, with 
the exception of the population in the Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar 
Range. This population has been extensively studied due to the 
implementation of a community-based management program. In addition, as 
part of the use of annual export quotas for markhor sport-hunted 
trophies granted to Pakistan at the 10th meeting of the Conference of 
the Parties to CITES, Pakistan submits annual surveys of markhor 
populations, including populations within the Torghar Conservation Area 
(Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14); See discussion below under 
Summary of Threats). Based on surveys conducted from 1985 through 1988, 
Mitchell (1989, p. 9) estimated 450 to 600 markhor inhabited the 
Torghar Hills. Regular surveys of the managed area have taken place 
since 1994, when Johnson (1994b, p. 12) estimated the population of 
markhor to be 695. Later surveys estimated the population to be 1,296 
in 1997; 1,684 in 1999; 2,541 in 2005; 3,158 in 2008; and 3,518 in 2011 
(Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Shafique 
2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Although 
most of the mountain ranges in Balochistan have not been formally 
surveyed, Johnson (1994b, p. 16) concluded that Torghar was the last 
remaining stronghold for the subspecies.

Summary of Threats

    Throughout the range of the straight-horned markhor, over-hunting, 
keeping of large herds of livestock for subsistence, deforestation, and 
the lack of effective federal and provincial laws have devastated 
populations of straight-horned markhor and destroyed vital habitat 
(Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 1997, 
p. 255).
    Small-scale hunting has been a long-standing tradition of the 
people of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Kanderian 
et al. 2011, p. 283; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Ahmed et al. 
2001, p. 2). However, prior to the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War 
in 1979, few animals were hunted, as weapons were primitive and 
ammunition scarce and expensive. After the beginning of the war, there 
was an influx of more sophisticated weapons, such as semi- and fully-
automatic rifles, and cheap ammunition was more accessible. This 
proliferation of arms and increased likelihood of a successful kill, 
combined with millions of displaced people dependent on wild meat for 
subsistence, led to excessive hunting of wildlife and critically low 
populations of straight-horned markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; 
Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 284; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; MAIL 
2009, p. 4; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 2, 4; 
CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 
1997, p. 255; Johnson 1994b, p. 1).
    In an effort to manage diminishing wildlife populations, national 
bans on hunting were implemented in Pakistan in 1988, 1991, and 2000. 
However, the ban had little impact on the recovery of wildlife 
populations (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5). In 2005, Afghanistan banned 
hunting for 5 years, but there was no enforcement and most Afghans were 
either unaware of the Decree or ignored it (Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 
291; MAIL 2009, pp. 4, 23, 24). Additionally, the markhor (Capra 
falconeri) is a protected species under Afghanistan's Environmental Law 
of 2007, the Balochistan Wildlife Protection Act of 1974 (BWPA), and 
the North-West Frontier Province Wild-life (Protection, Preservation, 
Conservation, and Management) Act (NWFPWA) of 1975, which extends to 
all of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Under these laws, hunting, 
killing, or capturing of markhor is prohibited (MAIL 2009, p. 23; 
Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 58; Official Gazette No. 912, dated 25 
January 2007, Article 49; BWPA 1977, p. 15; NWFPWA 1975, Third 
Schedule).
    Today, the straight-horned markhor has been extirpated from much of 
its former range due to over-hunting, and they survive only in the most 
inaccessible regions of its range (Habibi 1997, p. 205; Johnson 1994b, 
p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 10), despite laws intended to provide protection 
from hunting. We have no information on the extent of poaching 
currently taking place in most of the subspecies' range, but 
information suggests that hunting remains a threat to most remaining 
populations of this subspecies (UNEP 2009, p. 10; NEPA and UNEP 2008, 
p. 17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Hess 
et al. 1997, p. 255). However, increases in populations of ungulates, 
including markhor, have occurred in conservation areas managed 
specifically for trophy hunting (University of Montana 2013, 
unpaginated; Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; WCS 2012, unpaginated; 
Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Government of Pakistan 2009, p. viii; Ali 
2008, pp. 21, 38, 64; Shafique 2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Virk 
1999, p. 142; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Currently, only one 
conservation plan is being implemented for the straight-horned markhor, 
the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP) in Torghar Hills, Pakistan.
    In the early 1980s, local tribal leaders became alarmed at the 
significant decline in the markhor population in the Torghar Hills 
(Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 
1994b, p. 1). The population had reached a critical level, estimated at 
fewer than 200 (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 1994b, p. 14; 
Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). The tribal leaders attributed the decline to an 
increase in poaching due

[[Page 73177]]

to the significant increase in weapons in the area during the Soviet-
Afghan War (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). 
After unsuccessful attempts to receive assistance from the Balochistan 
Forest Department, they turned to wildlife biologists in the United 
States, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Together, they 
developed the TCP, an innovative, community-based conservation program 
that allows for limited trophy hunting to conserve local populations of 
markhor, improve habitat for both markhor and domestic livestock, and 
improve the economic conditions for local tribes in Torghar (Frisina 
and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Ahmed et al. 
2001, p. 4 Johnson 1994b, pp. 1-2).
    In 1985, the TCP was launched and covered most of the Torghar area 
(approximately 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles)). First, 
tribal leaders implemented a ban on all hunting activities by tribesmen 
in the Torghar Hills. Then, local tribesmen were hired as game guards 
to assist in population surveys and prevent poachers from entering the 
Torghar Hills. Guards were placed at points of entry into the protected 
area to inform migrating tribesmen of the hunting ban, who, in turn, 
agreed to the ban so as not to jeopardize their passage through the 
Torghar Hills. Support for the program, including salaries for the game 
guards, is raised through fees for limited trophy hunting of markhor 
within the TCP, mostly by foreign game hunters. Currently, markhor fees 
are $35,000 U.S. dollars, 80 percent of which goes to the TCP and the 
other 20 percent goes to the Pakistani government. In the beginning, 7 
game guards were hired; currently, 82 game guards are employed. The 
number of markhor allowed to be hunted each year is based on surveys 
conducted by game guards and wildlife biologists (Frisina and Tareen 
2009, pp. 142, 146-147; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). 
Numbers of animals taken have ranged from 1 to 5 animals per hunting 
season, or less than the 2 percent of the total population recommended 
by Harris (1993 in Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182) annually for trophy 
hunting (Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 146-147, 149; Ali 2008, p. 20; 
Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1997, pp. 403-404). Because 
markhor have a polygynous mating system, reproduction rates have not 
been affected by the removal of a limited number of adult males 
(Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182), as evidenced by the continuing increase 
in the Torghar Hills population.
    As a result of the TCP, poaching has been eliminated in the Torghar 
Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Johnson 
(1994b, p. 15) attributed the markhor population growth to the 
substantial reduction in mortality when uncontrolled hunting was 
stopped.
    The markhor (Capra falconeri) is protected under CITES, an 
international agreement between governments to ensure that the 
international trade of CITES-listed plant and animal species does not 
threaten species' survival in the wild. Under this treaty, CITES 
Parties (member countries or signatories) regulate the import, export, 
and reexport of specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant 
and animal species. Trade must be authorized through a system of 
permits and certificates that are provided by the designated CITES 
Management Authority of each CITES Party. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan 
are Parties to CITES.
    The straight-horned markhor was listed in CITES Appendix I, 
effective July 1, 1975. An Appendix-I listing includes species 
threatened with extinction whose trade is permitted only under 
exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. 
The import of an Appendix-I species generally requires the issuance of 
both an import and export permit. Import permits for Appendix-I species 
are issued only if findings are made that the import would be for 
purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species and 
that the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes 
(CITES Article III(3)). Export permits for Appendix-I species are 
issued only if findings are made that the specimen was legally acquired 
and trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species, and if the 
issuing authority is satisfied that an import permit has been granted 
for the specimen (CITES Article III(2)).
    Straight-horned markhor in the Torghar Hills, and other subspecies 
of markhor within community-managed conservation areas in Pakistan, may 
be legally hunted and exported. In 1997, at the 10th meeting of the 
Conference of the Parties to CITES, the Government of Pakistan 
submitted a proposal for approval of an annual export quota for sport-
hunted markhor trophies to act as an incentive to communities to 
conserve markhor. During that same meeting, the Conference of the 
Parties approved an annual export quota of 6 sport-hunted markhor 
trophies for Pakistan (Resolution Conf. 10.15). Due to the success of 
conservation programs in Pakistan, CITES increased the annual export 
quota to 12 markhor in 2002, to further encourage community-based 
conservation (Ali 2008, p. 24; Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14)).
    Furthermore, because the straight-horned markhor is listed as an 
Appendix-I species under CITES, legal international trade is very 
limited; most of the international trade in straight-horned markhor 
specimens consists of trophies and live animals. Data obtained from the 
United Nations Environment Programme--World Conservation Monitoring 
Center (UNEP-WCMC) CITES Trade Database show that from July 1975, when 
the straight-horned markhor was listed in Appendix I, through 2011, a 
total of 86 specimens were reported to UNEP-WCMC as (gross) exports. Of 
those 86 specimens, 40 were trophies, 45 were live animals, and 1 was a 
body. In analyzing these data, it appears that one record may be an 
over-count due to a slight difference in the manner in which the 
importing and exporting countries reported their trade. It is likely 
that the actual number of straight-horned markhor specimens in 
international trade during this period was 84, including 40 trophies, 
43 live animals, and 1 body. Exports from range countries included: 39 
trophies from Pakistan, 1 trophy from Afghanistan, and 1 body from 
Afghanistan. It should be noted that the straight-horned markhor trade 
data provided above are based on reported trade to UNEP-WCMC in both 
the subspecies Capra falconeri jerdoni and the subspecies Capra 
falconeri megaceros. It should also be noted that the markhor at the 
species level (Capra falconeri) was transferred from CITES Appendix II 
to Appendix I in 1992, and since then, international trade was likely 
in some cases reported to UNEP-WCMC at the species level rather than 
the subspecies level. Therefore, it is possible that, between 1992 and 
2011, some international trade in Capra falconeri jerdoni and Capra 
falconeri megaceros may have been reported to UNEP-WCMC at the species 
level. It was not possible to determine whether the trade reported at 
the species level represented trade in straight-horned markhor or trade 
in other markhor subspecies. Because there has been limited trade in 
straight-horned markhor, totaling 86 specimens over 37 years, we 
believe that international trade controlled via valid CITES permits is 
not a threat to the subspecies.
    Habitat modification has also contributed to the decline of the 
straight-horned markhor. People living in rural areas heavily depend on 
natural resources; habitat throughout the range of the straight-horned 
markhor has been

[[Page 73178]]

negatively impacted by domestic livestock overgrazing and deforestation 
from logging and collection of wood for fuel, charcoal, and building 
materials (Kanderian et al. 2011, pp. 281, 284, 287; WWF 2011, 
unpaginated; MAIL 2009, p. 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 
15; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, 
p. 255; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895).
    Much of the land where straight-horned markhor occur is owned by 
local tribes whose subsistence is largely dependent on keeping large 
herds of primarily sheep and goats. Livestock often exceed the carrying 
capacity of rangelands, leading to overgrazing, a halt to natural 
regeneration, and subsequent desertification of native vegetation. 
Overgrazing and competition with domestic livestock for forage is known 
to have resulted in the decline of wild ungulates and pushed their 
occurrence to range edges (WWF 2011, unpaginated; Frisina and Tareen 
2009, pp. 145, 154; UNEP 2009, p. 8; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15-17; 
Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Woodford et al. 2004, 
p. 180; Tareen 1990, p. 4; Mitchell 1989, pp. 4-5; Schaller and Khan 
1975, p. 197).
    Throughout the markhor's range, millions of displaced people and a 
high human population growth rate have created a tremendous demand for 
natural resources. Straight-horned markhor habitat and food sources are 
suffering significant declines due to illegal logging and collection of 
wood for building materials, fuel, and charcoal (Zahler 2013, pers. 
comm.; Smallwood et al. 2011, p. 507; WWF 2011, unpaginated; MAIL 2009, 
pp. 3, 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15-16; Valdez 2008, 
unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Hasan and 
Ali 1992, pp. 8-9, 12-13).
    Several Afghan and Pakistani laws protect wildlife and its habitat 
in these countries. Protected areas, such as national parks, 
sanctuaries, and game reserves may be designated under Afghanistan's 
Environmental Law, the BWPA, and the NWFPWA (MAIL 2009, pp. 22-23; 
Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 58, 65-67; Environmental Law 2007, 
Articles 38, 39, 40, and 41; NWFPWA 1975, sections 15, 16, and 17). 
However, no designated protected areas contain the straight-horned 
markhor.
    Article 45 of Afghanistan's Environmental Law dictates that grazing 
of livestock shall be managed and controlled by the Ministry of 
Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Food to minimize the impact on, and 
optimize use of, vegetation cover. Given that overgrazing of livestock 
is a wide-ranging threat to Afghanistan's environment (UNEP 2009, p. 8; 
NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15-17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated), it appears 
that the Environmental Law has not yet been effectively implemented. 
Also, Presidential Decree No. 405 and No. 736 prohibit the cutting of 
forests to preserve and maintain forests as a national asset. However, 
these decrees are unfamiliar to most Afghans or are ignored (MAIL 2009, 
pp. 5, 23).
    In Balochistan, the Forest Act of 1927 allows for the creation of 
various classes of forests, the reservation of state-owned forest land, 
and for the provincial government to assume control of privately owned 
forest land and declare government-owned land to be a protected area. 
It also prohibits grazing, hunting, quarrying, and clearing land for 
cultivation; removal of forest produce; and the felling or lopping of 
trees and branches in reserved and protected forests (Aurangzaib and 
Pastakia 2008, p. 46). However, this law does not provide for 
sustainable use, conservation, or the protection of endangered wildlife 
within forests. Other legislation related to forests in Balochistan 
restricts subsistence use, but focuses on maximizing commercial 
exploitation. This may be because these laws date back to the early 
20th century and reflect priorities of that time. Provincial amendments 
have done little to alter the focus of these laws. Enforcement of 
forest laws is lacking, and where enforcement is possible, penalties 
are not severe enough to serve as a deterrent to violators. 
Furthermore, these laws may be overridden by other laws in favor of 
development and commercial uses (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 42-
43).
    The Land Preservation Act of 1900 is a Punjab law that, by default, 
was applied to the Balochistan province shortly after its establishment 
in 1970. This law allows the government to prevent soil erosion and 
conserve sub-soil water. Activities such as clearing, breaking up, and 
cultivating land not ordinarily under cultivation; quarrying stone and 
burning lime; cutting trees and removing forest produce; setting fire 
to trees, timber, and forest produce; and herding and pasturing goats 
and sheep are prohibited. However, the government may permit 
inhabitants to carry out such activities (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, 
p. 39).
    In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the North-West Frontier Province Forest, 
Ordinance, 2002 (No. XIX of 2002) consolidates and amends the laws 
relating to protection, conservation, management, and sustainable 
development of the forests and natural resources of the province. It 
allows the government to declare forest land as a reserved forest 
(Forest Ordinance 2002, section 4). Within a reserved forest, it is 
illegal for a person to cultivate, clear, break up, or occupy any land; 
construct a building, road, enclosure, or any infrastructure, or alter 
or enlarge any such existing structures; trespass, graze, browse or 
drive cattle; set fire, cut, fell, uproot, lop, tap, or burn any tree 
listed in Schedule I; quarry stone, burn lime or charcoal, or collect 
or remove forest produce; pollute; or hunt, shoot, fish, or set snares 
or traps (Forest Ordinance 2002, section 26). Given that deforestation 
is a widespread problem in Pakistan, it appears that this provincial 
law has not been effectively implemented.
    Despite federal and provincial laws, declines in markhor 
populations and significant degradation of habitat have continued. 
Enforcement is lacking and very difficult to achieve due to the 
remoteness of many areas, the political situation in remote areas, 
conflicting policies, lack of understanding of the need and importance 
of conservation, and economic constraints (MAIL 2009, pp. 5, 23; UNEP 
2009, pp. 4, 29; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 39, 42-43; Hess et 
al. 1997, p. 243). Additionally, many of the areas where the straight-
horned markhor occurs are on tribal lands, which are generally governed 
by tribal law, and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas where federal 
and provincial laws do not apply (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 144; 
Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 13, 24; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 23; 
CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Johnson 1994a, p. 1). In areas where 
existing laws are applicable, it does not appear that they have 
provided adequate protection given the severe declines in straight-
horned markhor and threats the markhor continues to face from habitat 
loss and poaching.
    Afghanistan and Pakistan are Parties to major multilateral treaties 
that address natural resource conservation and management (MAIL 2009, 
p. 32; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, p. 31). Among these are the Convention on 
Biological Diversity and the Convention on Combating Desertification 
(MAIL 2009, p. 34; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31). In becoming a 
Party to these treaties, both countries assumed obligations to 
implement the treaties' provisions, which in many cases require 
legislation. However, participation in treaty activities or laws to 
implement obligations are lacking (MAIL 2009, pp.

[[Page 73179]]

32-33; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, 
pp. 65, 58). Therefore, these treaties do not provide adequate 
protections to ameliorate threats faced by the straight-horned markhor.
    Although international, federal, and provincial laws do not appear 
to effectively provide protection to markhor habitat from overgrazing 
and deforestation, the TCP has taken steps to create better habitat for 
both markhor and domestic livestock.
    In our August 7, 2012, proposed rule, we determined that key areas 
in the steeper, upland slopes and higher elevation of the Torghar Hills 
are not easily accessible and, therefore, are not impacted by human 
settlement or grazing pressure. However, we expressed concern that 
grazing pressure may increase in these upland areas due to a 
combination of drought conditions and the tradition of keeping large 
herds of domestic livestock. The lower slopes and valleys have been 
denuded of trees for livestock grazing and collection of fuel wood 
(Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 3, 8; Frisina et al. 1998, pp. 9-10). Demand on 
these resources increases during the biannual migration of local and 
nearby tribes and their herds through the Torghar Hills (Woodford et 
al. 2004, p. 180; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4). As forage becomes limited 
in the lower slopes and valleys, due to drought conditions and grazing 
pressure, domestic herds are likely to move to higher elevations in 
search of forage (Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13).
    Recognizing that protecting markhor and its habitat can generate 
greater income for the community than relying solely on traditional 
livestock production, tribesmen of the Torghar Hills requested that the 
Society for Torghar Environmental Protection (STEP), the community-
based, nongovernmental organization established to administer the TCP, 
integrate habitat management measures to protect markhor and create 
better habitat for both markhor and their domestic animals.
    A habitat management plan was developed in 2001. The plan 
emphasizes range management, improved agriculture, and water storage 
projects to improve habitat conditions, and reduce grazing pressure, 
eliminate the need for domestic herds to utilize upper slope areas, 
and, therefore, reduce interactions between domestic livestock and 
markhor around forage and water resources (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 
152; Woodford et al. 2004, pp. 180, 184; Frisina et al. 2002, pp. 3, 8, 
16; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 7, 11). Additionally, STEP plans to plant 
woodlots of indigenous trees to meet the fuel wood and timber 
requirements of the local tribes and develop orchards and croplands. 
Agriculture is seen as an alternative to raising livestock, thus 
reducing grazing pressure (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152; Ahmed et 
al. 2001, p. 11). The STEP will also train locals in livestock 
management and agricultural practices (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 
152).
    Although we do not know the extent to which the different stages of 
the management plans described above have been implemented, we have 
received new information on the markhor and its habitat in the TCP. 
Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population 
surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and its habitat are 
secure under the current management scenario.
    Disease transmission was identified as a potential threat to the 
Torghar Hills straight-horned markhor in our August 7, 2012, proposed 
rule. The potential for disease transmission stems from livestock-
wildlife interactions due to overgrazing by large herds of livestock, 
drought conditions, and the migration of flocks through the Torghar 
Hills. The risk of transmission was linked to future and continued 
habitat and livestock management. The risk of disease transmission is 
particularly severe if large numbers of domestic livestock are present 
during periods of drought. During these circumstances, resources are 
limited and interactions would be more frequent around available water 
sources and in the vegetated upper slopes. Additionally, there were 
concerns that interactions would likely increase in the TCP if domestic 
livestock herds grew and the markhor population expanded (Woodford et 
al. 2004, p. 183).
    In addition to implementing measures to improve habitat conditions 
at lower elevations, eliminating the need for domestic herds to utilize 
upper slope areas, and thereby, reduce interactions between domestic 
livestock and markhor around forage and water resources, STEP has 
discussed the establishment of a community-based Animal Health Service; 
the herdsmen within the TCP have agreed to this measure. As it is not 
feasible to vaccinate markhor in mountainous terrain, STEP will train 
and equip tribesmen to act as ``barefoot vets'' with the responsibility 
of vaccinating domestic sheep and goats, and administering appropriate 
anthelmintics (drugs that expel parasitic worms) as they travel through 
the TCP. Veterinary care will be effective only if range and livestock 
management plans are implemented, and have the potential to result in 
smaller, healthier domestic livestock herds (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 
185).
    Currently, there is no evidence of disease transmission between 
livestock and markhor (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 184; Frisina et al. 
2002, p. 13). The plans developed by STEP to improve habitat for 
markhor also lowers the risk of disease transmission by addressing 
livestock management and minimizing interactions between domestic 
livestock and wildlife. With these actions, coupled with the planned 
Animal Health Service, the risk of diseases being transferred from 
domestic livestock to markhor is significantly reduced. Although we do 
not know the status of the habitat management plans or the Animal 
Health Service, Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 
2011 population surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and 
domestic livestock have minimal range-use overlap, and the markhor's 
habitat is secure under the current management scenario. Therefore, we 
have no information that indicates that disease transmission is a 
current threat to the Torghar Hills markhor. However, because the 
larger Torghar Hills population is within an area that heavily relies 
on domestic livestock for subsistence, it is more likely to interact 
with domestic sheep and goats than the other populations. In the event 
of a disease outbreak, the Torghar Hills population would be 
particularly vulnerable. Because the other extant populations are 
critically low, declining, and continue to face threats from poaching 
and habitat loss, the single population in the Torghar Hills will not 
provide a sufficient enough margin of safety for the subspecies to 
withstand this type of catastrophic event.
    In the rest of the straight-horned markhor's range, we have no 
information on the occurrence of disease or the risk of disease 
transmission from domestic sheep and goats. Overgrazing of domestic 
livestock has contributed to habitat loss in other mountain ranges, 
suggesting large livestock herds have also been maintained in these 
areas, but we do not have information on herd size or the likelihood of 
livestock-wildlife interactions. Given the extremely small population 
estimates of straight-horned markhor outside of the Torghar Hills, it 
may be that interactions are rare.
    We found no information indicating that the current threats to the 
straight-horned markhor, as described above, are likely to improve in 
the future. Threats to this subspecies are driven by past and

[[Page 73180]]

current conflict, the needs of millions of displaced people, and an 
expanding human population. Current regulatory mechanisms in place to 
protect the markhor and its habitat are not being implemented 
effectively in most of the range to reduce or remove threats to the 
subspecies. With the exception of the Torghar Hills, no other 
management plans are in place to specifically address the straight-
horned markhor. Therefore, the tremendous pressure put on natural 
resources, and the impacts to the straight-horned markhor and its 
habitat, will likely continue unless the natural resources of 
Afghanistan and Pakistan are effectively protected.
    In the Torghar Hills, the TCP has eliminated poaching of straight-
horned markhor and managed the habitat such that the population has 
steadily increased since the TCP's inception and both the population 
and its habitat are currently secure. Because the TCP has incorporated 
economic incentives for the local community and is supported by the 
community, we believe the protections and management provided by the 
TCP will continue.
    The narrow geographic range of the straight-horned markhor and the 
small, scattered, and declining populations make this subspecies 
particularly vulnerable to threats and more susceptible to extinction. 
Furthermore, small scattered populations may experience decreased 
demographic viability and increased susceptibility to extinction from 
stochastic environmental factors (e.g., weather events, disease) and an 
increased threat of extinction from genetic isolation and subsequent 
inbreeding depression and genetic drift. Although the Torghar Hills 
population is subject to a management plan, and the protections 
provided by that management plan has led to an increasing population, a 
single stable population does not provide a sufficient margin of safety 
for the subspecies to withstand effects from catastrophic events, such 
as disease.

 Finding

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing 
species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of 
the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened 
based on any of the following five factors:
    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.
    In considering whether a species may warrant listing under any of 
the five factors, we look beyond the species' exposure to a potential 
threat or aggregation of threats under any of the factors, and evaluate 
whether the species responds to those potential threats in a way that 
causes actual impact to the species. The identification of threats that 
might impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a 
finding that the species warrants listing. The information must include 
evidence indicating that the threats are operative and, either singly 
or in aggregation, affect the status of the species. Threats are 
significant if they drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of 
the species, such that the species warrants listing as endangered or 
threatened, as those terms are defined in the Act.
    As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the 
subspecies and considered the five factors in assessing whether the 
straight-horned markhor is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. We examined the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by the straight-horned markhor. We reviewed the 
1999 petition submitted by the Society for Torghar Environmental 
Protection and IUCN, the 2010 petition submitted by Conservation Force, 
information available in our files, other available published and 
unpublished information, and information received in response to the 
August 7, 2012, proposed rule.
    Today, the straight-horned markhor occurs in small, scattered 
populations in the mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 
provinces, Pakistan. Although there are reports that this subspecies 
survives in Afghanistan, it has likely been extirpated. In general, 
markhor populations are reported as declining and have likely not 
increased since 1975. However, there is one exception to this declining 
population trend, the Torghar Hills population in the Toba Kakar Range. 
Due to the implementation of a conservation plan, the Torghar Hills 
population has increased from fewer than 200 in the mid-1980s to 3,518 
currently.
    Straight-horned markhor have been significantly impacted by years 
of conflict and the accompanying influx of sophisticated weapons. Easy 
access to accurate weapons and millions of displaced people dependent 
on wild meat for subsistence led to excessive hunting and the 
extirpation of straight-horned markhor from much of its former range 
and a severe reduction in remaining populations. Additionally, 
tremendous pressure has been placed on natural resources from millions 
of displaced people and an expanding human population. Deforestation 
for livestock grazing, illegal logging, and collection of wood for 
building materials, fuel, and charcoal, to meet the needs of the 
growing population, continues to impact straight-horned markhor 
habitat.
    Several federal and provincial laws are in place to provide some 
protection to natural resources, but they are subject to broad 
exemptions, allowing for overriding laws favoring development and 
commercial use, and enforcement is lacking. However, in the Torghar 
Hills, the population of straight-horned markhor and its habitat have 
been effectively managed by the TCP such that both are secure under the 
current management scenario. Due to the establishment of the TCP, the 
cessation of uncontrolled poaching, and the hunting of only a limited 
number of trophies in the Torghar Hills, the population has increased 
substantially since TCP's inception in 1985. Furthermore, due to the 
TCP, straight-horned markhor habitat is secure and is no longer 
impacted by overgrazing or collection of wood. Because the TCP has 
incorporated economic incentives for the local community and is 
supported by the community, we believe the protections and management 
provided by the TCP will continue in the foreseeable future. We are not 
aware of other populations of straight-horned markhor under the same 
level of management. Information indicates that hunting and habitat 
loss remain as threats in the rest of the straight-horned markhor's 
range; without effective and enforcement of federal and provincial 
laws, we believe these threats will continue into the foreseeable 
future.
    Section 3 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,'' and a ``threatened species'' as 
``any species which is likely to become an endangered species within 
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' Most of the straight-horned markhor populations are small and 
declining. Threats to this subspecies from hunting and habitat loss 
still exist and will

[[Page 73181]]

likely continue into the foreseeable future. Current regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to ameliorate the negative effects of these 
threats on the subspecies and will likely remain ineffective until 
changes in implementation are made. Therefore, we expect that most 
straight-horned populations will continue to decline into the 
foreseeable future.
    However, although most remaining populations of straight-horned 
markhor are critically low, continue to face threats from overhunting 
and habitat loss, and will likely continue to decline, implementation 
of the TCP has eliminated threats from hunting and habitat loss in the 
Torghar Hills. This population has continued to increase since the 
inception of the TCP and, today, is the only stronghold of the species.
    Furthermore, because of the protective measures provided to the 
Torghar Hills population by the TCP, we believe that the threats 
identified under Factors A, B, and D are not of sufficient imminence, 
intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the subspecies is presently in 
danger of extinction, and, therefore, does not meet the definition of 
endangered under the Act. However, the straight-horned markhor occupies 
a narrow geographic range and threats acting on those critically low 
populations and are likely to continue in the foreseeable future. A 
single stable population does not provide a sufficient margin of safety 
for the subspecies to withstand effects from catastrophic events (e.g., 
disease). These factors indicate that the straight-horned markhor 
continues to be at risk of extinction and will likely become in danger 
of extinction in the foreseeable future due to those continuing 
threats. Therefore, on the basis of the best scientific and commercial 
information, we find that the straight-horned markhor meets the 
definition of a ``threatened species'' under the Act, and we are 
proposing to list the straight-horned markhor as threatened in its 
entirety.

Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment

    Section 3(16) of the Act defines ``species'' to include any species 
or subspecies of fish and wildlife or plants, and any distinct 
population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which 
interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Under the Service's 
``Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population 
Segments Under the Endangered Species Act'' (61 FR 4722, February 7, 
1996), three elements are considered in the decision concerning the 
establishment and classification of a possible distinct population 
segment (DPS). These elements, which are applied similarly for 
additions to or removals from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife, include:
    (1) The discreteness of a population in relation to the remainder 
of the species to which it belongs;
    (2) The significance of the population segment to the species to 
which it belongs; and
    (3) The population segment's conservation status in relation to the 
Act's standards for listing, delisting, or reclassification (i.e., is 
the population segment endangered or threatened?).
Discreteness
    Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon 
may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following 
conditions:
    (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same 
taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation.
    (2) It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within 
which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.
    We reviewed available information to determine whether any 
population, including the Torghar Hills population, of the straight-
horned markhor meets the first discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS 
policy. We found no evidence that any population was markedly separated 
from other markhor populations as a consequence of physical, 
physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Additionally, we are 
not aware of measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity that 
provide evidence of marked separation. With respect to Torghar Hills, 
the boundaries are unclear and appear to grade into other ranges within 
the Toba Kakar Mountains. Additionally, Johnson (1994b, p. 15) noted 
that, if the Torghar Hills population reaches carrying capacity, it 
could become a source of emigrants for other mountain ranges in the 
area and that intermountain movement is probably already taking place. 
Since that publication, the Torghar Hills population has increased from 
695 markhor to 3,518, indicating a greater likelihood that 
intermountain movement of markhor will or is already taking place. We 
currently do not know the extent, if any, that markhor are moving from 
the Torghar Hills into other mountain ranges; however, it appears that 
they could. Movement may require markhor to cross unsuitable habitat 
(e.g., the TCP is surrounded by less severe topography and valleys 
typically not preferred by markhor), but there is no reason that they 
could not cross, especially if carrying capacity is met, thereby 
creating a need to emigrate to other suitable areas in adjacent ranges. 
Therefore, without evidence of marked separation, we determine that 
none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor meet the first 
discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy.
    We next evaluated whether any of the straight-horned markhor 
populations meet the second discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS 
policy. A population segment may be considered discrete if it is 
delimited by international governmental boundaries within which 
differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. Although the 
straight-horned markhor is reported to occur in Afghanistan, it has 
likely been extirpated. Additionally, we found no significant 
differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms in Afghanistan and 
Pakistan; therefore, none of the populations of the straight-horned 
markhor meet the second discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy.
    We determine, based on a review of the best available information, 
that none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor, including 
the Torghar Hills population, meet the discreteness conditions of the 
1996 DPS policy. Because we found that the straight-horned markhor 
populations do not meet the discreteness element under the Service's 
DPS policy, we need not conduct an evaluation of significance under 
that policy. We conclude that none of the straight-horned markhor 
populations qualify as a DPS under the Act.

Significant Portion of the Range

    Having determined that the straight-horned markhor meets the 
definition of threatened throughout its range, we must next consider 
whether the straight-horned markhor is in danger of extinction within a 
significant portion of its range.
    The Act defines ``endangered species'' as any species which is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range,'' and ``threatened species'' as any species which is ``likely to 
become an endangered species within

[[Page 73182]]

the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' The phrase ``significant portion of its range'' (SPR) is not 
defined by the statute, and we have never addressed in our regulations 
either: (1) The consequences of a determination that a species is 
either endangered or likely to become so throughout a significant 
portion of its range, but not throughout all of its range; or (2) what 
qualifies a portion of a range as ``significant.''
    For the purposes of this finding, we interpret the phrase 
``significant portion of its range'' in the Act's definitions of 
``endangered species'' and ``threatened species'' to provide an 
independent basis for listing; thus there are two situations (or 
factual bases) under which a species would qualify for listing: a 
species may be endangered or threatened throughout all of its range; or 
a species may be endangered or threatened in only a significant portion 
of its range. If a species is in danger of extinction throughout an 
SPR, then that species is an ``endangered species.'' The same analysis 
applies to ``threatened species.'' Based on this interpretation and 
supported by existing case law, the consequence of finding that a 
species is endangered or threatened in only a significant portion of 
its range is that the entire species will be listed as endangered or 
threatened, respectively, and the Act's protections will be applied 
across the species' entire range.
    We conclude, for the purposes of this finding, that interpreting 
the SPR phrase as providing an independent basis for listing is the 
best interpretation of the Act because it is consistent with the 
purposes and the plain meaning of the key definitions of the Act; it 
does not conflict with established past agency practice, as no 
consistent, long-term agency practice has been established; and it is 
consistent with the judicial opinions that have most closely examined 
this issue. Having concluded that the phrase ``significant portion of 
its range'' provides an independent basis for listing and protecting 
the entire species, we next turn to the meaning of ``significant'' to 
determine the threshold for when such an independent basis for listing 
exists.
    Although there are potentially many ways to determine whether a 
portion of a species' range is ``significant,'' we conclude, for the 
purposes of this finding, that the significance of the portion of the 
range should be determined based on its biological contribution to the 
conservation of the species. For this reason, we describe the threshold 
for ``significant'' in terms of an increase in the risk of extinction 
for the species. We conclude that a biologically based definition of 
``significant'' best conforms to the purposes of the Act, is consistent 
with judicial interpretations, and best ensures species' conservation. 
Thus, for the purposes of this finding, and as explained further below, 
a portion of the range of a species is ``significant'' if its 
contribution to the viability of the species is so important that 
without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction.
    We evaluate biological significance based on the principles of 
conservation biology using the concepts of redundancy, resiliency, and 
representation. Resiliency describes the characteristics of a species 
and its habitat that allow it to recover from periodic disturbance. 
Redundancy (having multiple populations distributed across the 
landscape) may be needed to provide a margin of safety for the species 
to withstand catastrophic events. Representation (the range of 
variation found in a species) ensures that the species' adaptive 
capabilities are conserved. Redundancy, resiliency, and representation 
are not independent of each other, and some characteristic of a species 
or area may contribute to all three. For example, distribution across a 
wide variety of habitat types is an indicator of representation, but it 
may also indicate a broad geographic distribution contributing to 
redundancy (decreasing the chance that any one event affects the entire 
species), and the likelihood that some habitat types are less 
susceptible to certain threats, contributing to resiliency (the ability 
of the species to recover from disturbance). None of these concepts is 
intended to be mutually exclusive, and a portion of a species' range 
may be determined to be ``significant'' due to its contributions under 
any one or more of these concepts.
    For the purposes of this finding, we determine whether a portion 
qualifies as ``significant'' by asking whether without that portion, 
the representation, redundancy, or resiliency of the species would be 
so impaired that the species would have an increased vulnerability to 
threats to the point that the overall species would be in danger of 
extinction (i.e., would be ``endangered''). Conversely, we would not 
consider the portion of the range at issue to be ``significant'' if 
there is sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation 
elsewhere in the species' range that the species would not be in danger 
of extinction throughout its range if the population in that portion of 
the range in question became extirpated (extinct locally).
    We recognize that this definition of ``significant'' (a portion of 
the range of a species is ``significant'' if its contribution to the 
viability of the species is so important that without that portion, the 
species would be in danger of extinction) establishes a threshold that 
is relatively high. On the one hand, given that the consequences of 
finding a species to be endangered or threatened in an SPR would be 
listing the species throughout its entire range, it is important to use 
a threshold for ``significant'' that is robust. It would not be 
meaningful or appropriate to establish a very low threshold whereby a 
portion of the range can be considered ``significant'' even if only a 
negligible increase in extinction risk would result from its loss. 
Because nearly any portion of a species' range can be said to 
contribute some increment to a species' viability, use of such a low 
threshold would require us to impose restrictions and expend 
conservation resources disproportionately to conservation benefit: 
listing would be rangewide, even if only a portion of the range of 
minor conservation importance to the species is imperiled. On the other 
hand, it would be inappropriate to establish a threshold for 
``significant'' that is too high. This would be the case if the 
standard were, for example, that a portion of the range can be 
considered ``significant'' only if threats in that portion result in 
the entire species' being currently endangered or threatened. Such a 
high bar would not give the SPR phrase independent meaning, as the 
Ninth Circuit held in Defenders of Wildlife v. Norton, 258 F.3d 1136 
(9th Cir. 2001).
    The definition of ``significant'' used in this finding carefully 
balances these concerns. By setting a relatively high threshold, we 
minimize the degree to which restrictions will be imposed or resources 
expended that do not contribute substantially to species conservation. 
But we have not set the threshold so high that the phrase ``in a 
significant portion of its range'' loses independent meaning. 
Specifically, we have not set the threshold as high as it was under the 
interpretation presented by the Service in the Defenders litigation. 
Under that interpretation, the portion of the range would have to be so 
important that current imperilment there would mean that the species 
would be currently imperiled everywhere. Under the definition of 
``significant'' used in this finding, the portion of the range need not 
rise to such an exceptionally high level of biological significance. 
(We recognize that if the species is imperiled in a

[[Page 73183]]

portion that rises to that level of biological significance, then we 
should conclude that the species is in fact imperiled throughout all of 
its range, and that we would not need to rely on the SPR language for 
such a listing.) Rather, under this interpretation we ask whether the 
species would be endangered everywhere without that portion, i.e., if 
that portion were completely extirpated. In other words, the portion of 
the range need not be so important that even the species being in 
danger of extinction in that portion would be sufficient to cause the 
species in the remainder of the range to be endangered; rather, the 
complete extirpation (in a hypothetical future) of the species in that 
portion would be required to cause the species in the remainder of the 
range to be endangered.
    The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions 
in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to 
analyzing portions of the range that have no reasonable potential to be 
significant or to analyzing portions of the range in which there is no 
reasonable potential for the species to be endangered or threatened. To 
identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we 
determine whether there is substantial information indicating that: (1) 
The portions may be ``significant,'' and (2) the species may be in 
danger of extinction there or likely to become so within the 
foreseeable future. Depending on the biology of the species, its range, 
and the threats it faces, it might be more efficient for us to address 
the significance question first or the status question first. Thus, if 
we determine that a portion of the range is not ``significant,'' we do 
not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened 
there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened 
in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion 
is ``significant.'' In practice, a key part of the determination that a 
species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its 
range is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some 
way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout 
its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. 
Moreover, if any concentration of threats to the species occurs only in 
portions of the species' range that clearly would not meet the 
biologically based definition of ``significant,'' such portions will 
not warrant further consideration.
    After reviewing the potential threats throughout the range of the 
straight-horned markhor, we find that threats appear to be affecting 
the subspecies in the portion of the range outside of the Torghar Hills 
more severely, particularly with respect to overhunting. Applying the 
process described above for determining whether this subspecies is 
endangered in a significant portion of its range, we consider 
significance first to determine if this portion of the straight-horned 
markhor's range warrants further consideration.
    As stated above, a portion of the range of a species is 
``significant'' if its contribution to the viability of the species is 
so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger 
of extinction rangewide. We find that if there was a loss of the 
straight-horned markhor populations outside of the Torghar Hills, the 
remaining population in the Torghar Hills would not be in danger of 
extinction. The Torghar Hills population, under the management of the 
TCP, has been steadily increasing since the inception of the TCP in 
1985. Poaching, the greatest cause of substantial markhor declines, has 
been virtually eliminated in the Torghar Hills. Furthermore, the 
straight-horned markhor and its habitat are stable under the current 
management. Given the level of the abundance and protection within 
Torghar Hills as a result of management under the TCP, we find that 
this population would continue to persist, despite the hypothetical 
loss of the range outside of Torghar Hills. In contrast, based on the 
information available, the populations outside of Torghar Hills are 
small and fragmented. We have no information to suggest that habitat 
for populations outside of Torghar Hills is optimal, and, instead, the 
information suggests that these populations likely exist on lands that 
are subject to overgrazing by domestic livestock, which is the dominant 
land use and the primary means of subsistence for local tribes. 
Therefore, the portion of the range outside of the Torghar Hills does 
not meet the definition of ``significant'' and does not warrant further 
consideration.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, requirements for Federal 
protection in the United States, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and 
encourages and results in conservation actions by Federal and State 
governments in the United States, foreign governments, private agencies 
and groups, and individuals.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
their actions within the United States or on the high seas with respect 
to any species that is proposed or listed as endangered or threatened 
and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is being designated. 
However, given that the straight-horned markhor is not native to the 
United States, we are not designating critical habitat for this species 
under section 4 of the Act.
    Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited 
financial assistance for the development and management of programs 
that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful 
for the conservation of endangered and threatened species in foreign 
countries. Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to 
encourage conservation programs for foreign endangered species and to 
provide assistance for such programs in the form of personnel and the 
training of personnel.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered and 
threatened wildlife. These prohibitions, at 50 CFR 17.21 and 17.31, in 
part, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the 
United States to ``take'' (take includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt any of these) 
within the United States or upon the high seas; import or export; 
deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign 
commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for 
sale in interstate or foreign commerce any endangered or threatened 
wildlife species. It also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, 
transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken in violation 
of the Act. Certain exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State 
conservation agencies.
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered species and 17.32 for threatened species. For 
endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for scientific purposes, to 
enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental 
take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. For threatened 
species, a permit may be issued for the same activities, as well as 
zoological exhibition, education, and

[[Page 73184]]

special purposes consistent with the Act.

Special Rule

    Section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary may, by 
regulation, extend to threatened species prohibitions provided for 
endangered species under section 9 of the Act. Our implementing 
regulations for threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.31) incorporate the 
section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife, except when a special 
rule is promulgated. For threatened species, section 4(d) of the Act 
gives the Secretary discretion to specify the prohibitions and any 
exceptions to those prohibitions that are appropriate for the species, 
and provisions that are necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of the species. A special rule allows us to include 
provisions that are tailored to the specific conservation needs of the 
threatened species and which may be more or less restrictive than the 
general provisions at 50 CFR 17.31.
    The Service recognizes that there is a reasonable argument for the 
proposition that controlled sport hunting (i.e., noncommercial) may 
provide economic incentives that contribute to the conservation of 
certain wildlife populations. These incentives may be direct, such as 
generating funding for essential conservation measures through 
licensing fees. They may also be indirect, such as focusing 
governmental attention on the need to protect species of economic 
value.
    Well-managed conservation programs, including those that 
incorporate sport hunting, can significantly contribute to the 
conservation of wildlife, improve wildlife populations, and greatly 
enhance the livelihoods of the local people. The primary objective of a 
well-managed trophy-hunting program is not hunting, but the 
conservation of large mammals (Shackleton 2001, p. 7). The key lies in 
ensuring a sufficient number of mature males remain in the population 
to maintain normal reproduction rates. For species with polygynous 
mating systems, removing some of the males from a population does not 
necessarily affect the growth rate of the population. If a fraction of 
the mature trophy males are removed, normal reproduction can be 
maintained and any long-term genetic impacts from removing 
``genetically superior'' individuals from a population can be minimized 
(Shackleton 2001, p. 10).
    Many hunters are willing to pay relatively large fees for the 
privilege to hunt. If the money is used to conserve the species that is 
the focus of the conservation program, the program may be sustainable. 
Additionally, habitat restoration may also be achieved. Incorporating 
the needs of the local people creates an incentive to conserve wildlife 
and ensures the success of the program (Shackleton 2001, pp. 7, 10).
    In recognizing the potential of conservation programs, including 
those based on sport hunting, we are proposing a special rule to allow 
the import of sport-hunted markhor trophies taken from established 
conservation programs without a threatened species permit issued under 
50 CFR 17.32, provided that certain criteria are met. Importation of a 
personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor may be authorized by the 
Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Director) without a 
threatened species permit if the trophy is taken from a conservation 
program that meets the following criteria: (1) Populations of straight-
horned markhor within the conservation program's areas can be shown to 
be sufficiently large to sustain sport-hunting and the populations are 
stable or increasing; (2) regulating authorities have the capacity to 
obtain sound data on populations; (3) the conservation program can 
demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding or within the 
area managed by the conservation program and the species, and the funds 
derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to the community 
and the species; (4) regulating authorities have the legal and 
practical capacity to provide for the long-term survival of the 
populations; (5) regulating authorities can determine that the trophies 
have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an 
established conservation program. The Director may, consistent with the 
purposes of the Act, authorize by publication of a notice in the 
Federal Register the importation of personal sport-hunted straight-
horned markhor, taken legally from the established conservation program 
after the date of such notice, without a threatened species permit, 
provided that the applicable provisions of 50 CFR Part 23 have been 
met.
    As discussed above, hunting of markhor is allowed through a 
Pakistani Government exemption, and export of markhor in Pakistan is 
allowed only from community-managed conservation areas in accordance 
with CITES provisions. To encourage communities to conserve populations 
of markhor, the Conference of the Parties to CITES granted Pakistan an 
annual export quota of 12 markhor sport-hunted trophies taken through 
community-based programs. CITES Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14) 
recommends that CITES Authorities in the State of import approve 
permits of sport-hunted markhor trophies from Pakistan if they meet the 
terms of the Resolution. This proposed special rule, if made final, 
would similarly facilitate support for these conservation programs. 
Therefore, we find this special rule would provide necessary and 
advisable conservation measures that are needed for this subspecies.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy, ``Notice of Interagency Cooperative 
Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities,'' that was 
published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinion of at least three appropriate independent specialists regarding 
this proposed rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure listing 
decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and 
analysis. We will send copies of this proposed rule to the peer 
reviewers immediately following publication in the Federal Register. We 
will invite these peer reviewers to comment, during the public comment 
period, on the specific assumptions and the data that are the basis for 
our conclusions regarding the proposal to reclassify the straight-
horned markhor as threatened under the Act and to promulgate the 
proposed special rule.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during the 
comment period on this proposed rule during preparation of a final 
rulemaking. Accordingly, our final decision may differ from this 
proposal.

Required Determinations

Clarity of Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us 
revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For 
example, you should tell us the names of the sections or paragraphs 
that are unclearly written,

[[Page 73185]]

which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel 
lists or tables would be useful, etc.

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental 
assessment, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations 
adopted under section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining 
our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 
25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A list of all references cited in this document is available at 
http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2011-0003, or upon 
request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species 
Program, Branch of Foreign Species (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this proposed rule are staff members of the 
Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to further amend part 17, subchapter B of 
chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as amended at 
77 FR 47011 (August 7, 2012), as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245; unless 
otherwise noted.

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry for ``Markhor, Kabul'' 
and revising the entry for ``Markhor, straight-horned'' in the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         Species                                                  Vertebrate population
----------------------------------------------------------     Historic range      where endangered or       Status         When     Critical   Special
            Common name                Scientific name                                  threatened                         listed    habitat     rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Mammals
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Markhor, straight-horned..........  Capra falconeri        Afghanistan, Pakistan  Entire...............  T                      15         NA   17.40(a)
                                     megaceros.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
3. Amend Sec.  17.40 by adding a new paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  17.40  Special rules--mammals.

    (a) Straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros).
    (1) General requirements. Except as noted in paragraph (a)(2) of 
this section, all prohibitions of Sec.  17.31 of this part and 
exemptions of Sec.  17.32 of this part apply to this subspecies.
    (2) What are the criteria under which a personal sport-hunted 
trophy may qualify for import without a permit under Sec.  17.32 of 
this part? If, upon receiving information on an established 
conservation program for straight-horned markhor:
    (i) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation 
program's areas can be shown to be sufficiently large to sustain sport 
hunting and are stable or increasing;
    (ii) Regulating authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data 
on populations;
    (iii) The conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both 
the communities surrounding or within the area managed by the 
conservation program and the species; and the funds derived from sport 
hunting are applied toward benefits to the community and the species;
    (iv) Regulating authorities have the legal and practical capacity 
to provide for the long-term survival of the populations; and
    (v) Regulating authorities can determine that the sport-hunted 
trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an 
established conservation program, the Director may, consistent with the 
purposes of the Act, authorize by publication of a notice in the 
Federal Register the importation of personal sport-hunted straight-
horned markhor, taken legally from the established program after the 
date of such notice, without a Threatened Species permit issued under 
Sec.  17.32 of this part, provided that the applicable provisions of 50 
CFR Part 23 have been met.
* * * * *

    Dated: November 19, 2013.
Stephen Guertin,
 Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-28879 Filed 12-4-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P