Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Straight-Horned Markhor as Threatened With a Rule Under Section 4(d) of the ESA, 60365-60379 [2014-23671]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations applicant in preparation of a program of projects. This work may involve joint site inspections to view damage and reach tentative agreement on the type of permanent repairs the applicant will undertake. Project information should be kept to a minimum, but should be sufficient to identify the approved disaster or catastrophe and to permit a determination of the eligibility of proposed work. If the appropriate FTA Regional Administrator determines the damage assessment report is of sufficient detail to meet these criteria, additional project information need not be submitted. (g) The appropriate FTA Regional Administrator’s approval of the grant application constitutes a finding of eligibility under 49 U.S.C. 5324. [FR Doc. 2014–23806 Filed 10–6–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–57–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003; FXES111309F2460–145–FF09E22000] RIN 1018–AY42 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Straight-Horned Markhor as Threatened With a Rule Under Section 4(d) of the ESA Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine threatened status for the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are also publishing a concurrent rule under section 4(d) of the Act. This rule protects and conserves the straighthorned markhor, while encouraging local communities to conserve additional populations of the straighthorned markhor through sustainable-use management programs. DATES: This rule becomes effective November 6, 2014. ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at https:// www.regulations.gov and comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; telephone 703–358–2171; facsimile 703–358–1735. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action We are combining two subspecies of markhor currently listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros), into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros), based on a taxonomic change. We are listing the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros) as threatened under the Act. We are also finalizing a rule under section 4(d) of the Act that allows the import of sport-hunted straight-horned markhor trophies under certain conditions. This regulation supports and encourages conservation actions for the straight-horned markhor. II. Major Provision of the Regulatory Action This action eliminates the separate listing of the straight-horned markhor and Kabul markhor as endangered and adds the combined straight-horned markhor subspecies as threatened on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h), and allows the import of sport-hunted straighthorned markhor trophies under certain conditions at 50 CFR 17.40(d). This action is authorized by the Act. Background The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA or Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), is a law that was passed to prevent extinction of species by providing measures to help alleviate the loss of species and their habitats. Before a plant or animal species can receive the protection provided by the Act, it must first be added to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife or the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants; section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 424 set forth the procedures for adding species to these lists. Previous Federal Actions On June 14, 1976, we published in the Federal Register a rule listing the straight-horned markhor, or the PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60365 Suleiman markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni), and the Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros), as well as 157 other U.S. and foreign vertebrates and invertebrates, as endangered under the Act (41 FR 24062). All species were found to have declining numbers due to the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of their habitats or ranges; overutilization for commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational purposes; the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or some combination of the three. However, the main concerns were the high commercial importance and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to control international trade. Subsequent to the listing in 1976, the Suleiman markhor and the Kabul markhor were later considered by some authorities to be the single subspecies C. f. megaceros (straight-horned markhor). However, the Suleiman markhor and the Kabul markhor remained listed as separate subspecies under the Act. On March 4, 1999, we received a petition from Sardar Naseer A. Tareen, on behalf of the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Central Asia Sustainable Use Specialist Group, requesting that the Suleiman markhor (C. f. jerdoni or C. f. megaceros) population of the Torghar Hills region of the Balochistan Province, Pakistan, be reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Act. On September 23, 1999 (64 FR 51499), we published in the Federal Register a finding, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, that the petition had presented substantial information indicating that the requested reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. We opened a comment period, which closed January 21, 2000, to allow all interested parties to submit comments and information. A 12-month finding was never completed. On August 18, 2010, we received a petition dated August 17, 2010, from Conservation Force, on behalf of Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida, The Conklin Foundation, Grand Slam Club/ Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, Jerry Brenner, Steve Hornaday, Alan Sackman, and Barbara Lee Sackman, requesting the Service downlist the Torghar Hills population of the Suleiman markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros), in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan, from endangered to threatened under the Act. On June 2, 2011, we published in the Federal Register a finding that the E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 60366 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES petition had presented substantial information indicating that the requested reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review (76 FR 31903). On February 1, 2012, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, and other organizations and individuals filed suit against the Service for failure to conduct a 5-year status review pursuant to section 4(c)(2)(A) under the Act (Conservation Force, et al. v. Salazar, Case No. 11 CV 02008 D.D.C.). On March 30, 2012, a settlement agreement was approved by the Court (11–CV– 02008, D.D.C.), in which the Service agreed to submit to the Federal Register by July 31, 2012, a 12-month finding on the August 2010 petition. In fulfillment of the court-ordered settlement agreement and the requirement to conduct a 5-year status review under section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act, the Service published in the Federal Register a 12month finding and proposed rule to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni) from endangered to threatened with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act (known as a 4(d) rule) (77 FR 47011) on August 7, 2012. On December 5, 2013, the Service published in the Federal Register a revised proposed rule to combine the straight-horned markhor and Kabul markhor into one subspecies and reclassify the new subspecies as threatened under the Act with a 4(d) rule (78 FR 73173). Summary of Comments and Recommendations We based this action on a review of the best scientific and commercial information available, including all information received during the public comment period. In the December 5, 2013, revised proposed rule, we requested that all interested parties submit information that might contribute to development of a final rule. We also contacted appropriate scientific experts and organizations and invited them to comment on these proposed rules. We received comments from nine individuals and organizations. We reviewed all comments we received from the public and peer reviewers for substantive issues and new information regarding the proposed reclassification of this subspecies, and we address those comments below. Six of the commenters, including peer reviewers, supported the revised proposed rule and 4(d) rule. Three commenters opposed the reclassification and 4(d) rule; two commenters believed more genetic studies and a better consensus among VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 scientists was needed before combining the two subspecies into one. Peer Review In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions from five individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with the species, the geographic region in which the species occurs, and conservation biology principles. We received responses from three of the peer reviewers from whom we requested comments. The peer reviewers stated that the revised proposed rule was accurate and our conclusions were logical; no substantive comments were provided. Technical corrections suggested by the peer reviewers have been incorporated into this final rule. In some cases, a technical correction is indicated in the citations by ‘‘personal communication’’ (pers. comm.), which could indicate either an email or telephone conversation; in other cases, the research citation is provided. Public Comments (1) Comment: We received updated information on the population of straight-horned markhor in Sheikh Buddin Hills, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. A 2011 field survey found that the straight-horned markhor has been extirpated from this area. Our Response: We included this updated information under the Range and Population section below. (2) Comment: The Service has not put forth sufficient population information, especially for populations outside of the Torghar Hills, to support a finding that the subspecies qualifies as a threatened species. Our Response: Our finding that the straight-horned markhor meets the definition of a threatened species, as defined under the Act, is not based solely on population numbers. Although most remaining populations of straighthorned markhor are critically low, continue to face threats, and will likely continue to decline, the population in Torghar Hills has continued to increase and is the stronghold of the species. Because of the protective measures provided to the Torghar Hills population, we believe the subspecies as a whole is not presently in danger of extinction, and, therefore, does not meet the definition of endangered under the Act. As explained in more detail in our status determination, the Torghar Hills population is considered to be currently stable and increasing; based upon 2011 population surveys in the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP), the markhor population and domestic livestock have PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 minimal range-use overlap, and the markhor’s habitat is secure under current management. However, the straight-horned markhor occupies a narrow geographic range, and threats acting on critically low populations outside Torghar Hills are likely to continue in the foreseeable future. Moreover, within the foreseeable future, pressures on habitat in the Torghar Hills and interactions between livestock and markhor are likely to increase with the growth of domestic livestock herds, the biannual migration of local tribes, and the expansion of markhor populations in the TCP, resulting in the subspecies as a whole being at risk of extinction due to the strong likelihood of a catastrophic or stochastic event (e.g., disease) impacting the Torghar Hills population. Should a catastrophic or stochastic event (e.g., disease) impact the Torghar Hills population, this single, stable population would likely not provide a sufficient margin of safety for the subspecies. Thus, these factors indicate that the straight-horned markhor, while not at risk of extinction now, will likely become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. Therefore, we find that this subspecies of markhor qualifies as a threatened species. (3) Comment: The Service states that the subspecies in Torghar Hills is likely to interact with domestic goats and could be catastrophically impacted by disease. A recent study (Ostrowski et al. 2013), not considered by the Service, describes a pneumonia outbreak that killed approximately 20 percent of the markhor population in Tajikistan, concludes that domestic goats can carry a pathogen that poses an insidious risk for cross-species transmission with sympatric wild caprinae, and shows that straight-horned markhor could go extinct due to an outbreak of pneumonia. Therefore, the straighthorned markhor is currently in danger of extinction due to disease. Our Response: The findings by Ostrowski et al. (2013, p. 3) indicate that the outbreak that killed 20 percent of the markhor population of a separate subspecies in Tajikistan was caused by a pathogen, Mycoplasma capricolum capricolum. The source of the Mycoplasma infection in markhor is unknown, although domestic goats may have been responsible. The findings of the study conclude that the markhor is vulnerable to M. c. capricolum infections and may be at risk of future outbreaks in light of increasing encroachment of livestock into wild habitat. However, we have found no information, in this study or elsewhere, to support the commenter’s opinion that E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations this subspecies is currently in danger of extinction due to disease. As noted in the final rule, the Torghar Hills population is considered stable and the overlap of range use with domestic livestock is minimal. (4) Comment: The 4(d) rule is troubling because the Service recognizes overhunting contributed to the imperiled status and continues to be a threat. Our Response: Overhunting was a major factor in diminishing the straighthorned markhor population to critical levels. Even today, hunting remains a threat to most remaining populations. However, increases in populations of ungulates, including markhor, have occurred in conservation areas managed specifically for trophy hunting. The 4(d) rule supports and encourages the development of this type of conservation program that addresses the threat of overhunting. A well-managed sport-hunting program that encourages sustainable use can significantly contribute to the conservation of wildlife and improve wildlife populations by providing an economic incentive for local communities to protect these species. Monies received for a hunting permit may be used to build and fund schools and health clinics, improve access to drinking water, and improve sanitation and roads. Local communities see a direct connection between protecting species and improvements to their communities. (5) Comment: The Service premises the 4(d) rule upon the purported benefits of the proceeds from selling markhor trophies. This approach will only serve to further commercialize endangered and threatened wildlife and sends a message that the United States encourages exchange of imperiled wildlife for cash. This concept runs counter to the intent of the Act to protect and recover species. Our Response: We are not allowing for the commercialization of the straight-horned markhor. Under this final 4(d) rule, the Director may authorize the importation of noncommercial specimens for personal use, provided the sport-hunted trophy is taken from a conservation program that meets certain criteria. Consistent with the Act, the criteria of the 4(d) rule ensures that imported markhor trophies are only from scientifically-based management programs that provide for the conservation of this subspecies. (6) Comment: The 4(d) rule does not provide for the conservation of the species because the definition of the term ‘‘conservation’’ under the ESA limits take of a threatened species to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 ‘‘the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved.’’ Our Response: The 4(d) rule does not authorize take of straight-horned markhor, rather it authorizes the import of trophy-hunted straight-horned markhor from established conservation programs that meet certain criteria. (7) Comment: A 4(d) rule authorizing trophy imports must also conserve the species and is, therefore, limited to a finding that overpopulation necessitates the need for regulated take. Our Response: Take of a wholly foreign species in its native country is not regulated by the Act because the action is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, the 4(d) rule authorizes the importation, not the taking, of markhor, provided the Director finds that the sport-hunted trophy is from a management program meeting certain criteria. Therefore, we would not make a finding on whether overpopulation necessitates regulated take before authorizing the import of markhor sport-hunted trophies. The criteria of the 4(d) rule ensures that imported markhor trophies are only from scientifically based management programs that provide for the conservation of this subspecies. (8) Comment: The import of trophies is not carried out for the purpose of promoting conservation; rather the action is undertaken solely for the benefit of the individual hunter. Our Response: Permitting the import of trophies from scientifically based conservation programs allows the revenue derived from U.S. hunters to be used for markhor conservation, as well as to support the communities that are protecting them. (9) Comment: The 4(d) rule allows import of sport-hunted trophies from conservation programs that benefit the community and species. Benefits to the community are irrelevant unless they also confer a benefit to the species. Our Response: We agree. Our 4(d) rule states ‘‘the conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation program and the species, and the funds derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to the community and the species.’’ Involvement of the local community in conservation of a species results in better conservation, especially if it creates sustainable benefits for the community (Damm and Franco in press a, p. 29). Revenue and economic benefits generated for the community from the use of wildlife provide PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60367 incentives for people to conserve the species and its habitat, thus removing the risk of resource degradation, depletion, and habitat conversion (IUCN SSC 2012, pp. 2–5; Shackleton 2001, pp. 7, 10). (10) Comment: Allowing the import of hunted trophies based in part on funding communities living near a hunting reserve does not provide for conservation of the species. Our Response: We disagree. By setting criteria in the 4(d) rule that programs must also benefit the local community to be eligible, we are ensuring that U.S. hunters are participating in conservation programs that truly benefit the species by providing economic incentives that promote communitybased conservation of markhor. In essence, the 4(d) rule, provided the criteria is met, ensures that local communities will have sufficient reasons, or incentives, to conserve the species in preference to their domestic livestock and to protect species against poaching. (11) Comment: The Service inappropriately uses the Conference Resolution 10.15 as a justification for the 4(d) rule by indicating that the rule is necessary to implement the resolution. A CITES Resolution in-andof-itself is not a proper basis for a 4(d) rule, and the Service must independently determine that the 4(d) rule is ‘‘necessary and advisable.’’ Our Response: It was not our intent to indicate that the 4(d) rule was necessary to implement or comply with the Conference Resolution, nor did we intend to use the Conference Resolution as a justification for the 4(d) rule. The Conference Resolution recommends that CITES Authorities (authorities under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in the State of import approve permits of sport-hunted markhor trophies from Pakistan if they meet the terms of the Resolution. Because the Service will take into account the recommendations in the Conference Resolution when determining whether the criteria under the 4(d) are met, we intended to refer to the consideration of these recommendations as an additional benefit. Thus, for clarification, we removed any language suggesting that compliance with the Resolution was a justification for the 4(d) rule. (12) Comment: Several commenters raised concerns that the 4(d) rule does not ensure revenue generated through sport hunting would benefit the species and that the Service has not established any guidelines for evaluating or monitoring trophy programs or determining whether funds derived E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 60368 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations from sport hunting are sufficiently applied towards the community or species. Our Response: Under the 4(d) rule, before a sport-hunted trophy may be imported without a permit issued under 50 CFR 17.32, the Service must publish notice of the authorization in the Federal Register. In that notice, the Service will explain the basis of a decision to exempt the import of markhor trophies from the permitting requirements. The Service does not believe that we need to codify specific guidelines on evaluating and monitoring scientifically based management programs that include sport hunting or how funds generated by sport hunting must be used in relation to enhancing the conservation of the species. Establishing prescriptive guidelines may, in fact, limit or constrain innovative management efforts, grassroots conservation initiatives, or community development programs. The Service believes that the criteria established in the 4(d) rule sufficiently outline the factors that must be considered in order to exempt imports from the requirement for import permits under the Act. (13) Comment: The 4(d) rule will be difficult to implement as there is no information on who submits the information on the program, how the Service will determine if the local regulatory authorities are capable of obtaining sound data on populations, and whether and how the Service will decide if regulatory authority can determine where the trophy was hunted. Our Response: Although information submitted and considered under the 4(d) rule will likely be submitted by the exporting country, it is not a requirement. Information made available to the Service relative to the five criteria established in the 4(d) rule will be evaluated to determine its validity. After a thorough evaluation of the information, the Service will publish a Federal Register notice explaining the basis of any decision to exempt the import of markhor trophies from the permitting requirements under the Act. (14) Comment: Two commenters expressed concern that the 4(d) rule would encourage poaching, create a demand for straight-horned markhor, and facilitate illegal trade or a black market for markhor. Our Response: It is unclear to the Service how allowing the importation of legally hunted trophies, taken as part of a scientifically based conservation program, would stimulate illegal trade or create an unsustainable demand for VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 straight-horned markhor. While it may be possible to exempt importations from the requirements of a permit issued under the Act at 50 CFR 17.32 if the criteria under the 4(d) rule are met, we must still adhere to CITES requirements. As an Appendix-I species under CITES, straight-horned markhor imports must meet the criteria under 50 CFR part 23. Namely, there is still a requirement that the exporting country make the required findings that the export would not be detrimental to the species and that trophies were legally taken. Moreover, as the authority for the importing country, we would still need to make a finding that the import would be for purposes not detrimental to the survival of the species, and that the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes. Thus, if the Director determines that the conservation program meets the 4(d) criteria, the Service finds that additional authorizations under the Act for importation of sport-hunted trophies would not be necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species, nor appropriate, because such importation already requires compliance with CITES’ most stringent international trade controls for this subspecies listed under Appendix I. (15) Comment: The 4(d) rule is broader than Conference Resolution 10.15 (Establishment of quotas for markhor hunting trophies) and could authorize import of trophies beyond the quota granted to Pakistan under Conference Resolution 10.15. The 4(d) rule should be modified to match Conference Resolution 10.15, including limiting the import of trophies to only those exports from Pakistan. Our Response: The purpose of the Act is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 4(d) rule is meant to encourage conservation of straighthorned markhor across its range. Limiting the 4(d) rule to only those trophies exported from Pakistan under the Conference Resolution 10.15 would diminish the conservation benefit to markhor range-wide, since conservation programs established in countries such as Afghanistan would not be eligible. In addition, because the Service will consider the provisions of the Conference Resolution 10.15 when evaluating whether the subject conservation program meets the criteria under the 4(d) rule, incorporating the specific provisions of the Resolution into the 4(d) rule would be impracticable. In the event any future changes to the Resolution are adopted by the Parties to the Convention, the regulatory process for amending the 4(d) PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 rule would take time. During the time taken to amend the 4(d) rule, inconsistencies between the Resolution and our regulations would exist, resulting in possible confusion among the regulated community and potential enforcement difficulties. (16) Comment: The 4(d) rule eliminates the requirement for a threatened species permit under the Act, thereby also eliminating the public notice and comment requirements typically applicable to CITES and ESA permits. The public should be provided with notice and opportunity for comment on markhor import permits even if they are covered by the 4(d) rule. Our Response: The Service does not publish notices for receipt of applications for threatened species permits in the Federal Register; therefore, there is no requirement for public notice and comment. However, under the 4(d) rule, the Service will publish a Federal Register notice explaining the basis of a decision to exempt the import of markhor trophies from the Act’s permitting requirements. (17) Comment: The Service has failed to show how the 4(d) rule is necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species. Our Response: We have revised the preamble of this final rule to clarify how the 4(d) rule is necessary and advisable. Because the success of markhor conservation is directly related to support from the local community, it is imperative that the 4(d) rule support community-based conservation programs. We set criteria in the 4(d) rule to ensure that U.S. hunters are participating in conservation programs that benefit the species by providing economic incentives that promote community-based conservation of markhor. (18) Comment: Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) stressed that it is imperative that export of markhor trophies be documented as taken from established conservation programs in Torghar Hills only, and not from areas in Afghanistan. Our Response: Our 4(d) rule establishes that ‘‘regulating authorities can determine that the trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an established conservation program.’’ If the country of export, in this case Pakistan, cannot provide that information to the Service, or if there is a proven indication that animals are being taken from outside approved conservation programs, the import would not meet the enhancement criteria set forth in the 4(d) rule. Further, CITES provides additional protections because markhor E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations are listed under CITES Appendix I. Appendix-I specimens require an export permit to be issued by the Management Authority of the state of export, in this case Pakistan. Prior to issuing the CITES export permit, Pakistan must determine that the specimen was legally obtained, that the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species, and that a CITES import permit has already been issued by the importing country (in this case, the United States). We feel that the protections put in place under this 4(d) rule and CITES are sufficient to ensure that animals will not be taken from outside approved conservation programs. However, we would appreciate notification of any such incidences where markhor are taken in violation of CITES or the Act. (19) Comment: The Service did not adequately address or consider the impacts of the 4(d) rule to endangered snow leopards (Panthera uncia), whose range overlaps with the straight-horned markhor in northern Pakistan. Our Response: The range of the snow leopard overlaps only with the flarehorned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) and Heptner’s markhor (C. f. heptneri), not the straight-horned markhor. The 4(d) rule applies only to the straight-horned markhor and has no bearing on the snow leopard. (20) Comment: The Service has failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The 4(d) rule allows controversial sporthunting and import under a vague program for conservation and must be fully analyzed. Our Response: As stated above, the 4(d) rule does not authorize take of straight-horned markhor. Because this subspecies is wholly foreign, the United States and the Act do not have jurisdiction to prohibit or allow take of a listed species. Furthermore, under our 1983 policy, we determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental assessment in connection with regulations adopted under section 4(a) of the Act, including 4(d) rules that accompany listings of threatened species. (21) Comment: One commenter expressed concerns about the Service’s draft Significant Portion of the Range (SPR) policy. Specifically, the commenter disagreed with our analysis of populations of straight-horned markhor outside of Torghar Hills and our conclusion that it did not meet our definition of ‘‘significant’’ as defined in our SPR policy. Our Response: Since we published our revised proposed rule, the Service and National Marine Fisheries Service published a final rule interpreting the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 phrase ‘‘significant portion of the range’’ (79 FR 37578, July 1, 2014). The final policy states that, if a species is found to be endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range, the entire species is listed as endangered or threatened, respectively, and the Act’s protections apply to all individuals of the species wherever found. Consistent with the final policy, because we found the straight-horned markhor to be threatened throughout its entire range, we did not conduct an additional analysis as to whether any portion of the subspecies’ range is ‘‘significant.’’ (22) Comment: The Service should confirm that the Torghar Hills population meets the criteria set forth in the 4(d) rule and that sport-hunted trophies taken from this population may be imported without a threatened species permit under 50 CFR 17.32. Our Response: We will review all conservation programs to determine whether they meet the enhancement criteria set forth in the 4(d) rule. We will publish those enhancement findings in a separate Federal Register document. Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule We fully considered comments from the public and peer reviewers to develop this final reclassification of the straight-horned markhor. We made some technical corrections and incorporated changes to our proposed rule as described above. In addition, we made some non-substantive changes to our analysis under the Significant Portion of the Range section of this rule to reflect the final version of the SPR policy. In the proposed listing rule, after determining the species was threatened throughout its range, we conducted an additional analyses to determine that no portion of the species range was ‘‘significant.’’ Under the final SPR policy, however, once it is determined that a species is threatened or endangered throughout its range, the Service need not analyze whether any portion of its range is ‘‘significant.’’ Accordingly, we revised the text of the Significant Portion of the Range section of this rule to reflect the final version of the SPR policy. Despite this modification, the proposed status determination that the subspecies is threatened throughout its range did not change in this final listing rule. Subspecies Information Taxonomic Classification The markhor (Capra falconeri) is a species of wild goat belonging to the Family Bovidae and Subfamily Caprinae PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60369 (sheep and goats) (Valdez 2008, unpaginated). When the markhor was first listed under the Act in 1975, seven subspecies of markhor were generally recognized: Capra falconeri jerdoni (straight-horned or Suleiman markhor), C. f. megaceros (Kabul markhor), C. f. cashmirensis (Kashmir markhor), C. f. falconeri (Astor markhor), C. f. ognevi (Uzbek markhor), C. f. heptneri (Tajik markhor), and C. f. chialtanensis (Chiltan markhor) (64 FR 51499, September 23, 1999; Roberts 1977, p. 196). In 1975, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 188, 191) recognized three subspecies of markhor based on horn shape and body characteristics: C. f. jerdoni and C. f. megaceros were combined into C. f. megaceros (straighthorned markhor); C. f. cashmirensis and C. f. falconeri were combined into C. f. falconeri (flare-horned markhor); and C. f. ognevi and C. f. heptneri were combined into C. f. heptneri (Heptner’s markhor). Many authorities consider C. f. chialtanensis to be Capra aegagrus chialtanensis (Chiltan wild goat) (64 FR 51500, September 23, 1999). In our June 2, 2011, 90-day petition finding, August 7, 2012, proposed rule, and December 5, 2013, revised proposed rule to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni), we requested information on the taxonomy of C. f. jerdoni and C. f. megaceros to determine if these constitute a single subspecies. We have reviewed the available information, including information submitted by the public. While scientists have not reached a consensus on the correct classification of markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Frisina 2012, pers. comm.) and genetic studies are needed (Rafique 2014, pers. comm.), the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) Caprinae Specialist Group, and CITES all follow Grubb 2005 (p. 701) and Schaller and Khan (1975 pp. 188, 191), which recognizes three subspecies of markhor (Damm and Franco in press, pp. 4–5; ITIS 2013a, unpaginated; ITIS 2013b, unpaginated; Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History 2011, unpaginated; CITES Resolution Conf. 12.11. (Rev. CoP15) 2010, p. 3; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894; Shackleton 1997, p. 12). Currently, the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C.f. megaceros) are listed as separate subspecies under the Act. Based on the information available and our present understanding of taxonomic relationships, we are revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 60370 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations 50 CFR 17.11(h) to maintain consistency with ITIS, IUCN, and CITES to reflect the current scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature. In the Regulation Promulgation section of this document, we implement a taxonomic change to reflect the combining of the straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros) into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros). We will also refer to the straight-horned markhor as ‘‘markhor’’ in this final rule. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Species Description Markhor are sturdy animals with strong, relatively short, thick legs and broad hooves. They are a reddish-grey color, with more buff tones in the summer and grey in the winter. The legs and belly are a cream color with a conspicuous dark-brown pattern on the forepart of the shank interrupted by a white carpal patch. They also have a dark brown mid-dorsal stripe that extends from the shoulders to the base of the tail. The tail is short and sparsely covered with long black hairs, but is naked underneath. Adult males have an extensive black beard followed by a long, shaggy mane extending down the chest and from the fore part of the neck. There is also a crest of long black and dark brown hair that hangs like a mane down either side of the spine from the shoulders to the croup (Roberts 1977, p. 197). Horns are straight with an open, tight spiral resembling a corkscrew (Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 189). Life History Markhor are associated with extremely rugged terrain with precipitous cliffs, rocky caves, and bare rock surfaces interspersed with patches of arid, steppe vegetation. They can be found from 600 meters (m) (1,969 feet (ft)) up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) in elevation (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Mitchell 1989, p. 8; Johnson 1994b, p. 5). Markhor are diurnal in feeding activity. They are most active in the early morning and late evening (Mitchell 1989, p. 8). Wild pistachios are a preferred food for straight-horned markhor (Johnson 1994, p. 12; Roberts 1977, p. 198), although in general they are known to feed on grasses and leaves, and twigs of bushes. Markhor seek water in the late afternoon; they may need to descend to valley bottoms for water, but only after darkness (Roberts 1977, p. 198). Markhor are gregarious, with females, their young, and immature males associating in small herds, but competition with domestic goat flocks may drive markhor populations to VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 higher terrain and result in larger herds. Adult males live solitary lives, taking shelter under rock overhangs or natural caves. They join the females and young only during the rut, which for the straight-horned markhor peaks around mid-November and lasts about 2 weeks. Males may attach themselves to one particular territory or herd. Fighting between rival males also occurs during this time. Markhor reach sexual maturity around 3 years of age. Females usually give birth to one young, but twins are not uncommon. A young markhor will remain with its mother until the rutting season or until the next young is born. After this, the female will drive the older young away if it approaches too closely. In the wild, it is possible that markhor can live up to 18 years of age, but few males are estimated to live beyond 11 or 12 years (Ali 2008, p. 16; Mitchell 1989, p. 9; Roberts 1977, pp. 198–199). Range and Population For most of the straight-horned markhor populations, there is no detailed information on distribution, population estimates, or threats to the subspecies; most information that is available predates the onset of hostilities in the region in 1979. However, the Torghar Hills population of the straight-horned markhor has been extensively studied since the mid-1980s due to the implementation of a conservation plan in this area. Therefore, this status review mainly consists of information related to this population. When possible, we have included general information on the status of the populations outside of the Torghar Hills. Historically, the straight-horned markhor inhabited a wide range in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, it has been reported that this subspecies survives only in the Kabul Gorge and the Kohe Safi area of Kapissa Province, and in some isolated pockets in between (Ali 2008, pp. 17–18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, p. 208; Schaller and Khan 1975, pp. 195–196). However, no surveys have been conducted in the area, and it is likely that this subspecies has been extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.). In Pakistan, the straight-horned markhor is found in the mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. There is one unconfirmed report of the subspecies in Punjab Province (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894). For a species range map, please see the IUCN Red List species account for Capra falconeri (https://maps.iucnredlist.org/ PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 map.html?id=3787); zooming in on populations will reveal subspecies labels. Within Balochistan, the straighthorned markhor has been reduced to small, scattered populations on all the mountain ranges immediately to the north and east of Quetta, including Murdar, Takhatu, Zarghun, Kaliphat, Phil Garh, and Suleiman. It is reported that the straight-horned markhor still survives in the Shingar Range on the border of Balochistan and South Waziristan. However, surveys are needed to confirm these localities. The greatest concentration is in the Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar Range on the border with Afghanistan, within a community-based management program, the Torghar Conservation Project (Rafique 2014, pers. comm.; Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142–143; Johnson 1994b, p. 16; Roberts 1977, p. 198; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 196). Within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the subspecies is reported to still survive in the Sakra Range, Murghazar Hills, Khanori Hills, and Safed Koh Range. Surveys are needed to confirm these localities; the occurrence in Safed Koh has been questioned due to a lack of information. A 2011 survey found that the straight-horned markhor has been extirpated from the Sheikh Buddin Hills (Rafique 2014, pers. comm.; Ali 2008, p. 18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Roberts 1977, p. 198). Limited information is available for populations throughout most of the straight-horned markhor’s range. Many historical populations were extirpated due to overhunting (Johnson 1994b, p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 10). In Afghanistan, very few straight-horned markhor survive; perhaps as few as 50–80 occur in the Kohe Safi region, with few in other isolated pockets (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 195). However, as stated above, this subspecies may be extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.). In Pakistan, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195–196) estimated 150 in Takhatu, 20 to 30 in Kalifat, 20 in Zarghum, 20 in Shinghar, 20 around Sheikh Buddin, 50 in the Sakra Range, and at least 100 in Safed Koh. Few were estimated to survive in the Murdar Range, and a remnant population may have existed near Loralei in the Gadabar Range. Roberts (1969 in Valdez, 2008, unpaginated) believed the number of markhor in the Toba Kakar range was fewer than 500. In 1984, Tareen estimated fewer than 200 remained in the Torghar Hills (Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). Overall, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195–196) estimated fewer than 2,000 E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES straight-horned markhor survived throughout the subspecies’ range. In general, markhor populations are reported as declining (Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 287; Valdez 2008, unpaginated). Hess et al. (1997, p. 255) and Habibi (1997, p. 208) concluded that the straight-horned markhor had likely not increased in recent years. Current estimates for populations of straight-horned markhor are lacking, with the exception of the population in the Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar Range. This population has been extensively studied due to the implementation of a community-based management program. In addition, as part of the use of annual export quotas for markhor sport-hunted trophies granted to Pakistan at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, Pakistan submits annual surveys of markhor populations, including populations within the Torghar Conservation Area (Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14); see discussion below under Summary of Threats). Based on surveys conducted from 1985 through 1988, Mitchell (1989, p. 9) estimated 450 to 600 markhor inhabited the Torghar Hills. Regular surveys of the managed area have taken place since 1994, when Johnson (1994b, p. 12) estimated the population of markhor to be 695. Later surveys estimated the population to be 1,296 in 1997; 1,684 in 1999; 2,541 in 2005; 3,158 in 2008; and 3,518 in 2011 (Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Shafique 2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Although most of the mountain ranges in Balochistan have not been formally surveyed, Johnson (1994b, p. 16) concluded that Torghar was the last remaining stronghold for the subspecies. Summary of Threats Throughout the range of the straighthorned markhor, overhunting, keeping of large herds of livestock for subsistence, deforestation, and the lack of effective federal and provincial laws have devastated populations of straighthorned markhor and destroyed vital habitat (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255). Small-scale hunting has been a longstanding tradition of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 283; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 2). However, prior to the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1979, few animals were hunted, as weapons were primitive and ammunition scarce and expensive. After the beginning of the war, there was an VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 influx of more sophisticated weapons, such as semi- and fully-automatic rifles, and cheap ammunition was more accessible. This proliferation of arms and increased likelihood of a successful kill, combined with millions of displaced people dependent on wild meat for subsistence, led to excessive hunting of wildlife and critically low populations of straight-horned markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 284; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; MAIL 2009, p. 4; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 2, 4; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). In an effort to manage diminishing wildlife populations, national bans on hunting were implemented in Pakistan in 1988, 1991, and 2000. However, the ban had little impact on the recovery of wildlife populations (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5). In 2005, Afghanistan banned hunting for 5 years, but there was no enforcement and most Afghans were either unaware of the decree or ignored it (Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 291; MAIL 2009, pp. 4, 23, 24). Additionally, the markhor (Capra falconeri) is a protected species under Afghanistan’s Environmental Law of 2007, the Balochistan Wildlife Protection Act of 1974 (BWPA), and the North-West Frontier Province Wild-life (Protection, Preservation, Conservation, and Management) Act (NWFPWA) of 1975, which extends to all of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Under these laws, hunting, killing, or capturing of markhor is prohibited (MAIL 2009, p. 23; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 58; Official Gazette No. 912, dated 25 January 2007, Article 49; BWPA 1977, p. 15; NWFPWA 1975, Third Schedule). Today, the straight-horned markhor has been extirpated from much of its former range due to overhunting, and they survive only in the most inaccessible regions of its range (Habibi 1997, p. 205; Johnson 1994b, p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 10), despite laws intended to provide protection from hunting. We have no information on the extent of poaching currently taking place in most of the subspecies’ range, but information suggests that uncontrolled hunting remains a threat to most remaining populations of this subspecies (United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2009, p. 10; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255). However, increases in populations of ungulates, including markhor, have occurred in conservation areas managed specifically for trophy hunting PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60371 (University of Montana 2013, unpaginated; Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; Wildlife Conservation Society 2012, unpaginated; Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Government of Pakistan 2009, p. viii; Ali 2008, pp. 21, 38, 64; Shafique 2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Virk 1999, p. 142; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Currently, only one conservation plan is being implemented for the straight-horned markhor, the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP) in Torghar Hills, Pakistan. In the early 1980s, local tribal leaders became alarmed at the significant decline in the markhor population in the Torghar Hills (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). The population had dropped to a critical level, estimated at fewer than 200 animals (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 1994b, p. 14; Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). Tribal leaders attributed the decline to an increase in poaching due to the significant increase in weapons in the area during the Soviet-Afghan War (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Johnson 1994b, p. 1). After unsuccessful attempts to receive assistance from the Balochistan Forest Department, they turned to wildlife biologists in the United States, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Together, they developed the TCP, an innovative, community-based conservation program that allows for limited trophy hunting to conserve local populations of markhor, improve habitat for both markhor and domestic livestock, and improve the economic conditions for local tribes in Torghar (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4 Johnson 1994b, pp. 1–2). In 1985, the TCP was launched and covered most of the Torghar area (approximately 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles)). First, tribal leaders implemented a ban on all hunting activities by tribesmen in the Torghar Hills. Then, local tribesmen were hired as game guards to assist in population surveys and prevent poachers from entering the Torghar Hills. Guards were placed at points of entry into the protected area to inform migrating tribesmen of the hunting ban, who, in turn, agreed to the ban so as not to jeopardize their passage through the Torghar Hills. Support for the program, including salaries for the game guards, is raised through fees for limited trophy hunting of markhor within the TCP, mostly by foreign game hunters. Currently, markhor fees are $35,000 U.S. dollars, 80 percent of which goes to the TCP and the other 20 percent goes to the Pakistani Government. In the beginning, E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 60372 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations 7 game guards were hired; currently, 90 game guards are employed. The number of markhor allowed to be hunted each year is based on surveys conducted by game guards and wildlife biologists (Bellon, 2010, p. 117; Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142, 146–147; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Numbers of animals taken have ranged from 1 to 5 animals per hunting season, or less than the 2 percent of the total population recommended by Harris (Harris 2012, pers. comm.; 1993 in Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182) annually for trophy hunting (Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 146–147, 149; Ali 2008, p. 20; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1997, pp. 403–404). Because markhor have a polygynous mating system, reproduction rates have not been affected by the removal of a limited number of adult males (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182), as evidenced by the continuing increase in the Torghar Hills population. As a result of the TCP, poaching has been eliminated in the Torghar Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Johnson (1994b, p. 15) attributed the markhor population growth to the substantial reduction in mortality when uncontrolled hunting was stopped. The markhor (Capra falconeri) is protected under CITES, an international agreement between governments to ensure that the international trade of CITES-listed plant and animal species does not threaten species’ survival in the wild. Under this treaty, CITES Parties (member countries or signatories) regulate the import, export, and reexport of specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant and animal species. Trade must be authorized through a system of permits and certificates that are provided by the designated CITES Management Authority of each CITES Party. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are Parties to CITES. The straight-horned markhor was listed in CITES Appendix I, effective July 1, 1975. An Appendix-I listing includes species threatened with extinction whose trade is permitted only under exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. The import of an Appendix-I species generally requires the issuance of both an import and export permit. Import permits for Appendix-I species are issued only if findings are made that the import would be for purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species and that the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes (CITES Article III(3)). Export permits for Appendix-I species are VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 issued only if findings are made that the specimen was legally acquired and trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species, and if the issuing authority is satisfied that an import permit has been granted for the specimen (CITES Article III(2)). Straight-horned markhor in the Torghar Hills, and other subspecies of markhor within community-managed conservation areas in Pakistan, may be legally hunted and exported. In 1997, at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, the Government of Pakistan submitted a proposal for approval of an annual export quota for sport-hunted markhor trophies to act as an incentive to communities to conserve markhor. During that same meeting, the Conference of the Parties approved an annual export quota of six sport-hunted markhor trophies for Pakistan (Resolution Conf. 10.15). Due to the success of conservation programs in Pakistan, CITES increased the annual export quota to 12 markhor in 2002, to further encourage community-based conservation; four were allotted to the TCP (Bellon 2010, p. 117; Ali 2008, p. 24; Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14)). Furthermore, because the straighthorned markhor is listed as an Appendix-I species under CITES, legal international trade is very limited; most of the international trade in straighthorned markhor specimens consists of trophies and live animals. Data obtained from the United Nations Environment Programme—World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP–WCMC) CITES Trade Database show that, from July 1975, when the straight-horned markhor was listed in Appendix I, through 2012, a total of 136 specimens were reported to UNEP–WCMC as (gross) exports. Of those 136 specimens, 55 were trophies, 80 were live animals, and 1 was a body. In analyzing these data, it appears that one record may be an overcount due to a slight difference in the manner in which the importing and exporting countries reported their trade. It is likely that the actual number of straight-horned markhor specimens in international trade during this period was 134, including 55 trophies, 78 live animals, and 1 body. Exports from range countries included: 48 trophies from Pakistan, 1 trophy from Afghanistan, and 1 body from Afghanistan. It should be noted that the straight-horned markhor trade data provided above are based on reported trade to UNEP– WCMC in both the subspecies Capra falconeri jerdoni and the subspecies Capra falconeri megaceros. It should also be noted that the markhor at the species level (Capra falconeri), except PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 for C. f. chialtanensis, C. f. megaceros, and C. f. jerdoni, was listed in Appendix II in 1975, but was transferred Appendix I in 1992. Since then, international trade was likely in some cases reported to UNEP–WCMC at the species level rather than the subspecies level. Therefore, it is possible that, between 1992 and 2012, some international trade in Capra falconeri jerdoni and Capra falconeri megaceros may have been reported to UNEP–WCMC at the species level. It was not possible to determine whether the trade reported at the species level represented trade in straight-horned markhor or trade in other markhor subspecies. Because there has been limited trade in straight-horned markhor, totaling 136 specimens over 38 years, we believe that international trade controlled via valid CITES permits is not a threat to the subspecies. Habitat modification has also contributed to the decline of the straight-horned markhor. People living in rural areas heavily depend on natural resources; habitat throughout the range of the straight-horned markhor has been negatively impacted by domestic livestock overgrazing and deforestation (Kanderian et al. 2011, pp. 281, 284, 287; World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 2011, unpaginated; MAIL 2009, p. 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 15; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895). Much of the land where straighthorned markhor occur is owned by local tribes whose subsistence is largely dependent on keeping large herds of primarily sheep and goats. Livestock often exceed the carrying capacity of rangelands, leading to overgrazing, a halt to natural regeneration, and subsequent desertification of native vegetation. Overgrazing and competition with domestic livestock for forage is known to have resulted in the decline of wild ungulates and pushed their occurrence to range edges (WWF 2011, unpaginated; Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 145, 154; UNEP 2009, p. 8; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15–17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 180; Tareen 1990, p. 4; Mitchell 1989, pp. 4–5; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 197). Throughout the markhor’s range, millions of displaced people and a high human population growth rate have created a tremendous demand for natural resources. Straight-horned markhor habitat and food sources are suffering significant declines due to deforestation from illegal logging and collection of wood for building materials, fuel, and charcoal (Zahler E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations 2013, pers. comm.; Smallwood et al. 2011, p. 507; WWF 2011, unpaginated; MAIL 2009, pp. 3, 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15–16; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; Hasan and Ali 1992, pp. 8–9, 12–13). Several Afghan and Pakistani laws protect wildlife and its habitat in these countries. Protected areas, such as national parks, sanctuaries, and game reserves may be designated under Afghanistan’s Environmental Law, the BWPA, and the NWFPWA (MAIL 2009, pp. 22–23; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 58, 65–67; Environmental Law 2007, Articles 38, 39, 40, and 41; NWFPWA 1975, sections 15, 16, and 17). However, no designated protected areas contain the straight-horned markhor. Article 45 of Afghanistan’s Environmental Law dictates that grazing of livestock shall be managed and controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Food to minimize the impact on, and optimize use of, vegetation cover. Given that overgrazing of livestock is a wideranging threat to Afghanistan’s environment (UNEP 2009, p. 8; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15–17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated), it appears that the Environmental Law has not yet been effectively implemented. Also, Presidential Decrees No. 405 and No. 736 prohibit the cutting of forests to preserve and maintain forests as a national asset. However, these decrees are unfamiliar to most Afghans or are ignored (MAIL 2009, pp. 5, 23). In Balochistan, the Forest Act of 1927 allows for the creation of various classes of forests, the reservation of state-owned forest land, and for the provincial government to assume control of privately owned forest land and declare government-owned land to be a protected area. It also prohibits grazing, hunting, quarrying, and clearing land for cultivation; removal of forest produce; and the felling or lopping of trees and branches in reserved and protected forests (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 46). However, this law does not provide for sustainable use, conservation, or the protection of endangered wildlife within forests. Other legislation related to forests in Balochistan restricts subsistence use, but focuses on maximizing commercial exploitation. This may be because these laws date back to the early 20th century and reflect priorities of that time. Provincial amendments have done little to alter the focus of these laws. Enforcement of forest laws is lacking, and where enforcement is possible, penalties are not severe enough to serve VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 as a deterrent to violators. Furthermore, these laws may be overridden by other laws in favor of development and commercial uses (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 42–43). The Land Preservation Act of 1900 is a Punjab law that, by default, was applied to the Balochistan province shortly after its establishment in 1970. This law allows the government to prevent soil erosion and conserve subsoil water. Activities such as clearing, breaking up, and cultivating land not ordinarily under cultivation; quarrying stone and burning lime; cutting trees and removing forest produce; setting fire to trees, timber, and forest produce; and herding and pasturing goats and sheep are prohibited. However, the government may permit inhabitants to carry out such activities (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 39). In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the NorthWest Frontier Province Forest, Ordinance, 2002 (No. XIX of 2002) consolidates and amends the laws relating to protection, conservation, management, and sustainable development of the forests and natural resources of the province. It allows the government to declare forest land as a reserved forest (Forest Ordinance 2002, section 4). Within a reserved forest, it is illegal for a person to cultivate, clear, break up, or occupy any land; construct a building, road, enclosure, or any infrastructure, or alter or enlarge any such existing structures; trespass, graze, browse, or drive cattle; set fire, cut, fell, uproot, lop, tap, or burn any tree listed in Schedule I; quarry stone, burn lime or charcoal, or collect or remove forest produce; pollute; or hunt, shoot, fish, or set snares or traps (Forest Ordinance 2002, section 26). Given that deforestation is a widespread problem in Pakistan, it appears that this provincial law has not been effectively implemented. Despite federal and provincial laws, declines in markhor populations and significant degradation of habitat have continued. Enforcement is lacking and very difficult to achieve due to the remoteness of many areas, the political situation in remote areas, conflicting policies, lack of understanding of the need and importance of conservation, and economic constraints (MAIL 2009, pp. 5, 23; UNEP 2009, pp. 4, 29; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 39, 42–43; Hess et al. 1997, p. 243). Additionally, many of the areas where the straight-horned markhor occurs are on tribal lands, which are generally governed by tribal law, and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas where federal and provincial laws do not apply PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60373 (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 144; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 13, 24; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 23; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Johnson 1994a, p. 1). In areas where existing laws are applicable, it does not appear that they have provided adequate protection given the severe declines in straight-horned markhor and threats the markhor continues to face from habitat loss and poaching. Afghanistan and Pakistan are Parties to major multilateral treaties that address natural resource conservation and management (MAIL 2009, p. 32; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, p. 31). Among these are the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Combating Desertification (MAIL 2009, p. 34; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31). In becoming a Party to these treaties, both countries assumed obligations to implement the treaties’ provisions, which in many cases require legislation. However, participation in treaty activities or laws to implement obligations is lacking (MAIL 2009, pp. 32–33; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 65, 58). Therefore, these treaties do not provide adequate protections to ameliorate threats faced by the straighthorned markhor. Although international, federal, and provincial laws do not appear to effectively provide protection to markhor habitat from overgrazing and deforestation, the TCP has taken steps to create better habitat for both markhor and domestic livestock. In our August 7, 2012, proposed rule, we determined that key areas in the steeper, upland slopes and higher elevation of the Torghar Hills are not easily accessible and, therefore, are not impacted by human settlement or grazing pressure. However, we expressed concern that grazing pressure may increase in these upland areas due to a combination of drought conditions and the tradition of keeping large herds of domestic livestock. The lower slopes and valleys have been denuded of trees for livestock grazing and collection of fuel wood (Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 3, 8; Frisina et al. 1998, pp. 9–10). Demand on these resources increases during the biannual migration of local and nearby tribes and their herds through the Torghar Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 180; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4). As forage becomes limited in the lower slopes and valleys, due to drought conditions and grazing pressure, domestic herds are likely to move to higher elevations in search of forage (Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13). Recognizing that protecting markhor and its habitat can generate greater E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 60374 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations income for the community than relying solely on traditional livestock production, tribesmen of the Torghar Hills requested that the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection (STEP), the community-based, nongovernmental organization established to administer the TCP, integrate habitat management measures to protect markhor, and create better habitat for both markhor and domestic animals. A habitat management plan was developed in 2001. The plan emphasizes range management, improved agriculture, and water storage projects to improve habitat conditions, and reduce grazing pressure, eliminate the need for domestic herds to utilize upper slope areas, and, therefore, reduce interactions between domestic livestock and markhor around forage and water resources (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152; Woodford et al. 2004, pp. 180, 184; Frisina et al. 2002, pp. 3, 8, 16; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 7, 11). Agriculture is seen as an alternative to raising livestock, thus reducing grazing pressure (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 11). Revenue raised by trophy hunting has been used to fund projects for community needs, including construction of water tanks, dams, and irrigation channels to water fruit trees, and to supply water for the community during times of drought (IUCN SSC 2012, p. 10). STEP plans to plant woodlots of indigenous trees to meet the fuel wood and timber requirements of the local tribes. STEP will also train locals in livestock management and agricultural practices (Bellon 2010, p. 117; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152). Although we do not know the extent to which the different stages of the management plans described above have been implemented, we have received new information on the markhor and its habitat in the TCP. Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and its habitat are secure under the current management scenario. Currently, there is no evidence of disease transmission between livestock and markhor in the Torghar Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 184; Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13), although disease transmission was identified as a potential threat to the Torghar Hills straight-horned markhor in our August 7, 2012, proposed rule. The potential for disease transmission stems from livestock-wildlife interactions due to overgrazing by large herds of livestock, drought conditions, and the migration of flocks through the Torghar Hills. The VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 risk of transmission was linked to future and continued habitat and livestock management. The risk of disease transmission is particularly severe if large numbers of domestic livestock are present during periods of drought. During these circumstances, resources are limited and interactions would be more frequent around available water sources and in the vegetated upper slopes. Additionally, researchers are concerned that interactions would likely increase in the TCP if domestic livestock herds grow and the markhor population expands (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 183). In addition to implementing measures to improve habitat conditions at lower elevations, eliminating the need for domestic herds to utilize upper slope areas, and, thereby, reduce interactions between domestic livestock and markhor around forage and water resources, STEP has discussed the establishment of a community-based Animal Health Service. The herdsmen within the TCP have agreed to this measure. As it is not feasible to vaccinate markhor in mountainous terrain, STEP will train and equip tribesmen to act as ‘‘barefoot vets’’ with the responsibility of vaccinating domestic sheep and goats, and administering appropriate anthelmintics (drugs that expel parasitic worms) as they travel through the TCP. Veterinary care will be effective only if range and livestock management plans are implemented, and have the potential to result in smaller, healthier domestic livestock herds (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 185). The plans developed by STEP to improve habitat for markhor also lower the risk of disease transmission by addressing livestock management and minimizing interactions between domestic livestock and wildlife. With these actions, coupled with the planned Animal Health Service, the risk of diseases being transferred from domestic livestock to markhor is significantly reduced. Although we do not know the status of the habitat management plans or the Animal Health Service, Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and domestic livestock have minimal range-use overlap, and the markhor’s habitat is secure under the current management scenario. Therefore, we have no information that indicates that disease transmission is a current threat to the Torghar Hills markhor. However, because the larger Torghar Hills population is within an area that heavily relies on domestic livestock for subsistence, it is more PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 likely to interact with domestic sheep and goats than the other populations. In the event of a disease outbreak, the Torghar Hills population would be particularly vulnerable. Because the other extant populations are critically low, declining, and continue to face threats from poaching and habitat loss, a reduction in the single population in the Torghar Hills will not provide a sufficient enough margin of safety for the subspecies to withstand this type of stochastic event. In the rest of the straight-horned markhor’s range, we have no information on the occurrence of disease or the risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep and goats. Overgrazing of domestic livestock has contributed to habitat loss in other mountain ranges, suggesting large livestock herds have also been maintained in these areas, but we do not have information on herd size or the likelihood of livestock-wildlife interactions. Given the extremely small population estimates of straight-horned markhor outside of the Torghar Hills, interactions may be rare. We found no information indicating that the current threats to the straighthorned markhor, as described above, are likely to improve in the future. Threats to this subspecies are driven by past and current conflict, the needs of millions of displaced people, and an expanding human population. Current regulatory mechanisms in place to protect the markhor and its habitat are not being implemented effectively in most of the range to reduce or remove threats to the subspecies. With the exception of the TCP in the Torghar Hills, no other management plans are in place to specifically address the straight-horned markhor. Therefore, the tremendous pressure put on natural resources, and the impacts to the straight-horned markhor and its habitat, will likely continue unless the natural resources of Afghanistan and Pakistan are effectively protected. In the Torghar Hills, the TCP has eliminated poaching of straight-horned markhor and managed the habitat such that the population has steadily increased since the TCP’s inception and both the population and its habitat are currently secure. Because the TCP has incorporated economic incentives for the local community and is supported by the community, we believe the protections and management provided by the TCP will continue. The narrow geographic range of the straight-horned markhor and the small, scattered, and declining populations make this subspecies particularly vulnerable to threats. Furthermore, E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES small, scattered populations may experience decreased demographic viability and increased susceptibility to extinction from stochastic environmental factors (e.g., weather events, disease) and an increased threat of extinction from genetic isolation and subsequent inbreeding depression and genetic drift. Although the Torghar Hills population is subject to a management plan, and the protections provided by that management plan have led to an increasing population, a reduction in this single stable population would not provide a sufficient margin of safety for the subspecies to withstand effects from catastrophic or stochastic events. Finding Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. In considering whether a species may warrant listing under any of the five factors, we look beyond the species’ exposure to a potential threat or aggregation of threats under any of the factors, and evaluate whether the species responds to those potential threats in a way that causes actual impact to the species. The identification of threats that might impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a finding that the species warrants listing. The information must include evidence indicating that the threats are operative and, either singly or in aggregation, affect the status of the species. Threats are significant if they drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of the species, such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened, as those terms are defined in the Act. As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the subspecies and considered the five factors in assessing whether the straight-horned markhor is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 its range. We examined the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by the straighthorned markhor. We reviewed the 1999 petition submitted by the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection and IUCN, the 2010 petition submitted by Conservation Force, information available in our files, other available published and unpublished information, and information received in response to the August 7, 2012, proposed rule and the December 5, 2013, revised proposed rule. Today, the straight-horned markhor occurs in small, scattered populations in the mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, Pakistan. Although we have found reports that this subspecies survives in Afghanistan, we believe it has likely been extirpated. In general, markhor populations are reported as declining and have likely not increased since 1975. However, one exception to this declining population trend is the Torghar Hills population in the Toba Kakar Range. Due to the implementation of a conservation plan, which includes revenues brought in from trophy hunting, the Torghar Hills population has increased from fewer than 200 in the mid-1980s to 3,518 currently. Straight-horned markhor have been significantly impacted by years of conflict and the accompanying influx of sophisticated weapons. Easy access to accurate weapons and millions of displaced people dependent on wild meat for subsistence led to excessive hunting and the extirpation of the straight-horned markhor from much of its former range and a severe reduction in remaining populations. Additionally, tremendous pressure has been placed on natural resources from millions of displaced people and an expanding human population. Deforestation for livestock grazing, illegal logging, and collection of wood for building materials, fuel, and charcoal, to meet the needs of the growing population, continue to impact straight-horned markhor habitat. Several federal and provincial laws are in place to provide some protection to natural resources, but they are subject to broad exemptions, allowing for overriding laws favoring development and commercial use, and enforcement is lacking. However, in the Torghar Hills, the population of straight-horned markhor and its habitat have been effectively managed by the TCP such that both are secure under the current management scenario. Due to the establishment of the TCP, the cessation of uncontrolled poaching, and the PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60375 hunting of only a limited number of trophies in the Torghar Hills, the population has increased substantially since TCP’s inception in 1985. Furthermore, due to the TCP, straighthorned markhor habitat is currently secure and is presently no longer impacted by overgrazing or collection of wood. Because the TCP has incorporated economic incentives derived from trophy hunting for the local community and is supported by the community, we believe the protections and management provided by the TCP will continue. We are not aware of other populations of straighthorned markhor under the same level of management. Information indicates that hunting and habitat loss remain as threats in the rest of the straight-horned markhor’s range; without effective enforcement of federal and provincial laws, we believe these threats will continue into the foreseeable future. Section 3 of the Act defines an ‘‘endangered species’’ as ‘‘any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,’’ and a ‘‘threatened species’’ as ‘‘any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ Most of the straight-horned markhor populations are small and declining. Threats to this subspecies from hunting and habitat loss still exist and will likely continue into the foreseeable future. Current regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to ameliorate the negative effects of these threats on the subspecies and will likely remain ineffective until changes in implementation are made. Therefore, we expect that most straight-horned populations will continue to decline into the foreseeable future. However, although most remaining populations of straight-horned markhor are critically low, continue to face threats from overhunting and habitat loss, and will likely continue to decline, implementation of the TCP has eliminated threats from hunting and habitat loss in the Torghar Hills. This population has continued to increase since the inception of the TCP and, today, is the only stronghold of the species. Furthermore, because of the protective measures provided to the Torghar Hills population by the TCP, we believe that the threats identified under Factors A, B, and D are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the subspecies is presently in danger of extinction, and, therefore, does not meet the definition of endangered under the Act. The Torghar E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 60376 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations Hills population is considered to be currently stable and increasing; based upon 2011 population surveys in the TCP, the markhor population and domestic livestock have minimal rangeuse overlap, and the markhor’s habitat is secure under current management. However, the straight-horned markhor occupies a narrow geographic range and threats acting on those critically low populations outside Torghar Hills are likely to continue in the foreseeable future. Moreover, within the foreseeable future, pressures on habitat in the Torghar Hills and interactions between livestock and markhor are likely to increase with the growth of domestic livestock herds, the biannual migration of local tribes, and the expansion of markhor populations in the TCP, resulting in the subspecies as a whole being at risk of extinction due to the strong likelihood of a catastrophic or stochastic event (e.g., disease) impacting the Torghar Hills population. Should a catastrophic or stochastic event (e.g., disease) impact the Torghar Hills population, this single stable population would likely not provide a sufficient margin of safety for the subspecies. Thus, these factors indicate that the straight-horned markhor, while not at risk of extinction now, will likely become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future due to those continuing threats. Therefore, on the basis of the best scientific and commercial information, we have determined that the straight-horned markhor meets the definition of a ‘‘threatened species’’ under the Act. Consequently, we are listing the straight-horned markhor as threatened in its entirety. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment Section 3(16) of the Act defines ‘‘species’’ to include any species or subspecies of fish and wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Under the Service’s ‘‘Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act’’ (61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), three elements are considered in the decision concerning the establishment and classification of a possible distinct population segment (DPS). These elements, which are applied similarly for additions to or removals from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, include: (1) The discreteness of a population in relation to the remainder of the species to which it belongs; VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 (2) The significance of the population segment to the species to which it belongs; and (3) The population segment’s conservation status in relation to the Act’s standards for listing, delisting, or reclassification (i.e., is the population segment endangered or threatened?). Discreteness Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation. (2) It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. We reviewed available information to determine whether any population, including the Torghar Hills population, of the straight-horned markhor meets the first discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS policy. We found no evidence that any population was markedly separated from other markhor populations as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Additionally, we are not aware of measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity that provide evidence of marked separation. With respect to Torghar Hills, the boundaries are unclear and appear to grade into other ranges within the Toba Kakar Mountains. Additionally, Johnson (1994b, p. 15) noted that, if the Torghar Hills population reaches carrying capacity, it could become a source of emigrants for other mountain ranges in the area and that intermountain movement is probably already taking place. Since that publication, the Torghar Hills population has increased from 695 markhor to 3,518, indicating a greater likelihood that intermountain movement of markhor will or is already taking place. We currently do not know the extent, if any, that markhor are moving from the Torghar Hills into other mountain ranges; however, it appears that they could. Movement may require markhor to cross unsuitable habitat (e.g., the TCP is surrounded by less severe topography and valleys typically not preferred by markhor), but there is no reason that they could not cross, especially if carrying capacity is met, thereby creating a need to emigrate PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 to other suitable areas in adjacent ranges. Therefore, without evidence of marked separation, we determine that none of the populations of the straighthorned markhor meet the first discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy. We next evaluated whether any of the straight-horned markhor populations meet the second discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS policy. A population segment may be considered discrete if it is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. Although the straight-horned markhor is reported to occur in Afghanistan, it has likely been extirpated. Additionally, we found no significant differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms in Afghanistan and Pakistan; therefore, none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor meet the second discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy. We determine, based on a review of the best available information, that none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor, including the Torghar Hills population, meet the discreteness conditions of the 1996 DPS policy. Because we found that the straighthorned markhor populations do not meet the discreteness element under the Service’s DPS policy, we need not conduct an evaluation of significance under that policy. We conclude that none of the straight-horned markhor populations qualify as a DPS under the Act. Significant Portion of the Range Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The term ‘‘species’’ includes ‘‘any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.’’ We published a final policy interpreting the phrase ‘‘Significant Portion of its Range’’ (SPR) (79 FR 37578, July 1, 2014). The final policy states that (1) if a species is found to be endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range, the entire species is listed as endangered or threatened, respectively, and the Act’s protections apply to all individuals of the species wherever found; (2) a portion of the range of a species is ‘‘significant’’ if the E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES species is not currently endangered or threatened throughout all of its range, but the portion’s contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without the members in that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range; (3) the range of a species is considered to be the general geographical area within which that species can be found at the time FWS or NMFS makes any particular status determination; and (4) if a vertebrate species is endangered or threatened throughout an SPR, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies. The first step in our analysis of the status of a species is to determine its status throughout all of its range. If we determine that the species is in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range, we list the species as endangered (or threatened) and no additional SPR analysis is required. We found the straight-horned markhor to be threatened throughout its range. Therefore, no portions of the species’ range are ‘‘significant’’ as defined in our SPR policy and no additional SPR analysis is required. Available Conservation Measures Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition, requirements for Federal protection in the United States, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and encourages and results in conservation actions by Federal and State governments in the United States, foreign governments, private agencies and groups, and individuals. Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions within the United States or on the high seas with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is being designated. However, given that the straight-horned markhor is not native to the United States, we are not designating critical habitat for this species under section 4 of the Act. Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited financial assistance for the development and management of programs that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful for the conservation of endangered and threatened species in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 foreign countries. Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to encourage conservation programs for foreign endangered species and to provide assistance for such programs in the form of personnel and the training of personnel. The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered and threatened wildlife. These prohibitions, at 50 CFR 17.21 and 17.31, in part, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to ‘‘take’’ (take includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt any of these) within the United States or upon the high seas; import or export; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any endangered or threatened wildlife species. It also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken in violation of the Act. Certain exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies. Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered species and 17.32 for threatened species. For endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. For threatened species, a permit may be issued for the same activities, as well as zoological exhibition, education, and special purposes consistent with the Act. 4(d) Rule Section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary may, by regulation, extend to threatened species prohibitions provided for endangered species under section 9 of the Act. Our implementing regulations for threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.31) incorporate the section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife, except when a 4(d), or special, rule is promulgated. For threatened species, section 4(d) of the Act gives the Secretary discretion to specify the prohibitions and any exceptions to those prohibitions that are appropriate for the species, and provisions that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. A 4(d) rule allows us to include provisions that PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60377 are tailored to the specific conservation needs of the threatened species and which may be more or less restrictive than the general provisions at 50 CFR 17.31. Wildlife often competes with humans and land uses upon which human livelihoods depend (e.g., agriculture and pastoralism). In areas where wildlife does not provide any benefits to the local people or imposes substantial costs, it is often killed and its habitat degraded or lost to other, more beneficial land uses (IUCN SCC 2012, p. 5). Well-managed sport hunting programs that encourage sustainable use can contribute to the conservation of wildlife and improve wildlife populations. The primary objective of a well-managed trophy-hunting program is not hunting, but the conservation of large mammals (Shackleton 2001, p. 7). The IUCN SSC Caprinae Specialist Group specifically states that trophy hunting usually generates substantial funds that can be used for conservation activities, such as habitat protection, population monitoring, law enforcement, research, or management programs (IUCN SSC 2012, p. 3). Additionally, involvement of the local community in conservation of a species results in better conservation outcomes, which improve even more if those efforts generate sustainable benefits for the community (Damm and Franco in press a, p. 29). Revenue, employment, improved livelihoods, and/or other benefits generated from the use of wildlife provide incentives for people to conserve the species and its habitat, thus removing the risk of resource degradation, depletion, and habitat conversion (IUCN SSC 2012, pp. 2–5; Shackleton 2001, pp. 7, 10). Recognizing the potential of sporthunting-based conservation programs to contribute to the conservation of straight-horned markhor, we are finalizing the following 4(d) rule to allow the import of sport-hunted markhor trophies taken from established conservation programs without a threatened species permit issued under 50 CFR 17.32, provided that certain criteria are met. Importation of a personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor may be authorized by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Director) without a threatened species permit if the trophy is taken from a conservation program that meets the following criteria: (1) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation program’s areas can be shown to be sufficiently large to sustain sporthunting, and the populations are stable or increasing. E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 60378 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations (2) Regulatory authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data on populations. (3) The conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation program and the species, and the funds derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to the community and the species. (4) Regulatory authorities have the legal and practical capacity to provide for the long-term survival of the populations. (5) Regulatory authorities can determine that the trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an established conservation program. The Director may, consistent with the purposes of the Act, authorize by publication of a notice in the Federal Register the importation of personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor, taken legally from the established conservation program after the date of such notice, without a threatened species permit, provided that the applicable provisions of 50 CFR parts 13, 14, 17, and 23, which includes obtaining appropriate CITES export and import permits, have been met. Many hunters are willing to pay relatively large fees for the privilege to hunt, but only if they are able to import their trophy. The United States is a major market country for trophy hunting (IUCN SCC 2012, p. 10). Authorizing the importation of personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor according to the 4(d) rule without a threatened species permit under the Act facilitates the participation of U.S. hunters in scientifically based conservation programs that include hunting. In the case of the markhor, the revenue generated by hunters has directly supported a community-based conservation program and has resulted in measurable improvements in straight- horned markhor populations. Furthermore, the criteria of the 4(d) rule ensure that U.S. hunters participate in sustainable sport-hunting programs. Additionally, while it may be possible to exempt importations from the requirements of a permit issued under the Act at 50 CFR 17.32 if the criteria under the 4(d) rule are met, we must still adhere to CITES requirements. As an Appendix-I species under CITES, straight-horned markhor imports must meet the criteria under 50 CFR 23. Namely, there is still a requirement that the exporting country make the required findings that the export would not be detrimental to the species and that trophies were legally taken. Moreover, as the authority for the importing country, we would still need to make a finding that the import would be for purposes not detrimental to the survival of the species, and that the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes. Thus, if the Director determines that the conservation program meets the 4(d) criteria, the Service finds that additional authorizations under the Act for importation of sport-hunted trophies would not be necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species, nor appropriate, because such importation already requires compliance with CITES’ most stringent international trade controls for this subspecies listed under Appendix I. Therefore, we find that this 4(d) rule contains appropriate provisions, as well as measures that are necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species. National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) We have determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental assessment, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with Historic range Common name Scientific name References Cited A list of all references cited in this document is available at https:// www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003, or upon request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program, Branch of Foreign Species (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this rule are staff members of the Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as 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; and 4201–4245; unless otherwise noted. 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by removing the entry for ‘‘Markhor, Kabul’’ and revising the entry for ‘‘Markhor, straight-horned’’ in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to read as follows: ■ Required Determinations Species regulations adopted under section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). Vertebrate population where endangered or threatened § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. * * * (h) * * * Status * When listed * Critical habitat Special rules MAMMALS asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES * Markhor, straighthorned. * * Capra falconeri megaceros. * 3. Amend § 17.40 by adding a new paragraph (d) to read as follows: 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 * Entire ..................... * ■ VerDate Sep<11>2014 * Afghanistan, Pakistan. Jkt 235001 * * § 17.40 * Special rules—mammals. * * * * * (d) Straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros). PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4700 * 15, 841 T Sfmt 4700 * * NA 17.40(d) * (1) General requirements. Except as noted in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, all prohibitions of § 17.31 and E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 194 / Tuesday, October 7, 2014 / Rules and Regulations exemptions of § 17.32 apply to this subspecies. (2) What are the criteria under which a personal sport-hunted trophy may qualify for import without a permit under § 17.32? The Director may, consistent with the purposes of the Act, authorize by publication of a notice in the Federal Register the importation, without a threatened species permit issued under § 17.32, of personal sporthunted straight-horned markhor from an established conservation program that meets the following criteria: (i) The markhor was taken legally from the established program after the date of the Federal Register notice; (ii) The applicable provisions of 50 CFR parts 13, 14, 17, and 23 have been met; and (iii) The Director has received the following information regarding the established conservation program for straight-horned markhor: (A) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation program’s areas can be shown to be sufficiently large to sustain sport hunting and are stable or increasing. (B) Regulatory authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data on populations. (C) The conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation program and the species, and the funds derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to the community and the species. (D) Regulatory authorities have the legal and practical capacity to provide for the long-term survival of the populations. (E) Regulatory authorities can determine that the sport-hunted trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an established conservation program. * * * * * Dated: September 22, 2014. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES [FR Doc. 2014–23671 Filed 10–6–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:08 Oct 06, 2014 Jkt 235001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 140214139–4799–02] RIN 0648–BD91 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Regulatory Amendment 21 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final changes to management measures. AGENCY: NMFS issues these final changes to management measures to implement Regulatory Amendment 21 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP) (Regulatory Amendment 21), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). Regulatory Amendment 21 modifies the definition of the overfished threshold for red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack. The purpose of Regulatory Amendment 21 is to prevent snapper-grouper stocks with low natural mortality rates from frequently alternating between overfished and rebuilt conditions due to natural variation in recruitment and other environmental factors. DATES: These final changes to management measures are effective November 6, 2014. ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of Regulatory Amendment 21, which includes an environmental assessment and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at https:// sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Michie, telephone: 727–824–5305, or email: kate.michie@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic Region is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). On August 1, 2014, NMFS published the proposed changes to management SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 60379 measures for Regulatory Amendment 21 and requested public comment (79 FR 44735). The proposed changes to management measures and Regulatory Amendment 21 outline the rationale for the actions contained herein. A summary of the actions implemented by Regulatory Amendment 21 is provided below. Regulatory Amendment 21 redefines the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) for red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack as 75 percent of spawning stock biomass at maximum sustainable yield (SSBMSY). The MSST is used to determine if a species is overfished. Redefining the MSST for these species will help prevent species from being designated as overfished when small drops in biomass are due to natural variation in recruitment or other environmental variables such as storms, and extreme water temperatures, and will ensure that rebuilding plans are applied to stocks only when truly appropriate. Comments and Responses NMFS received eight unique comment submissions on the Regulatory Amendment 21 proposed rule. The comments were submitted by six individuals and two fishing organizations. One individual and two fishing organizations expressed general support for the action in the amendment. Two individuals recommended fishery management techniques other than modifying the MSST. Three comments were not related to the actions in the rule. A summary of the comments and NMFS’ responses to comments related to the rule appears below. Comment 1: Two commenters generally agree with the action in Regulatory Amendment 21. One commenter wrote that abundance may vary for certain species at different times, and the action may help reduce regulatory discards that are created when restrictive regulations are implemented. Response: NMFS agrees that redefining the overfished threshold for red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack is likely to prevent these species from frequently fluctuating between overfished and not overfished conditions. This will help ensure that rebuilding plans and subsequent management measures to rebuild a stock are only implemented when they are biologically necessary. E:\FR\FM\07OCR1.SGM 07OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 194 (Tuesday, October 7, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 60365-60379]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-23671]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2011-0003; FXES111309F2460-145-FF09E22000]
RIN 1018-AY42


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the 
Straight-Horned Markhor as Threatened With a Rule Under Section 4(d) of 
the ESA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
threatened status for the straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri 
megaceros), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 
We are also publishing a concurrent rule under section 4(d) of the Act. 
This rule protects and conserves the straight-horned markhor, while 
encouraging local communities to conserve additional populations of the 
straight-horned markhor through sustainable-use management programs.

DATES: This rule becomes effective November 6, 2014.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at https://www.regulations.gov and comments and materials received, as well as 
supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls 
Church, VA 22041.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    We are combining two subspecies of markhor currently listed under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), the straight-
horned markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C. f. 
megaceros), into one subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C. f. 
megaceros), based on a taxonomic change. We are listing the straight-
horned markhor (C. f. megaceros) as threatened under the Act.
    We are also finalizing a rule under section 4(d) of the Act that 
allows the import of sport-hunted straight-horned markhor trophies 
under certain conditions. This regulation supports and encourages 
conservation actions for the straight-horned markhor.

II. Major Provision of the Regulatory Action

    This action eliminates the separate listing of the straight-horned 
markhor and Kabul markhor as endangered and adds the combined straight-
horned markhor subspecies as threatened on the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h), and allows the import of sport-
hunted straight-horned markhor trophies under certain conditions at 50 
CFR 17.40(d). This action is authorized by the Act.

Background

    The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA or Act) (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), is a law that was passed to prevent extinction of 
species by providing measures to help alleviate the loss of species and 
their habitats. Before a plant or animal species can receive the 
protection provided by the Act, it must first be added to the Federal 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife or the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Plants; section 4 of the Act and its 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 424 set forth the procedures 
for adding species to these lists.
Previous Federal Actions
    On June 14, 1976, we published in the Federal Register a rule 
listing the straight-horned markhor, or the Suleiman markhor (Capra 
falconeri jerdoni), and the Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros), as well as 
157 other U.S. and foreign vertebrates and invertebrates, as endangered 
under the Act (41 FR 24062). All species were found to have declining 
numbers due to the present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of their habitats or ranges; overutilization for 
commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational purposes; the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or some combination of 
the three. However, the main concerns were the high commercial 
importance and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms to 
control international trade.
    Subsequent to the listing in 1976, the Suleiman markhor and the 
Kabul markhor were later considered by some authorities to be the 
single subspecies C. f. megaceros (straight-horned markhor). However, 
the Suleiman markhor and the Kabul markhor remained listed as separate 
subspecies under the Act.
    On March 4, 1999, we received a petition from Sardar Naseer A. 
Tareen, on behalf of the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection 
and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Central 
Asia Sustainable Use Specialist Group, requesting that the Suleiman 
markhor (C. f. jerdoni or C. f. megaceros) population of the Torghar 
Hills region of the Balochistan Province, Pakistan, be reclassified 
from endangered to threatened under the Act. On September 23, 1999 (64 
FR 51499), we published in the Federal Register a finding, in 
accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, that the petition had 
presented substantial information indicating that the requested 
reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status review. We 
opened a comment period, which closed January 21, 2000, to allow all 
interested parties to submit comments and information. A 12-month 
finding was never completed.
    On August 18, 2010, we received a petition dated August 17, 2010, 
from Conservation Force, on behalf of Dallas Safari Club, Houston 
Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida, The Conklin Foundation, 
Grand Slam Club/Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, Jerry Brenner, Steve 
Hornaday, Alan Sackman, and Barbara Lee Sackman, requesting the Service 
downlist the Torghar Hills population of the Suleiman markhor (Capra 
falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros), in the Balochistan Province of 
Pakistan, from endangered to threatened under the Act. On June 2, 2011, 
we published in the Federal Register a finding that the

[[Page 60366]]

petition had presented substantial information indicating that the 
requested reclassification may be warranted, and we initiated a status 
review (76 FR 31903).
    On February 1, 2012, Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club, and 
other organizations and individuals filed suit against the Service for 
failure to conduct a 5-year status review pursuant to section 
4(c)(2)(A) under the Act (Conservation Force, et al. v. Salazar, Case 
No. 11 CV 02008 D.D.C.). On March 30, 2012, a settlement agreement was 
approved by the Court (11-CV-02008, D.D.C.), in which the Service 
agreed to submit to the Federal Register by July 31, 2012, a 12-month 
finding on the August 2010 petition. In fulfillment of the court-
ordered settlement agreement and the requirement to conduct a 5-year 
status review under section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act, the Service 
published in the Federal Register a 12-month finding and proposed rule 
to reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni) from 
endangered to threatened with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the 
Act (known as a 4(d) rule) (77 FR 47011) on August 7, 2012.
    On December 5, 2013, the Service published in the Federal Register 
a revised proposed rule to combine the straight-horned markhor and 
Kabul markhor into one subspecies and reclassify the new subspecies as 
threatened under the Act with a 4(d) rule (78 FR 73173).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We based this action on a review of the best scientific and 
commercial information available, including all information received 
during the public comment period. In the December 5, 2013, revised 
proposed rule, we requested that all interested parties submit 
information that might contribute to development of a final rule. We 
also contacted appropriate scientific experts and organizations and 
invited them to comment on these proposed rules. We received comments 
from nine individuals and organizations.
    We reviewed all comments we received from the public and peer 
reviewers for substantive issues and new information regarding the 
proposed reclassification of this subspecies, and we address those 
comments below. Six of the commenters, including peer reviewers, 
supported the revised proposed rule and 4(d) rule. Three commenters 
opposed the reclassification and 4(d) rule; two commenters believed 
more genetic studies and a better consensus among scientists was needed 
before combining the two subspecies into one.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), we solicited expert opinions from five individuals with 
scientific expertise that included familiarity with the species, the 
geographic region in which the species occurs, and conservation biology 
principles. We received responses from three of the peer reviewers from 
whom we requested comments. The peer reviewers stated that the revised 
proposed rule was accurate and our conclusions were logical; no 
substantive comments were provided. Technical corrections suggested by 
the peer reviewers have been incorporated into this final rule. In some 
cases, a technical correction is indicated in the citations by 
``personal communication'' (pers. comm.), which could indicate either 
an email or telephone conversation; in other cases, the research 
citation is provided.
Public Comments
    (1) Comment: We received updated information on the population of 
straight-horned markhor in Sheikh Buddin Hills, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 
Province, Pakistan. A 2011 field survey found that the straight-horned 
markhor has been extirpated from this area.
    Our Response: We included this updated information under the Range 
and Population section below.
    (2) Comment: The Service has not put forth sufficient population 
information, especially for populations outside of the Torghar Hills, 
to support a finding that the subspecies qualifies as a threatened 
species.
    Our Response: Our finding that the straight-horned markhor meets 
the definition of a threatened species, as defined under the Act, is 
not based solely on population numbers. Although most remaining 
populations of straight-horned markhor are critically low, continue to 
face threats, and will likely continue to decline, the population in 
Torghar Hills has continued to increase and is the stronghold of the 
species. Because of the protective measures provided to the Torghar 
Hills population, we believe the subspecies as a whole is not presently 
in danger of extinction, and, therefore, does not meet the definition 
of endangered under the Act. As explained in more detail in our status 
determination, the Torghar Hills population is considered to be 
currently stable and increasing; based upon 2011 population surveys in 
the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP), the markhor population and 
domestic livestock have minimal range-use overlap, and the markhor's 
habitat is secure under current management. However, the straight-
horned markhor occupies a narrow geographic range, and threats acting 
on critically low populations outside Torghar Hills are likely to 
continue in the foreseeable future. Moreover, within the foreseeable 
future, pressures on habitat in the Torghar Hills and interactions 
between livestock and markhor are likely to increase with the growth of 
domestic livestock herds, the biannual migration of local tribes, and 
the expansion of markhor populations in the TCP, resulting in the 
subspecies as a whole being at risk of extinction due to the strong 
likelihood of a catastrophic or stochastic event (e.g., disease) 
impacting the Torghar Hills population. Should a catastrophic or 
stochastic event (e.g., disease) impact the Torghar Hills population, 
this single, stable population would likely not provide a sufficient 
margin of safety for the subspecies. Thus, these factors indicate that 
the straight-horned markhor, while not at risk of extinction now, will 
likely become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. 
Therefore, we find that this subspecies of markhor qualifies as a 
threatened species.
    (3) Comment: The Service states that the subspecies in Torghar 
Hills is likely to interact with domestic goats and could be 
catastrophically impacted by disease. A recent study (Ostrowski et al. 
2013), not considered by the Service, describes a pneumonia outbreak 
that killed approximately 20 percent of the markhor population in 
Tajikistan, concludes that domestic goats can carry a pathogen that 
poses an insidious risk for cross-species transmission with sympatric 
wild caprinae, and shows that straight-horned markhor could go extinct 
due to an outbreak of pneumonia. Therefore, the straight-horned markhor 
is currently in danger of extinction due to disease.
    Our Response: The findings by Ostrowski et al. (2013, p. 3) 
indicate that the outbreak that killed 20 percent of the markhor 
population of a separate subspecies in Tajikistan was caused by a 
pathogen, Mycoplasma capricolum capricolum. The source of the 
Mycoplasma infection in markhor is unknown, although domestic goats may 
have been responsible. The findings of the study conclude that the 
markhor is vulnerable to M. c. capricolum infections and may be at risk 
of future outbreaks in light of increasing encroachment of livestock 
into wild habitat. However, we have found no information, in this study 
or elsewhere, to support the commenter's opinion that

[[Page 60367]]

this subspecies is currently in danger of extinction due to disease. As 
noted in the final rule, the Torghar Hills population is considered 
stable and the overlap of range use with domestic livestock is minimal.
    (4) Comment: The 4(d) rule is troubling because the Service 
recognizes overhunting contributed to the imperiled status and 
continues to be a threat.
    Our Response: Overhunting was a major factor in diminishing the 
straight-horned markhor population to critical levels. Even today, 
hunting remains a threat to most remaining populations. However, 
increases in populations of ungulates, including markhor, have occurred 
in conservation areas managed specifically for trophy hunting. The 4(d) 
rule supports and encourages the development of this type of 
conservation program that addresses the threat of overhunting. A well-
managed sport-hunting program that encourages sustainable use can 
significantly contribute to the conservation of wildlife and improve 
wildlife populations by providing an economic incentive for local 
communities to protect these species. Monies received for a hunting 
permit may be used to build and fund schools and health clinics, 
improve access to drinking water, and improve sanitation and roads. 
Local communities see a direct connection between protecting species 
and improvements to their communities.
    (5) Comment: The Service premises the 4(d) rule upon the purported 
benefits of the proceeds from selling markhor trophies. This approach 
will only serve to further commercialize endangered and threatened 
wildlife and sends a message that the United States encourages exchange 
of imperiled wildlife for cash. This concept runs counter to the intent 
of the Act to protect and recover species.
    Our Response: We are not allowing for the commercialization of the 
straight-horned markhor. Under this final 4(d) rule, the Director may 
authorize the importation of noncommercial specimens for personal use, 
provided the sport-hunted trophy is taken from a conservation program 
that meets certain criteria. Consistent with the Act, the criteria of 
the 4(d) rule ensures that imported markhor trophies are only from 
scientifically-based management programs that provide for the 
conservation of this subspecies.
    (6) Comment: The 4(d) rule does not provide for the conservation of 
the species because the definition of the term ``conservation'' under 
the ESA limits take of a threatened species to ``the extraordinary case 
where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved.''
    Our Response: The 4(d) rule does not authorize take of straight-
horned markhor, rather it authorizes the import of trophy-hunted 
straight-horned markhor from established conservation programs that 
meet certain criteria.
    (7) Comment: A 4(d) rule authorizing trophy imports must also 
conserve the species and is, therefore, limited to a finding that 
overpopulation necessitates the need for regulated take.
    Our Response: Take of a wholly foreign species in its native 
country is not regulated by the Act because the action is not subject 
to the jurisdiction of the United States. Furthermore, as previously 
mentioned, the 4(d) rule authorizes the importation, not the taking, of 
markhor, provided the Director finds that the sport-hunted trophy is 
from a management program meeting certain criteria. Therefore, we would 
not make a finding on whether overpopulation necessitates regulated 
take before authorizing the import of markhor sport-hunted trophies. 
The criteria of the 4(d) rule ensures that imported markhor trophies 
are only from scientifically based management programs that provide for 
the conservation of this subspecies.
    (8) Comment: The import of trophies is not carried out for the 
purpose of promoting conservation; rather the action is undertaken 
solely for the benefit of the individual hunter.
    Our Response: Permitting the import of trophies from scientifically 
based conservation programs allows the revenue derived from U.S. 
hunters to be used for markhor conservation, as well as to support the 
communities that are protecting them.
    (9) Comment: The 4(d) rule allows import of sport-hunted trophies 
from conservation programs that benefit the community and species. 
Benefits to the community are irrelevant unless they also confer a 
benefit to the species.
    Our Response: We agree. Our 4(d) rule states ``the conservation 
program can demonstrate a benefit to both the communities surrounding 
or within the area managed by the conservation program and the species, 
and the funds derived from sport hunting are applied toward benefits to 
the community and the species.'' Involvement of the local community in 
conservation of a species results in better conservation, especially if 
it creates sustainable benefits for the community (Damm and Franco in 
press a, p. 29). Revenue and economic benefits generated for the 
community from the use of wildlife provide incentives for people to 
conserve the species and its habitat, thus removing the risk of 
resource degradation, depletion, and habitat conversion (IUCN SSC 2012, 
pp. 2-5; Shackleton 2001, pp. 7, 10).
    (10) Comment: Allowing the import of hunted trophies based in part 
on funding communities living near a hunting reserve does not provide 
for conservation of the species.
    Our Response: We disagree. By setting criteria in the 4(d) rule 
that programs must also benefit the local community to be eligible, we 
are ensuring that U.S. hunters are participating in conservation 
programs that truly benefit the species by providing economic 
incentives that promote community-based conservation of markhor. In 
essence, the 4(d) rule, provided the criteria is met, ensures that 
local communities will have sufficient reasons, or incentives, to 
conserve the species in preference to their domestic livestock and to 
protect species against poaching.
    (11) Comment: The Service inappropriately uses the Conference 
Resolution 10.15 as a justification for the 4(d) rule by indicating 
that the rule is necessary to implement the resolution. A CITES 
Resolution in-and-of-itself is not a proper basis for a 4(d) rule, and 
the Service must independently determine that the 4(d) rule is 
``necessary and advisable.''
    Our Response: It was not our intent to indicate that the 4(d) rule 
was necessary to implement or comply with the Conference Resolution, 
nor did we intend to use the Conference Resolution as a justification 
for the 4(d) rule. The Conference Resolution recommends that CITES 
Authorities (authorities under the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in the State of import 
approve permits of sport-hunted markhor trophies from Pakistan if they 
meet the terms of the Resolution. Because the Service will take into 
account the recommendations in the Conference Resolution when 
determining whether the criteria under the 4(d) are met, we intended to 
refer to the consideration of these recommendations as an additional 
benefit. Thus, for clarification, we removed any language suggesting 
that compliance with the Resolution was a justification for the 4(d) 
rule.
    (12) Comment: Several commenters raised concerns that the 4(d) rule 
does not ensure revenue generated through sport hunting would benefit 
the species and that the Service has not established any guidelines for 
evaluating or monitoring trophy programs or determining whether funds 
derived

[[Page 60368]]

from sport hunting are sufficiently applied towards the community or 
species.
    Our Response: Under the 4(d) rule, before a sport-hunted trophy may 
be imported without a permit issued under 50 CFR 17.32, the Service 
must publish notice of the authorization in the Federal Register. In 
that notice, the Service will explain the basis of a decision to exempt 
the import of markhor trophies from the permitting requirements. The 
Service does not believe that we need to codify specific guidelines on 
evaluating and monitoring scientifically based management programs that 
include sport hunting or how funds generated by sport hunting must be 
used in relation to enhancing the conservation of the species. 
Establishing prescriptive guidelines may, in fact, limit or constrain 
innovative management efforts, grassroots conservation initiatives, or 
community development programs. The Service believes that the criteria 
established in the 4(d) rule sufficiently outline the factors that must 
be considered in order to exempt imports from the requirement for 
import permits under the Act.
    (13) Comment: The 4(d) rule will be difficult to implement as there 
is no information on who submits the information on the program, how 
the Service will determine if the local regulatory authorities are 
capable of obtaining sound data on populations, and whether and how the 
Service will decide if regulatory authority can determine where the 
trophy was hunted.
    Our Response: Although information submitted and considered under 
the 4(d) rule will likely be submitted by the exporting country, it is 
not a requirement. Information made available to the Service relative 
to the five criteria established in the 4(d) rule will be evaluated to 
determine its validity. After a thorough evaluation of the information, 
the Service will publish a Federal Register notice explaining the basis 
of any decision to exempt the import of markhor trophies from the 
permitting requirements under the Act.
    (14) Comment: Two commenters expressed concern that the 4(d) rule 
would encourage poaching, create a demand for straight-horned markhor, 
and facilitate illegal trade or a black market for markhor.
    Our Response: It is unclear to the Service how allowing the 
importation of legally hunted trophies, taken as part of a 
scientifically based conservation program, would stimulate illegal 
trade or create an unsustainable demand for straight-horned markhor. 
While it may be possible to exempt importations from the requirements 
of a permit issued under the Act at 50 CFR 17.32 if the criteria under 
the 4(d) rule are met, we must still adhere to CITES requirements. As 
an Appendix-I species under CITES, straight-horned markhor imports must 
meet the criteria under 50 CFR part 23. Namely, there is still a 
requirement that the exporting country make the required findings that 
the export would not be detrimental to the species and that trophies 
were legally taken. Moreover, as the authority for the importing 
country, we would still need to make a finding that the import would be 
for purposes not detrimental to the survival of the species, and that 
the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes. Thus, 
if the Director determines that the conservation program meets the 4(d) 
criteria, the Service finds that additional authorizations under the 
Act for importation of sport-hunted trophies would not be necessary and 
advisable for the conservation of the species, nor appropriate, because 
such importation already requires compliance with CITES' most stringent 
international trade controls for this subspecies listed under Appendix 
I.
    (15) Comment: The 4(d) rule is broader than Conference Resolution 
10.15 (Establishment of quotas for markhor hunting trophies) and could 
authorize import of trophies beyond the quota granted to Pakistan under 
Conference Resolution 10.15. The 4(d) rule should be modified to match 
Conference Resolution 10.15, including limiting the import of trophies 
to only those exports from Pakistan.
    Our Response: The purpose of the Act is to protect and recover 
imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 4(d) 
rule is meant to encourage conservation of straight-horned markhor 
across its range. Limiting the 4(d) rule to only those trophies 
exported from Pakistan under the Conference Resolution 10.15 would 
diminish the conservation benefit to markhor range-wide, since 
conservation programs established in countries such as Afghanistan 
would not be eligible. In addition, because the Service will consider 
the provisions of the Conference Resolution 10.15 when evaluating 
whether the subject conservation program meets the criteria under the 
4(d) rule, incorporating the specific provisions of the Resolution into 
the 4(d) rule would be impracticable. In the event any future changes 
to the Resolution are adopted by the Parties to the Convention, the 
regulatory process for amending the 4(d) rule would take time. During 
the time taken to amend the 4(d) rule, inconsistencies between the 
Resolution and our regulations would exist, resulting in possible 
confusion among the regulated community and potential enforcement 
difficulties.
    (16) Comment: The 4(d) rule eliminates the requirement for a 
threatened species permit under the Act, thereby also eliminating the 
public notice and comment requirements typically applicable to CITES 
and ESA permits. The public should be provided with notice and 
opportunity for comment on markhor import permits even if they are 
covered by the 4(d) rule.
    Our Response: The Service does not publish notices for receipt of 
applications for threatened species permits in the Federal Register; 
therefore, there is no requirement for public notice and comment. 
However, under the 4(d) rule, the Service will publish a Federal 
Register notice explaining the basis of a decision to exempt the import 
of markhor trophies from the Act's permitting requirements.
    (17) Comment: The Service has failed to show how the 4(d) rule is 
necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species.
    Our Response: We have revised the preamble of this final rule to 
clarify how the 4(d) rule is necessary and advisable. Because the 
success of markhor conservation is directly related to support from the 
local community, it is imperative that the 4(d) rule support community-
based conservation programs. We set criteria in the 4(d) rule to ensure 
that U.S. hunters are participating in conservation programs that 
benefit the species by providing economic incentives that promote 
community-based conservation of markhor.
    (18) Comment: Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, 
and Livestock (MAIL) stressed that it is imperative that export of 
markhor trophies be documented as taken from established conservation 
programs in Torghar Hills only, and not from areas in Afghanistan.
    Our Response: Our 4(d) rule establishes that ``regulating 
authorities can determine that the trophies have in fact been legally 
taken from the populations under an established conservation program.'' 
If the country of export, in this case Pakistan, cannot provide that 
information to the Service, or if there is a proven indication that 
animals are being taken from outside approved conservation programs, 
the import would not meet the enhancement criteria set forth in the 
4(d) rule. Further, CITES provides additional protections because 
markhor

[[Page 60369]]

are listed under CITES Appendix I. Appendix-I specimens require an 
export permit to be issued by the Management Authority of the state of 
export, in this case Pakistan. Prior to issuing the CITES export 
permit, Pakistan must determine that the specimen was legally obtained, 
that the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species, 
and that a CITES import permit has already been issued by the importing 
country (in this case, the United States). We feel that the protections 
put in place under this 4(d) rule and CITES are sufficient to ensure 
that animals will not be taken from outside approved conservation 
programs. However, we would appreciate notification of any such 
incidences where markhor are taken in violation of CITES or the Act.
    (19) Comment: The Service did not adequately address or consider 
the impacts of the 4(d) rule to endangered snow leopards (Panthera 
uncia), whose range overlaps with the straight-horned markhor in 
northern Pakistan.
    Our Response: The range of the snow leopard overlaps only with the 
flare-horned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) and Heptner's markhor 
(C. f. heptneri), not the straight-horned markhor. The 4(d) rule 
applies only to the straight-horned markhor and has no bearing on the 
snow leopard.
    (20) Comment: The Service has failed to comply with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The 4(d) rule allows controversial 
sport-hunting and import under a vague program for conservation and 
must be fully analyzed.
    Our Response: As stated above, the 4(d) rule does not authorize 
take of straight-horned markhor. Because this subspecies is wholly 
foreign, the United States and the Act do not have jurisdiction to 
prohibit or allow take of a listed species. Furthermore, under our 1983 
policy, we determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental 
assessment in connection with regulations adopted under section 4(a) of 
the Act, including 4(d) rules that accompany listings of threatened 
species.
    (21) Comment: One commenter expressed concerns about the Service's 
draft Significant Portion of the Range (SPR) policy. Specifically, the 
commenter disagreed with our analysis of populations of straight-horned 
markhor outside of Torghar Hills and our conclusion that it did not 
meet our definition of ``significant'' as defined in our SPR policy.
    Our Response: Since we published our revised proposed rule, the 
Service and National Marine Fisheries Service published a final rule 
interpreting the phrase ``significant portion of the range'' (79 FR 
37578, July 1, 2014). The final policy states that, if a species is 
found to be endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion 
of its range, the entire species is listed as endangered or threatened, 
respectively, and the Act's protections apply to all individuals of the 
species wherever found. Consistent with the final policy, because we 
found the straight-horned markhor to be threatened throughout its 
entire range, we did not conduct an additional analysis as to whether 
any portion of the subspecies' range is ``significant.''
    (22) Comment: The Service should confirm that the Torghar Hills 
population meets the criteria set forth in the 4(d) rule and that 
sport-hunted trophies taken from this population may be imported 
without a threatened species permit under 50 CFR 17.32.
    Our Response: We will review all conservation programs to determine 
whether they meet the enhancement criteria set forth in the 4(d) rule. 
We will publish those enhancement findings in a separate Federal 
Register document.

Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule

    We fully considered comments from the public and peer reviewers to 
develop this final reclassification of the straight-horned markhor. We 
made some technical corrections and incorporated changes to our 
proposed rule as described above. In addition, we made some non-
substantive changes to our analysis under the Significant Portion of 
the Range section of this rule to reflect the final version of the SPR 
policy. In the proposed listing rule, after determining the species was 
threatened throughout its range, we conducted an additional analyses to 
determine that no portion of the species range was ``significant.'' 
Under the final SPR policy, however, once it is determined that a 
species is threatened or endangered throughout its range, the Service 
need not analyze whether any portion of its range is ``significant.'' 
Accordingly, we revised the text of the Significant Portion of the 
Range section of this rule to reflect the final version of the SPR 
policy. Despite this modification, the proposed status determination 
that the subspecies is threatened throughout its range did not change 
in this final listing rule.

Subspecies Information

Taxonomic Classification
    The markhor (Capra falconeri) is a species of wild goat belonging 
to the Family Bovidae and Subfamily Caprinae (sheep and goats) (Valdez 
2008, unpaginated). When the markhor was first listed under the Act in 
1975, seven subspecies of markhor were generally recognized: Capra 
falconeri jerdoni (straight-horned or Suleiman markhor), C. f. 
megaceros (Kabul markhor), C. f. cashmirensis (Kashmir markhor), C. f. 
falconeri (Astor markhor), C. f. ognevi (Uzbek markhor), C. f. heptneri 
(Tajik markhor), and C. f. chialtanensis (Chiltan markhor) (64 FR 
51499, September 23, 1999; Roberts 1977, p. 196). In 1975, Schaller and 
Khan (1975, pp. 188, 191) recognized three subspecies of markhor based 
on horn shape and body characteristics: C. f. jerdoni and C. f. 
megaceros were combined into C. f. megaceros (straight-horned markhor); 
C. f. cashmirensis and C. f. falconeri were combined into C. f. 
falconeri (flare-horned markhor); and C. f. ognevi and C. f. heptneri 
were combined into C. f. heptneri (Heptner's markhor). Many authorities 
consider C. f. chialtanensis to be Capra aegagrus chialtanensis 
(Chiltan wild goat) (64 FR 51500, September 23, 1999).
    In our June 2, 2011, 90-day petition finding, August 7, 2012, 
proposed rule, and December 5, 2013, revised proposed rule to 
reclassify the straight-horned markhor (C. f. jerdoni), we requested 
information on the taxonomy of C. f. jerdoni and C. f. megaceros to 
determine if these constitute a single subspecies. We have reviewed the 
available information, including information submitted by the public. 
While scientists have not reached a consensus on the correct 
classification of markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Frisina 2012, 
pers. comm.) and genetic studies are needed (Rafique 2014, pers. 
comm.), the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), 
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the IUCN Species 
Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) Caprinae Specialist Group, and CITES all 
follow Grubb 2005 (p. 701) and Schaller and Khan (1975 pp. 188, 191), 
which recognizes three subspecies of markhor (Damm and Franco in press, 
pp. 4-5; ITIS 2013a, unpaginated; ITIS 2013b, unpaginated; Smithsonian 
National Museum of Natural History 2011, unpaginated; CITES Resolution 
Conf. 12.11. (Rev. CoP15) 2010, p. 3; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; CITES 
10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894; Shackleton 1997, p. 12).
    Currently, the straight-horned markhor (C.f. jerdoni) and Kabul 
markhor (C.f. megaceros) are listed as separate subspecies under the 
Act. Based on the information available and our present understanding 
of taxonomic relationships, we are revising the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife at

[[Page 60370]]

50 CFR 17.11(h) to maintain consistency with ITIS, IUCN, and CITES to 
reflect the current scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature. 
In the Regulation Promulgation section of this document, we implement a 
taxonomic change to reflect the combining of the straight-horned 
markhor (C. f. jerdoni) and Kabul markhor (C. f. megaceros) into one 
subspecies, the straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros). We will also 
refer to the straight-horned markhor as ``markhor'' in this final rule.
Species Description
    Markhor are sturdy animals with strong, relatively short, thick 
legs and broad hooves. They are a reddish-grey color, with more buff 
tones in the summer and grey in the winter. The legs and belly are a 
cream color with a conspicuous dark-brown pattern on the forepart of 
the shank interrupted by a white carpal patch. They also have a dark 
brown mid-dorsal stripe that extends from the shoulders to the base of 
the tail. The tail is short and sparsely covered with long black hairs, 
but is naked underneath. Adult males have an extensive black beard 
followed by a long, shaggy mane extending down the chest and from the 
fore part of the neck. There is also a crest of long black and dark 
brown hair that hangs like a mane down either side of the spine from 
the shoulders to the croup (Roberts 1977, p. 197). Horns are straight 
with an open, tight spiral resembling a corkscrew (Schaller and Khan 
1975, p. 189).
Life History
    Markhor are associated with extremely rugged terrain with 
precipitous cliffs, rocky caves, and bare rock surfaces interspersed 
with patches of arid, steppe vegetation. They can be found from 600 
meters (m) (1,969 feet (ft)) up to 3,300 m (10,827 ft) in elevation 
(Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Mitchell 1989, p. 8; Johnson 1994b, p. 
5).
    Markhor are diurnal in feeding activity. They are most active in 
the early morning and late evening (Mitchell 1989, p. 8). Wild 
pistachios are a preferred food for straight-horned markhor (Johnson 
1994, p. 12; Roberts 1977, p. 198), although in general they are known 
to feed on grasses and leaves, and twigs of bushes. Markhor seek water 
in the late afternoon; they may need to descend to valley bottoms for 
water, but only after darkness (Roberts 1977, p. 198).
    Markhor are gregarious, with females, their young, and immature 
males associating in small herds, but competition with domestic goat 
flocks may drive markhor populations to higher terrain and result in 
larger herds. Adult males live solitary lives, taking shelter under 
rock overhangs or natural caves. They join the females and young only 
during the rut, which for the straight-horned markhor peaks around mid-
November and lasts about 2 weeks. Males may attach themselves to one 
particular territory or herd. Fighting between rival males also occurs 
during this time. Markhor reach sexual maturity around 3 years of age. 
Females usually give birth to one young, but twins are not uncommon. A 
young markhor will remain with its mother until the rutting season or 
until the next young is born. After this, the female will drive the 
older young away if it approaches too closely. In the wild, it is 
possible that markhor can live up to 18 years of age, but few males are 
estimated to live beyond 11 or 12 years (Ali 2008, p. 16; Mitchell 
1989, p. 9; Roberts 1977, pp. 198-199).
Range and Population
    For most of the straight-horned markhor populations, there is no 
detailed information on distribution, population estimates, or threats 
to the subspecies; most information that is available predates the 
onset of hostilities in the region in 1979. However, the Torghar Hills 
population of the straight-horned markhor has been extensively studied 
since the mid-1980s due to the implementation of a conservation plan in 
this area. Therefore, this status review mainly consists of information 
related to this population. When possible, we have included general 
information on the status of the populations outside of the Torghar 
Hills.
    Historically, the straight-horned markhor inhabited a wide range in 
the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, it 
has been reported that this subspecies survives only in the Kabul Gorge 
and the Kohe Safi area of Kapissa Province, and in some isolated 
pockets in between (Ali 2008, pp. 17-18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; 
Habibi 1997, p. 208; Schaller and Khan 1975, pp. 195-196). However, no 
surveys have been conducted in the area, and it is likely that this 
subspecies has been extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. 
comm.). In Pakistan, the straight-horned markhor is found in the 
mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. There is one 
unconfirmed report of the subspecies in Punjab Province (Valdez 2008, 
unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 894). For a species range map, 
please see the IUCN Red List species account for Capra falconeri 
(https://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=3787); zooming in on 
populations will reveal subspecies labels.
    Within Balochistan, the straight-horned markhor has been reduced to 
small, scattered populations on all the mountain ranges immediately to 
the north and east of Quetta, including Murdar, Takhatu, Zarghun, 
Kaliphat, Phil Garh, and Suleiman. It is reported that the straight-
horned markhor still survives in the Shingar Range on the border of 
Balochistan and South Waziristan. However, surveys are needed to 
confirm these localities. The greatest concentration is in the Torghar 
Hills of the Toba Kakar Range on the border with Afghanistan, within a 
community-based management program, the Torghar Conservation Project 
(Rafique 2014, pers. comm.; Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142-143; 
Johnson 1994b, p. 16; Roberts 1977, p. 198; Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 
196).
    Within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the subspecies is reported to still 
survive in the Sakra Range, Murghazar Hills, Khanori Hills, and Safed 
Koh Range. Surveys are needed to confirm these localities; the 
occurrence in Safed Koh has been questioned due to a lack of 
information. A 2011 survey found that the straight-horned markhor has 
been extirpated from the Sheikh Buddin Hills (Rafique 2014, pers. 
comm.; Ali 2008, p. 18; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 
255; Roberts 1977, p. 198).
    Limited information is available for populations throughout most of 
the straight-horned markhor's range. Many historical populations were 
extirpated due to overhunting (Johnson 1994b, p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 
10). In Afghanistan, very few straight-horned markhor survive; perhaps 
as few as 50-80 occur in the Kohe Safi region, with few in other 
isolated pockets (Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; 
Schaller and Khan 1975, p. 195). However, as stated above, this 
subspecies may be extirpated from Afghanistan (Zahler 2013, pers. 
comm.). In Pakistan, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195-196) estimated 
150 in Takhatu, 20 to 30 in Kalifat, 20 in Zarghum, 20 in Shinghar, 20 
around Sheikh Buddin, 50 in the Sakra Range, and at least 100 in Safed 
Koh. Few were estimated to survive in the Murdar Range, and a remnant 
population may have existed near Loralei in the Gadabar Range. Roberts 
(1969 in Valdez, 2008, unpaginated) believed the number of markhor in 
the Toba Kakar range was fewer than 500. In 1984, Tareen estimated 
fewer than 200 remained in the Torghar Hills (Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). 
Overall, Schaller and Khan (1975, pp. 195-196) estimated fewer than 
2,000

[[Page 60371]]

straight-horned markhor survived throughout the subspecies' range.
    In general, markhor populations are reported as declining 
(Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 287; Valdez 2008, unpaginated). Hess et al. 
(1997, p. 255) and Habibi (1997, p. 208) concluded that the straight-
horned markhor had likely not increased in recent years. Current 
estimates for populations of straight-horned markhor are lacking, with 
the exception of the population in the Torghar Hills of the Toba Kakar 
Range. This population has been extensively studied due to the 
implementation of a community-based management program. In addition, as 
part of the use of annual export quotas for markhor sport-hunted 
trophies granted to Pakistan at the 10th meeting of the Conference of 
the Parties to CITES, Pakistan submits annual surveys of markhor 
populations, including populations within the Torghar Conservation Area 
(Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14); see discussion below under 
Summary of Threats). Based on surveys conducted from 1985 through 1988, 
Mitchell (1989, p. 9) estimated 450 to 600 markhor inhabited the 
Torghar Hills. Regular surveys of the managed area have taken place 
since 1994, when Johnson (1994b, p. 12) estimated the population of 
markhor to be 695. Later surveys estimated the population to be 1,296 
in 1997; 1,684 in 1999; 2,541 in 2005; 3,158 in 2008; and 3,518 in 2011 
(Frisina and Rasheed 2012, p. 5; Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Shafique 
2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Although 
most of the mountain ranges in Balochistan have not been formally 
surveyed, Johnson (1994b, p. 16) concluded that Torghar was the last 
remaining stronghold for the subspecies.

Summary of Threats

    Throughout the range of the straight-horned markhor, overhunting, 
keeping of large herds of livestock for subsistence, deforestation, and 
the lack of effective federal and provincial laws have devastated 
populations of straight-horned markhor and destroyed vital habitat 
(Valdez 2008, unpaginated; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 1997, 
p. 255).
    Small-scale hunting has been a long-standing tradition of the 
people of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; Kanderian 
et al. 2011, p. 283; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Ahmed et al. 
2001, p. 2). However, prior to the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War 
in 1979, few animals were hunted, as weapons were primitive and 
ammunition scarce and expensive. After the beginning of the war, there 
was an influx of more sophisticated weapons, such as semi- and fully-
automatic rifles, and cheap ammunition was more accessible. This 
proliferation of arms and increased likelihood of a successful kill, 
combined with millions of displaced people dependent on wild meat for 
subsistence, led to excessive hunting of wildlife and critically low 
populations of straight-horned markhor (Zahler 2013, pers. comm.; 
Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 284; Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; MAIL 
2009, p. 4; Woodford et al. 2004, p. 181; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 2, 4; 
CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Habibi 1997, pp. 205, 208; Hess et al. 
1997, p. 255; Johnson 1994b, p. 1).
    In an effort to manage diminishing wildlife populations, national 
bans on hunting were implemented in Pakistan in 1988, 1991, and 2000. 
However, the ban had little impact on the recovery of wildlife 
populations (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5). In 2005, Afghanistan banned 
hunting for 5 years, but there was no enforcement and most Afghans were 
either unaware of the decree or ignored it (Kanderian et al. 2011, p. 
291; MAIL 2009, pp. 4, 23, 24). Additionally, the markhor (Capra 
falconeri) is a protected species under Afghanistan's Environmental Law 
of 2007, the Balochistan Wildlife Protection Act of 1974 (BWPA), and 
the North-West Frontier Province Wild-life (Protection, Preservation, 
Conservation, and Management) Act (NWFPWA) of 1975, which extends to 
all of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Under these laws, hunting, 
killing, or capturing of markhor is prohibited (MAIL 2009, p. 23; 
Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 58; Official Gazette No. 912, dated 25 
January 2007, Article 49; BWPA 1977, p. 15; NWFPWA 1975, Third 
Schedule).
    Today, the straight-horned markhor has been extirpated from much of 
its former range due to overhunting, and they survive only in the most 
inaccessible regions of its range (Habibi 1997, p. 205; Johnson 1994b, 
p. 5; Johnson 1994, p. 10), despite laws intended to provide protection 
from hunting. We have no information on the extent of poaching 
currently taking place in most of the subspecies' range, but 
information suggests that uncontrolled hunting remains a threat to most 
remaining populations of this subspecies (United Nations Environment 
Programme (UNEP) 2009, p. 10; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 17; Valdez 2008, 
unpaginated; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Hess et al. 1997, p. 
255). However, increases in populations of ungulates, including 
markhor, have occurred in conservation areas managed specifically for 
trophy hunting (University of Montana 2013, unpaginated; Frisina and 
Rasheed 2012, p. 5; Wildlife Conservation Society 2012, unpaginated; 
Arshad and Khan 2009, p. 9; Government of Pakistan 2009, p. viii; Ali 
2008, pp. 21, 38, 64; Shafique 2006, p. 6; Frisina 2000, p. 8; Virk 
1999, p. 142; Frisina et al. 1998, p. 6). Currently, only one 
conservation plan is being implemented for the straight-horned markhor, 
the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP) in Torghar Hills, Pakistan.
    In the early 1980s, local tribal leaders became alarmed at the 
significant decline in the markhor population in the Torghar Hills 
(Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 
1994b, p. 1). The population had dropped to a critical level, estimated 
at fewer than 200 animals (Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4; Johnson 1994b, p. 
14; Mitchell, 1989, p. 9). Tribal leaders attributed the decline to an 
increase in poaching due to the significant increase in weapons in the 
area during the Soviet-Afghan War (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 145; 
Johnson 1994b, p. 1). After unsuccessful attempts to receive assistance 
from the Balochistan Forest Department, they turned to wildlife 
biologists in the United States, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service. Together, they developed the TCP, an innovative, community-
based conservation program that allows for limited trophy hunting to 
conserve local populations of markhor, improve habitat for both markhor 
and domestic livestock, and improve the economic conditions for local 
tribes in Torghar (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 146; Woodford et al. 
2004, p. 182; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4 Johnson 1994b, pp. 1-2).
    In 1985, the TCP was launched and covered most of the Torghar area 
(approximately 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles)). First, 
tribal leaders implemented a ban on all hunting activities by tribesmen 
in the Torghar Hills. Then, local tribesmen were hired as game guards 
to assist in population surveys and prevent poachers from entering the 
Torghar Hills. Guards were placed at points of entry into the protected 
area to inform migrating tribesmen of the hunting ban, who, in turn, 
agreed to the ban so as not to jeopardize their passage through the 
Torghar Hills. Support for the program, including salaries for the game 
guards, is raised through fees for limited trophy hunting of markhor 
within the TCP, mostly by foreign game hunters. Currently, markhor fees 
are $35,000 U.S. dollars, 80 percent of which goes to the TCP and the 
other 20 percent goes to the Pakistani Government. In the beginning,

[[Page 60372]]

7 game guards were hired; currently, 90 game guards are employed. The 
number of markhor allowed to be hunted each year is based on surveys 
conducted by game guards and wildlife biologists (Bellon, 2010, p. 117; 
Frisina and Tareen 2009, pp. 142, 146-147; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 5; 
Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Numbers of animals taken have ranged from 1 to 5 
animals per hunting season, or less than the 2 percent of the total 
population recommended by Harris (Harris 2012, pers. comm.; 1993 in 
Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182) annually for trophy hunting (Frisina and 
Tareen 2009, pp. 146-147, 149; Ali 2008, p. 20; Woodford et al. 2004, 
p. 182; Johnson 1997, pp. 403-404). Because markhor have a polygynous 
mating system, reproduction rates have not been affected by the removal 
of a limited number of adult males (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182), as 
evidenced by the continuing increase in the Torghar Hills population.
    As a result of the TCP, poaching has been eliminated in the Torghar 
Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 182; Johnson 1994b, p. 3). Johnson 
(1994b, p. 15) attributed the markhor population growth to the 
substantial reduction in mortality when uncontrolled hunting was 
stopped.
    The markhor (Capra falconeri) is protected under CITES, an 
international agreement between governments to ensure that the 
international trade of CITES-listed plant and animal species does not 
threaten species' survival in the wild. Under this treaty, CITES 
Parties (member countries or signatories) regulate the import, export, 
and reexport of specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant 
and animal species. Trade must be authorized through a system of 
permits and certificates that are provided by the designated CITES 
Management Authority of each CITES Party. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan 
are Parties to CITES.
    The straight-horned markhor was listed in CITES Appendix I, 
effective July 1, 1975. An Appendix-I listing includes species 
threatened with extinction whose trade is permitted only under 
exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. 
The import of an Appendix-I species generally requires the issuance of 
both an import and export permit. Import permits for Appendix-I species 
are issued only if findings are made that the import would be for 
purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species and 
that the specimen will not be used for primarily commercial purposes 
(CITES Article III(3)). Export permits for Appendix-I species are 
issued only if findings are made that the specimen was legally acquired 
and trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species, and if the 
issuing authority is satisfied that an import permit has been granted 
for the specimen (CITES Article III(2)).
    Straight-horned markhor in the Torghar Hills, and other subspecies 
of markhor within community-managed conservation areas in Pakistan, may 
be legally hunted and exported. In 1997, at the 10th meeting of the 
Conference of the Parties to CITES, the Government of Pakistan 
submitted a proposal for approval of an annual export quota for sport-
hunted markhor trophies to act as an incentive to communities to 
conserve markhor. During that same meeting, the Conference of the 
Parties approved an annual export quota of six sport-hunted markhor 
trophies for Pakistan (Resolution Conf. 10.15). Due to the success of 
conservation programs in Pakistan, CITES increased the annual export 
quota to 12 markhor in 2002, to further encourage community-based 
conservation; four were allotted to the TCP (Bellon 2010, p. 117; Ali 
2008, p. 24; Resolution Conf. 10.15 (Rev. CoP 14)).
    Furthermore, because the straight-horned markhor is listed as an 
Appendix-I species under CITES, legal international trade is very 
limited; most of the international trade in straight-horned markhor 
specimens consists of trophies and live animals. Data obtained from the 
United Nations Environment Programme--World Conservation Monitoring 
Center (UNEP-WCMC) CITES Trade Database show that, from July 1975, when 
the straight-horned markhor was listed in Appendix I, through 2012, a 
total of 136 specimens were reported to UNEP-WCMC as (gross) exports. 
Of those 136 specimens, 55 were trophies, 80 were live animals, and 1 
was a body. In analyzing these data, it appears that one record may be 
an overcount due to a slight difference in the manner in which the 
importing and exporting countries reported their trade. It is likely 
that the actual number of straight-horned markhor specimens in 
international trade during this period was 134, including 55 trophies, 
78 live animals, and 1 body. Exports from range countries included: 48 
trophies from Pakistan, 1 trophy from Afghanistan, and 1 body from 
Afghanistan. It should be noted that the straight-horned markhor trade 
data provided above are based on reported trade to UNEP-WCMC in both 
the subspecies Capra falconeri jerdoni and the subspecies Capra 
falconeri megaceros. It should also be noted that the markhor at the 
species level (Capra falconeri), except for C. f. chialtanensis, C. f. 
megaceros, and C. f. jerdoni, was listed in Appendix II in 1975, but 
was transferred Appendix I in 1992. Since then, international trade was 
likely in some cases reported to UNEP-WCMC at the species level rather 
than the subspecies level. Therefore, it is possible that, between 1992 
and 2012, some international trade in Capra falconeri jerdoni and Capra 
falconeri megaceros may have been reported to UNEP-WCMC at the species 
level. It was not possible to determine whether the trade reported at 
the species level represented trade in straight-horned markhor or trade 
in other markhor subspecies. Because there has been limited trade in 
straight-horned markhor, totaling 136 specimens over 38 years, we 
believe that international trade controlled via valid CITES permits is 
not a threat to the subspecies.
    Habitat modification has also contributed to the decline of the 
straight-horned markhor. People living in rural areas heavily depend on 
natural resources; habitat throughout the range of the straight-horned 
markhor has been negatively impacted by domestic livestock overgrazing 
and deforestation (Kanderian et al. 2011, pp. 281, 284, 287; World 
Wildlife Fund (WWF) 2011, unpaginated; MAIL 2009, p. 5; UNEP 2009, p. 
6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, p. 15; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, 
unpaginated; Hess et al. 1997, p. 255; CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 
895).
    Much of the land where straight-horned markhor occur is owned by 
local tribes whose subsistence is largely dependent on keeping large 
herds of primarily sheep and goats. Livestock often exceed the carrying 
capacity of rangelands, leading to overgrazing, a halt to natural 
regeneration, and subsequent desertification of native vegetation. 
Overgrazing and competition with domestic livestock for forage is known 
to have resulted in the decline of wild ungulates and pushed their 
occurrence to range edges (WWF 2011, unpaginated; Frisina and Tareen 
2009, pp. 145, 154; UNEP 2009, p. 8; NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15-17; 
Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Woodford et al. 2004, 
p. 180; Tareen 1990, p. 4; Mitchell 1989, pp. 4-5; Schaller and Khan 
1975, p. 197).
    Throughout the markhor's range, millions of displaced people and a 
high human population growth rate have created a tremendous demand for 
natural resources. Straight-horned markhor habitat and food sources are 
suffering significant declines due to deforestation from illegal 
logging and collection of wood for building materials, fuel, and 
charcoal (Zahler

[[Page 60373]]

2013, pers. comm.; Smallwood et al. 2011, p. 507; WWF 2011, 
unpaginated; MAIL 2009, pp. 3, 5; UNEP 2009, p. 6; NEPA and UNEP 2008, 
pp. 15-16; Valdez 2008, unpaginated; WWF 2008, unpaginated; Hess et al. 
1997, p. 255; Hasan and Ali 1992, pp. 8-9, 12-13).
    Several Afghan and Pakistani laws protect wildlife and its habitat 
in these countries. Protected areas, such as national parks, 
sanctuaries, and game reserves may be designated under Afghanistan's 
Environmental Law, the BWPA, and the NWFPWA (MAIL 2009, pp. 22-23; 
Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 58, 65-67; Environmental Law 2007, 
Articles 38, 39, 40, and 41; NWFPWA 1975, sections 15, 16, and 17). 
However, no designated protected areas contain the straight-horned 
markhor.
    Article 45 of Afghanistan's Environmental Law dictates that grazing 
of livestock shall be managed and controlled by the Ministry of 
Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Food to minimize the impact on, and 
optimize use of, vegetation cover. Given that overgrazing of livestock 
is a wide-ranging threat to Afghanistan's environment (UNEP 2009, p. 8; 
NEPA and UNEP 2008, pp. 15-17; Valdez 2008, unpaginated), it appears 
that the Environmental Law has not yet been effectively implemented. 
Also, Presidential Decrees No. 405 and No. 736 prohibit the cutting of 
forests to preserve and maintain forests as a national asset. However, 
these decrees are unfamiliar to most Afghans or are ignored (MAIL 2009, 
pp. 5, 23).
    In Balochistan, the Forest Act of 1927 allows for the creation of 
various classes of forests, the reservation of state-owned forest land, 
and for the provincial government to assume control of privately owned 
forest land and declare government-owned land to be a protected area. 
It also prohibits grazing, hunting, quarrying, and clearing land for 
cultivation; removal of forest produce; and the felling or lopping of 
trees and branches in reserved and protected forests (Aurangzaib and 
Pastakia 2008, p. 46). However, this law does not provide for 
sustainable use, conservation, or the protection of endangered wildlife 
within forests. Other legislation related to forests in Balochistan 
restricts subsistence use, but focuses on maximizing commercial 
exploitation. This may be because these laws date back to the early 
20th century and reflect priorities of that time. Provincial amendments 
have done little to alter the focus of these laws. Enforcement of 
forest laws is lacking, and where enforcement is possible, penalties 
are not severe enough to serve as a deterrent to violators. 
Furthermore, these laws may be overridden by other laws in favor of 
development and commercial uses (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 42-
43).
    The Land Preservation Act of 1900 is a Punjab law that, by default, 
was applied to the Balochistan province shortly after its establishment 
in 1970. This law allows the government to prevent soil erosion and 
conserve subsoil water. Activities such as clearing, breaking up, and 
cultivating land not ordinarily under cultivation; quarrying stone and 
burning lime; cutting trees and removing forest produce; setting fire 
to trees, timber, and forest produce; and herding and pasturing goats 
and sheep are prohibited. However, the government may permit 
inhabitants to carry out such activities (Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, 
p. 39).
    In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the North-West Frontier Province Forest, 
Ordinance, 2002 (No. XIX of 2002) consolidates and amends the laws 
relating to protection, conservation, management, and sustainable 
development of the forests and natural resources of the province. It 
allows the government to declare forest land as a reserved forest 
(Forest Ordinance 2002, section 4). Within a reserved forest, it is 
illegal for a person to cultivate, clear, break up, or occupy any land; 
construct a building, road, enclosure, or any infrastructure, or alter 
or enlarge any such existing structures; trespass, graze, browse, or 
drive cattle; set fire, cut, fell, uproot, lop, tap, or burn any tree 
listed in Schedule I; quarry stone, burn lime or charcoal, or collect 
or remove forest produce; pollute; or hunt, shoot, fish, or set snares 
or traps (Forest Ordinance 2002, section 26). Given that deforestation 
is a widespread problem in Pakistan, it appears that this provincial 
law has not been effectively implemented.
    Despite federal and provincial laws, declines in markhor 
populations and significant degradation of habitat have continued. 
Enforcement is lacking and very difficult to achieve due to the 
remoteness of many areas, the political situation in remote areas, 
conflicting policies, lack of understanding of the need and importance 
of conservation, and economic constraints (MAIL 2009, pp. 5, 23; UNEP 
2009, pp. 4, 29; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 39, 42-43; Hess et 
al. 1997, p. 243). Additionally, many of the areas where the straight-
horned markhor occurs are on tribal lands, which are generally governed 
by tribal law, and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas where federal 
and provincial laws do not apply (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 144; 
Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 13, 24; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, p. 23; 
CITES 10.84 (Rev.) 1997, p. 895; Johnson 1994a, p. 1). In areas where 
existing laws are applicable, it does not appear that they have 
provided adequate protection given the severe declines in straight-
horned markhor and threats the markhor continues to face from habitat 
loss and poaching.
    Afghanistan and Pakistan are Parties to major multilateral treaties 
that address natural resource conservation and management (MAIL 2009, 
p. 32; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, p. 31). Among these are the Convention on 
Biological Diversity and the Convention on Combating Desertification 
(MAIL 2009, p. 34; Ahmed and Khazi 2008, pp. 14, 31). In becoming a 
Party to these treaties, both countries assumed obligations to 
implement the treaties' provisions, which in many cases require 
legislation. However, participation in treaty activities or laws to 
implement obligations is lacking (MAIL 2009, pp. 32-33; Ahmed and Khazi 
2008, pp. 14, 31; Aurangzaib and Pastakia 2008, pp. 65, 58). Therefore, 
these treaties do not provide adequate protections to ameliorate 
threats faced by the straight-horned markhor.
    Although international, federal, and provincial laws do not appear 
to effectively provide protection to markhor habitat from overgrazing 
and deforestation, the TCP has taken steps to create better habitat for 
both markhor and domestic livestock.
    In our August 7, 2012, proposed rule, we determined that key areas 
in the steeper, upland slopes and higher elevation of the Torghar Hills 
are not easily accessible and, therefore, are not impacted by human 
settlement or grazing pressure. However, we expressed concern that 
grazing pressure may increase in these upland areas due to a 
combination of drought conditions and the tradition of keeping large 
herds of domestic livestock. The lower slopes and valleys have been 
denuded of trees for livestock grazing and collection of fuel wood 
(Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 3, 8; Frisina et al. 1998, pp. 9-10). Demand on 
these resources increases during the biannual migration of local and 
nearby tribes and their herds through the Torghar Hills (Woodford et 
al. 2004, p. 180; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 4). As forage becomes limited 
in the lower slopes and valleys, due to drought conditions and grazing 
pressure, domestic herds are likely to move to higher elevations in 
search of forage (Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13).
    Recognizing that protecting markhor and its habitat can generate 
greater

[[Page 60374]]

income for the community than relying solely on traditional livestock 
production, tribesmen of the Torghar Hills requested that the Society 
for Torghar Environmental Protection (STEP), the community-based, 
nongovernmental organization established to administer the TCP, 
integrate habitat management measures to protect markhor, and create 
better habitat for both markhor and domestic animals.
    A habitat management plan was developed in 2001. The plan 
emphasizes range management, improved agriculture, and water storage 
projects to improve habitat conditions, and reduce grazing pressure, 
eliminate the need for domestic herds to utilize upper slope areas, 
and, therefore, reduce interactions between domestic livestock and 
markhor around forage and water resources (Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 
152; Woodford et al. 2004, pp. 180, 184; Frisina et al. 2002, pp. 3, 8, 
16; Ahmed et al. 2001, pp. 7, 11). Agriculture is seen as an 
alternative to raising livestock, thus reducing grazing pressure 
(Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152; Ahmed et al. 2001, p. 11). Revenue 
raised by trophy hunting has been used to fund projects for community 
needs, including construction of water tanks, dams, and irrigation 
channels to water fruit trees, and to supply water for the community 
during times of drought (IUCN SSC 2012, p. 10). STEP plans to plant 
woodlots of indigenous trees to meet the fuel wood and timber 
requirements of the local tribes. STEP will also train locals in 
livestock management and agricultural practices (Bellon 2010, p. 117; 
Frisina and Tareen 2009, p. 152).
    Although we do not know the extent to which the different stages of 
the management plans described above have been implemented, we have 
received new information on the markhor and its habitat in the TCP. 
Frisina and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population 
surveys in the TCP that the markhor population and its habitat are 
secure under the current management scenario.
    Currently, there is no evidence of disease transmission between 
livestock and markhor in the Torghar Hills (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 
184; Frisina et al. 2002, p. 13), although disease transmission was 
identified as a potential threat to the Torghar Hills straight-horned 
markhor in our August 7, 2012, proposed rule. The potential for disease 
transmission stems from livestock-wildlife interactions due to 
overgrazing by large herds of livestock, drought conditions, and the 
migration of flocks through the Torghar Hills. The risk of transmission 
was linked to future and continued habitat and livestock management. 
The risk of disease transmission is particularly severe if large 
numbers of domestic livestock are present during periods of drought. 
During these circumstances, resources are limited and interactions 
would be more frequent around available water sources and in the 
vegetated upper slopes. Additionally, researchers are concerned that 
interactions would likely increase in the TCP if domestic livestock 
herds grow and the markhor population expands (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 
183).
    In addition to implementing measures to improve habitat conditions 
at lower elevations, eliminating the need for domestic herds to utilize 
upper slope areas, and, thereby, reduce interactions between domestic 
livestock and markhor around forage and water resources, STEP has 
discussed the establishment of a community-based Animal Health Service. 
The herdsmen within the TCP have agreed to this measure. As it is not 
feasible to vaccinate markhor in mountainous terrain, STEP will train 
and equip tribesmen to act as ``barefoot vets'' with the responsibility 
of vaccinating domestic sheep and goats, and administering appropriate 
anthelmintics (drugs that expel parasitic worms) as they travel through 
the TCP. Veterinary care will be effective only if range and livestock 
management plans are implemented, and have the potential to result in 
smaller, healthier domestic livestock herds (Woodford et al. 2004, p. 
185).
    The plans developed by STEP to improve habitat for markhor also 
lower the risk of disease transmission by addressing livestock 
management and minimizing interactions between domestic livestock and 
wildlife. With these actions, coupled with the planned Animal Health 
Service, the risk of diseases being transferred from domestic livestock 
to markhor is significantly reduced. Although we do not know the status 
of the habitat management plans or the Animal Health Service, Frisina 
and Rasheed (2012, p. 8) concluded from the 2011 population surveys in 
the TCP that the markhor population and domestic livestock have minimal 
range-use overlap, and the markhor's habitat is secure under the 
current management scenario. Therefore, we have no information that 
indicates that disease transmission is a current threat to the Torghar 
Hills markhor. However, because the larger Torghar Hills population is 
within an area that heavily relies on domestic livestock for 
subsistence, it is more likely to interact with domestic sheep and 
goats than the other populations. In the event of a disease outbreak, 
the Torghar Hills population would be particularly vulnerable. Because 
the other extant populations are critically low, declining, and 
continue to face threats from poaching and habitat loss, a reduction in 
the single population in the Torghar Hills will not provide a 
sufficient enough margin of safety for the subspecies to withstand this 
type of stochastic event.
    In the rest of the straight-horned markhor's range, we have no 
information on the occurrence of disease or the risk of disease 
transmission from domestic sheep and goats. Overgrazing of domestic 
livestock has contributed to habitat loss in other mountain ranges, 
suggesting large livestock herds have also been maintained in these 
areas, but we do not have information on herd size or the likelihood of 
livestock-wildlife interactions. Given the extremely small population 
estimates of straight-horned markhor outside of the Torghar Hills, 
interactions may be rare.
    We found no information indicating that the current threats to the 
straight-horned markhor, as described above, are likely to improve in 
the future. Threats to this subspecies are driven by past and current 
conflict, the needs of millions of displaced people, and an expanding 
human population. Current regulatory mechanisms in place to protect the 
markhor and its habitat are not being implemented effectively in most 
of the range to reduce or remove threats to the subspecies. With the 
exception of the TCP in the Torghar Hills, no other management plans 
are in place to specifically address the straight-horned markhor. 
Therefore, the tremendous pressure put on natural resources, and the 
impacts to the straight-horned markhor and its habitat, will likely 
continue unless the natural resources of Afghanistan and Pakistan are 
effectively protected.
    In the Torghar Hills, the TCP has eliminated poaching of straight-
horned markhor and managed the habitat such that the population has 
steadily increased since the TCP's inception and both the population 
and its habitat are currently secure. Because the TCP has incorporated 
economic incentives for the local community and is supported by the 
community, we believe the protections and management provided by the 
TCP will continue.
    The narrow geographic range of the straight-horned markhor and the 
small, scattered, and declining populations make this subspecies 
particularly vulnerable to threats. Furthermore,

[[Page 60375]]

small, scattered populations may experience decreased demographic 
viability and increased susceptibility to extinction from stochastic 
environmental factors (e.g., weather events, disease) and an increased 
threat of extinction from genetic isolation and subsequent inbreeding 
depression and genetic drift. Although the Torghar Hills population is 
subject to a management plan, and the protections provided by that 
management plan have led to an increasing population, a reduction in 
this single stable population would not provide a sufficient margin of 
safety for the subspecies to withstand effects from catastrophic or 
stochastic events.

Finding

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing 
species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of 
the Act, a species may be determined to be endangered or threatened 
based on any of the following five factors:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    In considering whether a species may warrant listing under any of 
the five factors, we look beyond the species' exposure to a potential 
threat or aggregation of threats under any of the factors, and evaluate 
whether the species responds to those potential threats in a way that 
causes actual impact to the species. The identification of threats that 
might impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a 
finding that the species warrants listing. The information must include 
evidence indicating that the threats are operative and, either singly 
or in aggregation, affect the status of the species. Threats are 
significant if they drive, or contribute to, the risk of extinction of 
the species, such that the species warrants listing as endangered or 
threatened, as those terms are defined in the Act.
    As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the 
subspecies and considered the five factors in assessing whether the 
straight-horned markhor is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. We examined the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by the straight-horned markhor. We reviewed the 
1999 petition submitted by the Society for Torghar Environmental 
Protection and IUCN, the 2010 petition submitted by Conservation Force, 
information available in our files, other available published and 
unpublished information, and information received in response to the 
August 7, 2012, proposed rule and the December 5, 2013, revised 
proposed rule.
    Today, the straight-horned markhor occurs in small, scattered 
populations in the mountains of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 
provinces, Pakistan. Although we have found reports that this 
subspecies survives in Afghanistan, we believe it has likely been 
extirpated. In general, markhor populations are reported as declining 
and have likely not increased since 1975. However, one exception to 
this declining population trend is the Torghar Hills population in the 
Toba Kakar Range. Due to the implementation of a conservation plan, 
which includes revenues brought in from trophy hunting, the Torghar 
Hills population has increased from fewer than 200 in the mid-1980s to 
3,518 currently.
    Straight-horned markhor have been significantly impacted by years 
of conflict and the accompanying influx of sophisticated weapons. Easy 
access to accurate weapons and millions of displaced people dependent 
on wild meat for subsistence led to excessive hunting and the 
extirpation of the straight-horned markhor from much of its former 
range and a severe reduction in remaining populations. Additionally, 
tremendous pressure has been placed on natural resources from millions 
of displaced people and an expanding human population. Deforestation 
for livestock grazing, illegal logging, and collection of wood for 
building materials, fuel, and charcoal, to meet the needs of the 
growing population, continue to impact straight-horned markhor habitat.
    Several federal and provincial laws are in place to provide some 
protection to natural resources, but they are subject to broad 
exemptions, allowing for overriding laws favoring development and 
commercial use, and enforcement is lacking. However, in the Torghar 
Hills, the population of straight-horned markhor and its habitat have 
been effectively managed by the TCP such that both are secure under the 
current management scenario. Due to the establishment of the TCP, the 
cessation of uncontrolled poaching, and the hunting of only a limited 
number of trophies in the Torghar Hills, the population has increased 
substantially since TCP's inception in 1985. Furthermore, due to the 
TCP, straight-horned markhor habitat is currently secure and is 
presently no longer impacted by overgrazing or collection of wood. 
Because the TCP has incorporated economic incentives derived from 
trophy hunting for the local community and is supported by the 
community, we believe the protections and management provided by the 
TCP will continue. We are not aware of other populations of straight-
horned markhor under the same level of management. Information 
indicates that hunting and habitat loss remain as threats in the rest 
of the straight-horned markhor's range; without effective enforcement 
of federal and provincial laws, we believe these threats will continue 
into the foreseeable future.
    Section 3 of the Act defines an ``endangered species'' as ``any 
species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range,'' and a ``threatened species'' as 
``any species which is likely to become an endangered species within 
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' Most of the straight-horned markhor populations are small and 
declining. Threats to this subspecies from hunting and habitat loss 
still exist and will likely continue into the foreseeable future. 
Current regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to ameliorate the negative 
effects of these threats on the subspecies and will likely remain 
ineffective until changes in implementation are made. Therefore, we 
expect that most straight-horned populations will continue to decline 
into the foreseeable future.
    However, although most remaining populations of straight-horned 
markhor are critically low, continue to face threats from overhunting 
and habitat loss, and will likely continue to decline, implementation 
of the TCP has eliminated threats from hunting and habitat loss in the 
Torghar Hills. This population has continued to increase since the 
inception of the TCP and, today, is the only stronghold of the species.
    Furthermore, because of the protective measures provided to the 
Torghar Hills population by the TCP, we believe that the threats 
identified under Factors A, B, and D are not of sufficient imminence, 
intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the subspecies is presently in 
danger of extinction, and, therefore, does not meet the definition of 
endangered under the Act. The Torghar

[[Page 60376]]

Hills population is considered to be currently stable and increasing; 
based upon 2011 population surveys in the TCP, the markhor population 
and domestic livestock have minimal range-use overlap, and the 
markhor's habitat is secure under current management. However, the 
straight-horned markhor occupies a narrow geographic range and threats 
acting on those critically low populations outside Torghar Hills are 
likely to continue in the foreseeable future. Moreover, within the 
foreseeable future, pressures on habitat in the Torghar Hills and 
interactions between livestock and markhor are likely to increase with 
the growth of domestic livestock herds, the biannual migration of local 
tribes, and the expansion of markhor populations in the TCP, resulting 
in the subspecies as a whole being at risk of extinction due to the 
strong likelihood of a catastrophic or stochastic event (e.g., disease) 
impacting the Torghar Hills population. Should a catastrophic or 
stochastic event (e.g., disease) impact the Torghar Hills population, 
this single stable population would likely not provide a sufficient 
margin of safety for the subspecies. Thus, these factors indicate that 
the straight-horned markhor, while not at risk of extinction now, will 
likely become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future due to 
those continuing threats. Therefore, on the basis of the best 
scientific and commercial information, we have determined that the 
straight-horned markhor meets the definition of a ``threatened 
species'' under the Act. Consequently, we are listing the straight-
horned markhor as threatened in its entirety.
Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment
    Section 3(16) of the Act defines ``species'' to include any species 
or subspecies of fish and wildlife or plants, and any distinct 
population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which 
interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Under the Service's 
``Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population 
Segments Under the Endangered Species Act'' (61 FR 4722, February 7, 
1996), three elements are considered in the decision concerning the 
establishment and classification of a possible distinct population 
segment (DPS). These elements, which are applied similarly for 
additions to or removals from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife, include:
    (1) The discreteness of a population in relation to the remainder 
of the species to which it belongs;
    (2) The significance of the population segment to the species to 
which it belongs; and
    (3) The population segment's conservation status in relation to the 
Act's standards for listing, delisting, or reclassification (i.e., is 
the population segment endangered or threatened?).
Discreteness
    Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon 
may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following 
conditions:
    (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same 
taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation.
    (2) It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within 
which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.
    We reviewed available information to determine whether any 
population, including the Torghar Hills population, of the straight-
horned markhor meets the first discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS 
policy. We found no evidence that any population was markedly separated 
from other markhor populations as a consequence of physical, 
physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Additionally, we are 
not aware of measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity that 
provide evidence of marked separation. With respect to Torghar Hills, 
the boundaries are unclear and appear to grade into other ranges within 
the Toba Kakar Mountains. Additionally, Johnson (1994b, p. 15) noted 
that, if the Torghar Hills population reaches carrying capacity, it 
could become a source of emigrants for other mountain ranges in the 
area and that intermountain movement is probably already taking place. 
Since that publication, the Torghar Hills population has increased from 
695 markhor to 3,518, indicating a greater likelihood that 
intermountain movement of markhor will or is already taking place. We 
currently do not know the extent, if any, that markhor are moving from 
the Torghar Hills into other mountain ranges; however, it appears that 
they could. Movement may require markhor to cross unsuitable habitat 
(e.g., the TCP is surrounded by less severe topography and valleys 
typically not preferred by markhor), but there is no reason that they 
could not cross, especially if carrying capacity is met, thereby 
creating a need to emigrate to other suitable areas in adjacent ranges. 
Therefore, without evidence of marked separation, we determine that 
none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor meet the first 
discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy.
    We next evaluated whether any of the straight-horned markhor 
populations meet the second discreteness condition of our 1996 DPS 
policy. A population segment may be considered discrete if it is 
delimited by international governmental boundaries within which 
differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. Although the 
straight-horned markhor is reported to occur in Afghanistan, it has 
likely been extirpated. Additionally, we found no significant 
differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms in Afghanistan and 
Pakistan; therefore, none of the populations of the straight-horned 
markhor meet the second discreteness condition of the 1996 DPS policy.
    We determine, based on a review of the best available information, 
that none of the populations of the straight-horned markhor, including 
the Torghar Hills population, meet the discreteness conditions of the 
1996 DPS policy. Because we found that the straight-horned markhor 
populations do not meet the discreteness element under the Service's 
DPS policy, we need not conduct an evaluation of significance under 
that policy. We conclude that none of the straight-horned markhor 
populations qualify as a DPS under the Act.
Significant Portion of the Range
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The term ``species'' includes ``any 
subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population 
segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which 
interbreeds when mature.'' We published a final policy interpreting the 
phrase ``Significant Portion of its Range'' (SPR) (79 FR 37578, July 1, 
2014). The final policy states that (1) if a species is found to be 
endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range, 
the entire species is listed as endangered or threatened, respectively, 
and the Act's protections apply to all individuals of the species 
wherever found; (2) a portion of the range of a species is 
``significant'' if the

[[Page 60377]]

species is not currently endangered or threatened throughout all of its 
range, but the portion's contribution to the viability of the species 
is so important that, without the members in that portion, the species 
would be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the 
foreseeable future, throughout all of its range; (3) the range of a 
species is considered to be the general geographical area within which 
that species can be found at the time FWS or NMFS makes any particular 
status determination; and (4) if a vertebrate species is endangered or 
threatened throughout an SPR, and the population in that significant 
portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire 
taxonomic species or subspecies.
    The first step in our analysis of the status of a species is to 
determine its status throughout all of its range. If we determine that 
the species is in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the 
foreseeable future, throughout all of its range, we list the species as 
endangered (or threatened) and no additional SPR analysis is required. 
We found the straight-horned markhor to be threatened throughout its 
range. Therefore, no portions of the species' range are ``significant'' 
as defined in our SPR policy and no additional SPR analysis is 
required.

Available Conservation Measures

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

4(d) Rule

    Section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary may, by 
regulation, extend to threatened species prohibitions provided for 
endangered species under section 9 of the Act. Our implementing 
regulations for threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.31) incorporate the 
section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife, except when a 4(d), or 
special, rule is promulgated. For threatened species, section 4(d) of 
the Act gives the Secretary discretion to specify the prohibitions and 
any exceptions to those prohibitions that are appropriate for the 
species, and provisions that are necessary and advisable to provide for 
the conservation of the species. A 4(d) rule allows us to include 
provisions that are tailored to the specific conservation needs of the 
threatened species and which may be more or less restrictive than the 
general provisions at 50 CFR 17.31.
    Wildlife often competes with humans and land uses upon which human 
livelihoods depend (e.g., agriculture and pastoralism). In areas where 
wildlife does not provide any benefits to the local people or imposes 
substantial costs, it is often killed and its habitat degraded or lost 
to other, more beneficial land uses (IUCN SCC 2012, p. 5). Well-managed 
sport hunting programs that encourage sustainable use can contribute to 
the conservation of wildlife and improve wildlife populations. The 
primary objective of a well-managed trophy-hunting program is not 
hunting, but the conservation of large mammals (Shackleton 2001, p. 7). 
The IUCN SSC Caprinae Specialist Group specifically states that trophy 
hunting usually generates substantial funds that can be used for 
conservation activities, such as habitat protection, population 
monitoring, law enforcement, research, or management programs (IUCN SSC 
2012, p. 3). Additionally, involvement of the local community in 
conservation of a species results in better conservation outcomes, 
which improve even more if those efforts generate sustainable benefits 
for the community (Damm and Franco in press a, p. 29). Revenue, 
employment, improved livelihoods, and/or other benefits generated from 
the use of wildlife provide incentives for people to conserve the 
species and its habitat, thus removing the risk of resource 
degradation, depletion, and habitat conversion (IUCN SSC 2012, pp. 2-5; 
Shackleton 2001, pp. 7, 10).
    Recognizing the potential of sport-hunting-based conservation 
programs to contribute to the conservation of straight-horned markhor, 
we are finalizing the following 4(d) rule to allow the import of sport-
hunted markhor trophies taken from established conservation programs 
without a threatened species permit issued under 50 CFR 17.32, provided 
that certain criteria are met. Importation of a personal sport-hunted 
straight-horned markhor may be authorized by the Director of the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Director) without a threatened species 
permit if the trophy is taken from a conservation program that meets 
the following criteria:
    (1) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation 
program's areas can be shown to be sufficiently large to sustain sport-
hunting, and the populations are stable or increasing.

[[Page 60378]]

    (2) Regulatory authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data 
on populations.
    (3) The conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the 
communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation 
program and the species, and the funds derived from sport hunting are 
applied toward benefits to the community and the species.
    (4) Regulatory authorities have the legal and practical capacity to 
provide for the long-term survival of the populations.
    (5) Regulatory authorities can determine that the trophies have in 
fact been legally taken from the populations under an established 
conservation program.

The Director may, consistent with the purposes of the Act, authorize by 
publication of a notice in the Federal Register the importation of 
personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor, taken legally from the 
established conservation program after the date of such notice, without 
a threatened species permit, provided that the applicable provisions of 
50 CFR parts 13, 14, 17, and 23, which includes obtaining appropriate 
CITES export and import permits, have been met.
    Many hunters are willing to pay relatively large fees for the 
privilege to hunt, but only if they are able to import their trophy. 
The United States is a major market country for trophy hunting (IUCN 
SCC 2012, p. 10). Authorizing the importation of personal sport-hunted 
straight-horned markhor according to the 4(d) rule without a threatened 
species permit under the Act facilitates the participation of U.S. 
hunters in scientifically based conservation programs that include 
hunting. In the case of the markhor, the revenue generated by hunters 
has directly supported a community-based conservation program and has 
resulted in measurable improvements in straight-horned markhor 
populations. Furthermore, the criteria of the 4(d) rule ensure that 
U.S. hunters participate in sustainable sport-hunting programs. 
Additionally, while it may be possible to exempt importations from the 
requirements of a permit issued under the Act at 50 CFR 17.32 if the 
criteria under the 4(d) rule are met, we must still adhere to CITES 
requirements. As an Appendix-I species under CITES, straight-horned 
markhor imports must meet the criteria under 50 CFR 23. Namely, there 
is still a requirement that the exporting country make the required 
findings that the export would not be detrimental to the species and 
that trophies were legally taken. Moreover, as the authority for the 
importing country, we would still need to make a finding that the 
import would be for purposes not detrimental to the survival of the 
species, and that the specimen will not be used for primarily 
commercial purposes. Thus, if the Director determines that the 
conservation program meets the 4(d) criteria, the Service finds that 
additional authorizations under the Act for importation of sport-hunted 
trophies would not be necessary and advisable for the conservation of 
the species, nor appropriate, because such importation already requires 
compliance with CITES' most stringent international trade controls for 
this subspecies listed under Appendix I. Therefore, we find that this 
4(d) rule contains appropriate provisions, as well as measures that are 
necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species.

Required Determinations

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)
    We have determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental 
assessment, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations 
adopted under section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining 
our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 
25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

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

Authors

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

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

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

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


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


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Species                                                   Vertebrate
------------------------------------------------------                        population where                         When       Critical     Special
                                                          Historic range       endangered or          Status          listed      habitat       rules
           Common name              Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Mammals
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Markhor, straight-horned........  Capra falconeri      Afghanistan,         Entire.............  T                     15, 841           NA     17.40(d)
                                   megaceros.           Pakistan.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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


Sec.  17.40  Special rules--mammals.

* * * * *
    (d) Straight-horned markhor (Capra falconeri megaceros).
    (1) General requirements. Except as noted in paragraph (d)(2) of 
this section, all prohibitions of Sec.  17.31 and

[[Page 60379]]

exemptions of Sec.  17.32 apply to this subspecies.
    (2) What are the criteria under which a personal sport-hunted 
trophy may qualify for import without a permit under Sec.  17.32? The 
Director may, consistent with the purposes of the Act, authorize by 
publication of a notice in the Federal Register the importation, 
without a threatened species permit issued under Sec.  17.32, of 
personal sport-hunted straight-horned markhor from an established 
conservation program that meets the following criteria:
    (i) The markhor was taken legally from the established program 
after the date of the Federal Register notice;
    (ii) The applicable provisions of 50 CFR parts 13, 14, 17, and 23 
have been met; and
    (iii) The Director has received the following information regarding 
the established conservation program for straight-horned markhor:
    (A) Populations of straight-horned markhor within the conservation 
program's areas can be shown to be sufficiently large to sustain sport 
hunting and are stable or increasing.
    (B) Regulatory authorities have the capacity to obtain sound data 
on populations.
    (C) The conservation program can demonstrate a benefit to both the 
communities surrounding or within the area managed by the conservation 
program and the species, and the funds derived from sport hunting are 
applied toward benefits to the community and the species.
    (D) Regulatory authorities have the legal and practical capacity to 
provide for the long-term survival of the populations.
    (E) Regulatory authorities can determine that the sport-hunted 
trophies have in fact been legally taken from the populations under an 
established conservation program.
* * * * *

    Dated: September 22, 2014.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-23671 Filed 10-6-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P