Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; U.S. Captive-Bred Inter-subspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers, 19923-19931 [2016-07762]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R9–IA–2011–0027; FF09A30000 123 FXIA16710900000R4] RIN 1018–AW81 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; U.S. Captive-Bred Intersubspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are amending the regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act (Act) by removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger (Panthera tigris) (i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica, and P. t. corbetti, respectively)) from the list of species that are exempt from registration under the Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) regulations. The exemption currently allows those individuals or breeding operations who want to conduct otherwise prohibited activities, such as take, interstate commerce, and export under the Act with U.S. captive-bred, live inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, to do so without becoming registered. We make this change to the regulations to strengthen control over commercial movement and sale of tigers in the United States and to ensure that activities involving inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are consistent with the purposes of the Act. Intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers are listed as endangered under the Act, and a person will need to obtain authorization under the current statutory and regulatory requirements to conduct any otherwise prohibited activities with them. DATES: This rule becomes effective on May 6, 2016. ADDRESSES: The supplementary materials for this rule, including the public comments received, are available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R9–IA–2011–0027. You may obtain information about permits or other authorizations to carry out otherwise prohibited activities by contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, Branch of Permits, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS–IA, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803; telephone: 703–358–2104 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 or (toll free) 800–358–2104; facsimile: 703–358–2281; email: managementauthority@fws.gov; Web site: http://www.fws.gov/international. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy J. Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS–IA, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803; telephone 703–358–2104; fax 703–358– 2281. If you use a telecommunications devise for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background To prevent the extinction of wildlife and plants, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), and its implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), prohibit any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States from conducting certain activities with species listed under the Act unless first authorized by a permit, except as a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act applies to the species. These activities include import, export, take, and sale or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce. The Secretary of the Interior may permit these activities for endangered species for scientific purposes or enhancement of the propagation or survival of the species, provided the activities are consistent with the purposes of the Act. In addition, for threatened species, permits may be issued for the abovelisted activities, as well as zoological, horticultural, or botanical exhibition; education; and special purposes consistent with the Act. The Secretary of the Interior has delegated the authority to administer endangered and threatened species permit matters to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service’s Division of Management Authority administers the permit program for the import or export of listed species, the sale or offer for sale in interstate and foreign commerce for nonnative listed species, and the take of nonnative listed wildlife within the United States. Previous Federal Action In 1979, the Service published the Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) regulations (44 FR 54002, September 17, 1979) to reduce Federal permitting requirements and facilitate captive breeding of endangered and threatened species under certain conditions. These conditions include: (1) A person may become registered with the Service to conduct otherwise PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 19923 prohibited activities when the activities can be shown to enhance the propagation or survival of the species; (2) Interstate commerce is authorized only when both the buyer and seller are registered for the same species; (3) The registration is only for live, mainly nonnative endangered or threatened wildlife that was born in captivity in the United States (although the Service may determine that a native species is eligible for the registration; to date, the only native species granted eligibility under the registration is the Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis)); (4) Registration does not authorize activities with non-living wildlife, a provision that is intended to discourage the propagation of endangered or threatened wildlife for consumptive markets; and (5) The registrants are required to maintain written records of authorized activities and report them annually to the Service. The CBW registration has provided zoological institutions and breeding operations the ability to move animals quickly between registered institutions for breeding purposes. In 1993, the Service amended the CBW regulations at 50 CFR 17.21(g) (58 FR 68323, December 27, 1993) to eliminate public education through exhibition of living wildlife as the sole justification for the issuance of a CBW registration. That decision was based on the Service’s belief that the scope of the CBW system should be revised to relate more closely to its original intent, i.e., the encouragement of responsible breeding that is specifically designed to help conserve the species involved (63 FR 48635; September 11, 1998). In 1998, the Service amended the CBW regulations (63 FR 48634, September 11, 1998) to delete the requirement to obtain a CBW registration for holders of intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers (i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica, and P. t. corbetti, respectively)). Certain otherwise prohibited activities with these specimens were authorized only when the activities were shown to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, provided the principal purpose was to facilitate captive breeding. Although the submission of a written annual report was not required, holders of these specimens had to maintain E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 19924 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES accurate written records of activities, including births, deaths, and transfers of specimens, and make the records accessible to Service agents for inspection at reasonable hours as provided for in 50 CFR 13.46 and 13.47. The exemption for inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers was based on the lack of conservation value of these specimens due to their mixed or unknown genetic composition. The intention behind the exemption was for the Service to focus its oversight on populations of ‘‘purebred’’ animals of the various tiger subspecies to further their conservation in the wild, while recognizing that generic tigers that were currently held by zoological facilities could be used to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species. Even with this exemption, inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers were still protected under the Act and those activities that did not constitute authorized activities under the CBW program, such as the interstate sale of generic tigers solely for education purposes or display purposes, would require prior authorization of an ESA permit. On August 22, 2011, the Service proposed to amend the CBW regulations that implement the Act by removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from paragraph (g)(6) of 50 CFR 17.21 (76 FR 52297). The public was provided with a 30-day comment period to submit their views and comments on the proposed rule. However, due to the large volume of comments, the Service published a notice on September 21, 2011 (76 FR 58455), extending the comment period for an additional 30 days. This comment period ended on October 21, 2011. Since that time, the Service has received no new substantive information that would affect this rule. Species Status The wild tiger was once abundant throughout Asia. At the end of the 19th century, an estimated 100,000 tigers occurred in the wild (Nowak 1999, p. 828), but by the late 1990s, the estimated population had declined to 5,000–7,000 animals (Seidensticker et al. 1999, p. xvii). Today’s population in the wild is thought to be 3,000–5,000 individuals, according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List estimate (Chundawat et al. 2010, unpaginated), with no more than 2,500 mature breeding adults (Williamson and Henry 2008, pp. 7, 43). The once-abundant tiger now lives in small, fragmented groups, mostly in protected forests, refuges, and national parks (FWS 2010a, p. 1). The species VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 occupies only about 7 percent of its original range, and in the past decade, the species’ range has decreased by as much as 41 percent (Dinerstein et al. 2007, p. 508). For many years, the international community has expressed concern about the status of tigers in the wild and the risk that captive tigers, if used for consumptive purposes, may sustain the demand for tiger parts, which would ultimately have a detrimental effect on the survival of the species in the wild. An estimated 5,000 captive tigers occur on China’s commercial tiger farms, where tigers are being bred intensively and produce more than 800 animals each year (Williamson and Henry 2008, p. 40). Tiger body parts, such as organs, bones, and pelts, are in demand not only in China, but also on the global black market. Organs and bones are used in traditional medicines, which are purchased by consumers who believe the parts convey strength, health, and virility. Current regulations under the ESA prohibit the taking of any tiger, including generic tigers, and there is no clear evidence that the U.S. captive tiger population has played a role in illegal international trade. However, in 2005, Werner (p. 24) estimated that 4,692 tigers were held in captivity in the United States. Approximately 264 tigers were held in institutions registered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), 1,179 in wildlife sanctuaries, 2,120 in institutions registered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and 1,120 in private hands. In 2008, Williamson and Henry stated that as many as 5,000 tigers are in captivity in the United States, but cautioned that, given the current State and Federal legal framework that regulates U.S. captive tigers, the exact size of the population is unknown (Williamson and Henry 2008). Conservation Status The tiger is a species of global concern, is classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2010), and is protected by a number of U.S. laws and treaties. It is listed as endangered under the Act. 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.’’ The listing is at the species level and, thus, includes all subspecies of tiger (including those that are of unknown subspecies, referred to as ‘‘generic’’ tigers) and inter-subspecific crosses. The species is also protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Flora (CITES). Under this treaty, 178 member countries (Parties) work together to ensure that international trade in protected species is not detrimental to the survival of wild populations. The United States and all the tiger range countries are Parties to CITES. The tiger is listed in Appendix I, which includes species threatened with extinction whose trade is permitted only under exceptional circumstances, and which generally precludes commercial trade. The United States has a long history of working within CITES to promote tiger conservation and has been a leader in supporting strong actions within CITES for tigers, including strict controls on captive-bred animals. In 2007 at the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP14), we were closely involved in drafting Decision 14.69, which calls on countries with intensive commercial breeding operations of tigers to implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers, and for tigers not to be bred for trade in their parts and products. Although the decision was primarily directed at large commercial breeding operations such as those found in China, we are aware of the large number of captive tigers in the United States and the need to be vigilant in monitoring these tigers as well. The tiger is afforded additional protection under the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (CWSA) and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act (RTCA, 16 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.). The CWSA amended the Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) to address concerns about public safety and the growing number of big cats, including tigers, in private hands in the United States. The law and its regulations make it illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any live big cats except by certain exempt entities. Entities exempt from the CWSA include a person, facility, or other entity licensed by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under the Animal Welfare Act to possess big cats (typically zoos, circuses, and researchers) or registered to transport big cats; State colleges, universities, and agencies; State-licensed wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians; and wildlife sanctuaries that meet certain criteria. The RTCA is another powerful tool in combating the international trade in products containing tiger parts. It prohibits the sale, import, and export of products intended for human use and containing, or labeled or advertised as E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations containing, any substance derived from tiger and provides for substantial criminal and civil penalties for violators. The RTCA also establishes a fund that allows the Service to grant money in support of on-the-ground tiger conservation efforts, such as antipoaching programs, habitat and ecosystem management, development of nature reserves, wildlife surveys and monitoring, management of humanwildlife conflict, and public awareness campaigns (FWS 2010b. p. 1). asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Concerns Raised and Recommendations The World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC North America, other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the public have expressed concerns about the potential role U.S. captive tigers may play, or could potentially play, in the trade in tiger parts. In July 2008, TRAFFIC published a report titled, Paper Tigers? The Role of the U.S. Captive Tiger Population in the Trade in Tiger Parts (Williamson and Henry 2008). The report found no indication that U.S. tigers currently are entering domestic or international trade as live animals or as parts and products. However, given the precarious status of tigers in the wild and the potential that U.S. captive tigers could enter trade and undermine conservation efforts, TRAFFIC made several recommendations to close potential loopholes in current Federal and State regulations to avoid the use of captive U.S. tigers in trade. One of those recommendations was for the Service to eliminate the exemption under 50 CFR 17.21(g)(6) for holders of intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers from the requirements to register and submit annual reports under the CBW regulations. Summary of Comments and Our Responses In our proposed rule (August 22, 2011; 76 FR 52297), we asked interested parties to submit comments or suggestions regarding the proposal to eliminate inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the regulation at 50 CFR 17.21(g). The original comment period for the proposed rule lasted for 30 days, ending September 21, 2011. The comment period was extended, however, on September 21, 2011 (76 FR 58455), to allow for an additional 30 days to accommodate the large number of commenters. The extended comment period ended on October 21, 2011. We received 15,199 individual comments during the two comment periods. The vast majority of the comments (approximately 15,000) either supported the proposed rule as written or stated VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 that it was not strong enough to address captive breeding of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers. We received 109 comments from individuals or organizations that opposed the proposed rule. The remaining 79 comments were either irrelevant to the proposed rule or indecipherable. Issue 1: Approximately 14,300 comments supported the proposed rule as written, stated that this change in the regulations would reduce the level of illegal trade in both captive and wild tigers, decrease the possibility of captive tigers being held in inhumane conditions, and reduce ‘‘rampant’’ breeding of captive tigers within the United States. However, many of these commenters were also concerned that the change in the regulation would result in the possible overcrowding of sanctuaries or unaccredited institutions that would receive unwanted adult tigers. Our response: The change in regulations would provide for greater control over captive tigers within the United States. As the CBW regulations are currently written, individuals or institutions that have been housing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers could move tigers across State lines for commercial activities without registering under the CBW regulations. While these activities are required to be undertaken in association with a managed breeding program to ensure that deleterious breeding (i.e., inbreeding or inappropriate crosses) does not occur, we have evidence that these requirements may have been violated in some number of cases. Therefore, based on this conclusion, we are acting consistently with the purposes of the Act to limit the authorization of interstate commerce and commercial movement of tigers under the CBW regulations to situations where the end-use of the tiger is to enhance the propagation or survival of the species in the wild by contributing to the conservation of the species. However, this change in regulations would not directly result in the control of breeding of inter-specific crossed or generic tigers. The Act does not regulate intrastate activities that do not result in a take or the noncommercial interstate movement of a listed species. The only intrastate activity that the Act regulates is the take (e.g., harming, harassing, or killing) of a listed species. Individuals or facilities that maintain such tigers can continue to breed tigers, sell them within their State, or move tigers across State lines for noncommercial purposes without obtaining authorization from us, as long as such activities do not result in a take of the species. However, PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 19925 it is possible that stricter regulation of the interstate commerce of these specimens may result in a reduction in breeding due to a smaller (i.e., intrastate only) market for generic tigers. It is also possible that, with this change in the CBW regulations and the potentially lower demand for tigers within the United States, individuals or facilities that currently hold intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers will move their animals to sanctuaries or other zoo facilities, causing these facilities to become overcrowded. We do not believe that such movement will become a significant problem at most zoos and sanctuaries, which generally maintain a high standard of care and, in any case, are required by the Animal Welfare Act and other Federal and State laws and regulations to provide humane treatment for animals. A need may arise, however, for greater coordination between nongovernmental organizations, zoos, and sanctuaries to ensure that all inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers that end up in sanctuaries or zoos receive adequate housing and care. Issue 2: Of the nearly 15,000 comments that supported the rule in some form, 527 commenters were opposed to maintaining tigers in captivity at all. These commenters expressed a general belief that tigers should be left in the wild and that captive tigers should be released. While many of these comments supported the change in regulations as necessary, they also expressed the belief that this change should be only the first step that would eventually result in captive tigers being released into the wild and/or no longer bred in captivity. Our response: As stated above, the Act does not prohibit the ownership of listed species, if the activities being carried out with these specimens do not violate any of the prohibitions of the Act. Therefore, if the animals were legally purchased and moved, the Act does not prohibit an individual or institution from maintaining or even breeding tigers. While we recognize that some people are opposed to maintaining exotic animals in captivity, we do not have the regulatory authority to prohibit such activities. Further, we do not believe that inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are suitable for release in the wild, both because they may not be genetically compatible with wild populations, and because, in most cases, they are not suitably conditioned for survival in the wild. Such animals either might starve or could become a menace to livestock and humans. However, we believe that, under the correct circumstances, maintaining E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 19926 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations listed species in captivity—including tigers—can provide a conservation benefit to the species through education, research, and scientifically based breeding programs. Issue 3: Many commenters (160) requested that we establish stricter regulations for tigers than what was proposed. Suggestions included establishing regulations that would prohibit anyone from holding or breeding tigers and allow only accredited zoos or sanctuaries to hold tigers. Many of these commenters expressed the desire to eliminate the use of tigers in circuses and animal exhibitions. The comments included suggestions to increase control over breeding programs and to have more frequent inspections of facilities to monitor for abuse or substandard facilities. Some commenters suggested microchipping all captive tigers. Some comments recommended stiffer penalties for poachers within the tiger native range. Our response: As stated previously, the Act prohibits certain activities with listed species, but does not prohibit every activity that could involve such species. The Act does not regulate ownership or what an owner may do with a tiger as long as the owner obtained the tiger legally and does not harm or kill the tiger or engage in interstate commerce with the animal. We cannot establish regulations that go beyond the prohibitions of the Act, such as limiting ownership or breeding of tigers only to certain institutions or individuals. Anyone may engage in these activities if he or she otherwise complies with all other provisions of the Act, and as long as the actions are legal under other applicable laws (e.g., those of the State in which the activities take place). When we issue a permit or other authorization under the Act for otherwise prohibited activities, we do have the authority to conduct periodic inspections or otherwise have oversight of permitted activities. This authority, however, does not extend to activities outside the scope of the Act or for activities that are not regulated by the Act. Therefore, we do not have the ability to conduct regular inspections of breeding operations that do not require authorization from us. This type of inspection may be possible in some cases under the Animal Welfare Act, which is implemented by the USDA, but is outside the scope of this regulation. However, if we have evidence of illegal activity, we have the authority to carry out criminal investigations of any facility, whether or not it is permitted. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 While we could require microchipping of tigers at a facility that has obtained a permit or other authorization from the Service, we cannot require the microchipping of all tigers within the United States. Microchipping some tigers may give us the ability to track the movement of live animals that are involved in interstate commerce (an otherwise prohibited activity), but we would not be able to track live tigers that do not fall under our jurisdiction. Further, microchipping is unlikely to assist us in investigating the illegal movement of tiger parts within the United States. We also do not have the authority or the resources to monitor and record the birth, death, or transfer of all tigers in the United States. Microchipping a portion of the captive tigers in the United States for tracking purposes might give us a limited picture of the movement and ownership of these animals in the United States, but we do not believe that any limited benefits would outweigh the cost and administrative burden of microchipping and tracking these animals. We strongly encourage and support programs established by tiger range countries to control and ultimately eliminate poaching of wild tigers. We have been able to fund a variety of antipoaching programs through various grant programs, including grants under the RTCA. We have also been actively involved in efforts through CITES to assist range countries in monitoring and controlling illegal trade in tigers. We do not have any authority, however, to establish stricter regulations regarding poaching in other countries. Issue 4: One commenter was of the opinion that the exemption from the CBW registration process violated section 10(c) of the Act since it did not allow the public an opportunity to comment on the merits of activities involving inter-specific crossed or generic tigers. Our response: By removing the exemption and requiring the submission of an application to either request a permit or register under the CBW regulations, the public will now have an opportunity to comment on the merits of any application to conduct otherwise prohibited activities with tigers. Issue 5: Many commenters (109) were opposed to removing the exemption. In general, they believe that intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers contribute to conservation primarily through education, but also by acting as a source of tigers within the United States. Many of these commenters felt that requiring registration under the CBW regulations or requiring a permit to conduct otherwise prohibited PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 activities would ultimately lead to the demise of captive tigers in the United States. Many of these commenters expressed their concern that wild tigers will go extinct in the near future due to habitat loss and poaching, and, therefore, captive-bred tigers are needed to ensure that the species does not go extinct. Our response: The CBW regulations facilitate the captive breeding of species listed under the Act for conservation purposes by allowing registrants to conduct interstate commerce and move specimens across State lines. The Service recognizes that well-managed breeding programs focusing on specific subspecies and that maintain good genetic diversity among the specimens within the breeding program can provide a long-term benefit to listed species by producing a pool of viable candidates for future reintroduction. We have also stated in the 1998 final rule exempting inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the CBW registration process (63 FR 48638) that intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers should not be used for conservationoriented breeding, but could be used for exhibition in a manner designed to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species. The Act does not regulate intrastate activities other than take, such as ownership and breeding, nor does it regulate noncommercial interstate transfers of listed species (e.g., gifts, loans, and exchanges of animals of the same species for genetic management purposes). Removing the exemption for inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the CBW regulations will require anyone who is selling an intersubspecific crossed or generic tiger across State lines to either register under the CBW regulations or obtain an interstate commerce permit. The Service does not believe that the action taken in this final rule will adversely affect the conservation breeding of tigers within the United States, nor lead to the demise of captive tigers within the United States. Issue 6: Several commenters expressed the opinion that enough laws or restrictions are already in place to ensure that the legality of activities carried out with tigers. Two commenters pointed directly to the RTCA as a powerful tool to combat illegal trade of tiger parts within the United States. These commenters stated that, since there is no proof of the use of U.S. captive tigers in traditional medicines, the Service does not need to impose additional regulations on tiger breeders in the United States. Five commenters E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations felt that, because there is no proof of such illegal trade within the United States, such trade is not a threat, and, therefore, this rule is arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Our response: While we agree with the commenters on the benefits of the RTCA in combating illegal trade in tiger parts, we do not agree that the existing regulations adequately provide for the conservation of tigers. With the exemption for inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, it was difficult to determine whether activities involving tigers were legal because there was no requirement for a permit or other authorization. Monitoring of activities was also hampered by our inability to determine if tigers bred and sold under the exemption were actually intersubspecific crossed or generic animals. By removing the exemption, we are reinstating regulations that already cover most other endangered and threatened species, thus ensuring better oversight and monitoring. This requirement will be another tool that can be used, in conjunction with the RTCA and other laws, to curb potentially illegal activities within the United States. While we have no evidence indicating that captive tigers are currently being illegally killed for their parts within the United States, we believe that, if wild tiger populations continue to decline, demand for captive tigers and their parts may increase. The final rule is reasonable in light of this potential threat and evidence of continuing declines in tiger population and range, and we have fully explained our reasons for removing the exemption. Issue 7: Two commenters felt that we made contradictory statements in the proposed rule when we said that individuals who wished to carry out otherwise prohibited activities with inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers would need to register under the CBW regulations, but then also stated that we did not believe the breeding of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers provided a conservation benefit. In other words, they concluded that we would not actually register anyone with inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers because of our perceived lack of conservation value of such animals. Our response: The commenters are correct that we do not believe that breeding inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, in and of itself, provides a conservation benefit, since the tigers are of unknown or mixed genetic origin. As such, inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers would not be good candidates for a well-managed conservation-oriented breeding VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 program. In addition, it is unlikely that we would register an operation for the sole purpose of selling tigers across State lines, since a CBW registration is for the purpose of exchanging stock with other breeders or to hold surplus animals not needed for a breeding program. This does not mean, however, that we could not authorize individual permits if the activity being conducted enhanced the propagation or survival of the species in the wild. Under our regulations, it is possible to authorize interstate commerce for an intersubspecific crossed or generic tiger if the parties involved in the transaction are carrying out activities that enhance the propagation or survival of the species. While it is unlikely that such a commercial transaction would provide a direct benefit to the species, such as reintroduction, there may be indirect benefits that could be obtained from the transaction. It should also be noted that the requirement to show that authorizing an otherwise prohibited activity, such as interstate commerce, could be met through an individual or institution, or a group of individuals or institutions together, working to provide a benefit to the species in the wild. For example, if one or more zoological institutions were purchasing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers for educational and display purposes, they could provide support (e.g., via the solicitation of donations from visitors) to carry out insitu conservation efforts in the tiger’s native range. The Service prefers a clear, ongoing commitment of several years on the part of the applicant to provide insitu conservation or research support. This ongoing commitment could be fulfilled by a group of institutions working together to maximize their resources for the benefit of tigers in the wild. Issue 8: Several commenters stated that inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers have an educational value and, therefore, should still be exempt from the CBW registration to ensure that this benefit could continue. Many of these commenters felt that inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are ‘‘ambassadors’’ for the wild tiger and its conservation. One commenter stated that availability of such tigers within the United States removed pressure on wild populations to supply animals for exhibition purposes. One commenter, noting that the Service previously excluded education as a sole justification for registration under the CBW regulations, questioned the basis of this exclusion. Our response: This rule does not address whether the display of inter- PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 19927 subspecific crossed or generic tigers has an educational value. It is possible that a professionally developed education program using inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers could indirectly benefit the wild populations of tigers by raising public awareness of the plight of the tiger. Furthermore, no permit or other authorization, including a CBW registration, is necessary to conduct educational programs with such tigers, including crossing State lines to make presentations involving the animals. Given the number of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers within the United States, the commenter is correct that wild-caught tigers are not in demand for educational purposes. The purpose of this rule, however, is to reestablish the monitoring and oversight benefits of the CBW regulations to all specimens of tigers, not just purebred specimens. On December 27, 1993, the Service published a final rule (58 FR 68323) that eliminated public education through exhibition of living wildlife as the sole justification for issuing a CBW registration under § 17.21(g). As one commenter correctly pointed out, the Service made the statement in the 1998 final rule exempting inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the CBW registration process (63 FR 48638) that inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers should not be used to enhance the propagation of the species, but could be used for exhibition in a manner designed to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species. While individuals are not precluded from continuing to provide educational opportunities to the public through the display of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, an educational purpose alone is not enough to support CBW registration per the 1993 rule. The basis for excluding education as the sole justification for a CBW registration was discussed in the final rule on that issue (58 FR 68323) and is outside the scope of this rulemaking. Issue 9: Two commenters raised questions about the listing status of the inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger. One commenter questioned whether inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers meet the standard of listing under the Act and, therefore, whether they are properly subject to regulation by the Service. Another commenter proposed that intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers within the United States are a new subspecies, the ‘‘American tiger.’’ This commenter provided a description of six ‘‘varieties’’ of ‘‘American tigers’’ that should be, as a group, a new subspecies. E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 19928 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Our response: Whether these animals meet the listing criteria under section 4 of the Act is an issue outside the scope of this rulemaking process. Whether inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers within the United States would constitute a separate subspecies is a matter that should be addressed by taxonomists and is, therefore, outside the scope of this rulemaking process as well. However, currently the tiger is listed at the species level, not at the subspecies level, so all tiger specimens are covered by the listing. Issue 10: One commenter noted a study by the National Cancer Institute that found that one ‘‘generic’’ tiger in seven is actually a purebred member of a recognized subspecies, raising the question of how individuals can determine if their tiger is pure or an inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger. Another commenter raised the question of whether this rule would require genetic testing of tigers and how the cost of that testing would be covered. Our response: The first commenter was probably referring to a study published in 2008 in Current Biology 1 that found 14–23 percent (approximately 1 in 7 or more) of the ‘‘generic’’ tigers tested were shown to have a verifiable subspecies ancestry (i.e., they are a pure subspecies). The tigers tested in this study came from locations in the United States and abroad. We note that our definition of ‘‘generic tiger’’ includes animals of unknown lineage. It is entirely possible that some animals of unknown lineage actually have a pure subspecies lineage, but the lack of information on their origin requires that they be treated as unknown for the purposes of conservation breeding. Since pure and generic tigers would be treated the same in regards to permits issued under 50 CFR 17.22 (i.e., interstate and foreign commerce, take, import, or export), there would be no requirement to test tigers within the United States. However, if the owner of a breeding operation wished to become a CBW registrant, that person would need to show how the tigers he or she holds would contribute to the genetic management of the species within the United States. If the owner is unable to document the source and, therefore, subspecies of their tigers, it may be necessary to conduct genetic testing on 1 Shu-Jin Luo, Warren E. Johnson, Janice Martenson, Agostinho Antunes, Paolo Martelli, Olga Uphyrkina, Kathy Traylor-Holzer, James L.D. Smith and Stephen J. O’Brien. 2008. ‘‘Subspecies Genetic Assignments of Worldwide Captive Tigers Increase Conservation Value of Captive Populations’’. Current Biology, 18, 592–596. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 his/her tigers to prove that they are not inter-specific crossed animals. The cost of such testing would be his/her responsibility. Issue 11: One commenter questioned the value of maintaining pure subspecies in captivity as a potential pool for reintroduction purposes if the plight of the wild tiger is so dire. The commenter’s presumption was that zoos and private breeders do not have the capacity to maintain sufficient numbers of pure subspecies to provide enough specimens if reintroduction is needed. It is unclear whether the commenter meant that a need might develop to use tigers of mixed or unknown genetic ancestry for reintroduction purposes and that the survival of the species may rely on such tigers. However, the commenter expressed the view that efforts by the Service to limit the breeding of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are counterintuitive to the conservation of the species. Our response: The generally accepted approach to the captive breeding of tigers—or of any species—for conservation purposes is to maintain separate viable populations of each subspecies and to avoid, where possible, breeding tigers of unknown or questionable genetic heritage. Adequacy of founder representation and minimum viable population sizes are issues to be determined by conservation biologists and vary depending on the biological characteristics of the species, and are outside the scope of this rulemaking. The purpose of this rule is to establish a single approach to monitoring the otherwise prohibited activities involving any tiger within the United States. Issue 12: One commenter felt that the display of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers could generate funds for in-situ conservation efforts and should, therefore, be encouraged. Our response: We agree that the display of tigers, whether purebred subspecies or tigers of unknown genetic ancestry, could generate funds and resources for in-situ conservation efforts. This rule does not limit nor is it intended to discourage in-situ conservation efforts. The rule only provides the same level of monitoring and oversight for all tigers within the United States to ensure that activities carried out with this species are legal and consistent with the purposes of the Act. Removal of Inter-subspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers from 50 CFR 17.21(g)(6) We are amending the CBW regulations that implement the Act by removing inter-subspecific crossed or PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 generic tiger (Panthera tigris) (i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica, and P. t. corbetti, respectively)) from paragraph (g)(6) of 50 CFR 17.21. This action eliminates the exemption from registering and reporting under the CBW regulations by persons who want to conduct otherwise prohibited activities under the Act with live, inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers born in the United States. This action does not alter the current listing of tigers. Inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers remain listed as endangered under the Act, and a person would need to qualify for an exemption or obtain an authorization under the remaining statutory and regulatory requirements to conduct any prohibited activities. We are changing the regulations to ensure that we maintain stricter control over the commercial movement and sale of captive tigers in the United States. As stated in the comment section, we do not believe that breeding intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers, in and of itself, provides a conservation benefit for the long-term survival of the species. Inter-subspecific tiger crosses and animals of unknown genetic ancestry could not be used for maintaining genetic viability and distinctness of specific tiger subspecies. Tigers of unknown or mixed genetic origin are typically not maintained in a manner to ensure that inbreeding or other inappropriate matings of animals do not occur. By exempting intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers from the CBW registration process in 1998, we had inadvertently suggested that the breeding of these tigers, in and of itself, qualifies as conservation. By removing the exemption, we reinforce the value of conservation breeding of individual tiger subspecies through the CBW program. As stated in the proposed rule, we are unaware of any evidence that tiger parts are entering into trade from the captive U.S. population of tigers. However, we recognize that the use of tiger parts and products, including in traditional medicine, poses a significant threat to wild tiger populations. The United States has worked vigorously with other CITES countries to encourage not only the adoption of measures to protect wild tiger populations from poaching and illegal trade, but also the implementation of measures to ensure that breeding of tigers in captivity supports conservation goals and that tigers are not bred for trade in parts and products. While we do not have E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES evidence that parts from captive-bred tigers in the United States are currently entering into international trade, we believe that demand for tiger parts could increase in the future. This threat, combined with the precarious status of tigers in the wild, lead us to conclude that the oversight provided by this final rule will benefit the species. The previous CBW exemption also created enforcement difficulties. Specifically, law enforcement cases have hinged on whether activities the Service has identified as illegal were actually exempted under the current regulations. By removing the exemption, persons engaged in otherwise prohibited activities will need to obtain a permit or register under the CBW program, giving the Service greater ability to bring enforcement cases for violations involving tigers. It should be stressed, however, that removing the exemption for intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers would not result in regulations by the Service of ownership, intrastate commerce, or noncommercial movement of these tigers across State lines, as long as they are not killed or harmed. These activities are not prohibited by the Act, and we have no authority to prohibit or otherwise regulate them. Finally, we reorganized paragraph (g)(6), redesignating subparagraphs to make the section clearer. With the exception of removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, the text is essentially the same as it previously appeared in 50 CFR 17.21(g)(6). Required Determinations Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563): Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. OIRA has determined that this rule is significant because it may create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency. Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. Regulatory Flexibility Act: Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996), whenever a Federal agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of an agency certifies that the rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Thus, for a regulatory flexibility analysis to be required, impacts must exceed a threshold for ‘‘significant impact’’ and a threshold for a ‘‘substantial number of small entities.’’ See 5 U.S.C. 605(b). SBREFA amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a statement of the factual basis for certifying that a rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as one with annual revenue or employment that meets or is below an established size standard. We expect that the majority of the entities involved in taking, exporting, re-importing, and selling in interstate or foreign commerce of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers would be considered small as defined by the SBA. Currently, businesses conducting activities with inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are exempt from registration under the CBW regulations, if the activities are consistent with the purposes of the ESA and CBW program. This rule would require businesses that are otherwise carrying out these activities to apply for authorization under the Act and pay an application fee of $100 for a one-time interstate commerce permit or $200 to register under the CBW program (valid for 5 years). Currently, there is no Federal or State mechanism in place that tracks or monitors the extent of business activities involving generic tigers. With the exemption from registration by facilities that are conducting activities PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 19929 in compliance with the current CBW regulations, FWS does not have data on how many businesses are involved in the interstate commerce of generic tigers, the number of businesses for which an interstate commerce permit or registration in the CBW program will be a viable option, and the economic impacts if prospective applicants are unable to either secure an interstate commerce permit or registration in the CBW program. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates some aspects of holding large cats like tigers, their authority does not extend to all facilities that maintain tigers. As such, there is not a centralized database or collection of data that would identify the number of facilities within the United States. While some State governments may monitor or even regulate some aspects of holding tigers, either pure-bred or generic, there is not a universal approach that would render any significant data on those facilities that hold tigers throughout the United States. Nonetheless, based on the comments received during the public comment period, FWS anticipates that the number of affected small businesses is small and either registration in the CBW program or an interstate commerce permit will be a viable option at a modest expense. Therefore, the regulatory change is not major in scope and will create only a modest financial or paperwork burden on the affected members of the public. We, therefore, certify that this rule would not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). A Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required. Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act: This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule: a. Would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. This rule removes the inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the exemption to register under the CBW regulations. Individuals and captivebreeding operations would need to obtain endangered species permits or other authorization to engage in certain otherwise prohibited activities. This rule would not have a negative effect on the economy. It will affect all businesses, whether large or small, the same. There is not a disproportionate share of benefits for small or large businesses. b. Would not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers; E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES 19930 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations individual industries; Federal, State, tribal, or local government agencies; or geographic regions. This rule would result in a small increase in the number of applications for permits or other authorizations to conduct otherwise prohibited activities with intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers. c. Would not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501, et seq.): a. This rule would not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not required. b. This rule would not produce a Federal requirement of $100 million or greater in any year and is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. Takings: Under Executive Order 12630, this rule would not have significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is not required. This rule is not considered to have takings implications because it allows individuals to obtain authorization for otherwise prohibited activities with the inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers when issuance criteria are met. Federalism: This revision to part 17 does not contain significant Federalism implications. A Federalism Assessment under Executive Order 13132 is not required. Civil Justice Reform: Under Executive Order 12988, the Office of the Solicitor has determined that this rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the requirements of subsections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. Paperwork Reduction Act: This rule does not contain any new information collections or recordkeeping requirements for which Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval is required under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). OMB has reviewed and approved the information collection requirements for the Division of Management Authority’s permit program and assigned OMB Control Number 1018–0093, which expires May 31, 2017. We may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): The Service has determined that this action is a regulatory change that is administrative and procedural in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:28 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 nature. This rule requires that persons engaging in otherwise prohibited activities with inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers register under the CBW regulations at 50 CFR 17.21(g), but does not change the standards in regard to prohibited activities or exemptions from these prohibitions in any way. Previously, any otherwise prohibited activity with an inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger had to be for the purpose of enhancing the propagation or survival of the species, and that standard has not changed. Other requirements such as limitations with respect to nonliving wildlife, identification of animals to be reimported, requirements for animals to be permanently exported, and recordkeeping requirements have not changed. The difference is that persons conducting these activities with intersubspecific crossed or generic tigers that previously did not have to register will now have to register with the Service. As such, the amendment is categorically excluded from further NEPA review as provided by 43 CFR 46.210(i), of the Department of the Interior Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 final rule (73 FR 61292; October 15, 2008). No further documentation will be made. Government-to-Government Relationship with Tribes: Under the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951) and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on federally recognized Indian Tribes and have determined that there are no effects. Energy Supply, Distribution or Use: Executive Order 13211 pertains to regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, and use. This rule would not significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, and use. Therefore, this action is a not a significant energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. Data Quality Act: In developing this rule, we did not conduct or use a study, experiment, or survey requiring peer review under the Data Quality Act (Pub. L. 106–554). References Cited A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R9–IA–2011–0027 and upon request from the person listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting, and PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Regulation Promulgation For the reasons given in the preamble, we are amending part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows: PART 17—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; 4201–4245; unless otherwise noted. 2. Amend § 17.21 by revising paragraph (g)(6) to read as set forth below: ■ § 17.21 Prohibitions. * * * * * (g) * * * (6) Exemption from registration requirement. (i) If the conditions in paragraph (g)(6)(ii) of this section are met, then any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States seeking to engage in any of the activities authorized by paragraph (g)(1) of this section may do so without first registering with the Service with respect to the following species: (A) The bar-tailed pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae), Elliot’s pheasant (S. ellioti), Mikado pheasant (S. mikado), brown eared pheasant (Crossoptilon mantchuricum), white eared pheasant (C. crossoptilon), cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichii), Edward’s pheasant (Lophura edwardsi), Swinhoe’s pheasant (L. swinhoii), Chinese monal (Lophophorus lhuysii), and Palawan peacock pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum); (B) Parakeets of the species Neophema pulchella and N. splendida; (C) The Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis); and (D) The white-winged wood duck (Cairina scutulata). (ii) Conditions for exemption to register. The following conditions must exist for persons dealing with the species listed in paragraph (g)(6)(i) of this section to be eligible for exemption from the requirement to register with the Service: (A) The purpose of the activity is to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected exempted species. (B) Such activity does not involve interstate or foreign commerce, in the course of a commercial activity, with respect to nonliving wildlife. (C) Each specimen to be reimported is uniquely identified by a band, tattoo, or other means that was reported in writing to an official of the Service at a E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 66 / Wednesday, April 6, 2016 / Rules and Regulations port of export prior to export of the specimen from the United States. (D) No specimens of the taxa in paragraph (g)(6)(i) of this section that were taken from the wild may be imported for breeding purposes absent a definitive showing that the need for new bloodlines can be met only by wild specimens, that suitable foreign-bred, captive individuals are unavailable, and that wild populations can sustain limited taking. In addition, an import permit must be issued under § 17.22. (E) Any permanent exports of such specimens meet the requirements of paragraph (g)(4) of this section. (F) Each person claiming the benefit of the exception in paragraph (g)(1) of this section must maintain accurate written records of activities, including births, deaths, and transfers of specimens, and make those records accessible to Service agents for inspection at reasonable hours as set forth in §§ 13.46 and 13.47 of this chapter. * * * * * Dated: March 24, 2016. Michael J. Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2016–07762 Filed 4–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 150916863–6211–02] RIN 0648–XE557 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with RULES AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:41 Apr 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the B season apportionment of the 2016 Pacific cod total allowable catch allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), April 4, 2016, through 1200 hours, A.l.t., June 10, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The B season apportionment of the 2016 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI is 5,460 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (81 FR 14773, March 18, 2016). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the B season apportionment of the 2016 Pacific cod TAC allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 5,000 mt and is setting aside the remaining 460 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 19931 § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI. After the effective date of this closure the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the closure of directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of March 31, 2016. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment. This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: April 1, 2016. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–07905 Filed 4–1–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\06APR1.SGM 06APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 66 (Wednesday, April 6, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 19923-19931]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07762]



[[Page 19923]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027; FF09A30000 123 FXIA16710900000R4]
RIN 1018-AW81


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; U.S. Captive-Bred 
Inter-subspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are amending 
the regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act (Act) by 
removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger (Panthera tigris) 
(i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, 
Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, 
P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica, and P. t. corbetti, respectively)) from 
the list of species that are exempt from registration under the 
Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) regulations. The exemption currently allows 
those individuals or breeding operations who want to conduct otherwise 
prohibited activities, such as take, interstate commerce, and export 
under the Act with U.S. captive-bred, live inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers, to do so without becoming registered. We make this 
change to the regulations to strengthen control over commercial 
movement and sale of tigers in the United States and to ensure that 
activities involving inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are 
consistent with the purposes of the Act. Inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers are listed as endangered under the Act, and a person 
will need to obtain authorization under the current statutory and 
regulatory requirements to conduct any otherwise prohibited activities 
with them.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on May 6, 2016.

ADDRESSES: The supplementary materials for this rule, including the 
public comments received, are available at http://www.regulations.gov 
at Docket No. FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027. You may obtain information about 
permits or other authorizations to carry out otherwise prohibited 
activities by contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division 
of Management Authority, Branch of Permits, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS-IA, 
Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; telephone: 703-358-2104 or (toll free) 
800-358-2104; facsimile: 703-358-2281; email: 
managementauthority@fws.gov; Web site: http://www.fws.gov/international.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy J. Van Norman, Chief, Branch 
of Permits, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS-IA, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; 
telephone 703-358-2104; fax 703-358-2281. If you use a 
telecommunications devise for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    To prevent the extinction of wildlife and plants, the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), and its 
implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR), prohibit any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United 
States from conducting certain activities with species listed under the 
Act unless first authorized by a permit, except as a rule issued under 
section 4(d) of the Act applies to the species. These activities 
include import, export, take, and sale or offer for sale in interstate 
or foreign commerce. The Secretary of the Interior may permit these 
activities for endangered species for scientific purposes or 
enhancement of the propagation or survival of the species, provided the 
activities are consistent with the purposes of the Act. In addition, 
for threatened species, permits may be issued for the above-listed 
activities, as well as zoological, horticultural, or botanical 
exhibition; education; and special purposes consistent with the Act. 
The Secretary of the Interior has delegated the authority to administer 
endangered and threatened species permit matters to the Director of the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service's Division of Management 
Authority administers the permit program for the import or export of 
listed species, the sale or offer for sale in interstate and foreign 
commerce for nonnative listed species, and the take of nonnative listed 
wildlife within the United States.

Previous Federal Action

    In 1979, the Service published the Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) 
regulations (44 FR 54002, September 17, 1979) to reduce Federal 
permitting requirements and facilitate captive breeding of endangered 
and threatened species under certain conditions. These conditions 
include:
    (1) A person may become registered with the Service to conduct 
otherwise prohibited activities when the activities can be shown to 
enhance the propagation or survival of the species;
    (2) Interstate commerce is authorized only when both the buyer and 
seller are registered for the same species;
    (3) The registration is only for live, mainly nonnative endangered 
or threatened wildlife that was born in captivity in the United States 
(although the Service may determine that a native species is eligible 
for the registration; to date, the only native species granted 
eligibility under the registration is the Laysan duck (Anas 
laysanensis));
    (4) Registration does not authorize activities with non-living 
wildlife, a provision that is intended to discourage the propagation of 
endangered or threatened wildlife for consumptive markets; and
    (5) The registrants are required to maintain written records of 
authorized activities and report them annually to the Service. The CBW 
registration has provided zoological institutions and breeding 
operations the ability to move animals quickly between registered 
institutions for breeding purposes.
    In 1993, the Service amended the CBW regulations at 50 CFR 17.21(g) 
(58 FR 68323, December 27, 1993) to eliminate public education through 
exhibition of living wildlife as the sole justification for the 
issuance of a CBW registration. That decision was based on the 
Service's belief that the scope of the CBW system should be revised to 
relate more closely to its original intent, i.e., the encouragement of 
responsible breeding that is specifically designed to help conserve the 
species involved (63 FR 48635; September 11, 1998).
    In 1998, the Service amended the CBW regulations (63 FR 48634, 
September 11, 1998) to delete the requirement to obtain a CBW 
registration for holders of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers 
(i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, 
Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, 
P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica, and P. t. corbetti, respectively)). 
Certain otherwise prohibited activities with these specimens were 
authorized only when the activities were shown to enhance the 
propagation or survival of the species, provided the principal purpose 
was to facilitate captive breeding. Although the submission of a 
written annual report was not required, holders of these specimens had 
to maintain

[[Page 19924]]

accurate written records of activities, including births, deaths, and 
transfers of specimens, and make the records accessible to Service 
agents for inspection at reasonable hours as provided for in 50 CFR 
13.46 and 13.47. The exemption for inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers was based on the lack of conservation value of these specimens 
due to their mixed or unknown genetic composition. The intention behind 
the exemption was for the Service to focus its oversight on populations 
of ``purebred'' animals of the various tiger subspecies to further 
their conservation in the wild, while recognizing that generic tigers 
that were currently held by zoological facilities could be used to 
educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of 
the species. Even with this exemption, inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers were still protected under the Act and those activities 
that did not constitute authorized activities under the CBW program, 
such as the interstate sale of generic tigers solely for education 
purposes or display purposes, would require prior authorization of an 
ESA permit.
    On August 22, 2011, the Service proposed to amend the CBW 
regulations that implement the Act by removing inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers from paragraph (g)(6) of 50 CFR 17.21 (76 FR 
52297). The public was provided with a 30-day comment period to submit 
their views and comments on the proposed rule. However, due to the 
large volume of comments, the Service published a notice on September 
21, 2011 (76 FR 58455), extending the comment period for an additional 
30 days. This comment period ended on October 21, 2011. Since that 
time, the Service has received no new substantive information that 
would affect this rule.

Species Status

    The wild tiger was once abundant throughout Asia. At the end of the 
19th century, an estimated 100,000 tigers occurred in the wild (Nowak 
1999, p. 828), but by the late 1990s, the estimated population had 
declined to 5,000-7,000 animals (Seidensticker et al. 1999, p. xvii). 
Today's population in the wild is thought to be 3,000-5,000 
individuals, according to the IUCN (International Union for 
Conservation of Nature) Red List estimate (Chundawat et al. 2010, 
unpaginated), with no more than 2,500 mature breeding adults 
(Williamson and Henry 2008, pp. 7, 43). The once-abundant tiger now 
lives in small, fragmented groups, mostly in protected forests, 
refuges, and national parks (FWS 2010a, p. 1). The species occupies 
only about 7 percent of its original range, and in the past decade, the 
species' range has decreased by as much as 41 percent (Dinerstein et 
al. 2007, p. 508).
    For many years, the international community has expressed concern 
about the status of tigers in the wild and the risk that captive 
tigers, if used for consumptive purposes, may sustain the demand for 
tiger parts, which would ultimately have a detrimental effect on the 
survival of the species in the wild. An estimated 5,000 captive tigers 
occur on China's commercial tiger farms, where tigers are being bred 
intensively and produce more than 800 animals each year (Williamson and 
Henry 2008, p. 40). Tiger body parts, such as organs, bones, and pelts, 
are in demand not only in China, but also on the global black market. 
Organs and bones are used in traditional medicines, which are purchased 
by consumers who believe the parts convey strength, health, and 
virility.
    Current regulations under the ESA prohibit the taking of any tiger, 
including generic tigers, and there is no clear evidence that the U.S. 
captive tiger population has played a role in illegal international 
trade. However, in 2005, Werner (p. 24) estimated that 4,692 tigers 
were held in captivity in the United States. Approximately 264 tigers 
were held in institutions registered with the Association of Zoos and 
Aquariums (AZA), 1,179 in wildlife sanctuaries, 2,120 in institutions 
registered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and 1,120 in 
private hands. In 2008, Williamson and Henry stated that as many as 
5,000 tigers are in captivity in the United States, but cautioned that, 
given the current State and Federal legal framework that regulates U.S. 
captive tigers, the exact size of the population is unknown (Williamson 
and Henry 2008).

Conservation Status

    The tiger is a species of global concern, is classified as 
endangered in the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2010), and is protected by a 
number of U.S. laws and treaties. It is listed as endangered under the 
Act. 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.'' The listing is at the species level 
and, thus, includes all subspecies of tiger (including those that are 
of unknown subspecies, referred to as ``generic'' tigers) and inter-
subspecific crosses.
    The species is also protected by the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under this 
treaty, 178 member countries (Parties) work together to ensure that 
international trade in protected species is not detrimental to the 
survival of wild populations. The United States and all the tiger range 
countries are Parties to CITES. The tiger is listed in Appendix I, 
which includes species threatened with extinction whose trade is 
permitted only under exceptional circumstances, and which generally 
precludes commercial trade. The United States has a long history of 
working within CITES to promote tiger conservation and has been a 
leader in supporting strong actions within CITES for tigers, including 
strict controls on captive-bred animals. In 2007 at the 14th meeting of 
the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP14), we were closely 
involved in drafting Decision 14.69, which calls on countries with 
intensive commercial breeding operations of tigers to implement 
measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only 
to conserving wild tigers, and for tigers not to be bred for trade in 
their parts and products. Although the decision was primarily directed 
at large commercial breeding operations such as those found in China, 
we are aware of the large number of captive tigers in the United States 
and the need to be vigilant in monitoring these tigers as well.
    The tiger is afforded additional protection under the Captive 
Wildlife Safety Act (CWSA) and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation 
Act (RTCA, 16 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.). The CWSA amended the Lacey Act (16 
U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) to address concerns about public safety and the 
growing number of big cats, including tigers, in private hands in the 
United States. The law and its regulations make it illegal to import, 
export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or 
foreign commerce any live big cats except by certain exempt entities. 
Entities exempt from the CWSA include a person, facility, or other 
entity licensed by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection 
Service under the Animal Welfare Act to possess big cats (typically 
zoos, circuses, and researchers) or registered to transport big cats; 
State colleges, universities, and agencies; State-licensed wildlife 
rehabilitators and veterinarians; and wildlife sanctuaries that meet 
certain criteria.
    The RTCA is another powerful tool in combating the international 
trade in products containing tiger parts. It prohibits the sale, 
import, and export of products intended for human use and containing, 
or labeled or advertised as

[[Page 19925]]

containing, any substance derived from tiger and provides for 
substantial criminal and civil penalties for violators. The RTCA also 
establishes a fund that allows the Service to grant money in support of 
on-the-ground tiger conservation efforts, such as anti-poaching 
programs, habitat and ecosystem management, development of nature 
reserves, wildlife surveys and monitoring, management of human-wildlife 
conflict, and public awareness campaigns (FWS 2010b. p. 1).

Concerns Raised and Recommendations

    The World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC North America, other 
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the public have expressed 
concerns about the potential role U.S. captive tigers may play, or 
could potentially play, in the trade in tiger parts. In July 2008, 
TRAFFIC published a report titled, Paper Tigers? The Role of the U.S. 
Captive Tiger Population in the Trade in Tiger Parts (Williamson and 
Henry 2008). The report found no indication that U.S. tigers currently 
are entering domestic or international trade as live animals or as 
parts and products. However, given the precarious status of tigers in 
the wild and the potential that U.S. captive tigers could enter trade 
and undermine conservation efforts, TRAFFIC made several 
recommendations to close potential loopholes in current Federal and 
State regulations to avoid the use of captive U.S. tigers in trade. One 
of those recommendations was for the Service to eliminate the exemption 
under 50 CFR 17.21(g)(6) for holders of inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers from the requirements to register and submit annual 
reports under the CBW regulations.

Summary of Comments and Our Responses

    In our proposed rule (August 22, 2011; 76 FR 52297), we asked 
interested parties to submit comments or suggestions regarding the 
proposal to eliminate inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from 
the regulation at 50 CFR 17.21(g). The original comment period for the 
proposed rule lasted for 30 days, ending September 21, 2011. The 
comment period was extended, however, on September 21, 2011 (76 FR 
58455), to allow for an additional 30 days to accommodate the large 
number of commenters. The extended comment period ended on October 21, 
2011. We received 15,199 individual comments during the two comment 
periods. The vast majority of the comments (approximately 15,000) 
either supported the proposed rule as written or stated that it was not 
strong enough to address captive breeding of inter-subspecific crossed 
or generic tigers. We received 109 comments from individuals or 
organizations that opposed the proposed rule. The remaining 79 comments 
were either irrelevant to the proposed rule or indecipherable.
    Issue 1: Approximately 14,300 comments supported the proposed rule 
as written, stated that this change in the regulations would reduce the 
level of illegal trade in both captive and wild tigers, decrease the 
possibility of captive tigers being held in inhumane conditions, and 
reduce ``rampant'' breeding of captive tigers within the United States. 
However, many of these commenters were also concerned that the change 
in the regulation would result in the possible overcrowding of 
sanctuaries or unaccredited institutions that would receive unwanted 
adult tigers.
    Our response: The change in regulations would provide for greater 
control over captive tigers within the United States. As the CBW 
regulations are currently written, individuals or institutions that 
have been housing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers could 
move tigers across State lines for commercial activities without 
registering under the CBW regulations. While these activities are 
required to be undertaken in association with a managed breeding 
program to ensure that deleterious breeding (i.e., inbreeding or 
inappropriate crosses) does not occur, we have evidence that these 
requirements may have been violated in some number of cases. Therefore, 
based on this conclusion, we are acting consistently with the purposes 
of the Act to limit the authorization of interstate commerce and 
commercial movement of tigers under the CBW regulations to situations 
where the end-use of the tiger is to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species in the wild by contributing to the conservation 
of the species.
    However, this change in regulations would not directly result in 
the control of breeding of inter-specific crossed or generic tigers. 
The Act does not regulate intrastate activities that do not result in a 
take or the noncommercial interstate movement of a listed species. The 
only intrastate activity that the Act regulates is the take (e.g., 
harming, harassing, or killing) of a listed species. Individuals or 
facilities that maintain such tigers can continue to breed tigers, sell 
them within their State, or move tigers across State lines for 
noncommercial purposes without obtaining authorization from us, as long 
as such activities do not result in a take of the species. However, it 
is possible that stricter regulation of the interstate commerce of 
these specimens may result in a reduction in breeding due to a smaller 
(i.e., intrastate only) market for generic tigers.
    It is also possible that, with this change in the CBW regulations 
and the potentially lower demand for tigers within the United States, 
individuals or facilities that currently hold inter-subspecific crossed 
or generic tigers will move their animals to sanctuaries or other zoo 
facilities, causing these facilities to become overcrowded. We do not 
believe that such movement will become a significant problem at most 
zoos and sanctuaries, which generally maintain a high standard of care 
and, in any case, are required by the Animal Welfare Act and other 
Federal and State laws and regulations to provide humane treatment for 
animals. A need may arise, however, for greater coordination between 
nongovernmental organizations, zoos, and sanctuaries to ensure that all 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers that end up in sanctuaries 
or zoos receive adequate housing and care.
    Issue 2: Of the nearly 15,000 comments that supported the rule in 
some form, 527 commenters were opposed to maintaining tigers in 
captivity at all. These commenters expressed a general belief that 
tigers should be left in the wild and that captive tigers should be 
released. While many of these comments supported the change in 
regulations as necessary, they also expressed the belief that this 
change should be only the first step that would eventually result in 
captive tigers being released into the wild and/or no longer bred in 
captivity.
    Our response: As stated above, the Act does not prohibit the 
ownership of listed species, if the activities being carried out with 
these specimens do not violate any of the prohibitions of the Act. 
Therefore, if the animals were legally purchased and moved, the Act 
does not prohibit an individual or institution from maintaining or even 
breeding tigers. While we recognize that some people are opposed to 
maintaining exotic animals in captivity, we do not have the regulatory 
authority to prohibit such activities. Further, we do not believe that 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are suitable for release in 
the wild, both because they may not be genetically compatible with wild 
populations, and because, in most cases, they are not suitably 
conditioned for survival in the wild. Such animals either might starve 
or could become a menace to livestock and humans. However, we believe 
that, under the correct circumstances, maintaining

[[Page 19926]]

listed species in captivity--including tigers--can provide a 
conservation benefit to the species through education, research, and 
scientifically based breeding programs.
    Issue 3: Many commenters (160) requested that we establish stricter 
regulations for tigers than what was proposed. Suggestions included 
establishing regulations that would prohibit anyone from holding or 
breeding tigers and allow only accredited zoos or sanctuaries to hold 
tigers. Many of these commenters expressed the desire to eliminate the 
use of tigers in circuses and animal exhibitions. The comments included 
suggestions to increase control over breeding programs and to have more 
frequent inspections of facilities to monitor for abuse or substandard 
facilities. Some commenters suggested microchipping all captive tigers. 
Some comments recommended stiffer penalties for poachers within the 
tiger native range.
    Our response: As stated previously, the Act prohibits certain 
activities with listed species, but does not prohibit every activity 
that could involve such species. The Act does not regulate ownership or 
what an owner may do with a tiger as long as the owner obtained the 
tiger legally and does not harm or kill the tiger or engage in 
interstate commerce with the animal. We cannot establish regulations 
that go beyond the prohibitions of the Act, such as limiting ownership 
or breeding of tigers only to certain institutions or individuals. 
Anyone may engage in these activities if he or she otherwise complies 
with all other provisions of the Act, and as long as the actions are 
legal under other applicable laws (e.g., those of the State in which 
the activities take place).
    When we issue a permit or other authorization under the Act for 
otherwise prohibited activities, we do have the authority to conduct 
periodic inspections or otherwise have oversight of permitted 
activities. This authority, however, does not extend to activities 
outside the scope of the Act or for activities that are not regulated 
by the Act. Therefore, we do not have the ability to conduct regular 
inspections of breeding operations that do not require authorization 
from us. This type of inspection may be possible in some cases under 
the Animal Welfare Act, which is implemented by the USDA, but is 
outside the scope of this regulation. However, if we have evidence of 
illegal activity, we have the authority to carry out criminal 
investigations of any facility, whether or not it is permitted.
    While we could require microchipping of tigers at a facility that 
has obtained a permit or other authorization from the Service, we 
cannot require the microchipping of all tigers within the United 
States. Microchipping some tigers may give us the ability to track the 
movement of live animals that are involved in interstate commerce (an 
otherwise prohibited activity), but we would not be able to track live 
tigers that do not fall under our jurisdiction. Further, microchipping 
is unlikely to assist us in investigating the illegal movement of tiger 
parts within the United States. We also do not have the authority or 
the resources to monitor and record the birth, death, or transfer of 
all tigers in the United States. Microchipping a portion of the captive 
tigers in the United States for tracking purposes might give us a 
limited picture of the movement and ownership of these animals in the 
United States, but we do not believe that any limited benefits would 
outweigh the cost and administrative burden of microchipping and 
tracking these animals.
    We strongly encourage and support programs established by tiger 
range countries to control and ultimately eliminate poaching of wild 
tigers. We have been able to fund a variety of anti-poaching programs 
through various grant programs, including grants under the RTCA. We 
have also been actively involved in efforts through CITES to assist 
range countries in monitoring and controlling illegal trade in tigers. 
We do not have any authority, however, to establish stricter 
regulations regarding poaching in other countries.
    Issue 4: One commenter was of the opinion that the exemption from 
the CBW registration process violated section 10(c) of the Act since it 
did not allow the public an opportunity to comment on the merits of 
activities involving inter-specific crossed or generic tigers.
    Our response: By removing the exemption and requiring the 
submission of an application to either request a permit or register 
under the CBW regulations, the public will now have an opportunity to 
comment on the merits of any application to conduct otherwise 
prohibited activities with tigers.
    Issue 5: Many commenters (109) were opposed to removing the 
exemption. In general, they believe that inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers contribute to conservation primarily through education, 
but also by acting as a source of tigers within the United States. Many 
of these commenters felt that requiring registration under the CBW 
regulations or requiring a permit to conduct otherwise prohibited 
activities would ultimately lead to the demise of captive tigers in the 
United States. Many of these commenters expressed their concern that 
wild tigers will go extinct in the near future due to habitat loss and 
poaching, and, therefore, captive-bred tigers are needed to ensure that 
the species does not go extinct.
    Our response: The CBW regulations facilitate the captive breeding 
of species listed under the Act for conservation purposes by allowing 
registrants to conduct interstate commerce and move specimens across 
State lines. The Service recognizes that well-managed breeding programs 
focusing on specific subspecies and that maintain good genetic 
diversity among the specimens within the breeding program can provide a 
long-term benefit to listed species by producing a pool of viable 
candidates for future reintroduction. We have also stated in the 1998 
final rule exempting inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from 
the CBW registration process (63 FR 48638) that inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers should not be used for conservation-oriented 
breeding, but could be used for exhibition in a manner designed to 
educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of 
the species.
    The Act does not regulate intrastate activities other than take, 
such as ownership and breeding, nor does it regulate noncommercial 
interstate transfers of listed species (e.g., gifts, loans, and 
exchanges of animals of the same species for genetic management 
purposes). Removing the exemption for inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers from the CBW regulations will require anyone who is 
selling an inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger across State 
lines to either register under the CBW regulations or obtain an 
interstate commerce permit. The Service does not believe that the 
action taken in this final rule will adversely affect the conservation 
breeding of tigers within the United States, nor lead to the demise of 
captive tigers within the United States.
    Issue 6: Several commenters expressed the opinion that enough laws 
or restrictions are already in place to ensure that the legality of 
activities carried out with tigers. Two commenters pointed directly to 
the RTCA as a powerful tool to combat illegal trade of tiger parts 
within the United States. These commenters stated that, since there is 
no proof of the use of U.S. captive tigers in traditional medicines, 
the Service does not need to impose additional regulations on tiger 
breeders in the United States. Five commenters

[[Page 19927]]

felt that, because there is no proof of such illegal trade within the 
United States, such trade is not a threat, and, therefore, this rule is 
arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.
    Our response: While we agree with the commenters on the benefits of 
the RTCA in combating illegal trade in tiger parts, we do not agree 
that the existing regulations adequately provide for the conservation 
of tigers. With the exemption for inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers, it was difficult to determine whether activities involving 
tigers were legal because there was no requirement for a permit or 
other authorization. Monitoring of activities was also hampered by our 
inability to determine if tigers bred and sold under the exemption were 
actually inter-subspecific crossed or generic animals. By removing the 
exemption, we are reinstating regulations that already cover most other 
endangered and threatened species, thus ensuring better oversight and 
monitoring. This requirement will be another tool that can be used, in 
conjunction with the RTCA and other laws, to curb potentially illegal 
activities within the United States. While we have no evidence 
indicating that captive tigers are currently being illegally killed for 
their parts within the United States, we believe that, if wild tiger 
populations continue to decline, demand for captive tigers and their 
parts may increase. The final rule is reasonable in light of this 
potential threat and evidence of continuing declines in tiger 
population and range, and we have fully explained our reasons for 
removing the exemption.
    Issue 7: Two commenters felt that we made contradictory statements 
in the proposed rule when we said that individuals who wished to carry 
out otherwise prohibited activities with inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers would need to register under the CBW regulations, but 
then also stated that we did not believe the breeding of inter-
subspecific crossed or generic tigers provided a conservation benefit. 
In other words, they concluded that we would not actually register 
anyone with inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers because of our 
perceived lack of conservation value of such animals.
    Our response: The commenters are correct that we do not believe 
that breeding inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, in and of 
itself, provides a conservation benefit, since the tigers are of 
unknown or mixed genetic origin. As such, inter-subspecific crossed or 
generic tigers would not be good candidates for a well-managed 
conservation-oriented breeding program. In addition, it is unlikely 
that we would register an operation for the sole purpose of selling 
tigers across State lines, since a CBW registration is for the purpose 
of exchanging stock with other breeders or to hold surplus animals not 
needed for a breeding program. This does not mean, however, that we 
could not authorize individual permits if the activity being conducted 
enhanced the propagation or survival of the species in the wild. Under 
our regulations, it is possible to authorize interstate commerce for an 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger if the parties involved in 
the transaction are carrying out activities that enhance the 
propagation or survival of the species. While it is unlikely that such 
a commercial transaction would provide a direct benefit to the species, 
such as reintroduction, there may be indirect benefits that could be 
obtained from the transaction.
    It should also be noted that the requirement to show that 
authorizing an otherwise prohibited activity, such as interstate 
commerce, could be met through an individual or institution, or a group 
of individuals or institutions together, working to provide a benefit 
to the species in the wild. For example, if one or more zoological 
institutions were purchasing inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers for educational and display purposes, they could provide support 
(e.g., via the solicitation of donations from visitors) to carry out 
in-situ conservation efforts in the tiger's native range. The Service 
prefers a clear, ongoing commitment of several years on the part of the 
applicant to provide in-situ conservation or research support. This 
ongoing commitment could be fulfilled by a group of institutions 
working together to maximize their resources for the benefit of tigers 
in the wild.
    Issue 8: Several commenters stated that inter-subspecific crossed 
or generic tigers have an educational value and, therefore, should 
still be exempt from the CBW registration to ensure that this benefit 
could continue. Many of these commenters felt that inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers are ``ambassadors'' for the wild tiger and 
its conservation. One commenter stated that availability of such tigers 
within the United States removed pressure on wild populations to supply 
animals for exhibition purposes. One commenter, noting that the Service 
previously excluded education as a sole justification for registration 
under the CBW regulations, questioned the basis of this exclusion.
    Our response: This rule does not address whether the display of 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers has an educational value. 
It is possible that a professionally developed education program using 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers could indirectly benefit 
the wild populations of tigers by raising public awareness of the 
plight of the tiger. Furthermore, no permit or other authorization, 
including a CBW registration, is necessary to conduct educational 
programs with such tigers, including crossing State lines to make 
presentations involving the animals. Given the number of inter-
subspecific crossed or generic tigers within the United States, the 
commenter is correct that wild-caught tigers are not in demand for 
educational purposes. The purpose of this rule, however, is to 
reestablish the monitoring and oversight benefits of the CBW 
regulations to all specimens of tigers, not just purebred specimens.
    On December 27, 1993, the Service published a final rule (58 FR 
68323) that eliminated public education through exhibition of living 
wildlife as the sole justification for issuing a CBW registration under 
Sec.  17.21(g). As one commenter correctly pointed out, the Service 
made the statement in the 1998 final rule exempting inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers from the CBW registration process (63 FR 
48638) that inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers should not be 
used to enhance the propagation of the species, but could be used for 
exhibition in a manner designed to educate the public about the 
ecological role and conservation needs of the species. While 
individuals are not precluded from continuing to provide educational 
opportunities to the public through the display of inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers, an educational purpose alone is not enough 
to support CBW registration per the 1993 rule. The basis for excluding 
education as the sole justification for a CBW registration was 
discussed in the final rule on that issue (58 FR 68323) and is outside 
the scope of this rulemaking.
    Issue 9: Two commenters raised questions about the listing status 
of the inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger. One commenter 
questioned whether inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers meet the 
standard of listing under the Act and, therefore, whether they are 
properly subject to regulation by the Service. Another commenter 
proposed that inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers within the 
United States are a new subspecies, the ``American tiger.'' This 
commenter provided a description of six ``varieties'' of ``American 
tigers'' that should be, as a group, a new subspecies.

[[Page 19928]]

    Our response: Whether these animals meet the listing criteria under 
section 4 of the Act is an issue outside the scope of this rulemaking 
process. Whether inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers within the 
United States would constitute a separate subspecies is a matter that 
should be addressed by taxonomists and is, therefore, outside the scope 
of this rulemaking process as well. However, currently the tiger is 
listed at the species level, not at the subspecies level, so all tiger 
specimens are covered by the listing.
    Issue 10: One commenter noted a study by the National Cancer 
Institute that found that one ``generic'' tiger in seven is actually a 
purebred member of a recognized subspecies, raising the question of how 
individuals can determine if their tiger is pure or an inter-
subspecific crossed or generic tiger. Another commenter raised the 
question of whether this rule would require genetic testing of tigers 
and how the cost of that testing would be covered.
    Our response: The first commenter was probably referring to a study 
published in 2008 in Current Biology \1\ that found 14-23 percent 
(approximately 1 in 7 or more) of the ``generic'' tigers tested were 
shown to have a verifiable subspecies ancestry (i.e., they are a pure 
subspecies). The tigers tested in this study came from locations in the 
United States and abroad. We note that our definition of ``generic 
tiger'' includes animals of unknown lineage. It is entirely possible 
that some animals of unknown lineage actually have a pure subspecies 
lineage, but the lack of information on their origin requires that they 
be treated as unknown for the purposes of conservation breeding.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Shu-Jin Luo, Warren E. Johnson, Janice Martenson, Agostinho 
Antunes, Paolo Martelli, Olga Uphyrkina, Kathy Traylor-Holzer, James 
L.D. Smith and Stephen J. O'Brien. 2008. ``Subspecies Genetic 
Assignments of Worldwide Captive Tigers Increase Conservation Value 
of Captive Populations''. Current Biology, 18, 592-596.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Since pure and generic tigers would be treated the same in regards 
to permits issued under 50 CFR 17.22 (i.e., interstate and foreign 
commerce, take, import, or export), there would be no requirement to 
test tigers within the United States. However, if the owner of a 
breeding operation wished to become a CBW registrant, that person would 
need to show how the tigers he or she holds would contribute to the 
genetic management of the species within the United States. If the 
owner is unable to document the source and, therefore, subspecies of 
their tigers, it may be necessary to conduct genetic testing on his/her 
tigers to prove that they are not inter-specific crossed animals. The 
cost of such testing would be his/her responsibility.
    Issue 11: One commenter questioned the value of maintaining pure 
subspecies in captivity as a potential pool for reintroduction purposes 
if the plight of the wild tiger is so dire. The commenter's presumption 
was that zoos and private breeders do not have the capacity to maintain 
sufficient numbers of pure subspecies to provide enough specimens if 
reintroduction is needed. It is unclear whether the commenter meant 
that a need might develop to use tigers of mixed or unknown genetic 
ancestry for reintroduction purposes and that the survival of the 
species may rely on such tigers. However, the commenter expressed the 
view that efforts by the Service to limit the breeding of inter-
subspecific crossed or generic tigers are counterintuitive to the 
conservation of the species.
    Our response: The generally accepted approach to the captive 
breeding of tigers--or of any species--for conservation purposes is to 
maintain separate viable populations of each subspecies and to avoid, 
where possible, breeding tigers of unknown or questionable genetic 
heritage. Adequacy of founder representation and minimum viable 
population sizes are issues to be determined by conservation biologists 
and vary depending on the biological characteristics of the species, 
and are outside the scope of this rulemaking. The purpose of this rule 
is to establish a single approach to monitoring the otherwise 
prohibited activities involving any tiger within the United States.
    Issue 12: One commenter felt that the display of inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers could generate funds for in-situ conservation 
efforts and should, therefore, be encouraged.
    Our response: We agree that the display of tigers, whether purebred 
subspecies or tigers of unknown genetic ancestry, could generate funds 
and resources for in-situ conservation efforts. This rule does not 
limit nor is it intended to discourage in-situ conservation efforts. 
The rule only provides the same level of monitoring and oversight for 
all tigers within the United States to ensure that activities carried 
out with this species are legal and consistent with the purposes of the 
Act.

Removal of Inter-subspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers from 50 CFR 
17.21(g)(6)

    We are amending the CBW regulations that implement the Act by 
removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger (Panthera tigris) 
(i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, 
Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, 
P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica, and P. t. corbetti, respectively)) from 
paragraph (g)(6) of 50 CFR 17.21. This action eliminates the exemption 
from registering and reporting under the CBW regulations by persons who 
want to conduct otherwise prohibited activities under the Act with 
live, inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers born in the United 
States. This action does not alter the current listing of tigers. 
Inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers remain listed as endangered 
under the Act, and a person would need to qualify for an exemption or 
obtain an authorization under the remaining statutory and regulatory 
requirements to conduct any prohibited activities.
    We are changing the regulations to ensure that we maintain stricter 
control over the commercial movement and sale of captive tigers in the 
United States. As stated in the comment section, we do not believe that 
breeding inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, in and of itself, 
provides a conservation benefit for the long-term survival of the 
species. Inter-subspecific tiger crosses and animals of unknown genetic 
ancestry could not be used for maintaining genetic viability and 
distinctness of specific tiger subspecies. Tigers of unknown or mixed 
genetic origin are typically not maintained in a manner to ensure that 
inbreeding or other inappropriate matings of animals do not occur. By 
exempting inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the CBW 
registration process in 1998, we had inadvertently suggested that the 
breeding of these tigers, in and of itself, qualifies as conservation. 
By removing the exemption, we reinforce the value of conservation 
breeding of individual tiger subspecies through the CBW program.
    As stated in the proposed rule, we are unaware of any evidence that 
tiger parts are entering into trade from the captive U.S. population of 
tigers. However, we recognize that the use of tiger parts and products, 
including in traditional medicine, poses a significant threat to wild 
tiger populations. The United States has worked vigorously with other 
CITES countries to encourage not only the adoption of measures to 
protect wild tiger populations from poaching and illegal trade, but 
also the implementation of measures to ensure that breeding of tigers 
in captivity supports conservation goals and that tigers are not bred 
for trade in parts and products. While we do not have

[[Page 19929]]

evidence that parts from captive-bred tigers in the United States are 
currently entering into international trade, we believe that demand for 
tiger parts could increase in the future. This threat, combined with 
the precarious status of tigers in the wild, lead us to conclude that 
the oversight provided by this final rule will benefit the species.
    The previous CBW exemption also created enforcement difficulties. 
Specifically, law enforcement cases have hinged on whether activities 
the Service has identified as illegal were actually exempted under the 
current regulations. By removing the exemption, persons engaged in 
otherwise prohibited activities will need to obtain a permit or 
register under the CBW program, giving the Service greater ability to 
bring enforcement cases for violations involving tigers.
    It should be stressed, however, that removing the exemption for 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers would not result in 
regulations by the Service of ownership, intrastate commerce, or 
noncommercial movement of these tigers across State lines, as long as 
they are not killed or harmed. These activities are not prohibited by 
the Act, and we have no authority to prohibit or otherwise regulate 
them.
    Finally, we reorganized paragraph (g)(6), redesignating 
subparagraphs to make the section clearer. With the exception of 
removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers, the text is 
essentially the same as it previously appeared in 50 CFR 17.21(g)(6).

Required Determinations

    Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563): 
Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will 
review all significant rules. OIRA has determined that this rule is 
significant because it may create a serious inconsistency or otherwise 
interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further 
that regulations must be based on the best available science and that 
the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open 
exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent 
with these requirements.
    Regulatory Flexibility Act: Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
(as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever a Federal agency is required to publish a 
notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare 
and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis 
that describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions) (5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is 
required if the head of an agency certifies that the rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Thus, for a regulatory flexibility analysis to be required, 
impacts must exceed a threshold for ``significant impact'' and a 
threshold for a ``substantial number of small entities.'' See 5 U.S.C. 
605(b). SBREFA amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require 
Federal agencies to provide a statement of the factual basis for 
certifying that a rule would not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities.
    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small 
business as one with annual revenue or employment that meets or is 
below an established size standard. We expect that the majority of the 
entities involved in taking, exporting, re-importing, and selling in 
interstate or foreign commerce of inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers would be considered small as defined by the SBA.
    Currently, businesses conducting activities with inter-subspecific 
crossed or generic tigers are exempt from registration under the CBW 
regulations, if the activities are consistent with the purposes of the 
ESA and CBW program. This rule would require businesses that are 
otherwise carrying out these activities to apply for authorization 
under the Act and pay an application fee of $100 for a one-time 
interstate commerce permit or $200 to register under the CBW program 
(valid for 5 years).
    Currently, there is no Federal or State mechanism in place that 
tracks or monitors the extent of business activities involving generic 
tigers. With the exemption from registration by facilities that are 
conducting activities in compliance with the current CBW regulations, 
FWS does not have data on how many businesses are involved in the 
interstate commerce of generic tigers, the number of businesses for 
which an interstate commerce permit or registration in the CBW program 
will be a viable option, and the economic impacts if prospective 
applicants are unable to either secure an interstate commerce permit or 
registration in the CBW program. While the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture regulates some aspects of holding large cats like tigers, 
their authority does not extend to all facilities that maintain tigers. 
As such, there is not a centralized database or collection of data that 
would identify the number of facilities within the United States. While 
some State governments may monitor or even regulate some aspects of 
holding tigers, either pure-bred or generic, there is not a universal 
approach that would render any significant data on those facilities 
that hold tigers throughout the United States. Nonetheless, based on 
the comments received during the public comment period, FWS anticipates 
that the number of affected small businesses is small and either 
registration in the CBW program or an interstate commerce permit will 
be a viable option at a modest expense. Therefore, the regulatory 
change is not major in scope and will create only a modest financial or 
paperwork burden on the affected members of the public.
    We, therefore, certify that this rule would not have a significant 
economic effect on a substantial number of small entities as defined 
under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). A 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required. Accordingly, a Small 
Entity Compliance Guide is not required.
    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act: This rule is 
not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
    a. Would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more. This rule removes the inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers from the exemption to register under the CBW regulations. 
Individuals and captive-breeding operations would need to obtain 
endangered species permits or other authorization to engage in certain 
otherwise prohibited activities. This rule would not have a negative 
effect on the economy. It will affect all businesses, whether large or 
small, the same. There is not a disproportionate share of benefits for 
small or large businesses.
    b. Would not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers;

[[Page 19930]]

individual industries; Federal, State, tribal, or local government 
agencies; or geographic regions. This rule would result in a small 
increase in the number of applications for permits or other 
authorizations to conduct otherwise prohibited activities with inter-
subspecific crossed or generic tigers.
    c. Would not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.
    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (2 U.S.C. 1501, et seq.):
    a. This rule would not significantly or uniquely affect small 
governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not required.
    b. This rule would not produce a Federal requirement of $100 
million or greater in any year and is not a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    Takings: Under Executive Order 12630, this rule would not have 
significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is 
not required. This rule is not considered to have takings implications 
because it allows individuals to obtain authorization for otherwise 
prohibited activities with the inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers when issuance criteria are met.
    Federalism: This revision to part 17 does not contain significant 
Federalism implications. A Federalism Assessment under Executive Order 
13132 is not required.
    Civil Justice Reform: Under Executive Order 12988, the Office of 
the Solicitor has determined that this rule does not unduly burden the 
judicial system and meets the requirements of subsections 3(a) and 
3(b)(2) of the Order.
    Paperwork Reduction Act: This rule does not contain any new 
information collections or recordkeeping requirements for which Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) approval is required under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). OMB has reviewed and 
approved the information collection requirements for the Division of 
Management Authority's permit program and assigned OMB Control Number 
1018-0093, which expires May 31, 2017. We may not conduct or sponsor 
and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.
    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): The Service has 
determined that this action is a regulatory change that is 
administrative and procedural in nature. This rule requires that 
persons engaging in otherwise prohibited activities with inter-
subspecific crossed or generic tigers register under the CBW 
regulations at 50 CFR 17.21(g), but does not change the standards in 
regard to prohibited activities or exemptions from these prohibitions 
in any way. Previously, any otherwise prohibited activity with an 
inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger had to be for the purpose of 
enhancing the propagation or survival of the species, and that standard 
has not changed. Other requirements such as limitations with respect to 
nonliving wildlife, identification of animals to be re-imported, 
requirements for animals to be permanently exported, and recordkeeping 
requirements have not changed. The difference is that persons 
conducting these activities with inter-subspecific crossed or generic 
tigers that previously did not have to register will now have to 
register with the Service. As such, the amendment is categorically 
excluded from further NEPA review as provided by 43 CFR 46.210(i), of 
the Department of the Interior Implementation of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 final rule (73 FR 61292; October 15, 
2008). No further documentation will be made.
    Government-to-Government Relationship with Tribes: Under the 
President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, ``Government-to-Government 
Relations with Native American Tribal Governments'' (59 FR 22951) and 
512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on federally recognized 
Indian Tribes and have determined that there are no effects.
    Energy Supply, Distribution or Use: Executive Order 13211 pertains 
to regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, 
and use. This rule would not significantly affect energy supplies, 
distribution, and use. Therefore, this action is a not a significant 
energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is required.
    Data Quality Act: In developing this rule, we did not conduct or 
use a study, experiment, or survey requiring peer review under the Data 
Quality Act (Pub. L. 106-554).

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R9-IA-
2011-0027 and upon request from the person listed in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons given in the preamble, we are amending part 17, 
subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
as follows:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

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

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


0
2. Amend Sec.  17.21 by revising paragraph (g)(6) to read as set forth 
below:


Sec.  17.21  Prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (6) Exemption from registration requirement. (i) If the conditions 
in paragraph (g)(6)(ii) of this section are met, then any person 
subject to the jurisdiction of the United States seeking to engage in 
any of the activities authorized by paragraph (g)(1) of this section 
may do so without first registering with the Service with respect to 
the following species:
    (A) The bar-tailed pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae), Elliot's pheasant 
(S. ellioti), Mikado pheasant (S. mikado), brown eared pheasant 
(Crossoptilon mantchuricum), white eared pheasant (C. crossoptilon), 
cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichii), Edward's pheasant (Lophura 
edwardsi), Swinhoe's pheasant (L. swinhoii), Chinese monal (Lophophorus 
lhuysii), and Palawan peacock pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum);
    (B) Parakeets of the species Neophema pulchella and N. splendida;
    (C) The Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis); and
    (D) The white-winged wood duck (Cairina scutulata).
    (ii) Conditions for exemption to register. The following conditions 
must exist for persons dealing with the species listed in paragraph 
(g)(6)(i) of this section to be eligible for exemption from the 
requirement to register with the Service:
    (A) The purpose of the activity is to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the affected exempted species.
    (B) Such activity does not involve interstate or foreign commerce, 
in the course of a commercial activity, with respect to nonliving 
wildlife.
    (C) Each specimen to be reimported is uniquely identified by a 
band, tattoo, or other means that was reported in writing to an 
official of the Service at a

[[Page 19931]]

port of export prior to export of the specimen from the United States.
    (D) No specimens of the taxa in paragraph (g)(6)(i) of this section 
that were taken from the wild may be imported for breeding purposes 
absent a definitive showing that the need for new bloodlines can be met 
only by wild specimens, that suitable foreign-bred, captive individuals 
are unavailable, and that wild populations can sustain limited taking. 
In addition, an import permit must be issued under Sec.  17.22.
    (E) Any permanent exports of such specimens meet the requirements 
of paragraph (g)(4) of this section.
    (F) Each person claiming the benefit of the exception in paragraph 
(g)(1) of this section must maintain accurate written records of 
activities, including births, deaths, and transfers of specimens, and 
make those records accessible to Service agents for inspection at 
reasonable hours as set forth in Sec. Sec.  13.46 and 13.47 of this 
chapter.
* * * * *

    Dated: March 24, 2016.
Michael J. Bean,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2016-07762 Filed 4-5-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P