Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf, 43358-43373 [2014-17587]

Download as PDF 43358 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0056; FXES11130900000C2–134–FF09E32000] RIN 1018–AY46 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule; revisions and notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement; reopening of public comment period and announcement of public hearings. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose new revisions to the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and announce the reopening of the public comment period and scheduling of public hearings on the proposed rule. In addition, we announce the availability of a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed revisions to the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf, and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule, the associated draft environmental impact statement, and the amended required determinations section. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule. DATES: We will consider comments received on or before September 23, 2014. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. In order to meet a court-ordered settlement agreement deadline, we will not be able to extend the date for public review and comment on these documents. Public Informational Sessions and Public Hearings: We will hold two public informational sessions and two public hearings on this proposed rule emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 and draft environmental impact statement. We will hold a public informational session from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in Pinetop, Arizona, on Monday, August 11, 2014 (see ADDRESSES). We will hold a public informational session from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 (see ADDRESSES). Registration to present oral comments on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement at the public hearings will begin at the start of each informational session. With the exception of Federal elected officials, all oral comment registration cards will be pooled and drawn at random. ADDRESSES: Document availability: The draft environmental impact statement for this proposed rule is available electronically on https:// www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0056 or from the office listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Document submission: You may submit written comments on this proposed rule and the draft environmental impact statement by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS– R2–ES–2013–0056, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’. Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment. (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2013– 0056; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. We request that you send comments on the proposed rule revision and draft environmental impact statement only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on https:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section below for more information). To increase our efficiency in downloading comments, groups providing mass submissions should submit their comments in an Excel file. PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Public informational sessions and public hearings: The August 11, 2014, public informational session and hearing will be held at the Hon-Dah Conference Center, 777 Highway 260, Pinetop, Arizona 85935. The August 13, 2014, public informational session and hearing will be held at the Civic Center, 400 West Fourth Street, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico 87901. People needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public hearings should contact the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, as soon as possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherry Barrett, Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113; by telephone 505–761–4704; or by facsimile 505–346–2542. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. Further contact information can be found on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program’s Web site at https:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ mexicanwolf/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary In 1998, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), published in the Federal Register a final rule that established a nonessential experimental population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico (63 FR 1752, January 12, 1998; Figure 1). We took this action in accordance with section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), which allows us to designate as an ‘‘experimental population’’ a population of endangered or threatened species that has been or will be released into suitable natural habitat outside the species’ current natural range. Experimental populations are treated as threatened species for purposes of section 9 of the Act. The general regulations that extend most section 9 prohibitions to threatened species do not apply to these populations, and we may use our discretion to devise management programs and special regulations for them. E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 We established the Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population in consideration of the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, which has the primary objective of establishing a viable, selfsustaining population of at least 100 Mexican wolves in the wild. In March of 1998, we released 11 Mexican wolves from the captive-breeding program to the wild. Many additional individuals and family groups have been released or translocated since that time. Through project reviews, annual reports, monitoring, and communication with our partners and the public, we now recognize that elements of the 1998 final rule need to be revised to help us enhance the growth, stability, and success of the nonessential experimental population. Accordingly, to improve implementation and conservation of the Mexican wolf VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 nonessential experimental population, on June 13, 2013, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to make several changes to the 1998 section 10(j) rule and management regulations for Mexican wolves (78 FR 35719). We are now revising the provisions in the June 2013 proposed rule based on information received during the public comment period and our scoping process for the draft environmental impact statement. We solicit public comment as described below. Public Comments We will accept written comments and information during this reopened comment period on our proposed revisions to the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), our draft environmental impact PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43359 statement, and the amended required determinations provided in this document. Any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, general public, and other interested parties concerning the revised proposed revision. We are particularly interested in comments concerning the following revisions to our proposed rule: (1) Moving the southern boundary of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona and New Mexico from Interstate Highway 10 to the United States-Mexico international border (Figure 2). E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 EP25JY14.040</GPH> emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules 43360 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 4310–55–C (2) Identifying Zones 1, 2, and 3 as different management areas within the MWEPA and discontinuing the use of the term Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) part of (Figure 2). Zone 1 is an area within the MWEPA in Arizona and New Mexico where Mexican wolves may be initially released or translocated, and includes all of the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves National Forests; the Payson, Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forest; and the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. Zone 2 is an area within the MWEPA where Mexican wolves will be allowed to naturally disperse into and occupy, and where Mexican wolves may be translocated. On Federal land in Zone 2, initial releases of Mexican wolves are limited to pups less than 5 months old, which allows for the cross-fostering of pups from the captive population into the wild, as well as enables translocation-eligible adults to be rereleased with pups born in captivity. On private and tribal land in Zone 2, VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Mexican wolves of any age, including adults, can also be initially released under a Service- and State-approved management agreement with private landowners or a Service-approved management agreement with tribal agencies. The northern boundary of Zone 2 is Interstate Highway 40; the western boundary goes south from Interstate Highway 40 and follows Arizona State Highway 93, Arizona State Highway 89/60, Interstate Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United States-Mexico international border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border heading east, then follows New Mexico State Highway 81/ 146 north to Interstate Highway 10, then along New Mexico State Highway 26 to Interstate Highway 25; the boundary continues along New Mexico State Highway 70/54/506/24; the eastern boundary follows the eastern edge of Otero County, New Mexico, to the north and then along the eastern edge of Lincoln County, New Mexico, until it intersects with New Mexico State Hwy 285 and follows New Mexico State PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Highway 285 north to the northern boundary of Interstate Highway 40. Zone 2 excludes the area in Zone 1. Zone 3 is an area within the MWEPA where neither initial releases nor translocations will occur, but Mexican wolves will be allowed to disperse into and occupy. Zone 3 is an area of less suitable Mexican wolf habitat and where Mexican wolves will be more actively managed under the authorities of this rule to reduce human conflict. We expect Mexican wolves to occupy areas of suitable habitat where ungulate populations are adequate to support them and conflict with humans and their livestock would be low. If Mexican wolves move outside areas of suitable habitat, they will be more actively managed. Zone 3 is two separate geographic areas on the east and west sides of the MWEPA. One area of Zone 3 is in western Arizona and the other in eastern New Mexico. In Arizona, the northern boundary of Zone 3 is Interstate Highway 40; the eastern boundary goes south from Interstate Highway 40 and follows State Highway 93, State Highway 89/60, Interstate E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 EP25JY14.041</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United States-Mexico international border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border; the western boundary is the Arizona-California State border. In New Mexico, the northern boundary is Interstate Highway 40; the eastern boundary is the New MexicoTexas State border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border heading west, then follows State Highway 81/146 north to Interstate Highway 10, then along State Highway 26 to Interstate Highway 25, the southern boundary continues along State Highway 70/54/506/24; the western boundary follows the eastern edge of Otero County to the north and then along the eastern edge of Lincoln County until it follows State Highway 285 north to the northern boundary of Interstate Highway 40. (3) Adding definitions for the terms cross-fostering; designated agency; disturbance-causing land-use activity; domestic animal; Federal land; feral dog; in the act of biting, killing, or wounding; initial release; intentional harassment; non-Federal land; Serviceapproved management plan; translocate; tribal trust land; ungulate herd; wounded; and Zones 1, 2, and 3. (4) Revising the due care criteria with regard to trapping activities. With regard to trapping activities, due care includes: Following the regulations, proclamations, recommendations, guidelines, and/or laws within the State or tribe where the trapping takes place; modifying or utilizing appropriate size traps, chains, drags, and stakes to reasonably expect to prevent a wolf from either breaking the chain, or escaping with the trap on the wolf, or utilizing sufficiently small traps (less than Victor 2) to reasonably expect the wolf to either immediately pull free from the trap, or span the jaw spread when stepping on the trap; reporting the capture of a Mexican wolf (even if the wolf has pulled free) within 24 hours to the Service; not taking a Mexican wolf via neck snares; and if a Mexican wolf is captured, trappers can call the Interagency Field Team (1–888–459– WOLF [9653]) as soon as possible to arrange for radio-collaring and releasing of the wolf. Per State regulations for releasing nontarget animals, trappers may also choose to release the animal alive and subsequently contact the Service or Interagency Field Team. (5) On non-Federal lands anywhere within the MWEPA, domestic animal owners or their agents may take (including kill or injure) any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 provided that evidence of a freshly wounded or killed domestic animal by a Mexican wolf is present. This take must be reported to the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service within 24 hours. The take of any Mexican wolf without evidence of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal may be referred to the appropriate authorities for investigation. (6) Based on the Service’s or a designated agency’s discretion and during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a designated agency (provided the Service’s or designated agency’s actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue permits to domestic animal owners or their agents (e.g., employees, land manager, local officials) to allow domestic animal owners or their agents to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any Mexican wolf that is present on nonFederal land where specified in the permit. Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by permittees under this provision will assist the Service or designated agency in completing control actions. Domestic animal owners or their agents must report this take to the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service within 24 hours. (7) Based on the Service’s or a designated agency’s discretion and during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a designated agency (provided the Service’s or designated agency’s actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue permits to domestic animal owners or their agents (e.g., employees, land manager, local officials) to allow livestock owners or their agents to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding livestock on Federal land. Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by livestock owners or their agents under this provision will assist the Service or designated agency in completing the authorized control action. Livestock owners or their agents must report this take to the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service within 24 hours. PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43361 (8) Allowing for take of Mexican wolves response to impacts to wild ungulates and in accordance with certain stipulations. If Arizona or New Mexico determines, based on established ungulate management goals, that Mexican wolf predation is having an unacceptable impact on a wild ungulate herd (pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, or bison), the respective State may request approval from the Service that Mexican wolves be removed from the area of the impacted ungulate herd. Upon written approval from the Service, the State (Arizona or New Mexico) or any designated agency may be authorized to remove (capture and translocate in the MWEPA, move to captivity, transfer to Mexico, or lethally take) Mexican wolves. Because tribes are able to request the capture and removal of Mexican wolves at any time, take in response to wild ungulate impacts is not applicable on tribal trust lands. We will consider all comments and information received during the public comment period in preparation of the final rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf and the final environmental impact statement. Accordingly, the final rule and final environmental impact statement may differ from this proposal and the draft environmental impact statement. Please note that comments merely stating support for or opposition to the actions under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination for the final rule. If you submitted comments or information on the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed revision to the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf or the August 5, 2013 (78 FR 47268), publication of a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in conjunction with the proposed rule, please do not resubmit them. We will incorporate them into the public record as part of this comment period, and we will fully consider them in the preparation of our final rule. You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed revision to the nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf, the draft environmental impact statement, and the amended required determinations provided in this document by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES. E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 43362 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules If you submit a comment via https:// www.regulations.gov, your entire comment—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on https:// www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials we receive, as well as some of the supporting documentation we used, will be available for public inspection on https://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0056, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Previous Federal Actions This document discusses only those topics directly relevant to the modifications we are making to our proposal to revise existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf and the associated draft environmental impact statement. For more information on previous Federal actions concerning the Mexican wolf, refer to the proposed revision to the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf, which published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), and is available online at https:// www.regulations.gov (at Docket Number FWS–R2–ES–2013–0056) or from the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Background On June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), we published a proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. That proposal had a 90-day comment period ending September 11, 2013. On August 5, 2013 (78 FR 47268), we published a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in conjunction with the proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. That notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement had a 45-day comment period ending September 19, 2013. On September 5, 2013 (78 FR 54613), we extended the public comment period on the proposed VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf to end on October 28, 2013, and announced public hearings. On October 28, 2013 (78 FR 64192), we once again extended the public comment period on the proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf to end on December 17, 2013, and announced public hearings on the proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. We will submit for publication in the Federal Register a final rule revising the existing nonessential experimental population of the Mexican wolf on or before January 12, 2015. Changes From the June 13, 2013, Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf Based on information received during the public comment period and our scoping process for the draft environmental impact statement, we are proposing several modifications to our June 13, 2013, proposal to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. Under section 10(j) of the Act and our regulations at 50 CFR 17.81, the Service may designate as an experimental population a population of endangered or threatened species that has been or will be released into suitable natural habitat outside the species’ current natural range. When designating an experimental population, the general regulations that extend most section 9 prohibitions to threatened species do not apply to that species, and the section 10(j) rule contains the prohibitions and exemptions necessary and appropriate to conserve that species. In order to improve implementation and conservation, we are proposing several changes to our proposed rule to revise the section 10(j) rule and management regulations for the Mexican wolves. Revisions and Considerations From the June 13, 2013, Proposal That Will Not Be Carried Forward Into the Final Rule In the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf, we proposed that Mexican wolves on Stateowned lands within the boundaries of the MWEPA be regulated in the same manner as on lands owned and managed by other public land management agencies. In this modification to our proposal, we have removed any reference that the Service PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 will consider State-owned lands within the boundaries of the MWEPA in the same manner as we consider lands owned and managed by other public land management agencies. In the 1998 final rule that established a Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population (63 FR 1752, January 12, 1998) (1998 Final Rule), management of Mexican wolves on all State-owned lands within the boundary of the MWEPA, but outside of designated wolf recovery areas, were subject to the provisions of private lands. Henceforth, the Service will consider the management of Mexican wolves on State-owned lands within the boundaries of the MWEPA in the same manner and subject to the same provisions of this rule as on non-Federal lands, which is consistent with the 1998 Final Rule. Additionally in the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule, we proposed to modify the provision ‘‘six breeding pairs’’ to a requirement that at least 100 Mexican wolves must be present in the MWEPA before a permit to take Mexican wolves can be issued to livestock owners or agents on public land grazing allotments. The 1998 Final Rule included a definition of breeding pair as one of the conditions for take of Mexican wolves by livestock owners or agents on public land grazing allotments (i.e., that there must be six breeding pairs present in order for a permit to take wolves to be issued by the Service). In the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule we considered overall population size to be a better metric for evaluating the appropriateness of providing such permits because it provided a more consistent measure of the population’s status. However, based on scientific information that was submitted during public comment, we are no longer using six breeding pairs or at least 100 Mexican wolves as conditions for issuing a permit to livestock owners or their agents on Federal lands. Now, we are proposing to allow livestock owners or their agents to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding livestock on Federal land be based on the Service’s or a designated agency’s discretion and during or after a removal action has been authorized by the Service or a designated agency (provided the Service’s or designated agency’s actions were unsuccessful). Also in the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), preamble to our proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf, we considered several additional revisions. One of the E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules considerations was to change the term ‘‘depredation’’ to ‘‘depredation incident’’ and revise the definition to mean, ‘‘The aggregate number of livestock killed or mortally wounded by an individual Mexican wolf or single pack of Mexican wolves at a single location within one 24-hour period, beginning with the first confirmed kill or injury.’’ We considered this change in order to provide consistency with terms used in our management documents (standard operating protocol, management plans, etc.), in which we consider all of the depredations that occur within one 24-hour period as one incident in our determination of what management actions to apply to a given situation. However, we received public comment, particularly from the ranching community, that this term does not appropriately communicate individual depredations (e.g., a wolf may have depredated three times in one 24-hour period). In addition, we are using the term ‘‘depredation’’ only in our definition of problem wolves. Therefore, we will no longer consider changing the term ‘‘depredation’’ to ‘‘depredation incident’’ and will use the term ‘‘depredation’’ only as defined in the rule portion of this document. Below, we discuss the additional modifications to our proposal to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. Additional or Revised Definitions for the Proposal To Revise the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS We are adding or revising several definitions to our June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule to provide additional clarification; definitions for these terms are laid out in the rule portion of this document: Cross-fostering Designated agency Disturbance-causing land-use activity Domestic animal Federal land Feral dog In the act of biting, killing, or wounding Initial release Intentional harassment Non-Federal land Service-approved management plan Translocate Tribal trust land Ungulate herd Wounded Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Proposed Revisions to the Geographic Area of the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population We are proposing to expand the MWEPA by moving the southern boundary from Interstate Highway 10 to the United States-Mexico international border across Arizona and New Mexico (Figure 2). Expanding the MWEPA was a recommendation in the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project 5Year Review (AMOC and IFT 2005, p. ARC–3). We are proposing this modification because the reintroduction effort for Mexican wolves now being undertaken by the Mexican Government has established a need to manage Mexican wolves that may disperse into southern Arizona and New Mexico from reestablished Mexican wolf populations in Mexico. An expansion of the MWEPA south to the international border with Mexico would allow us to manage all Mexican wolves in this area, regardless of origin, under the experimental population 10(j) rule. The regulatory flexibility provided by our proposed revisions to the 1998 Final Rule would allow us to take management actions within the MWEPA that further the conservation of the Mexican wolf while being responsive to needs of the local community in cases of problem wolf behavior. Also, we are identifying Zones 1, 2, and 3 as different management areas within the MWEPA and discontinuing the use of the term BRWRA. Zone 1 is where Mexican wolves may be initially released or translocated, and includes all of the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves National Forests; the Payson, Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forest; and the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. Zone 2 is an area within the MWEPA where Mexican wolves will be allowed to naturally disperse into and occupy, and where Mexican wolves may be translocated. On Federal land in Zone 2, initial releases of Mexican wolves are limited to pups less than 5 months old, which allows for the cross-fostering of pups from the captive population into the wild, as well as enables translocationeligible adults to be re-released with pups born in captivity. On private and tribal land in Zone 2, Mexican wolves of any age, including adults, can also be initially released under a Service- and State-approved management agreement with private landowners or a Serviceapproved management agreement with tribal agencies. Translocations in Zone 2 will be focused on suitable Mexican wolf habitat that is contiguous to occupied Mexican wolf range. Zone 3 is PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43363 where neither initial releases nor translocations will occur, but Mexican wolves will be allowed to disperse into and occupy. Zone 3 is an area of less suitable Mexican wolf habitat and where Mexican wolves will be more actively managed under the authorities of this rule to reduce human conflict. We are also proposing the expansion of initial release sites to include the entire Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona; the Payson, Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forest in Arizona; and the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico (Figure 2). This expansion would include the proposed modification that would allow for initial releases and translocations throughout Zone 1. Our proposed modification to eliminate the primary and secondary recovery zones within Zone 1 and our consideration of expanding Zone 1 to include the entire Sitgreaves and three Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forests in Arizona and one Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico are consistent with recommendations in the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project 5-Year Review (AMOC and IFT 2005, p. ARC–4). These revisions will provide additional area and locations for initial release of Mexican wolves to the wild from captivity beyond that currently allowed by the 1998 Final Rule. Clarification of Take Provisions From the 1998 Final Rule for the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population In the rule portion of this document, we have clarified take provisions for intentional harassment, opportunistic harassment, take for research purposes, take by Service personnel or designated agency, and unintentional take. In restructuring these allowable forms of take, we have not added more forms of take. Rather, we restructured to clarify take provisions provided in the 1998 Final Rule. We have also revised the due care criteria in regard to trapping activities. And we have provided language to clarify that personnel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services will not be in violation of the Act or this rule for take of a Mexican wolf that occurs while conducting official duties associated with predator damage management activities for species other than Mexican wolves. Furthermore, we have modified provisions in the 1998 Final Rule to allow for removal of Mexican wolves in response to impacts to wild ungulates. E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 43364 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Under this provision, if Arizona or New Mexico determines, based on ungulate management goals, that Mexican wolf predation is having an unacceptable impact on a wild ungulate herd (pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, or bison), the respective State may request approval from the Service that Mexican wolves be removed from the area of the impacted ungulate herd. Upon written approval from the Service, the State (Arizona or New Mexico) or any designated agency may be authorized to remove (capture and translocate in the MWEPA, move to captivity, transfer to Mexico, or lethally take) Mexican wolves. These management actions must occur in accordance with § 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(A). Additional Proposed Provisions to the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population One of the additional provisions we are now proposing is to allow take of a Mexican wolf on non-Federal lands anywhere within the MWEPA by domestic animal owners or their agents when any Mexican wolf is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal provided that evidence of a freshly wounded or killed domestic animal by Mexican wolves is present. We are also proposing provisions for the issuance of permits on non-Federal land anywhere within the MWEPA, and under particular circumstances, to allow domestic animal owners or their agents to take (including intentional harassment or kill) any Mexican wolf that is present on non-Federal land. Permits issued under this provision specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by permittees under this provision will assist the Service or designated agency in completing control actions. Domestic animal owners or their agents must report this take to the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service within 24 hours. Lastly, we have added reporting requirements which clarify that, unless otherwise specified in this rule or in a permit, any take of a Mexican wolf must be reported to the Service or our designated agency within 24 hours. Peer Review In accordance with our joint policy published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we conducted peer review on our June 2013 rule. Due to the revisions, we will again seek expert opinions from previous reviewers and independent specialists VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 regarding this revised proposed rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure that our final rule for this species is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We will send peer reviewers copies of this document immediately following publication in the Federal Register. We will invite these peer reviewers to comment, during the reopening of the public comment period, on our use and interpretation of the science used in developing our proposed rule. We will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period on the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule and this revised proposed rule during preparation of a final rulemaking. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal. Required Determinations—Amended In our June 13, 2013, proposed rule (78 FR 35719), we indicated that we would defer our determination of compliance with several statutes and executive orders until the information concerning potential economic impacts of the designation and potential effects on landowners and stakeholders became available in the draft environmental impact statement. We have now made use of the draft environmental impact statement data to make these determinations. In this document, we affirm the information in our proposed rule concerning Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), E.O. 13132 (Federalism), E.O. 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), E.O. 13211 (Energy, Supply, Distribution, and Use), the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.), the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951), and E.O. 12630 (Takings). However, based on the draft economic analysis data, we are amending our required determinations concerning the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), and the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996; 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever a Federal agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare, and make available for public comment, a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effect of the PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 rule on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of an agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. According to the Small Business Administration, small entities include small organizations such as independent nonprofit organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses include such businesses as manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 million in annual business, and forestry and logging operations with fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than $7 million. To determine whether small entities may be affected, we considered the types of activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this designation as well as types of project modifications that may result. In general, the term ‘‘significant economic impact’’ is meant to apply to a typical small business firm’s business operations. Importantly, the impacts of a rule must be both significant and substantial to prevent certification of the rule under the RFA and to require the preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis. If a substantial number of small entities are affected by the proposed rule, but the per-entity economic impact is not significant, the Service may certify. Likewise, if the perentity economic impact is likely to be significant, but the number of affected entities is not substantial, the Service may also certify. In the 1998 Final Rule, we found that the nonessential experimental population would not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The 1998 Final Rule set forth management directions and provided for limited E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules allowable legal take of Mexican wolves within the MWEPA. We concluded that the rule would not significantly change costs to industry or governments. Furthermore, the rule produced no adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S. enterprises to compete with foreignbased enterprises in domestic or export markets. We further concluded that no significant direct costs, information collection, or recordkeeping requirements were imposed on small entities by the action and that the rule was not a major rule as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2) (63 FR 1752, January 12, 1998). If this proposed revision to the nonessential experimental population of the Mexican wolf is adopted, the area affected by this rule includes the portion of the States of Arizona and New Mexico from Interstate Highway 40 south to the United States–Mexico international border. This rule proposes activities that have, in part, already been taking place within the BRWRA. However, it expands many of those activities to larger portions of the MWEPA. In addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer (rather than consult) with the Service on actions that are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a species. However, because a nonessential experimental population is, by definition, not essential to the survival of the species, conferencing will unlikely be required within the MWEPA. Furthermore, the results of a conference are strictly advisory in nature and do not restrict agencies from carrying out, funding, or authorizing activities. In addition, section 7(a)(1) requires Federal agencies to use their authorities to carry out programs to further the conservation of listed species, which would apply on any lands within the nonessential experimental population area. As a result, and in accordance with these regulations, some modifications to the proposed Federal actions within the nonessential experimental population area may occur to benefit the Mexican wolf, but we do not expect projects on Federal lands to be halted or substantially modified as a result of these regulations. On the other hand, this proposed revision would allow Mexican wolves to occupy anywhere within the MWEPA, which has the potential to affect small entities in the area outside the initial release areas. Specifically, small businesses involved in hunting and animal production, such as outfitters, VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 guides, and beef cattle and sheep ranching, may be affected by Mexican wolves preying on wild native ungulates or depredating on domestic animals. We have further assessed these types of impacts to small entities in the area outside the initial release areas in the draft environmental impact statement. Small businesses involved in ranching and livestock production may be affected by Mexican wolves depredating on domestic animals. Direct effects to small businesses could include foregone calf or cow sales at auctions due to depredations. Indirect effects could include impacts such as increased ranch operation costs for surveillance and oversight of the herd, and weight loss of livestock when wolves are present. Ranchers have also expressed concern that a persistent presence of wolves may negatively impact their property and business values. We do not foresee a significant economic impact to a substantial number of small entities in the ranching and livestock production sector based on the following information. The Department of Agriculture reported a national estimate of 89.3 million cattle and calves in 2013, which implies that together, Arizona and New Mexico contribute approximately 2.5 percent to the overall national supply (NASS: https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov). Over 90 percent of the ranches in Arizona (approximately 6646 out of 7384 ranches) and 80 percent of the ranches in New Mexico (approximately 5336 out of 6670 ranches) could be classified as small with a total number of less than 100 cattle. We estimate there are fewer than 12,000 small ranches in Arizona and New Mexico below Interstate 40 (the project area), based on 2007 Census of Agriculture data by county. This is a significant overestimate of the number of small ranches in the project area because it includes data for counties that are split by Interstate 40 (i.e., only a portion of the counties’ ranches occur in the study area), as well as ranches that may occur in Zone 3 where we do not expect wolf occupancy over the project time period. While small ranches represent the majority of the number of ranches in the two States, they produce less than 10 percent of the states’ total cattle and calf inventory, or a quarter of one percent of the national inventory. The largest operations, those with an inventory greater than 2,500 cattle, account for over 50 percent of the total states’ livestock. Between 1998 and 2013, on average there were about 56 total depredations (confirmed and unconfirmed) by Mexican wolves in any given year, PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43365 which equates to about 1.2 cow/calves killed for every Mexican wolf (or 118 depredations for every 100 Mexican wolves). Compared to the 2007 total inventory of cattle (123,124) for the 5 county area of the Mexican wolf initial release area (Graham, Greenlee, and Apache Counties, Arizona, and Catron and Grant Counties, New Mexico) both confirmed and unconfirmed depredations per 100 Mexican wolves account for less than 0.01 percent of the herd size. The economic cost of Mexican wolf depredations in this time period has been a small percentage of the total value of the livestock operations. The average number of cattle killed (both confirmed and unconfirmed) in any given year is estimated to be 118.2 per 100 Mexican wolves. The expected value of these cattle (118.2 cattle killed per 100 Mexican wolves on average for any year) at auction using 2012 prices (most current data available at the time of the analysis) would be about $98,000 dollars. Prices will be updated for the final EIS. We recognize that annual depredation events have not been, and may not be uniformly distributed across the ranches operating in occupied wolf range. Rather, wolves seem to concentrate in particular areas and to the extent that livestock are targeted by the pack for depredations, some ranch operations will be disproportionately affected. However, while a depredation could disproportionately impact a small ranch compared to a larger ranch (e.g., in lost market value), it is more likely that a depredated cow will belong to a large ranching operation than a small one based on the proportion of cattle associated with ranch size. The annual number of depredations (both confirmed and unconfirmed) is expected to grow from 97 to 335 cows/calves as the Mexican wolf population also grows from 83 to 285 individuals during the period 2013 through 2026. The total economic impact to the ranching community during this period is calculated to be $2.3 million with a net present value of $1.4 million. We would expect to compensate 100 percent of the market value of confirmed depredated cattle and 50 percent of market value for probably kills with payments to affected ranchers from our Mexican Wolf Interdiction Fund, which provides for proactive conservation measures to decrease the likelihood of depredation and for compensation of verified livestock depredations. This impact, spread over a 12-year period, is not both significant and substantial. That is, if impacts are disproportionately felt, the E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 43366 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules number of affected ranches will be small but the impact to those affected may be significant. If the impacts are more evenly spread across a greater number of ranches the economic impact to those entities will not be significant. Small businesses involved in ranching and livestock production may be affected by weight loss of livestock due to the presence of Mexican wolves. For example, livestock may lose weight because wolves force them off of suitable grazing habitat or away from water sources. Livestock may try to protect themselves by staying close together in protected areas where they are more easily able to see approaching wolves and defend themselves and their calves. A consequence of such a behavioral change would likely be weight loss, especially if the wolves are allowed to persist in the area for a significant amount of time. The weight loss would be associated with the cattle’s fear of roaming away from the herd to forage. Using a mid-point estimate of 6 percent weight loss for calves at the time of auction (based on available data), we calculated the impact on 2012 model ranches assuming that wolf presence pressures were allowed to persist throughout the foraging year. Based on available studies and reports and under current market prices, a six percent weight loss for calves at the time of sale could result in a total loss of profit for a small ranch and reduce profits for a medium and large ranch on the equivalent of losing five and ten calves for auction from the baseline (an estimated loss of profit of $9,269 for a large ranch). We estimate that only a small proportion of ranches in the project area could be affected by weight loss, given that wolves may not occupy areas near some ranches’ livestock during any point of the project time frame (12 years), wolves may not be in the vicinity of some ranches’ livestock for the entire foraging season (as assumed in our calculations), and landowners and the Service and our designated agencies have a variety of harassment and take mechanisms available to address wolf-livestock conflicts. Furthermore while such an impact could be significant to an individual small ranch, for the purposes of this certification we do not consider the impact significant because small ranches account for less than 10 percent of the states’ total cattle and calf inventory, or a quarter of one percent of the national inventory. Therefore, we do not foresee a significant economic impact to a substantial number of small entities in the ranching and livestock production sector associated with VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 indirect effects of weight loss of livestock when wolves are present. Small businesses associated with hunting in Arizona and New Mexico could also be affected by implementation of our proposed action. Direct effects to small businesses in this section could occur from impacts to big game populations due to Mexican wolf predation (primarily on elk); loss of hunter visitation to the region, or a decline in hunter success, leading to lost income or increased costs to guides and outfitters. However, we do not have information suggesting that these impacts will occur. Between 1998 and 2012, Arizona Game and Fish Department conducted a study to determine the impact that Mexican wolves have had on deer and elk populations in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The study found that while Mexican wolves do target elk as their primary prey source, including elk calves during the spring and summer season, there was no discernable impact on the number of elk calves that survive through early fall periods. A similar finding was made for mule deer. The study also reported that the number of elk permits authorized by AGFD has varied since Mexican wolves were reintroduced into Arizona. The study reports that the variation is attributable to a variety of management-related objectives. Elk availability for hunters, however, was not the reason for the decline. During the project time period, we expect the Mexican wolf density in the MWEPA to be no higher (and more likely, lower) than it is currently and wolf to elk ratios (an indicator of predation pressure) to occur at levels resulting in less than significant biological impacts, suggesting that ungulate populations will not be impacted by Mexican wolves. Furthermore, information suggests that wolves tend to prey on unproductive calf elk and older cow elk, whereas hunters are seeking elk with high reproductive potential. Trends in hunter visitation and success rates since 1998 in the areas where Mexican wolves have been introduced are stable or increasing based on the number of licensed hunters and hunter success rates. We do not have information suggesting these trends would change during the project time period. Therefore, we do not foresee a significant economic impact to a substantial number of small entities associated with hunting activities. We also considered impacts to the tourism industry from implementation of our proposed action. In this case, impacts to small businesses would be positive, stemming from increased PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 profits associated with wolf-related outdoor recreation opportunities, such as providing eco-tours in Mexican wolf country. However, we do not have information suggesting that wolf presence will create significant (positive) economic impacts to a substantial number of small entities, as very few eco-tours or other ventures have been identified since 1998. Therefore, we do not foresee a significant economic impact to a substantial number of small entities associated with tourism activities. In summary, we have considered whether the proposed designation would result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Information for this analysis was gathered from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, cooperating agencies, New Mexico Game and Fish Department, stakeholders, published literature and reports, and the Service. For the above reasons and based on currently available information, we certify that, if promulgated, the proposed revision to the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. Paperwork Reduction Act We may not conduct or sponsor and the public is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB has reviewed and approved our collection of information associated with reporting the taking of experimental populations (50 CFR 17.84) and assigned OMB Control Number 1018–0095. The OMB has also approved the collection of information associated with endangered and threatened species permit applications and reports and assigned OMB Control Number 1018–0094, which expires January 31, 2017. This proposal contains a requirement to prepare a science based document in order to obtain Service authorization to remove Mexican wolves in response to impacts to wild ungulates. Because this requirement applies only to two States, OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) is not required. Draft Environmental Impact Statement The purpose of the draft environmental impact statement, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), is to identify and disclose the environmental consequences resulting from the proposed action of revising the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. In the draft environmental impact statement, four alternatives are evaluated: Alternative One (BRWRA Expansion; MWEPA Expansion with Management Zone; Modified Provisions for Take of Mexican Wolves); Alternative Two (MWEPA Expansion with Management Zones; Modified Provisions for Take of Mexican Wolves); Alternative Three (BRWRA Expansion; MWEPA Expansion with Management Zones); and Alternative Four (No Action). The no action alternative is required by NEPA for comparison to the other alternatives analyzed in the draft environmental impact statement. Our preliminary determination is that revising the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf will not have significant impacts on the environment. However, we will further evaluate this issue as we complete our final environmental impact statement. As we stated earlier, we are soliciting data and comments from the public on the draft environmental impact statement, as well as all aspects of the proposed rule. We may revise the proposed rule or supporting documents to incorporate or address information we receive during the comment period on the environmental consequences resulting from our revision of the existing nonessential experimental population designation. Management of Wolves Outside the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population Area For Mexican wolves that occur outside the MWEPA, the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) prohibits activities with endangered and threatened species unless a Federal permit allows such activities. Along with our implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 17, the Act provides for permits, and requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits. A permit granted by us under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act authorizes activities with U.S. endangered or threatened species for scientific purposes, enhancement of survival or propagation, or interstate commerce. Our regulations regarding implementation of section 10(a)(1)(A) permits are found at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered wildlife species, 50 CFR 17.32 for threatened wildlife species, 50 CFR 17.62 for endangered plant species, and 50 CFR 17.72 for threatened plant species. VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 As part of this rulemaking process, we have drafted a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit to allow for certain activities with Mexican wolves that occur outside the MWEPA. In compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), we have included analysis of the environmental effects of the draft permit as part of our draft EIS. This draft section 10(a)(1)(A) permit is attached as an appendix in the draft EIS. Both the Act and the National Environmental Policy Act require that we invite public comment before issuing these permits. Therefore, we invite local, State, tribal, and Federal agencies, and the public to comment on the draft section 10(a)(1)(A) permit. Authors The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). 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 proposed to be amended at 78 FR 35719 (June 13, 2013) set forth below: 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 § 17.84 by revising paragraph (k) to read as follows: ■ § 17.84 Special rules—vertebrates. * * * * * (k) Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). This paragraph (k) sets forth the provisions of a rule to establish an experimental population of Mexican wolves. (1) Purpose of the rule: The Service finds that reestablishment of an experimental population of Mexican wolves into the subspecies’ probable historical range will further the conservation of the Mexican wolf subspecies. The Service also finds that the experimental population is not essential under § 17.81(c)(2). (2) Determinations: The Mexican wolf population reestablished in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA), identified in paragraph (k)(4) of this section, is one nonessential PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43367 experimental population. This nonessential experimental population will be managed according to the provisions of this rule. The Service does not intend to change the nonessential experimental designation to essential experimental, threatened, or endangered. Critical habitat cannot be designated under the nonessential experimental classification, 16 U.S.C. 1539(j)(2)(C)(ii). (3) Definitions—Key terms used in this rule have the following definitions: Active den means a den or a specific site above or below ground that is used by Mexican wolves on a daily basis to raise pups, typically between March 1 and July 31. More than one den site may be used in a single season. Cross-fostering means offspring that are removed from their biological parents and placed with surrogate parents. Depredation means the confirmed killing or wounding of lawfully present domestic animals by one or more wolves. The Service, Wildlife Services, or other Service-designated agencies will confirm cases of wolf depredation on lawfully present domestic animals. Designated agency means a Federal, State, or tribal agency designated by the Service to assist in implementing this rule, all or in part, consistent with a Service-approved management plan, special management measure, conference opinion pursuant to section 7(a)(4) of the Act, section 6 of the Act as authorized pursuant to § 17.31 for State wildlife agencies with authority to manage Mexican wolves, or a valid permit issued by the Service under § 17.32. Disturbance-causing land-use activity means any activity on Federal lands that the Service determines could adversely affect reproductive success, natural behavior, or persistence of Mexican wolves. Such activities may include, but are not limited to—timber or wood harvesting, prescribed fire, mining or mine development, camping outside designated campgrounds, livestock drives, off-road vehicle use, hunting, and any other use or activity with the potential to disturb wolves. The following activities are specifically excluded from this definition: (i) Lawfully present livestock and use of water sources by livestock; (ii) Livestock drives if no reasonable alternative route or timing exists; (iii) Vehicle access over established roads to non-Federal land where legally permitted activities are ongoing if no reasonable alternative route exists; (iv) Use of lands within the National Park or National Wildlife Refuge Systems as safety buffer zones for E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 43368 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules military activities and Department of Homeland Security border security activities; (v) Fire-fighting activities associated with wildfires; and (vi) Any authorized, specific land use that was active and ongoing at the time Mexican wolves chose to locate a den or rendezvous site nearby. Domestic animal means livestock as defined in paragraph (k)(3) of this section and non-feral dogs. Federal land means land owned and under the administration of Federal agencies including, but not limited to, the Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy, or Department of Defense. Feral dog means any dog (Canis familiaris) or wolf-dog hybrid that, because of absence of physical restraint or conspicuous means of identifying it at a distance as non-feral, is reasonably thought to range freely over a rural landscape without discernible, proximate control by any person. Feral dogs do not include domestic dogs that are penned, leashed, or otherwise restrained (e.g., by shock collar) or which are working livestock or being lawfully used to trail or locate wildlife. Harass means intentional or negligent actions or omissions that create the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering. In the act of biting, killing, or wounding means grasping, biting, attacking, wounding, or feeding upon a live domestic animal on non-Federal land or live livestock on Federal land. The term does not include a Mexican wolf feeding on an animal carcass. Initial release means releasing Mexican wolves to the wild within Zone 1, or in accordance with tribal or private land agreements in Zone 2, that have never been in the wild, or releasing pups that have never been in the wild and are less than 5 months old within Zones 1 or 2. The initial release of pups less than 5 months old into Zone 2 allows for the cross-fostering of pups from the captive population into the wild, as well as enables translocationeligible adults to be re-released in Zone 2 with pups born in captivity. Intentional harassment means deliberate, pre-planned harassment of Mexican wolves, including by less-thanlethal means (such as 12-gauge shotgun rubber-bullets and bean-bag shells) designed to cause physical discomfort and temporary physical injury, but not death. Intentional harassment includes VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 situations where the Mexican wolf or wolves may have been unintentionally attracted, or intentionally tracked, waited for, chased, or searched out; and then harassed. Intentional harassment of Mexican wolves is only allowed under a permit issued by the Service or its designated agency. Livestock means domestic alpacas, bison, burros (donkeys), cattle, goats, horses, llamas, mules, and sheep, or other domestic animals defined as livestock in Service-approved State and tribal Mexican wolf management plans. Poultry is not considered livestock under this rule. Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) means an area in Arizona and New Mexico including Zones 1, 2, and 3, that lies south of Interstate Highway 40 to the international border with Mexico. Non-Federal land means any private, State-owned, or tribal trust land. Occupied Mexican wolf range means an area of confirmed presence of Mexican wolves based on the most recent map of occupied range posted on the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Web site at https:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ mexicanwolf/. Specific to Prohibitions (5)(iii) of this rule, Zone 3 and tribal trust lands are not considered occupied range. Opportunistic harassment means scaring any Mexican wolf from the immediate area by taking actions such as discharging firearms or other projectile-launching devices in proximity to but not in the direction of the wolf, throwing objects at it, or making loud noise in proximity to it. Such harassment might cause temporary, non-debilitating physical injury, but is not reasonably anticipated to cause permanent physical injury or death. Opportunistic harassment of Mexican wolves can occur without a permit issued by the Service or its designated agency. Problem wolves mean Mexican wolves that, for purposes of management and control by the Service or its designated agent(s), are: (i) Individuals or members of a group or pack (including adults, yearlings, and pups greater than 4 months of age) that were directly involved in a depredation on lawfully present domestic animals; or (ii) Habituated to humans, human residences, or other facilities regularly occupied by humans. Rendezvous site means a gathering and activity area regularly used by Mexican wolf pups after they have emerged from the den. Typically, these sites are used for a period ranging from PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 about 1 week to 1 month in the first summer after birth during the period from June 1 to September 30. Several rendezvous sites may be used in succession within a single season. Service-approved management plan means management plans approved by the Regional Director or Director of the Service through which Federal, State, or tribal agencies may become a designated agency. The management plan must address how Mexican wolves will be managed to achieve conservation goals in compliance with the Act, this 10(j) nonessential experimental population rule, and other Service policies. If a Federal, State, or tribal agency becomes a designated agency through a Serviceapproved management plan, the Service will help coordinate their activities while retaining authority for program direction, oversight, and guidance. Take means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). Translocate means to release Mexican wolves into the wild that have previously been in the wild. In the MWEPA, translocations will occur only in Zones 1 and 2. Tribal trust land means any lands title to which is either: held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual; or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to restrictions by the United States against alienation. For purposes of this rule, tribal trust land does not include land purchased in fee title by a tribe. We consider fee simple land purchased by tribes to be private land. Unintentional take means take that occurs despite the use of due care, is coincidental to an otherwise lawful activity, and is not done on purpose. Taking a Mexican wolf by poisoning or shooting will not be considered unintentional take. Ungulate herd means an assemblage of wild ungulates living in a given area. Wounded means exhibiting scraped or torn hide or flesh, bleeding, or other evidence of physical damage caused by a Mexican wolf bite. Zone 1 means an area within the MWEPA in Arizona and New Mexico where Mexican wolves may be initially released from captivity or translocated. Zone 1 includes all of the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves National Forests; the Payson, Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forest; and the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. Zone 2 is an area within the MWEPA where Mexican wolves will be allowed to naturally disperse into and occupy, E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS and where Mexican wolves may be translocated. On Federal land in Zone 2, initial releases of Mexican wolves are limited to pups less than 5 months old, which allows for the cross-fostering of pups from the captive population into the wild, as well as enables translocation-eligible adults to be rereleased with pups born in captivity. On private and tribal land in Zone 2, Mexican wolves of any age, including adults, can also be initially released under a Service- and State-approved management agreement with private landowners or a Service-approved management agreement with tribal agencies. The northern boundary of Zone 2 is Interstate Highway 40; the western boundary goes south from Interstate Highway 40 and follows Arizona State Highway 93, Arizona State Highway 89/60, Interstate Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United States-Mexico international border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border heading east, then follows New Mexico State Highway 81/ 146 north to Interstate Highway 10, then along New Mexico State Highway 26 to Interstate Highway 25; the boundary continues along New Mexico State Highway 70/54/506/24; the eastern boundary follows the eastern edge of Otero County, New Mexico, to the north and then along the eastern edge of VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 Lincoln County, New Mexico, until it intersects with New Mexico State Hwy 285 and follows New Mexico State Highway 285 north to the northern boundary of Interstate Highway 40. Zone 2 excludes the area in Zone 1. Zone 3 means an area within the MWEPA where neither initial releases nor translocations will occur, but Mexican wolves will be allowed to disperse into and occupy. Zone 3 is an area of less suitable Mexican wolf habitat and where Mexican wolves will be more actively managed under the authorities of this rule to reduce human conflict. We expect Mexican wolves to occupy areas of suitable habitat where ungulate populations are adequate to support them and conflict with humans and their livestock is low. If Mexican wolves move outside areas of suitable habitat, they will be more actively managed. Zone 3 is two separate geographic areas on the east and west sides of the MWEPA. One area of Zone 3 is in western Arizona and the other in eastern New Mexico. In Arizona, the boundaries of Zone 3 are the northern boundary is Interstate Highway 40; the eastern boundary goes south from Interstate Highway 40 and follows State Highway 93, State Highway 89/60, Interstate Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United States-Mexico international border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico PO 00000 Frm 00089 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43369 international border; the western boundary is the Arizona-California State border. In New Mexico, the northern boundary is Interstate Highway 40; the eastern boundary is the New MexicoTexas State border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border heading west, then follows State Highway 81/146 north to Interstate Highway 10, then along State Highway 26 to Interstate Highway 25, the southern boundary continues along State Highway 70/54/506/24; the western boundary follows the eastern edge of Otero County to the north and then along the eastern edge of Lincoln County until it follows State Highway 285 north to the northern boundary of Interstate Highway 40. (4) Designated area: The designated experimental population area for Mexican wolves classified as a nonessential experimental population by this rule is described in this paragraph (k)(4). The designated experimental population area is within the subspecies’ probable historical range and is wholly separate geographically from the current range of any known Mexican wolves or other gray wolves. The boundaries of the MWEPA are the portion of Arizona and New Mexico that lies south of Interstate Highway 40 to the international border with Mexico. A map of the MWEPA follows: BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 43370 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 4310–55–C (5) Prohibitions: Take of any Mexican wolf in the wild within the MWEPA is prohibited, except as provided in paragraph (k)(6) of this section. Specifically, the following actions are prohibited by this rule: (i) No person may possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, ship, import, or export by any means whatsoever, any Mexican wolf or wolf part from the experimental population except as authorized in this rule or by a valid permit issued by the Service under § 17.32. If a person kills or injures a Mexican wolf or finds a dead or injured wolf or wolf parts, the person must not disturb them (unless instructed to do so by the Service or a designated agency), must minimize disturbance of the area around them, and must report the incident to the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service within 24 hours. (ii) No person may attempt to commit, solicit another to commit, or cause to be committed, any offense defined in this rule. (iii) Taking a Mexican wolf with a trap, snare, or other type of capture device within occupied Mexican wolf range is prohibited (except as authorized in paragraph (k)(6)(iv) of this section) and will not be considered unintentional take, unless due care was VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 exercised to avoid injury or death to a wolf. With regard to trapping activities, due care includes: (A) Following the regulations, proclamations, recommendations, guidelines, and/or laws within the State or tribal trust lands where the trapping takes place. (B) Modifying or utilizing appropriately sized traps, chains, drags, and stakes to reasonably expect to prevent a wolf from either breaking the chain, or escaping with the trap on the wolf, or utilizing sufficiently small traps (less than or equal to a Victor #2) to reasonably expect the wolf to either immediately pull free from the trap, or span the jaw spread when stepping on the trap. (C) Not taking a Mexican wolf via neck snares. (D) Reporting the capture of a Mexican wolf (even if the wolf has pulled free) within 24 hours to the Service. (E) If a Mexican wolf is captured, trappers can call the Interagency Field Team (1–888–459–WOLF [9653]) as soon as possible to arrange for radiocollaring and releasing of the wolf. Per State regulations for releasing nontarget animals, trappers may also choose to release the animal alive and subsequently contact the Service or Interagency Field Team. PO 00000 Frm 00090 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (6) Reporting requirements. Unless otherwise specified in this rule or in a permit, any take of a Mexican wolf must be reported to the Service or a designated agency within 24 hours. We will allow additional reasonable time if access to the site is limited. Report any take of Mexican wolves, including opportunistic harassment, to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113; by telephone 505–761–4748; or by facsimile 505–346–2542. Additional contact information can also be found on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program’s Web site at https:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ mexicanwolf/. Unless otherwise specified in a permit, any wolf or wolf part taken legally must be turned over to the Service, which will determine the disposition of any live or dead wolves. (7) Allowable forms of take of Mexican wolves: Take of Mexican wolves in the MWEPA are allowed as follows: (i) Take in defense of human life. Under section 11(a)(3) of the Act and § 17.21(c)(2), any person may take (which includes killing as well as nonlethal actions such as harassing or harming) a Mexican wolf in self-defense or defense of the lives of others. This E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 EP25JY14.042</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules take must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. If the Service or a designated agency determines that a Mexican wolf presents a threat to human life or safety, the Service or the designated agency may kill the wolf or place it in captivity. (ii) Opportunistic harassment. Anyone may conduct opportunistic harassment of any Mexican wolf at any time provided that Mexican wolves are not purposefully attracted, tracked, searched out, or chased and then harassed. Such harassment of Mexican wolves might cause temporary, nondebilitating physical injury, but is not reasonably anticipated to cause permanent physical injury or death. Any form of opportunistic harassment must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (iii) Intentional harassment. After the Service or its designated agency has confirmed Mexican wolf presence on any land within the MWEPA, the Service or its designated agency may issue permits valid for not longer than 1 year, with appropriate stipulations or conditions, to allow intentional harassment of Mexican wolves. The harassment must occur in the area and under the conditions specifically identified in the permit. Permittees must report this take as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (iv) Take on non-Federal lands. (A) On non-Federal lands anywhere within the MWEPA, domestic animal owners or their agents may take (including kill or injure) any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal, as defined in paragraph (k)(3) of this section, provided that evidence of freshly wounded or killed domestic animals by Mexican wolves is present. This take must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. The take of any Mexican wolf without evidence of biting, killing, or wounding domestic animals may be referred to the appropriate authorities for investigation. (B) Take of Mexican wolves by livestock guarding dogs, when used in the traditional manner to protect livestock on non-Federal lands, is allowed. If such take by a guard dog occurs, it must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (C) Based on the Service’s or a designated agency’s discretion and during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a designated agency (provided the Service’s or designated agency’s actions VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue permits to domestic animal owners or their agents (e.g., employees, land manager, local officials) to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any Mexican wolf that is present on non-Federal land where specified in the permit. Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by permittees under this provision will assist the Service or designated agency in completing control actions. Domestic animal owners or their agents must report this take as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (v) Take on Federal land. (A) Based on the Service’s or a designated agency’s discretion and during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a designated agency (provided the Service’s or designated agency’s actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue permits to livestock owners or their agents (e.g., employees, land manager, local officials) to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding livestock on Federal land where specified in the permit. Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by permittees under this provision will assist the Service or designated agency in completing control actions. Livestock owners or their agents must report this take as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (B) Take of Mexican wolves by livestock guarding dogs, when used in the traditional manner to protect livestock on Federal lands, is allowed. If such take by a guard dog occurs, it must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (C) This provision does not exempt Federal agencies and their contractors from complying with sections 7(a)(1) and 7(a)(4) of the Act, the latter of which requires a conference with the Service if they propose an action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Mexican wolf. In areas within the National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System, Federal agencies must treat Mexican wolves as a threatened species for purposes of complying with section 7 of the Act. PO 00000 Frm 00091 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43371 (vi) Take in response to impacts to wild ungulates. If Arizona or New Mexico determines, based on ungulate management goals, that Mexican wolf predation is having an unacceptable impact on a wild ungulate herd (pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, or bison), the respective State may request approval from the Service that Mexican wolves be removed from the area of the impacted ungulate herd. Upon written approval from the Service, the State (Arizona or New Mexico) or any designated agency may be authorized to remove (capture and translocate in the MWEPA, move to captivity, transfer to Mexico, or lethally take) Mexican wolves. These management actions must occur in accordance with the following provisions: (A) Arizona or New Mexico must prepare a science-based document that: (1) Describes what data indicate that the ungulate herd is below management objectives, what data indicate that the impact on the ungulate herd is influenced by Mexican wolf predation, why Mexican wolf removal is a warranted solution to help restore the ungulate herd to State management objectives, the type (level and duration) of Mexican wolf removal management action being proposed, and how ungulate herd response to wolf removal will be measured and control actions adjusted for effectiveness; (2) Demonstrates that attempts were and are being made to identify other causes of ungulate herd declines and possible remedies or conservation measures in addition to wolf removal; (3) If appropriate, identifies areas of suitable habitat for Mexican wolf translocation; and (4) Has been subjected to peer review and public comment prior to its submittal to the Service for written concurrence. In order to comply with this requirement, the State must: (i) Conduct the peer review process in conformance with the Office of Management and Budget’s most recent Final Information and Quality Bulletin for Peer Review and include in their proposal an explanation of how the bulletin’s standards were considered and satisfied; and (ii) Obtain at least three independent peer reviews from individuals with relevant expertise other than staff employed by the State (Arizona or New Mexico) requesting approval from the Service that Mexican wolves be removed from the area of the impacted ungulate herd. (B) Before the Service will allow Mexican wolf removal in response to impacts to wild ungulates, the Service will evaluate the information provided E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 43372 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules by the requesting State (Arizona or New Mexico) and provide a written determination to the requesting State agency whether such actions are scientifically based and warranted. (C) If all of the provisions above are met, the Service will, to the maximum extent allowable under the Act, make a determination providing for Mexican wolf removal. If the request is approved, the Service will include in the written determination which management action (capture and translocate in MWEPA, move to captivity, transfer to Mexico, lethally take, or no action) is most appropriate for the conservation of the Mexican wolf subspecies. (D) Because tribes are able to request the capture and removal of Mexican wolves at any time, take in response to impacts to wild ungulates is not applicable on tribal trust lands. (vii) Take by Service personnel or a designated agency. The Service or a designated agency may take any Mexican wolf in the nonessential experimental population in a manner consistent with a Service-approved management plan, special management measure, biological opinion pursuant to section 7(a)(2) of the Act, conference opinion pursuant to section 7(a)(4) of the Act, section 6 of the Act as authorized pursuant to § 17.31 for State wildlife agencies with authority to manage Mexican wolves, or a valid permit issued by the Service under § 17.32. (A) The Service or designated agency may use leg-hold traps and any other effective device or method for capturing or killing Mexican wolves to carry out any measure that is a part of a Serviceapproved management plan regardless of State law. The disposition of all Mexican wolves (live or dead) or their parts taken as part of a Service-approved management activity must follow provisions in Service-approved management plans or interagency agreements or procedures approved by the Service on a case-by-case basis. (B) The Service or designated agency may capture; kill; subject to genetic testing; place in captivity; or euthanize any feral wolf-like animal or feral wolf hybrid found within the MWEPA that shows physical or behavioral evidence of: Hybridization with other canids, such as domestic dogs or coyotes; being a wolf-like animal raised in captivity, other than as part of a Service-approved wolf recovery program; or being socialized or habituated to humans. If determined to be a pure Mexican wolf, the wolf may be returned to the wild. (C) The Service or designated agency may carry out intentional or opportunistic harassment, nonlethal VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 control measures, translocation, placement in captivity, or lethal control of problem wolves. To determine the presence of problem wolves, the Service will consider all of the following: (1) Evidence of wounded domestic animal(s) or remains of domestic animal(s) that show that the injury or death was caused by Mexican wolves, or evidence that Mexican wolves were in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal; (2) The likelihood that additional Mexican wolf-caused depredations or attacks of domestic animals may occur if no harassment, nonlethal control, translocation, placement in captivity, or lethal control is taken; and (3) Evidence of attractants or intentional feeding (baiting) of Mexican wolves. (D) The Wildlife Services will discontinue use of M–44’s and chokingtype snares in occupied Mexican wolf range. Wildlife Services may restrict or modify other predator control activities pursuant to a Service-approved management agreement or a conference opinion between Wildlife Services and the Service. (viii) Unintentional take: (A) Take of a Mexican wolf by any person is allowed if the take is unintentional and occurs while engaging in an otherwise lawful activity. Such take must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. Hunters and other shooters have the responsibility to identify their quarry or target before shooting, thus shooting a wolf as a result of mistaking it for another species will not be considered unintentional take. Take by poisoning will not be considered unintentional take. (B) Federal, State, or tribal agency employees or their contractors may take a Mexican wolf or wolf-like animal if the take is unintentional and occurs while engaging in the course of their official duties. This includes, but is not limited to, military training and testing and Department of Homeland Security border security activities. Take of Mexican wolves by Federal, State, or tribal agencies must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. (C) Take of Mexican wolves by Wildlife Services employees while conducting official duties associated with predator damage management activities for species other than Mexican wolves may be considered unintentional if it is coincidental to a legal activity and the Wildlife Services employees have adhered to all applicable Wildlife Services’ policies, Mexican wolf standard operating procedures, and PO 00000 Frm 00092 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 reasonable and prudent measures or recommendations contained in Wildlife Service’s biological and conference opinions. (ix) Take for research purposes. The Service may issue permits under § 17.32, and designated agencies may issue permits under State and Federal laws and regulations, for individuals to take Mexican wolves pursuant to scientific study proposals approved by the agency or agencies with jurisdiction for Mexican wolves and for the area in which the study will occur. Such take may include Mexican wolves, their prey, their competitors, or their occupied or potentially occupied habitats that might lead to management recommendations for, and thus enhance the survival of, the Mexican wolf. (8) Disturbance-causing land-use activities: For any activity on Federal lands that the Service determines could adversely affect reproductive success, natural behavior, or persistence of Mexican wolves, the Service will work with Federal agencies to use their authorities to temporarily restrict human access and disturbance-causing land-use activities within a 1-mi (1.6km) radius around release pens when Mexican wolves are in them, around active dens between March 1 and June 30, and around active Mexican wolf rendezvous sites between June 1 and September 30, as necessary. (9) Management: (i) On private land within Zones 1 and 2 of the MWEPA, the Service or designated agency may develop and implement management actions to benefit Mexican wolf recovery in cooperation with willing private landowners, including: Occupancy by natural dispersal; initial release; and translocation of Mexican wolves in Zones 1 or 2 if requested by the landowner and with the concurrence of the State wildlife agency. (ii) On tribal trust land within Zones 1 and 2 the MWEPA, the Service or a designated agency may develop and implement management actions in cooperation with willing tribal governments, including: Occupancy by natural dispersal; initial release; translocation of Mexican wolves; and capture and removal of Mexican wolves if requested by the tribal government. (10) Evaluation: The Service will evaluate Mexican wolf reestablishment progress and prepare periodic progress reports and detailed annual reports. In addition, the Service will prepare a onetime overall evaluation of the nonessential experimental population program approximately 5 years after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE] that focuses on modifications needed to improve the efficacy of this E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 143 / Friday, July 25, 2014 / Proposed Rules rule, reestablishment of Mexican wolves to the wild, and the contribution the nonessential experimental population is making to the recovery of the Mexican wolf. * * * * * Dated: July 1, 2014. Michael J. Bean, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2014–17587 Filed 7–24–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 140131088–4088–01] RIN 0648–BD94 International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Fishing Effort Limits in Purse Seine Fisheries for 2014 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes regulations under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act) to revise the 2014 limit on fishing effort by U.S. purse seine vessels in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (U.S. EEZ) and on the high seas between the latitudes of 20° N. and 20° S. in the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention). The total limit for 2014 would be revised from 2,588 fishing days to 1,828 fishing days. This action is necessary for the United States to implement provisions of a conservation and management measure (CMM) adopted by the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC) and to satisfy the obligations of the United States under the Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party. DATES: Comments must be submitted in writing by August 25, 2014. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Jul 24, 2014 Jkt 232001 NMFS–2014–0081, and the regulatory impact review (RIR) prepared for this proposed rule, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA–NMFS–2014– 0081, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, might not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name and address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) prepared under authority of the Regulatory Flexibility Act is included in the Classification section of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this proposed rule. Copies of the RIR and the Supplemental Information Report prepared for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) purposes are available at www.regulations.gov or may be obtained from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS PIRO (see address above). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Graham, NMFS PIRO, 808–725–5032. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background on the Convention A map showing the boundaries of the area of application of the Convention (Convention Area), which comprises the majority of the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), can be found on the WCPFC Web site at: www.wcpfc.int/ doc/convention-area-map. The Convention focuses on the conservation and management of highly migratory species (HMS) and the management of PO 00000 Frm 00093 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 43373 fisheries for HMS. The objective of the Convention is to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of HMS in the WCPO. To accomplish this objective, the Convention established the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC). The WCPFC includes Members, Cooperating Nonmembers, and Participating Territories (hereafter, collectively ‘‘members’’). The United States is a Member. American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are Participating Territories. As a Contracting Party to the Convention and a Member of the WCPFC, the United States is obligated to implement the decisions of the WCPFC. The WCPFC Implementation Act (16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Department in which the United States Coast Guard is operating (currently the Department of Homeland Security), to promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the obligations of the United States under the Convention, including the decisions of the WCPFC. The WCPFC Implementation Act further provides that the Secretary of Commerce shall ensure consistency, to the extent practicable, of fishery management programs administered under the WCPFC Implementation Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), as well as other specific laws (see 16 U.S.C. 6905(b)). The Secretary of Commerce has delegated the authority to promulgate regulations under the WCPFC Implementation Act to NMFS. WCPFC Decision on Tropical Tunas At its Tenth Regular Session, in December 2013, the WCPFC adopted CMM 2013–01, ‘‘Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye, Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.’’ CMM 2013–01 is the most recent in a series of CMMs for the management of tropical tuna stocks under the purview of the WCPFC. It is a successor to CMM 2012–01, adopted in December 2012. These and other CMMs are available at: www.wcpfc.int/conservation-andmanagement-measures. CMM 2013–01’s stated general objective is to ensure that the stocks of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) in the WCPO are, at a minimum, E:\FR\FM\25JYP1.SGM 25JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 143 (Friday, July 25, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 43358-43373]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-17587]



[[Page 43358]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056; FXES11130900000C2-134-FF09E32000]
RIN 1018-AY46


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Revision 
to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; revisions and notice of availability of a draft 
environmental impact statement; reopening of public comment period and 
announcement of public hearings.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose new 
revisions to the existing nonessential experimental population 
designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) under section 
10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and announce 
the reopening of the public comment period and scheduling of public 
hearings on the proposed rule. In addition, we announce the 
availability of a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed 
revisions to the existing nonessential experimental population 
designation of the Mexican wolf, and an amended required determinations 
section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period to allow 
all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the 
proposed rule, the associated draft environmental impact statement, and 
the amended required determinations section. Comments previously 
submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in 
preparation of the final rule.

DATES: We will consider comments received on or before September 23, 
2014. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on 
the closing date. In order to meet a court-ordered settlement agreement 
deadline, we will not be able to extend the date for public review and 
comment on these documents.
    Public Informational Sessions and Public Hearings: We will hold two 
public informational sessions and two public hearings on this proposed 
rule and draft environmental impact statement. We will hold a public 
informational session from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by a public 
hearing from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in Pinetop, Arizona, on Monday, 
August 11, 2014 (see ADDRESSES). We will hold a public informational 
session from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on 
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 (see ADDRESSES). Registration to present 
oral comments on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact 
statement at the public hearings will begin at the start of each 
informational session. With the exception of Federal elected officials, 
all oral comment registration cards will be pooled and drawn at random.

ADDRESSES: Document availability: The draft environmental impact 
statement for this proposed rule is available electronically on https://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056 or from the 
office listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Document submission: You may submit written comments on this 
proposed rule and the draft environmental impact statement by one of 
the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056, which is the 
docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking 
on ``Comment Now!''. Please ensure that you have found the correct 
rulemaking before submitting your comment.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: 
BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments on the proposed rule revision and 
draft environmental impact statement only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on https://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Public Comments section below for more information). To 
increase our efficiency in downloading comments, groups providing mass 
submissions should submit their comments in an Excel file.
    Public informational sessions and public hearings: The August 11, 
2014, public informational session and hearing will be held at the Hon-
Dah Conference Center, 777 Highway 260, Pinetop, Arizona 85935. The 
August 13, 2014, public informational session and hearing will be held 
at the Civic Center, 400 West Fourth Street, Truth or Consequences, New 
Mexico 87901. People needing reasonable accommodations in order to 
attend and participate in the public hearings should contact the 
Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, as soon as possible (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherry Barrett, Mexican Wolf Recovery 
Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological 
Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113; by 
telephone 505-761-4704; or by facsimile 505-346-2542. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339. Further contact 
information can be found on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program's Web 
site at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    In 1998, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), 
published in the Federal Register a final rule that established a 
nonessential experimental population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and 
New Mexico (63 FR 1752, January 12, 1998; Figure 1). We took this 
action in accordance with section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), which allows us to designate as an 
``experimental population'' a population of endangered or threatened 
species that has been or will be released into suitable natural habitat 
outside the species' current natural range. Experimental populations 
are treated as threatened species for purposes of section 9 of the Act. 
The general regulations that extend most section 9 prohibitions to 
threatened species do not apply to these populations, and we may use 
our discretion to devise management programs and special regulations 
for them.

[[Page 43359]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP25JY14.040

    We established the Mexican wolf nonessential experimental 
population in consideration of the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, 
which has the primary objective of establishing a viable, self-
sustaining population of at least 100 Mexican wolves in the wild. In 
March of 1998, we released 11 Mexican wolves from the captive-breeding 
program to the wild. Many additional individuals and family groups have 
been released or translocated since that time.
    Through project reviews, annual reports, monitoring, and 
communication with our partners and the public, we now recognize that 
elements of the 1998 final rule need to be revised to help us enhance 
the growth, stability, and success of the nonessential experimental 
population. Accordingly, to improve implementation and conservation of 
the Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population, on June 13, 
2013, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to make 
several changes to the 1998 section 10(j) rule and management 
regulations for Mexican wolves (78 FR 35719).
    We are now revising the provisions in the June 2013 proposed rule 
based on information received during the public comment period and our 
scoping process for the draft environmental impact statement. We 
solicit public comment as described below.

Public Comments

    We will accept written comments and information during this 
reopened comment period on our proposed revisions to the existing 
nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf 
(Canis lupus baileyi), our draft environmental impact statement, and 
the amended required determinations provided in this document. Any 
final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the 
best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as 
effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information 
from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, general public, and other interested 
parties concerning the revised proposed revision. We are particularly 
interested in comments concerning the following revisions to our 
proposed rule:
    (1) Moving the southern boundary of the Mexican Wolf Experimental 
Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona and New Mexico from Interstate 
Highway 10 to the United States-Mexico international border (Figure 2).

[[Page 43360]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP25JY14.041

BILLING CODE 4310-55-C
    (2) Identifying Zones 1, 2, and 3 as different management areas 
within the MWEPA and discontinuing the use of the term Blue Range Wolf 
Recovery Area (BRWRA) part of (Figure 2).
    Zone 1 is an area within the MWEPA in Arizona and New Mexico where 
Mexican wolves may be initially released or translocated, and includes 
all of the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves National Forests; the Payson, 
Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts of the Tonto National 
Forest; and the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National 
Forest.
    Zone 2 is an area within the MWEPA where Mexican wolves will be 
allowed to naturally disperse into and occupy, and where Mexican wolves 
may be translocated. On Federal land in Zone 2, initial releases of 
Mexican wolves are limited to pups less than 5 months old, which allows 
for the cross-fostering of pups from the captive population into the 
wild, as well as enables translocation-eligible adults to be re-
released with pups born in captivity. On private and tribal land in 
Zone 2, Mexican wolves of any age, including adults, can also be 
initially released under a Service- and State-approved management 
agreement with private landowners or a Service-approved management 
agreement with tribal agencies. The northern boundary of Zone 2 is 
Interstate Highway 40; the western boundary goes south from Interstate 
Highway 40 and follows Arizona State Highway 93, Arizona State Highway 
89/60, Interstate Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United 
States-Mexico international border; the southern boundary is the United 
States-Mexico international border heading east, then follows New 
Mexico State Highway 81/146 north to Interstate Highway 10, then along 
New Mexico State Highway 26 to Interstate Highway 25; the boundary 
continues along New Mexico State Highway 70/54/506/24; the eastern 
boundary follows the eastern edge of Otero County, New Mexico, to the 
north and then along the eastern edge of Lincoln County, New Mexico, 
until it intersects with New Mexico State Hwy 285 and follows New 
Mexico State Highway 285 north to the northern boundary of Interstate 
Highway 40. Zone 2 excludes the area in Zone 1.
    Zone 3 is an area within the MWEPA where neither initial releases 
nor translocations will occur, but Mexican wolves will be allowed to 
disperse into and occupy. Zone 3 is an area of less suitable Mexican 
wolf habitat and where Mexican wolves will be more actively managed 
under the authorities of this rule to reduce human conflict. We expect 
Mexican wolves to occupy areas of suitable habitat where ungulate 
populations are adequate to support them and conflict with humans and 
their livestock would be low. If Mexican wolves move outside areas of 
suitable habitat, they will be more actively managed. Zone 3 is two 
separate geographic areas on the east and west sides of the MWEPA. One 
area of Zone 3 is in western Arizona and the other in eastern New 
Mexico. In Arizona, the northern boundary of Zone 3 is Interstate 
Highway 40; the eastern boundary goes south from Interstate Highway 40 
and follows State Highway 93, State Highway 89/60, Interstate

[[Page 43361]]

Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United States-Mexico 
international border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico 
international border; the western boundary is the Arizona-California 
State border. In New Mexico, the northern boundary is Interstate 
Highway 40; the eastern boundary is the New Mexico-Texas State border; 
the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border 
heading west, then follows State Highway 81/146 north to Interstate 
Highway 10, then along State Highway 26 to Interstate Highway 25, the 
southern boundary continues along State Highway 70/54/506/24; the 
western boundary follows the eastern edge of Otero County to the north 
and then along the eastern edge of Lincoln County until it follows 
State Highway 285 north to the northern boundary of Interstate Highway 
40.
    (3) Adding definitions for the terms cross-fostering; designated 
agency; disturbance-causing land-use activity; domestic animal; Federal 
land; feral dog; in the act of biting, killing, or wounding; initial 
release; intentional harassment; non-Federal land; Service-approved 
management plan; translocate; tribal trust land; ungulate herd; 
wounded; and Zones 1, 2, and 3.
    (4) Revising the due care criteria with regard to trapping 
activities. With regard to trapping activities, due care includes: 
Following the regulations, proclamations, recommendations, guidelines, 
and/or laws within the State or tribe where the trapping takes place; 
modifying or utilizing appropriate size traps, chains, drags, and 
stakes to reasonably expect to prevent a wolf from either breaking the 
chain, or escaping with the trap on the wolf, or utilizing sufficiently 
small traps (less than Victor 2) to reasonably expect the wolf to 
either immediately pull free from the trap, or span the jaw spread when 
stepping on the trap; reporting the capture of a Mexican wolf (even if 
the wolf has pulled free) within 24 hours to the Service; not taking a 
Mexican wolf via neck snares; and if a Mexican wolf is captured, 
trappers can call the Interagency Field Team (1-888-459-WOLF [9653]) as 
soon as possible to arrange for radio-collaring and releasing of the 
wolf. Per State regulations for releasing nontarget animals, trappers 
may also choose to release the animal alive and subsequently contact 
the Service or Interagency Field Team.
    (5) On non-Federal lands anywhere within the MWEPA, domestic animal 
owners or their agents may take (including kill or injure) any Mexican 
wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic 
animal provided that evidence of a freshly wounded or killed domestic 
animal by a Mexican wolf is present. This take must be reported to the 
Service's Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of 
the Service within 24 hours. The take of any Mexican wolf without 
evidence of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal may be 
referred to the appropriate authorities for investigation.
    (6) Based on the Service's or a designated agency's discretion and 
during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a 
designated agency (provided the Service's or designated agency's 
actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue 
permits to domestic animal owners or their agents (e.g., employees, 
land manager, local officials) to allow domestic animal owners or their 
agents to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any 
Mexican wolf that is present on non-Federal land where specified in the 
permit. Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of 
days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican 
wolves for which take is allowed. Take by permittees under this 
provision will assist the Service or designated agency in completing 
control actions. Domestic animal owners or their agents must report 
this take to the Service's Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a 
designated agency of the Service within 24 hours.
    (7) Based on the Service's or a designated agency's discretion and 
during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a 
designated agency (provided the Service's or designated agency's 
actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue 
permits to domestic animal owners or their agents (e.g., employees, 
land manager, local officials) to allow livestock owners or their 
agents to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any 
Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding 
livestock on Federal land. Permits issued under this provision will 
specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the 
maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by 
livestock owners or their agents under this provision will assist the 
Service or designated agency in completing the authorized control 
action. Livestock owners or their agents must report this take to the 
Service's Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of 
the Service within 24 hours.
    (8) Allowing for take of Mexican wolves response to impacts to wild 
ungulates and in accordance with certain stipulations. If Arizona or 
New Mexico determines, based on established ungulate management goals, 
that Mexican wolf predation is having an unacceptable impact on a wild 
ungulate herd (pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, or bison), the 
respective State may request approval from the Service that Mexican 
wolves be removed from the area of the impacted ungulate herd. Upon 
written approval from the Service, the State (Arizona or New Mexico) or 
any designated agency may be authorized to remove (capture and 
translocate in the MWEPA, move to captivity, transfer to Mexico, or 
lethally take) Mexican wolves. Because tribes are able to request the 
capture and removal of Mexican wolves at any time, take in response to 
wild ungulate impacts is not applicable on tribal trust lands.
    We will consider all comments and information received during the 
public comment period in preparation of the final rule to revise the 
existing nonessential experimental population designation of the 
Mexican wolf and the final environmental impact statement. Accordingly, 
the final rule and final environmental impact statement may differ from 
this proposal and the draft environmental impact statement.
    Please note that comments merely stating support for or opposition 
to the actions under consideration without providing supporting 
information, although noted, will not be considered in making a 
determination for the final rule.
    If you submitted comments or information on the June 13, 2013 (78 
FR 35719), proposed revision to the existing nonessential experimental 
population designation of the Mexican wolf or the August 5, 2013 (78 FR 
47268), publication of a notice of intent to prepare an environmental 
impact statement in conjunction with the proposed rule, please do not 
resubmit them. We will incorporate them into the public record as part 
of this comment period, and we will fully consider them in the 
preparation of our final rule.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
revision to the nonessential experimental population designation of the 
Mexican wolf, the draft environmental impact statement, and the amended 
required determinations provided in this document by one of the methods 
listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the 
methods described in ADDRESSES.

[[Page 43362]]

    If you submit a comment via https://www.regulations.gov, your entire 
comment--including any personal identifying information--will be posted 
on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on https://www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that 
includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top 
of your document that we withhold this information from public review. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as some of the 
supporting documentation we used, will be available for public 
inspection on https://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-
0056, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    This document discusses only those topics directly relevant to the 
modifications we are making to our proposal to revise existing 
nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf 
and the associated draft environmental impact statement. For more 
information on previous Federal actions concerning the Mexican wolf, 
refer to the proposed revision to the existing nonessential 
experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf, which 
published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), and 
is available online at https://www.regulations.gov (at Docket Number 
FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056) or from the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    On June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), we published a proposed rule to 
revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of 
the Mexican wolf. That proposal had a 90-day comment period ending 
September 11, 2013. On August 5, 2013 (78 FR 47268), we published a 
notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in 
conjunction with the proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential 
experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf. That notice of 
intent to prepare an environmental impact statement had a 45-day 
comment period ending September 19, 2013. On September 5, 2013 (78 FR 
54613), we extended the public comment period on the proposed rule to 
revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of 
the Mexican wolf to end on October 28, 2013, and announced public 
hearings. On October 28, 2013 (78 FR 64192), we once again extended the 
public comment period on the proposed rule to revise the existing 
nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf to 
end on December 17, 2013, and announced public hearings on the proposed 
rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population 
designation of the Mexican wolf. We will submit for publication in the 
Federal Register a final rule revising the existing nonessential 
experimental population of the Mexican wolf on or before January 12, 
2015.

Changes From the June 13, 2013, Proposed Revision to the Nonessential 
Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf

    Based on information received during the public comment period and 
our scoping process for the draft environmental impact statement, we 
are proposing several modifications to our June 13, 2013, proposal to 
revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of 
the Mexican wolf. Under section 10(j) of the Act and our regulations at 
50 CFR 17.81, the Service may designate as an experimental population a 
population of endangered or threatened species that has been or will be 
released into suitable natural habitat outside the species' current 
natural range. When designating an experimental population, the general 
regulations that extend most section 9 prohibitions to threatened 
species do not apply to that species, and the section 10(j) rule 
contains the prohibitions and exemptions necessary and appropriate to 
conserve that species. In order to improve implementation and 
conservation, we are proposing several changes to our proposed rule to 
revise the section 10(j) rule and management regulations for the 
Mexican wolves.

Revisions and Considerations From the June 13, 2013, Proposal That Will 
Not Be Carried Forward Into the Final Rule

    In the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule to revise the 
existing nonessential experimental population designation of the 
Mexican wolf, we proposed that Mexican wolves on State-owned lands 
within the boundaries of the MWEPA be regulated in the same manner as 
on lands owned and managed by other public land management agencies. In 
this modification to our proposal, we have removed any reference that 
the Service will consider State-owned lands within the boundaries of 
the MWEPA in the same manner as we consider lands owned and managed by 
other public land management agencies. In the 1998 final rule that 
established a Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population (63 FR 
1752, January 12, 1998) (1998 Final Rule), management of Mexican wolves 
on all State-owned lands within the boundary of the MWEPA, but outside 
of designated wolf recovery areas, were subject to the provisions of 
private lands. Henceforth, the Service will consider the management of 
Mexican wolves on State-owned lands within the boundaries of the MWEPA 
in the same manner and subject to the same provisions of this rule as 
on non-Federal lands, which is consistent with the 1998 Final Rule.
    Additionally in the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule, we 
proposed to modify the provision ``six breeding pairs'' to a 
requirement that at least 100 Mexican wolves must be present in the 
MWEPA before a permit to take Mexican wolves can be issued to livestock 
owners or agents on public land grazing allotments. The 1998 Final Rule 
included a definition of breeding pair as one of the conditions for 
take of Mexican wolves by livestock owners or agents on public land 
grazing allotments (i.e., that there must be six breeding pairs present 
in order for a permit to take wolves to be issued by the Service). In 
the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule we considered overall 
population size to be a better metric for evaluating the 
appropriateness of providing such permits because it provided a more 
consistent measure of the population's status. However, based on 
scientific information that was submitted during public comment, we are 
no longer using six breeding pairs or at least 100 Mexican wolves as 
conditions for issuing a permit to livestock owners or their agents on 
Federal lands. Now, we are proposing to allow livestock owners or their 
agents to take (including intentional harassment or killing) any 
Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding 
livestock on Federal land be based on the Service's or a designated 
agency's discretion and during or after a removal action has been 
authorized by the Service or a designated agency (provided the 
Service's or designated agency's actions were unsuccessful).
    Also in the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), preamble to our proposed 
rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population 
designation of the Mexican wolf, we considered several additional 
revisions. One of the

[[Page 43363]]

considerations was to change the term ``depredation'' to ``depredation 
incident'' and revise the definition to mean, ``The aggregate number of 
livestock killed or mortally wounded by an individual Mexican wolf or 
single pack of Mexican wolves at a single location within one 24-hour 
period, beginning with the first confirmed kill or injury.'' We 
considered this change in order to provide consistency with terms used 
in our management documents (standard operating protocol, management 
plans, etc.), in which we consider all of the depredations that occur 
within one 24-hour period as one incident in our determination of what 
management actions to apply to a given situation. However, we received 
public comment, particularly from the ranching community, that this 
term does not appropriately communicate individual depredations (e.g., 
a wolf may have depredated three times in one 24-hour period). In 
addition, we are using the term ``depredation'' only in our definition 
of problem wolves. Therefore, we will no longer consider changing the 
term ``depredation'' to ``depredation incident'' and will use the term 
``depredation'' only as defined in the rule portion of this document.
    Below, we discuss the additional modifications to our proposal to 
revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of 
the Mexican wolf.

Additional or Revised Definitions for the Proposal To Revise the 
Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population

    We are adding or revising several definitions to our June 13, 2013 
(78 FR 35719), proposed rule to provide additional clarification; 
definitions for these terms are laid out in the rule portion of this 
document:

Cross-fostering
Designated agency
Disturbance-causing land-use activity
Domestic animal
Federal land
Feral dog
In the act of biting, killing, or wounding
Initial release
Intentional harassment
Non-Federal land
Service-approved management plan
Translocate
Tribal trust land
Ungulate herd
Wounded
Zone 1
Zone 2
Zone 3

Proposed Revisions to the Geographic Area of the Mexican Wolf 
Nonessential Experimental Population

    We are proposing to expand the MWEPA by moving the southern 
boundary from Interstate Highway 10 to the United States-Mexico 
international border across Arizona and New Mexico (Figure 2). 
Expanding the MWEPA was a recommendation in the Mexican Wolf Blue Range 
Reintroduction Project 5-Year Review (AMOC and IFT 2005, p. ARC-3). We 
are proposing this modification because the reintroduction effort for 
Mexican wolves now being undertaken by the Mexican Government has 
established a need to manage Mexican wolves that may disperse into 
southern Arizona and New Mexico from reestablished Mexican wolf 
populations in Mexico. An expansion of the MWEPA south to the 
international border with Mexico would allow us to manage all Mexican 
wolves in this area, regardless of origin, under the experimental 
population 10(j) rule. The regulatory flexibility provided by our 
proposed revisions to the 1998 Final Rule would allow us to take 
management actions within the MWEPA that further the conservation of 
the Mexican wolf while being responsive to needs of the local community 
in cases of problem wolf behavior.
    Also, we are identifying Zones 1, 2, and 3 as different management 
areas within the MWEPA and discontinuing the use of the term BRWRA. 
Zone 1 is where Mexican wolves may be initially released or 
translocated, and includes all of the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves 
National Forests; the Payson, Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger 
Districts of the Tonto National Forest; and the Magdalena Ranger 
District of the Cibola National Forest. Zone 2 is an area within the 
MWEPA where Mexican wolves will be allowed to naturally disperse into 
and occupy, and where Mexican wolves may be translocated. On Federal 
land in Zone 2, initial releases of Mexican wolves are limited to pups 
less than 5 months old, which allows for the cross-fostering of pups 
from the captive population into the wild, as well as enables 
translocation-eligible adults to be re-released with pups born in 
captivity. On private and tribal land in Zone 2, Mexican wolves of any 
age, including adults, can also be initially released under a Service- 
and State-approved management agreement with private landowners or a 
Service-approved management agreement with tribal agencies. 
Translocations in Zone 2 will be focused on suitable Mexican wolf 
habitat that is contiguous to occupied Mexican wolf range. Zone 3 is 
where neither initial releases nor translocations will occur, but 
Mexican wolves will be allowed to disperse into and occupy. Zone 3 is 
an area of less suitable Mexican wolf habitat and where Mexican wolves 
will be more actively managed under the authorities of this rule to 
reduce human conflict.
    We are also proposing the expansion of initial release sites to 
include the entire Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona; the Payson, 
Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts of the Tonto National 
Forest in Arizona; and the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola 
National Forest in New Mexico (Figure 2). This expansion would include 
the proposed modification that would allow for initial releases and 
translocations throughout Zone 1. Our proposed modification to 
eliminate the primary and secondary recovery zones within Zone 1 and 
our consideration of expanding Zone 1 to include the entire Sitgreaves 
and three Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forests in Arizona and 
one Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico are 
consistent with recommendations in the Mexican Wolf Blue Range 
Reintroduction Project 5-Year Review (AMOC and IFT 2005, p. ARC-4). 
These revisions will provide additional area and locations for initial 
release of Mexican wolves to the wild from captivity beyond that 
currently allowed by the 1998 Final Rule.

Clarification of Take Provisions From the 1998 Final Rule for the 
Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental Population

    In the rule portion of this document, we have clarified take 
provisions for intentional harassment, opportunistic harassment, take 
for research purposes, take by Service personnel or designated agency, 
and unintentional take. In restructuring these allowable forms of take, 
we have not added more forms of take. Rather, we restructured to 
clarify take provisions provided in the 1998 Final Rule. We have also 
revised the due care criteria in regard to trapping activities. And we 
have provided language to clarify that personnel of the U.S. Department 
of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife 
Services will not be in violation of the Act or this rule for take of a 
Mexican wolf that occurs while conducting official duties associated 
with predator damage management activities for species other than 
Mexican wolves.
    Furthermore, we have modified provisions in the 1998 Final Rule to 
allow for removal of Mexican wolves in response to impacts to wild 
ungulates.

[[Page 43364]]

Under this provision, if Arizona or New Mexico determines, based on 
ungulate management goals, that Mexican wolf predation is having an 
unacceptable impact on a wild ungulate herd (pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 
deer, elk, or bison), the respective State may request approval from 
the Service that Mexican wolves be removed from the area of the 
impacted ungulate herd. Upon written approval from the Service, the 
State (Arizona or New Mexico) or any designated agency may be 
authorized to remove (capture and translocate in the MWEPA, move to 
captivity, transfer to Mexico, or lethally take) Mexican wolves. These 
management actions must occur in accordance with Sec.  
17.84(k)(7)(iv)(A).

Additional Proposed Provisions to the Mexican Wolf Nonessential 
Experimental Population

    One of the additional provisions we are now proposing is to allow 
take of a Mexican wolf on non-Federal lands anywhere within the MWEPA 
by domestic animal owners or their agents when any Mexican wolf is in 
the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal provided that 
evidence of a freshly wounded or killed domestic animal by Mexican 
wolves is present.
    We are also proposing provisions for the issuance of permits on 
non-Federal land anywhere within the MWEPA, and under particular 
circumstances, to allow domestic animal owners or their agents to take 
(including intentional harassment or kill) any Mexican wolf that is 
present on non-Federal land. Permits issued under this provision 
specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the 
maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by 
permittees under this provision will assist the Service or designated 
agency in completing control actions. Domestic animal owners or their 
agents must report this take to the Service's Mexican Wolf Recovery 
Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service within 24 hours.
    Lastly, we have added reporting requirements which clarify that, 
unless otherwise specified in this rule or in a permit, any take of a 
Mexican wolf must be reported to the Service or our designated agency 
within 24 hours.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy published in the Federal 
Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we conducted peer review on our 
June 2013 rule. Due to the revisions, we will again seek expert 
opinions from previous reviewers and independent specialists regarding 
this revised proposed rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure 
that our final rule for this species is based on scientifically sound 
data, assumptions, and analyses. We will send peer reviewers copies of 
this document immediately following publication in the Federal 
Register. We will invite these peer reviewers to comment, during the 
reopening of the public comment period, on our use and interpretation 
of the science used in developing our proposed rule.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during the 
comment period on the June 13, 2013 (78 FR 35719), proposed rule and 
this revised proposed rule during preparation of a final rulemaking. 
Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal.

Required Determinations--Amended

    In our June 13, 2013, proposed rule (78 FR 35719), we indicated 
that we would defer our determination of compliance with several 
statutes and executive orders until the information concerning 
potential economic impacts of the designation and potential effects on 
landowners and stakeholders became available in the draft environmental 
impact statement. We have now made use of the draft environmental 
impact statement data to make these determinations. In this document, 
we affirm the information in our proposed rule concerning Executive 
Order (E.O.) 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), E.O. 13132 
(Federalism), E.O. 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), E.O. 13211 (Energy, 
Supply, Distribution, and Use), the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 
U.S.C. 1501 et seq.), the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), and E.O. 12630 (Takings). However, based 
on the draft economic analysis data, we are amending our required 
determinations concerning the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq.), the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), 
and the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (as amended by the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996; 5 U.S.C. 
801 et seq.), whenever a Federal agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare, and make 
available for public comment, a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
an agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses 
include such businesses as manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer 
than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 
employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in 
annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than 
$27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less 
than $11.5 million in annual business, and forestry and logging 
operations with fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than 
$7 million. To determine whether small entities may be affected, we 
considered the types of activities that might trigger regulatory 
impacts under this designation as well as types of project 
modifications that may result. In general, the term ``significant 
economic impact'' is meant to apply to a typical small business firm's 
business operations.
    Importantly, the impacts of a rule must be both significant and 
substantial to prevent certification of the rule under the RFA and to 
require the preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis. 
If a substantial number of small entities are affected by the proposed 
rule, but the per-entity economic impact is not significant, the 
Service may certify. Likewise, if the per-entity economic impact is 
likely to be significant, but the number of affected entities is not 
substantial, the Service may also certify.
    In the 1998 Final Rule, we found that the nonessential experimental 
population would not have significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The 1998 
Final Rule set forth management directions and provided for limited

[[Page 43365]]

allowable legal take of Mexican wolves within the MWEPA. We concluded 
that the rule would not significantly change costs to industry or 
governments. Furthermore, the rule produced no adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the 
ability of U.S. enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises 
in domestic or export markets. We further concluded that no significant 
direct costs, information collection, or recordkeeping requirements 
were imposed on small entities by the action and that the rule was not 
a major rule as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2) (63 FR 1752, January 12, 
1998).
    If this proposed revision to the nonessential experimental 
population of the Mexican wolf is adopted, the area affected by this 
rule includes the portion of the States of Arizona and New Mexico from 
Interstate Highway 40 south to the United States-Mexico international 
border. This rule proposes activities that have, in part, already been 
taking place within the BRWRA. However, it expands many of those 
activities to larger portions of the MWEPA.
    In addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies 
to confer (rather than consult) with the Service on actions that are 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a species. However, 
because a nonessential experimental population is, by definition, not 
essential to the survival of the species, conferencing will unlikely be 
required within the MWEPA. Furthermore, the results of a conference are 
strictly advisory in nature and do not restrict agencies from carrying 
out, funding, or authorizing activities. In addition, section 7(a)(1) 
requires Federal agencies to use their authorities to carry out 
programs to further the conservation of listed species, which would 
apply on any lands within the nonessential experimental population 
area. As a result, and in accordance with these regulations, some 
modifications to the proposed Federal actions within the nonessential 
experimental population area may occur to benefit the Mexican wolf, but 
we do not expect projects on Federal lands to be halted or 
substantially modified as a result of these regulations.
    On the other hand, this proposed revision would allow Mexican 
wolves to occupy anywhere within the MWEPA, which has the potential to 
affect small entities in the area outside the initial release areas. 
Specifically, small businesses involved in hunting and animal 
production, such as outfitters, guides, and beef cattle and sheep 
ranching, may be affected by Mexican wolves preying on wild native 
ungulates or depredating on domestic animals. We have further assessed 
these types of impacts to small entities in the area outside the 
initial release areas in the draft environmental impact statement.
    Small businesses involved in ranching and livestock production may 
be affected by Mexican wolves depredating on domestic animals. Direct 
effects to small businesses could include foregone calf or cow sales at 
auctions due to depredations. Indirect effects could include impacts 
such as increased ranch operation costs for surveillance and oversight 
of the herd, and weight loss of livestock when wolves are present. 
Ranchers have also expressed concern that a persistent presence of 
wolves may negatively impact their property and business values. We do 
not foresee a significant economic impact to a substantial number of 
small entities in the ranching and livestock production sector based on 
the following information.
    The Department of Agriculture reported a national estimate of 89.3 
million cattle and calves in 2013, which implies that together, Arizona 
and New Mexico contribute approximately 2.5 percent to the overall 
national supply (NASS: https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov). Over 90 
percent of the ranches in Arizona (approximately 6646 out of 7384 
ranches) and 80 percent of the ranches in New Mexico (approximately 
5336 out of 6670 ranches) could be classified as small with a total 
number of less than 100 cattle. We estimate there are fewer than 12,000 
small ranches in Arizona and New Mexico below Interstate 40 (the 
project area), based on 2007 Census of Agriculture data by county. This 
is a significant overestimate of the number of small ranches in the 
project area because it includes data for counties that are split by 
Interstate 40 (i.e., only a portion of the counties' ranches occur in 
the study area), as well as ranches that may occur in Zone 3 where we 
do not expect wolf occupancy over the project time period. While small 
ranches represent the majority of the number of ranches in the two 
States, they produce less than 10 percent of the states' total cattle 
and calf inventory, or a quarter of one percent of the national 
inventory. The largest operations, those with an inventory greater than 
2,500 cattle, account for over 50 percent of the total states' 
livestock.
    Between 1998 and 2013, on average there were about 56 total 
depredations (confirmed and unconfirmed) by Mexican wolves in any given 
year, which equates to about 1.2 cow/calves killed for every Mexican 
wolf (or 118 depredations for every 100 Mexican wolves). Compared to 
the 2007 total inventory of cattle (123,124) for the 5 county area of 
the Mexican wolf initial release area (Graham, Greenlee, and Apache 
Counties, Arizona, and Catron and Grant Counties, New Mexico) both 
confirmed and unconfirmed depredations per 100 Mexican wolves account 
for less than 0.01 percent of the herd size. The economic cost of 
Mexican wolf depredations in this time period has been a small 
percentage of the total value of the livestock operations. The average 
number of cattle killed (both confirmed and unconfirmed) in any given 
year is estimated to be 118.2 per 100 Mexican wolves. The expected 
value of these cattle (118.2 cattle killed per 100 Mexican wolves on 
average for any year) at auction using 2012 prices (most current data 
available at the time of the analysis) would be about $98,000 dollars. 
Prices will be updated for the final EIS.
    We recognize that annual depredation events have not been, and may 
not be uniformly distributed across the ranches operating in occupied 
wolf range. Rather, wolves seem to concentrate in particular areas and 
to the extent that livestock are targeted by the pack for depredations, 
some ranch operations will be disproportionately affected. However, 
while a depredation could disproportionately impact a small ranch 
compared to a larger ranch (e.g., in lost market value), it is more 
likely that a depredated cow will belong to a large ranching operation 
than a small one based on the proportion of cattle associated with 
ranch size. The annual number of depredations (both confirmed and 
unconfirmed) is expected to grow from 97 to 335 cows/calves as the 
Mexican wolf population also grows from 83 to 285 individuals during 
the period 2013 through 2026. The total economic impact to the ranching 
community during this period is calculated to be $2.3 million with a 
net present value of $1.4 million. We would expect to compensate 100 
percent of the market value of confirmed depredated cattle and 50 
percent of market value for probably kills with payments to affected 
ranchers from our Mexican Wolf Interdiction Fund, which provides for 
proactive conservation measures to decrease the likelihood of 
depredation and for compensation of verified livestock depredations. 
This impact, spread over a 12-year period, is not both significant and 
substantial. That is, if impacts are disproportionately felt, the

[[Page 43366]]

number of affected ranches will be small but the impact to those 
affected may be significant. If the impacts are more evenly spread 
across a greater number of ranches the economic impact to those 
entities will not be significant.
    Small businesses involved in ranching and livestock production may 
be affected by weight loss of livestock due to the presence of Mexican 
wolves. For example, livestock may lose weight because wolves force 
them off of suitable grazing habitat or away from water sources. 
Livestock may try to protect themselves by staying close together in 
protected areas where they are more easily able to see approaching 
wolves and defend themselves and their calves. A consequence of such a 
behavioral change would likely be weight loss, especially if the wolves 
are allowed to persist in the area for a significant amount of time. 
The weight loss would be associated with the cattle's fear of roaming 
away from the herd to forage. Using a mid-point estimate of 6 percent 
weight loss for calves at the time of auction (based on available 
data), we calculated the impact on 2012 model ranches assuming that 
wolf presence pressures were allowed to persist throughout the foraging 
year. Based on available studies and reports and under current market 
prices, a six percent weight loss for calves at the time of sale could 
result in a total loss of profit for a small ranch and reduce profits 
for a medium and large ranch on the equivalent of losing five and ten 
calves for auction from the baseline (an estimated loss of profit of 
$9,269 for a large ranch). We estimate that only a small proportion of 
ranches in the project area could be affected by weight loss, given 
that wolves may not occupy areas near some ranches' livestock during 
any point of the project time frame (12 years), wolves may not be in 
the vicinity of some ranches' livestock for the entire foraging season 
(as assumed in our calculations), and landowners and the Service and 
our designated agencies have a variety of harassment and take 
mechanisms available to address wolf-livestock conflicts. Furthermore 
while such an impact could be significant to an individual small ranch, 
for the purposes of this certification we do not consider the impact 
significant because small ranches account for less than 10 percent of 
the states' total cattle and calf inventory, or a quarter of one 
percent of the national inventory. Therefore, we do not foresee a 
significant economic impact to a substantial number of small entities 
in the ranching and livestock production sector associated with 
indirect effects of weight loss of livestock when wolves are present.
    Small businesses associated with hunting in Arizona and New Mexico 
could also be affected by implementation of our proposed action. Direct 
effects to small businesses in this section could occur from impacts to 
big game populations due to Mexican wolf predation (primarily on elk); 
loss of hunter visitation to the region, or a decline in hunter 
success, leading to lost income or increased costs to guides and 
outfitters. However, we do not have information suggesting that these 
impacts will occur. Between 1998 and 2012, Arizona Game and Fish 
Department conducted a study to determine the impact that Mexican 
wolves have had on deer and elk populations in the Blue Range Wolf 
Recovery Area. The study found that while Mexican wolves do target elk 
as their primary prey source, including elk calves during the spring 
and summer season, there was no discernable impact on the number of elk 
calves that survive through early fall periods. A similar finding was 
made for mule deer. The study also reported that the number of elk 
permits authorized by AGFD has varied since Mexican wolves were 
reintroduced into Arizona. The study reports that the variation is 
attributable to a variety of management-related objectives. Elk 
availability for hunters, however, was not the reason for the decline.
    During the project time period, we expect the Mexican wolf density 
in the MWEPA to be no higher (and more likely, lower) than it is 
currently and wolf to elk ratios (an indicator of predation pressure) 
to occur at levels resulting in less than significant biological 
impacts, suggesting that ungulate populations will not be impacted by 
Mexican wolves. Furthermore, information suggests that wolves tend to 
prey on unproductive calf elk and older cow elk, whereas hunters are 
seeking elk with high reproductive potential. Trends in hunter 
visitation and success rates since 1998 in the areas where Mexican 
wolves have been introduced are stable or increasing based on the 
number of licensed hunters and hunter success rates. We do not have 
information suggesting these trends would change during the project 
time period. Therefore, we do not foresee a significant economic impact 
to a substantial number of small entities associated with hunting 
activities.
    We also considered impacts to the tourism industry from 
implementation of our proposed action. In this case, impacts to small 
businesses would be positive, stemming from increased profits 
associated with wolf-related outdoor recreation opportunities, such as 
providing eco-tours in Mexican wolf country. However, we do not have 
information suggesting that wolf presence will create significant 
(positive) economic impacts to a substantial number of small entities, 
as very few eco-tours or other ventures have been identified since 
1998. Therefore, we do not foresee a significant economic impact to a 
substantial number of small entities associated with tourism 
activities.
    In summary, we have considered whether the proposed designation 
would result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. Information for this analysis was gathered from the 
Arizona Game and Fish Department, cooperating agencies, New Mexico Game 
and Fish Department, stakeholders, published literature and reports, 
and the Service. For the above reasons and based on currently available 
information, we certify that, if promulgated, the proposed revision to 
the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the 
Mexican wolf would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    We may not conduct or sponsor and the public is not required to 
respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently 
valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB has 
reviewed and approved our collection of information associated with 
reporting the taking of experimental populations (50 CFR 17.84) and 
assigned OMB Control Number 1018-0095. The OMB has also approved the 
collection of information associated with endangered and threatened 
species permit applications and reports and assigned OMB Control Number 
1018-0094, which expires January 31, 2017. This proposal contains a 
requirement to prepare a science based document in order to obtain 
Service authorization to remove Mexican wolves in response to impacts 
to wild ungulates. Because this requirement applies only to two States, 
OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 
et seq.) is not required.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

    The purpose of the draft environmental impact statement, prepared 
under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42

[[Page 43367]]

U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), is to identify and disclose the environmental 
consequences resulting from the proposed action of revising the 
existing nonessential experimental population designation of the 
Mexican wolf. In the draft environmental impact statement, four 
alternatives are evaluated: Alternative One (BRWRA Expansion; MWEPA 
Expansion with Management Zone; Modified Provisions for Take of Mexican 
Wolves); Alternative Two (MWEPA Expansion with Management Zones; 
Modified Provisions for Take of Mexican Wolves); Alternative Three 
(BRWRA Expansion; MWEPA Expansion with Management Zones); and 
Alternative Four (No Action).
    The no action alternative is required by NEPA for comparison to the 
other alternatives analyzed in the draft environmental impact 
statement. Our preliminary determination is that revising the existing 
nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf 
will not have significant impacts on the environment. However, we will 
further evaluate this issue as we complete our final environmental 
impact statement.
    As we stated earlier, we are soliciting data and comments from the 
public on the draft environmental impact statement, as well as all 
aspects of the proposed rule. We may revise the proposed rule or 
supporting documents to incorporate or address information we receive 
during the comment period on the environmental consequences resulting 
from our revision of the existing nonessential experimental population 
designation.

Management of Wolves Outside the Mexican Wolf Nonessential Experimental 
Population Area

    For Mexican wolves that occur outside the MWEPA, the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) prohibits activities with endangered and threatened 
species unless a Federal permit allows such activities. Along with our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 17, the Act provides for 
permits, and requires that we invite public comment before issuing 
these permits. A permit granted by us under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the 
Act authorizes activities with U.S. endangered or threatened species 
for scientific purposes, enhancement of survival or propagation, or 
interstate commerce. Our regulations regarding implementation of 
section 10(a)(1)(A) permits are found at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered 
wildlife species, 50 CFR 17.32 for threatened wildlife species, 50 CFR 
17.62 for endangered plant species, and 50 CFR 17.72 for threatened 
plant species.
    As part of this rulemaking process, we have drafted a section 
10(a)(1)(A) permit to allow for certain activities with Mexican wolves 
that occur outside the MWEPA. In compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.), we have included analysis of the environmental effects of the 
draft permit as part of our draft EIS. This draft section 10(a)(1)(A) 
permit is attached as an appendix in the draft EIS. Both the Act and 
the National Environmental Policy Act require that we invite public 
comment before issuing these permits. Therefore, we invite local, 
State, tribal, and Federal agencies, and the public to comment on the 
draft section 10(a)(1)(A) permit.

Authors

    The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authority

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

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 proposed to 
be amended at 78 FR 35719 (June 13, 2013) 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.  17.84 by revising paragraph (k) to read as follows:


Sec.  17.84  Special rules--vertebrates.

* * * * *
    (k) Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). This paragraph (k) sets 
forth the provisions of a rule to establish an experimental population 
of Mexican wolves.
    (1) Purpose of the rule: The Service finds that reestablishment of 
an experimental population of Mexican wolves into the subspecies' 
probable historical range will further the conservation of the Mexican 
wolf subspecies. The Service also finds that the experimental 
population is not essential under Sec.  17.81(c)(2).
    (2) Determinations: The Mexican wolf population reestablished in 
the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA), identified in 
paragraph (k)(4) of this section, is one nonessential experimental 
population. This nonessential experimental population will be managed 
according to the provisions of this rule. The Service does not intend 
to change the nonessential experimental designation to essential 
experimental, threatened, or endangered. Critical habitat cannot be 
designated under the nonessential experimental classification, 16 
U.S.C. 1539(j)(2)(C)(ii).
    (3) Definitions--Key terms used in this rule have the following 
definitions:
    Active den means a den or a specific site above or below ground 
that is used by Mexican wolves on a daily basis to raise pups, 
typically between March 1 and July 31. More than one den site may be 
used in a single season.
    Cross-fostering means offspring that are removed from their 
biological parents and placed with surrogate parents.
    Depredation means the confirmed killing or wounding of lawfully 
present domestic animals by one or more wolves. The Service, Wildlife 
Services, or other Service-designated agencies will confirm cases of 
wolf depredation on lawfully present domestic animals.
    Designated agency means a Federal, State, or tribal agency 
designated by the Service to assist in implementing this rule, all or 
in part, consistent with a Service-approved management plan, special 
management measure, conference opinion pursuant to section 7(a)(4) of 
the Act, section 6 of the Act as authorized pursuant to Sec.  17.31 for 
State wildlife agencies with authority to manage Mexican wolves, or a 
valid permit issued by the Service under Sec.  17.32.
    Disturbance-causing land-use activity means any activity on Federal 
lands that the Service determines could adversely affect reproductive 
success, natural behavior, or persistence of Mexican wolves. Such 
activities may include, but are not limited to--timber or wood 
harvesting, prescribed fire, mining or mine development, camping 
outside designated campgrounds, livestock drives, off-road vehicle use, 
hunting, and any other use or activity with the potential to disturb 
wolves. The following activities are specifically excluded from this 
definition:
    (i) Lawfully present livestock and use of water sources by 
livestock;
    (ii) Livestock drives if no reasonable alternative route or timing 
exists;
    (iii) Vehicle access over established roads to non-Federal land 
where legally permitted activities are ongoing if no reasonable 
alternative route exists;
    (iv) Use of lands within the National Park or National Wildlife 
Refuge Systems as safety buffer zones for

[[Page 43368]]

military activities and Department of Homeland Security border security 
activities;
    (v) Fire-fighting activities associated with wildfires; and
    (vi) Any authorized, specific land use that was active and ongoing 
at the time Mexican wolves chose to locate a den or rendezvous site 
nearby.
    Domestic animal means livestock as defined in paragraph (k)(3) of 
this section and non-feral dogs.
    Federal land means land owned and under the administration of 
Federal agencies including, but not limited to, the Service, National 
Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, 
Department of Energy, or Department of Defense.
    Feral dog means any dog (Canis familiaris) or wolf-dog hybrid that, 
because of absence of physical restraint or conspicuous means of 
identifying it at a distance as non-feral, is reasonably thought to 
range freely over a rural landscape without discernible, proximate 
control by any person. Feral dogs do not include domestic dogs that are 
penned, leashed, or otherwise restrained (e.g., by shock collar) or 
which are working livestock or being lawfully used to trail or locate 
wildlife.
    Harass means intentional or negligent actions or omissions that 
create the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an 
extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which 
include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.
    In the act of biting, killing, or wounding means grasping, biting, 
attacking, wounding, or feeding upon a live domestic animal on non-
Federal land or live livestock on Federal land. The term does not 
include a Mexican wolf feeding on an animal carcass.
    Initial release means releasing Mexican wolves to the wild within 
Zone 1, or in accordance with tribal or private land agreements in Zone 
2, that have never been in the wild, or releasing pups that have never 
been in the wild and are less than 5 months old within Zones 1 or 2. 
The initial release of pups less than 5 months old into Zone 2 allows 
for the cross-fostering of pups from the captive population into the 
wild, as well as enables translocation-eligible adults to be re-
released in Zone 2 with pups born in captivity.
    Intentional harassment means deliberate, pre-planned harassment of 
Mexican wolves, including by less-than-lethal means (such as 12-gauge 
shotgun rubber-bullets and bean-bag shells) designed to cause physical 
discomfort and temporary physical injury, but not death. Intentional 
harassment includes situations where the Mexican wolf or wolves may 
have been unintentionally attracted, or intentionally tracked, waited 
for, chased, or searched out; and then harassed. Intentional harassment 
of Mexican wolves is only allowed under a permit issued by the Service 
or its designated agency.
    Livestock means domestic alpacas, bison, burros (donkeys), cattle, 
goats, horses, llamas, mules, and sheep, or other domestic animals 
defined as livestock in Service-approved State and tribal Mexican wolf 
management plans. Poultry is not considered livestock under this rule.
    Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) means an area in 
Arizona and New Mexico including Zones 1, 2, and 3, that lies south of 
Interstate Highway 40 to the international border with Mexico.
    Non-Federal land means any private, State-owned, or tribal trust 
land.
    Occupied Mexican wolf range means an area of confirmed presence of 
Mexican wolves based on the most recent map of occupied range posted on 
the Service's Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Web site at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/. Specific to Prohibitions 
(5)(iii) of this rule, Zone 3 and tribal trust lands are not considered 
occupied range.
    Opportunistic harassment means scaring any Mexican wolf from the 
immediate area by taking actions such as discharging firearms or other 
projectile-launching devices in proximity to but not in the direction 
of the wolf, throwing objects at it, or making loud noise in proximity 
to it. Such harassment might cause temporary, non-debilitating physical 
injury, but is not reasonably anticipated to cause permanent physical 
injury or death. Opportunistic harassment of Mexican wolves can occur 
without a permit issued by the Service or its designated agency.
    Problem wolves mean Mexican wolves that, for purposes of management 
and control by the Service or its designated agent(s), are:
    (i) Individuals or members of a group or pack (including adults, 
yearlings, and pups greater than 4 months of age) that were directly 
involved in a depredation on lawfully present domestic animals; or
    (ii) Habituated to humans, human residences, or other facilities 
regularly occupied by humans.
    Rendezvous site means a gathering and activity area regularly used 
by Mexican wolf pups after they have emerged from the den. Typically, 
these sites are used for a period ranging from about 1 week to 1 month 
in the first summer after birth during the period from June 1 to 
September 30. Several rendezvous sites may be used in succession within 
a single season.
    Service-approved management plan means management plans approved by 
the Regional Director or Director of the Service through which Federal, 
State, or tribal agencies may become a designated agency. The 
management plan must address how Mexican wolves will be managed to 
achieve conservation goals in compliance with the Act, this 10(j) 
nonessential experimental population rule, and other Service policies. 
If a Federal, State, or tribal agency becomes a designated agency 
through a Service-approved management plan, the Service will help 
coordinate their activities while retaining authority for program 
direction, oversight, and guidance.
    Take means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1532(19)).
    Translocate means to release Mexican wolves into the wild that have 
previously been in the wild. In the MWEPA, translocations will occur 
only in Zones 1 and 2.
    Tribal trust land means any lands title to which is either: held in 
trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or 
individual; or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to 
restrictions by the United States against alienation. For purposes of 
this rule, tribal trust land does not include land purchased in fee 
title by a tribe. We consider fee simple land purchased by tribes to be 
private land.
    Unintentional take means take that occurs despite the use of due 
care, is coincidental to an otherwise lawful activity, and is not done 
on purpose. Taking a Mexican wolf by poisoning or shooting will not be 
considered unintentional take.
    Ungulate herd means an assemblage of wild ungulates living in a 
given area.
    Wounded means exhibiting scraped or torn hide or flesh, bleeding, 
or other evidence of physical damage caused by a Mexican wolf bite.
    Zone 1 means an area within the MWEPA in Arizona and New Mexico 
where Mexican wolves may be initially released from captivity or 
translocated. Zone 1 includes all of the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves 
National Forests; the Payson, Pleasant Valley, and Tonto Basin Ranger 
Districts of the Tonto National Forest; and the Magdalena Ranger 
District of the Cibola National Forest.
    Zone 2 is an area within the MWEPA where Mexican wolves will be 
allowed to naturally disperse into and occupy,

[[Page 43369]]

and where Mexican wolves may be translocated. On Federal land in Zone 
2, initial releases of Mexican wolves are limited to pups less than 5 
months old, which allows for the cross-fostering of pups from the 
captive population into the wild, as well as enables translocation-
eligible adults to be re-released with pups born in captivity. On 
private and tribal land in Zone 2, Mexican wolves of any age, including 
adults, can also be initially released under a Service- and State-
approved management agreement with private landowners or a Service-
approved management agreement with tribal agencies. The northern 
boundary of Zone 2 is Interstate Highway 40; the western boundary goes 
south from Interstate Highway 40 and follows Arizona State Highway 93, 
Arizona State Highway 89/60, Interstate Highway 10, and Interstate 
Highway 19 to the United States-Mexico international border; the 
southern boundary is the United States-Mexico international border 
heading east, then follows New Mexico State Highway 81/146 north to 
Interstate Highway 10, then along New Mexico State Highway 26 to 
Interstate Highway 25; the boundary continues along New Mexico State 
Highway 70/54/506/24; the eastern boundary follows the eastern edge of 
Otero County, New Mexico, to the north and then along the eastern edge 
of Lincoln County, New Mexico, until it intersects with New Mexico 
State Hwy 285 and follows New Mexico State Highway 285 north to the 
northern boundary of Interstate Highway 40. Zone 2 excludes the area in 
Zone 1.
    Zone 3 means an area within the MWEPA where neither initial 
releases nor translocations will occur, but Mexican wolves will be 
allowed to disperse into and occupy. Zone 3 is an area of less suitable 
Mexican wolf habitat and where Mexican wolves will be more actively 
managed under the authorities of this rule to reduce human conflict. We 
expect Mexican wolves to occupy areas of suitable habitat where 
ungulate populations are adequate to support them and conflict with 
humans and their livestock is low. If Mexican wolves move outside areas 
of suitable habitat, they will be more actively managed. Zone 3 is two 
separate geographic areas on the east and west sides of the MWEPA. One 
area of Zone 3 is in western Arizona and the other in eastern New 
Mexico. In Arizona, the boundaries of Zone 3 are the northern boundary 
is Interstate Highway 40; the eastern boundary goes south from 
Interstate Highway 40 and follows State Highway 93, State Highway 89/
60, Interstate Highway 10, and Interstate Highway 19 to the United 
States-Mexico international border; the southern boundary is the United 
States-Mexico international border; the western boundary is the 
Arizona-California State border. In New Mexico, the northern boundary 
is Interstate Highway 40; the eastern boundary is the New Mexico-Texas 
State border; the southern boundary is the United States-Mexico 
international border heading west, then follows State Highway 81/146 
north to Interstate Highway 10, then along State Highway 26 to 
Interstate Highway 25, the southern boundary continues along State 
Highway 70/54/506/24; the western boundary follows the eastern edge of 
Otero County to the north and then along the eastern edge of Lincoln 
County until it follows State Highway 285 north to the northern 
boundary of Interstate Highway 40.
    (4) Designated area: The designated experimental population area 
for Mexican wolves classified as a nonessential experimental population 
by this rule is described in this paragraph (k)(4). The designated 
experimental population area is within the subspecies' probable 
historical range and is wholly separate geographically from the current 
range of any known Mexican wolves or other gray wolves. The boundaries 
of the MWEPA are the portion of Arizona and New Mexico that lies south 
of Interstate Highway 40 to the international border with Mexico. A map 
of the MWEPA follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[[Page 43370]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP25JY14.042

BILLING CODE 4310-55-C
    (5) Prohibitions: Take of any Mexican wolf in the wild within the 
MWEPA is prohibited, except as provided in paragraph (k)(6) of this 
section. Specifically, the following actions are prohibited by this 
rule:
    (i) No person may possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, ship, 
import, or export by any means whatsoever, any Mexican wolf or wolf 
part from the experimental population except as authorized in this rule 
or by a valid permit issued by the Service under Sec.  17.32. If a 
person kills or injures a Mexican wolf or finds a dead or injured wolf 
or wolf parts, the person must not disturb them (unless instructed to 
do so by the Service or a designated agency), must minimize disturbance 
of the area around them, and must report the incident to the Service's 
Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated agency of the Service 
within 24 hours.
    (ii) No person may attempt to commit, solicit another to commit, or 
cause to be committed, any offense defined in this rule.
    (iii) Taking a Mexican wolf with a trap, snare, or other type of 
capture device within occupied Mexican wolf range is prohibited (except 
as authorized in paragraph (k)(6)(iv) of this section) and will not be 
considered unintentional take, unless due care was exercised to avoid 
injury or death to a wolf. With regard to trapping activities, due care 
includes:
    (A) Following the regulations, proclamations, recommendations, 
guidelines, and/or laws within the State or tribal trust lands where 
the trapping takes place.
    (B) Modifying or utilizing appropriately sized traps, chains, 
drags, and stakes to reasonably expect to prevent a wolf from either 
breaking the chain, or escaping with the trap on the wolf, or utilizing 
sufficiently small traps (less than or equal to a Victor 2) to 
reasonably expect the wolf to either immediately pull free from the 
trap, or span the jaw spread when stepping on the trap.
    (C) Not taking a Mexican wolf via neck snares.
    (D) Reporting the capture of a Mexican wolf (even if the wolf has 
pulled free) within 24 hours to the Service.
    (E) If a Mexican wolf is captured, trappers can call the 
Interagency Field Team (1-888-459-WOLF [9653]) as soon as possible to 
arrange for radio-collaring and releasing of the wolf. Per State 
regulations for releasing nontarget animals, trappers may also choose 
to release the animal alive and subsequently contact the Service or 
Interagency Field Team.
    (6) Reporting requirements. Unless otherwise specified in this rule 
or in a permit, any take of a Mexican wolf must be reported to the 
Service or a designated agency within 24 hours. We will allow 
additional reasonable time if access to the site is limited. Report any 
take of Mexican wolves, including opportunistic harassment, to the 
Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road, NE., 
Albuquerque, NM 87113; by telephone 505-761-4748; or by facsimile 505-
346-2542. Additional contact information can also be found on the 
Mexican Wolf Recovery Program's Web site at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/. Unless otherwise specified in a permit, any 
wolf or wolf part taken legally must be turned over to the Service, 
which will determine the disposition of any live or dead wolves.
    (7) Allowable forms of take of Mexican wolves: Take of Mexican 
wolves in the MWEPA are allowed as follows:
    (i) Take in defense of human life. Under section 11(a)(3) of the 
Act and Sec.  17.21(c)(2), any person may take (which includes killing 
as well as nonlethal actions such as harassing or harming) a Mexican 
wolf in self-defense or defense of the lives of others. This

[[Page 43371]]

take must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) 
of this section. If the Service or a designated agency determines that 
a Mexican wolf presents a threat to human life or safety, the Service 
or the designated agency may kill the wolf or place it in captivity.
    (ii) Opportunistic harassment. Anyone may conduct opportunistic 
harassment of any Mexican wolf at any time provided that Mexican wolves 
are not purposefully attracted, tracked, searched out, or chased and 
then harassed. Such harassment of Mexican wolves might cause temporary, 
non-debilitating physical injury, but is not reasonably anticipated to 
cause permanent physical injury or death. Any form of opportunistic 
harassment must be reported as specified in accordance with paragraph 
(k)(6) of this section.
    (iii) Intentional harassment. After the Service or its designated 
agency has confirmed Mexican wolf presence on any land within the 
MWEPA, the Service or its designated agency may issue permits valid for 
not longer than 1 year, with appropriate stipulations or conditions, to 
allow intentional harassment of Mexican wolves. The harassment must 
occur in the area and under the conditions specifically identified in 
the permit. Permittees must report this take as specified in accordance 
with paragraph (k)(6) of this section.
    (iv) Take on non-Federal lands.
    (A) On non-Federal lands anywhere within the MWEPA, domestic animal 
owners or their agents may take (including kill or injure) any Mexican 
wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic 
animal, as defined in paragraph (k)(3) of this section, provided that 
evidence of freshly wounded or killed domestic animals by Mexican 
wolves is present. This take must be reported as specified in 
accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. The take of any 
Mexican wolf without evidence of biting, killing, or wounding domestic 
animals may be referred to the appropriate authorities for 
investigation.
    (B) Take of Mexican wolves by livestock guarding dogs, when used in 
the traditional manner to protect livestock on non-Federal lands, is 
allowed. If such take by a guard dog occurs, it must be reported as 
specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section.
    (C) Based on the Service's or a designated agency's discretion and 
during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a 
designated agency (provided the Service's or designated agency's 
actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue 
permits to domestic animal owners or their agents (e.g., employees, 
land manager, local officials) to take (including intentional 
harassment or killing) any Mexican wolf that is present on non-Federal 
land where specified in the permit. Permits issued under this provision 
will specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the 
maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed. Take by 
permittees under this provision will assist the Service or designated 
agency in completing control actions. Domestic animal owners or their 
agents must report this take as specified in accordance with paragraph 
(k)(6) of this section.
    (v) Take on Federal land.
    (A) Based on the Service's or a designated agency's discretion and 
during or after a removal action authorized by the Service or a 
designated agency (provided the Service's or designated agency's 
actions were unsuccessful), the Service or designated agency may issue 
permits to livestock owners or their agents (e.g., employees, land 
manager, local officials) to take (including intentional harassment or 
killing) any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or 
wounding livestock on Federal land where specified in the permit. 
Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of days for 
which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for 
which take is allowed. Take by permittees under this provision will 
assist the Service or designated agency in completing control actions. 
Livestock owners or their agents must report this take as specified in 
accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section.
    (B) Take of Mexican wolves by livestock guarding dogs, when used in 
the traditional manner to protect livestock on Federal lands, is 
allowed. If such take by a guard dog occurs, it must be reported as 
specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section.
    (C) This provision does not exempt Federal agencies and their 
contractors from complying with sections 7(a)(1) and 7(a)(4) of the 
Act, the latter of which requires a conference with the Service if they 
propose an action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of the Mexican wolf. In areas within the National Park System and 
National Wildlife Refuge System, Federal agencies must treat Mexican 
wolves as a threatened species for purposes of complying with section 7 
of the Act.
    (vi) Take in response to impacts to wild ungulates. If Arizona or 
New Mexico determines, based on ungulate management goals, that Mexican 
wolf predation is having an unacceptable impact on a wild ungulate herd 
(pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, or bison), the respective State 
may request approval from the Service that Mexican wolves be removed 
from the area of the impacted ungulate herd. Upon written approval from 
the Service, the State (Arizona or New Mexico) or any designated agency 
may be authorized to remove (capture and translocate in the MWEPA, move 
to captivity, transfer to Mexico, or lethally take) Mexican wolves. 
These management actions must occur in accordance with the following 
provisions:
    (A) Arizona or New Mexico must prepare a science-based document 
that:
    (1) Describes what data indicate that the ungulate herd is below 
management objectives, what data indicate that the impact on the 
ungulate herd is influenced by Mexican wolf predation, why Mexican wolf 
removal is a warranted solution to help restore the ungulate herd to 
State management objectives, the type (level and duration) of Mexican 
wolf removal management action being proposed, and how ungulate herd 
response to wolf removal will be measured and control actions adjusted 
for effectiveness;
    (2) Demonstrates that attempts were and are being made to identify 
other causes of ungulate herd declines and possible remedies or 
conservation measures in addition to wolf removal;
    (3) If appropriate, identifies areas of suitable habitat for 
Mexican wolf translocation; and
    (4) Has been subjected to peer review and public comment prior to 
its submittal to the Service for written concurrence. In order to 
comply with this requirement, the State must:
    (i) Conduct the peer review process in conformance with the Office 
of Management and Budget's most recent Final Information and Quality 
Bulletin for Peer Review and include in their proposal an explanation 
of how the bulletin's standards were considered and satisfied; and
    (ii) Obtain at least three independent peer reviews from 
individuals with relevant expertise other than staff employed by the 
State (Arizona or New Mexico) requesting approval from the Service that 
Mexican wolves be removed from the area of the impacted ungulate herd.
    (B) Before the Service will allow Mexican wolf removal in response 
to impacts to wild ungulates, the Service will evaluate the information 
provided

[[Page 43372]]

by the requesting State (Arizona or New Mexico) and provide a written 
determination to the requesting State agency whether such actions are 
scientifically based and warranted.
    (C) If all of the provisions above are met, the Service will, to 
the maximum extent allowable under the Act, make a determination 
providing for Mexican wolf removal. If the request is approved, the 
Service will include in the written determination which management 
action (capture and translocate in MWEPA, move to captivity, transfer 
to Mexico, lethally take, or no action) is most appropriate for the 
conservation of the Mexican wolf subspecies.
    (D) Because tribes are able to request the capture and removal of 
Mexican wolves at any time, take in response to impacts to wild 
ungulates is not applicable on tribal trust lands.
    (vii) Take by Service personnel or a designated agency. The Service 
or a designated agency may take any Mexican wolf in the nonessential 
experimental population in a manner consistent with a Service-approved 
management plan, special management measure, biological opinion 
pursuant to section 7(a)(2) of the Act, conference opinion pursuant to 
section 7(a)(4) of the Act, section 6 of the Act as authorized pursuant 
to Sec.  17.31 for State wildlife agencies with authority to manage 
Mexican wolves, or a valid permit issued by the Service under Sec.  
17.32.
    (A) The Service or designated agency may use leg-hold traps and any 
other effective device or method for capturing or killing Mexican 
wolves to carry out any measure that is a part of a Service-approved 
management plan regardless of State law. The disposition of all Mexican 
wolves (live or dead) or their parts taken as part of a Service-
approved management activity must follow provisions in Service-approved 
management plans or interagency agreements or procedures approved by 
the Service on a case-by-case basis.
    (B) The Service or designated agency may capture; kill; subject to 
genetic testing; place in captivity; or euthanize any feral wolf-like 
animal or feral wolf hybrid found within the MWEPA that shows physical 
or behavioral evidence of: Hybridization with other canids, such as 
domestic dogs or coyotes; being a wolf-like animal raised in captivity, 
other than as part of a Service-approved wolf recovery program; or 
being socialized or habituated to humans. If determined to be a pure 
Mexican wolf, the wolf may be returned to the wild.
    (C) The Service or designated agency may carry out intentional or 
opportunistic harassment, nonlethal control measures, translocation, 
placement in captivity, or lethal control of problem wolves. To 
determine the presence of problem wolves, the Service will consider all 
of the following:
    (1) Evidence of wounded domestic animal(s) or remains of domestic 
animal(s) that show that the injury or death was caused by Mexican 
wolves, or evidence that Mexican wolves were in the act of biting, 
killing, or wounding a domestic animal;
    (2) The likelihood that additional Mexican wolf-caused depredations 
or attacks of domestic animals may occur if no harassment, nonlethal 
control, translocation, placement in captivity, or lethal control is 
taken; and
    (3) Evidence of attractants or intentional feeding (baiting) of 
Mexican wolves.
    (D) The Wildlife Services will discontinue use of M-44's and 
choking-type snares in occupied Mexican wolf range. Wildlife Services 
may restrict or modify other predator control activities pursuant to a 
Service-approved management agreement or a conference opinion between 
Wildlife Services and the Service.
    (viii) Unintentional take: (A) Take of a Mexican wolf by any person 
is allowed if the take is unintentional and occurs while engaging in an 
otherwise lawful activity. Such take must be reported as specified in 
accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this section. Hunters and other 
shooters have the responsibility to identify their quarry or target 
before shooting, thus shooting a wolf as a result of mistaking it for 
another species will not be considered unintentional take. Take by 
poisoning will not be considered unintentional take.
    (B) Federal, State, or tribal agency employees or their contractors 
may take a Mexican wolf or wolf-like animal if the take is 
unintentional and occurs while engaging in the course of their official 
duties. This includes, but is not limited to, military training and 
testing and Department of Homeland Security border security activities. 
Take of Mexican wolves by Federal, State, or tribal agencies must be 
reported as specified in accordance with paragraph (k)(6) of this 
section.
    (C) Take of Mexican wolves by Wildlife Services employees while 
conducting official duties associated with predator damage management 
activities for species other than Mexican wolves may be considered 
unintentional if it is coincidental to a legal activity and the 
Wildlife Services employees have adhered to all applicable Wildlife 
Services' policies, Mexican wolf standard operating procedures, and 
reasonable and prudent measures or recommendations contained in 
Wildlife Service's biological and conference opinions.
    (ix) Take for research purposes. The Service may issue permits 
under Sec.  17.32, and designated agencies may issue permits under 
State and Federal laws and regulations, for individuals to take Mexican 
wolves pursuant to scientific study proposals approved by the agency or 
agencies with jurisdiction for Mexican wolves and for the area in which 
the study will occur. Such take may include Mexican wolves, their prey, 
their competitors, or their occupied or potentially occupied habitats 
that might lead to management recommendations for, and thus enhance the 
survival of, the Mexican wolf.
    (8) Disturbance-causing land-use activities: For any activity on 
Federal lands that the Service determines could adversely affect 
reproductive success, natural behavior, or persistence of Mexican 
wolves, the Service will work with Federal agencies to use their 
authorities to temporarily restrict human access and disturbance-
causing land-use activities within a 1-mi (1.6-km) radius around 
release pens when Mexican wolves are in them, around active dens 
between March 1 and June 30, and around active Mexican wolf rendezvous 
sites between June 1 and September 30, as necessary.
    (9) Management: (i) On private land within Zones 1 and 2 of the 
MWEPA, the Service or designated agency may develop and implement 
management actions to benefit Mexican wolf recovery in cooperation with 
willing private landowners, including: Occupancy by natural dispersal; 
initial release; and translocation of Mexican wolves in Zones 1 or 2 if 
requested by the landowner and with the concurrence of the State 
wildlife agency.
    (ii) On tribal trust land within Zones 1 and 2 the MWEPA, the 
Service or a designated agency may develop and implement management 
actions in cooperation with willing tribal governments, including: 
Occupancy by natural dispersal; initial release; translocation of 
Mexican wolves; and capture and removal of Mexican wolves if requested 
by the tribal government.
    (10) Evaluation: The Service will evaluate Mexican wolf 
reestablishment progress and prepare periodic progress reports and 
detailed annual reports. In addition, the Service will prepare a one-
time overall evaluation of the nonessential experimental population 
program approximately 5 years after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE] 
that focuses on modifications needed to improve the efficacy of this

[[Page 43373]]

rule, reestablishment of Mexican wolves to the wild, and the 
contribution the nonessential experimental population is making to the 
recovery of the Mexican wolf.
* * * * *

    Dated: July 1, 2014.
Michael J. Bean,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2014-17587 Filed 7-24-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P