Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Scarlet Macaw, 6278-6311 [2019-03165]

Download as PDF 6278 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R9–ES–2012–0039; 4500030113] RIN 1018–BC81 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Scarlet Macaw Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) is an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended; the northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) is a threatened species under the Act, and the southern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) to be threatened species based on similarity of appearance. We are also establishing a rule pursuant to section 4(d) of the Act for the A. m. macao subspecies and subspecies crosses to provide for its further conservation. DATES: This rule is effective March 28, 2019. ADDRESSES: Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparation of this rule, are available for public inspection at https:// www.regulations.gov. SUMMARY: Don Morgan, Chief, Branch of Delisting and Foreign Species, Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS:ES, Falls Church, VA 22041; telephone 703–358– 2444. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877– 8339. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, a species may warrant protection through listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species can only be completed by issuing a rule. On July 6, 2012, we published in the Federal Register (FR) a 12-month VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 finding on a petition to list the scarlet macaw. We determined the scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) did not warrant listing under the Act at the species level but found the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) and the northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the southern subspecies (A. m. macao) warranted listing and issued a proposed rule to list those entities as endangered under the Act (77 FR 40222). On April 7, 2016, we published a revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302) maintaining the proposed endangered status for A. m. cyanoptera, but (1) revising the proposed listing determination for the northern DPS of the southern subspecies (A. m. macao) from endangered to threatened; and (2) proposing to treat the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses as threatened based on similarity of appearance to A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao. We also proposed a rule under section 4(d) of the Act (a ‘‘4(d) rule’’) that incorporated the prohibitions and provisions of 50 CFR 17.31 and 17.32 that we found necessary and advisable for the species’ conservation. This rule lists the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. cyanoptera) as an endangered species, the northern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) as a threatened species, and the southern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as a threatened species due to similarity of appearance under the Act. This rule also establishes a 4(d) rule for those listed as threatened species to further provide for the species’ conservation. The basis for our action. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of the following factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. The primary causes attributed to the decline of the scarlet macaw (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) include habitat loss and forest degradation (Factor A), poaching for the pet trade (Factor B), lack of enforcement of existing regulations (Factor D), and small population size (Factor E). Section 4(d) of the Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to extend to threatened species the PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 prohibitions provided for endangered species under section 9 of the Act. For threatened species, section 4(d) of the Act gives the Service discretion to specify the prohibitions and any exceptions to those prohibitions that are appropriate for the species, as well as include provisions that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. A rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act allows us to include provisions that are tailored to the specific conservation needs of that threatened species. Our implementing regulations for threatened wildlife found at 50 CFR 17.31 incorporate the section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife, except where a species-specific rule is promulgated under 4(d) of the Act. While we proposed to rescind this provision last summer (83 FR 35174; July 25, 2018), that proposal has not been finalized at this time. Peer review and public comment. We sought comments from independent specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We invited peer reviewers and the public to comment on our listing proposals. All substantive information from peer review and public comments was fully considered and is incorporated into this final rule, where appropriate. Previous Federal Actions Please refer to the proposed listing rule, published in the Federal Register on July 6, 2012 (77 FR 40222), for more comprehensive information on previous Federal actions for the scarlet macaw. The publication of the proposed listing rule opened a 60-day public comment period, which closed on September 4, 2012. Based on new information, we published a revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016) to make the following changes to our proposed rule: (1) Revise the location of what we consider to be the boundary between the two subspecies of A. macao; (2) provide additional information on the species in northeast Costa Rica, southeast Nicaragua, and Panama, and reevaluating the status of A. m. cyanoptera; (3) provide additional information on the northern DPS of A. m. macao, reevaluating the status of this DPS, and revise our proposed listing of this DPS from endangered status to threatened status; (4) add a proposal to treat the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera) as threatened based on similarity of appearance to A. m. cyanoptera and to the northern DPS of A. m. macao; and E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations (5) add a proposed rule pursuant to section 4(d) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) to define the prohibitions and exceptions that apply to scarlet macaws listed as threatened. That revised proposed rule also opened a 60-day public comment period, which closed on June 6, 2016. Summary of Changes From the Revised Proposed Rule In this final rule, and based on public comments, we incorporate additional information regarding the distribution of scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Specifically, we include information pertaining to reintroduction programs occurring throughout the range of Ara macao cyanoptera, and we include information that indicates the populations in Costa Rica in the northern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) are likely increasing. We also took into account the relevant information from eBird into our analysis regarding the distribution of the species. Summary of Comments and Recommendations We reviewed all comments we received from peer reviewers and the public for substantive issues and new information. All substantive information from peer review and public comments has been fully considered and is incorporated into this final rule, where appropriate. We received 282 public comments combined on the proposed and revised proposed rules to list the scarlet macaw under the Act during their respective comment periods. Some of the comments we received were similar to comments that we received previously for the proposed rule; therefore, we only address these comments once in this final rule. See the Substantive Changes to the Proposed Rule section in the revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016). The following section summarizes information and issues raised in the public comments and provides our responses. Comment (1): Several commenters stated that listing the scarlet macaw will hurt U.S. businesses such as aviculture, pet food and supply companies, and veterinarians. Our Response: Determinations on whether a species should be added to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants are based on whether the species meets the definition of ‘‘endangered species’’ or of ‘‘threatened species’’ in section 3 of the Act. The Act directs the Service to make these determinations solely on the basis VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 of the best scientific and commercial data available. Therefore, we may not consider economic impacts when determining the status of a species. We understand that listing the scarlet macaw will have an effect on those involved in the pet bird industry, especially bird breeders. The 4(d) rule that we are putting in place streamlines the permitting process by extending certain prohibitions but deferring to existing laws (CITES and the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) that are protective of scarlet macaws (A. m. macao and subspecies crosses) in the course of import and export and by not requiring permits under the Act for certain types of activities. Additionally, we are not prohibiting the interstate commerce of scarlet macaws (A. m. macao and subspecies crosses) within the United States (see 4(d) Rule, below). Comment (2): Several commenters stated that reducing the availability of captive birds by listing the species under the Act may lead to an increase of wild-caught birds for the pet trade. Our Response: We do not anticipate that listing the scarlet macaw under the Act will further reduce the availability of captive birds or lead to an increase of wild-caught birds for the pet trade. The scarlet macaw is listed in Appendix I of CITES, which is an international agreement among governments to ensure that the international trade of CITES-listed plants and animals does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. Trade must be authorized through a system of permits and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES Scientific and Management Authorities of each CITES Party. For species included in CITES Appendix I, international trade is permitted only under exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. The United States implements CITES through the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 23. It is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to engage in any trade in any specimens contrary to the provisions of CITES, or to possess any specimens traded contrary to the provisions of CITES, the Act, or our implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 23. Protections for CITES-listed species are provided independently of whether a species is an endangered species or a threatened species under the Act. Two other laws in the United States apart from the Act also already provide protection from the illegal import of wild-caught birds into the United States: The WBCA and the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42–43; 16 U.S.C. 3371–3378). The WBCA ensures that exotic bird species PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6279 are not harmed by international trade and encourages wild bird conservation programs in countries of origin. Under the WBCA and our implementing regulations (50 CFR 15.11), it is unlawful to import into the United States any exotic bird species listed under CITES except under certain circumstances. The Service may issue permits to allow import of listed birds for scientific research, zoological breeding or display, cooperative breeding, or personal pet purposes, when the applicant meets certain criteria (50 CFR 15.22–15.25). Under the Lacey Act, in part, it is unlawful: (1) To import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish, or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law; or (2) to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law. Similarly, under the Lacey Act it is unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase specimens of this species traded contrary to CITES. Based in large part on the protection from illegal and legal trade afforded to the scarlet macaw by CITES, the WBCA, and the Lacey Act, the best available data indicate that the current threat from trade to the scarlet macaw stems mainly from illegal trade in the domestic markets within Central and South America (Weston and Memon 2009, pp. 77–80; Shanee 2012, pp. 4–9). Additionally, interstate commerce within the United States is not a current threat to the scarlet macaw and will not affect any efforts to recover wild populations. Therefore, we do not anticipate that listing the scarlet macaw under the Act will further reduce the availability of captive-bred birds or lead to an increase of wild-caught birds since those birds are already regulated by existing laws. This 4(d) rule, in large part, adopts the framework of those laws. Comment (3): Several commenters stated that at least 25 States adopt the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants to their State list, which they claim would make it illegal to possess scarlet macaws or its feathers. The commenters stated that these laws do not include ‘‘grandfathering,’’ which means that those who have scarlet macaws prior to the listing and live in one of these States would be in violation of the law immediately once the listing is effective. E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6280 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Our Response: Ownership of a listed species is not prohibited by the Act and therefore, does not require a permit. We further note that, under section 9(b)(1) it is not unlawful to import or export a scarlet macaw that was held in captivity prior to the date of this final rule provided that its holding was not in the course of commercial activity. Further, while we have certainly not conducted an in-depth study on the various provisions of state law, we observe that under Article I of the United States Constitution, retroactive application of a law is permitted only in extraordinary cases. Ex post facto laws (or laws that criminalize conduct that was legal when originally performed) are generally prohibited. However, we acknowledge that we have no discretion over regulations that certain States implement regarding federally listed wildlife and plants. Comment (4): A few commenters stated that breeders and pet owners in the United States have been supplying feathers through sales or trade to Native American artisans, and the Service should find a way to accommodate feather and art sales within the United States because these artisans make ceremonial products to support themselves and their tribes. Our Response: The 4(d) rule will apply to all commercial and noncommercial international shipments of live and dead scarlet macaws, the southern subspecies of A. m. macao and subspecific crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera), and their parts and products, including the import and export of personal pets and research samples. In most instances, the 4(d) rule adopts existing regulatory requirements of CITES and the WBCA as the appropriate regulatory provisions for the import and export of scarlet macaws. Under the 4(d) rule, a person may deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship A. m. macao and subspecies crosses in interstate commerce in the course of a commercial activity, or sell or offer to sell in interstate commerce without a permit under the Act (see 4(d) rule, below). Therefore, the 4(d) rule would allow individuals to engage in certain commercial activities with A. m. macao and subspecies crosses that could provide Tribal artisans materials to make their products. The 4(d) rule does not include subspecies A. m. cyanoptera that is listed as endangered, and therefore, all the prohibitions of 50 CFR 17.31 apply to this subspecies. While the Act does not prohibit intrastate (within a state) sale of a listed species, it does prohibit interstate (between states) commercial sale, unless a buyer obtains a permit. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Permits for prohibited activities, such as interstate sale, import and export, can be issued for endangered species if the activities enhance the propagation or survival of the species in the wild. Additionally, a breeder could obtain a Captive-bred Wildlife Registration (CBW), which would authorize interstate commerce. However, it must be shown that the sale enhances the propagation or survival of the affected species and the principal purpose is to facilitate conservation breeding and not for the sale of protected species as pets. Comment (5): Several commenters stated that the Endangered Species Act is designed to protect domestic species only, and listing scarlet macaws under the Act does not address the main cause of decline for the species, which is habitat destruction in the species’ native countries. Our Response: The broad definitions of ‘‘species,’’ ‘‘fish or wildlife,’’ and ‘‘plant’’ in section 3 of the Act do not differentiate between species native to the United States, species native to both the United States and one or more other countries, and species not native to the United States. Further, sections 4(b)(1)(A) and 4(b)(1)(B)(i) expressly require the Service to consider efforts by a foreign nation prior to making a listing determination. Additionally, the findings and purposes at sections 2(a)(4), 2(a)(5), and 2(b) also speak to the application of the Act to meet the United States international commitments under treaties and conventions, and numerous provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations refer to foreign jurisdictions (e.g., sections 8 and 8A of the Act, 50 CFR 424.11(e)). As such, we have no basis to determine the protections of the Act only apply to domestic species. However, we acknowledge that we do not have authority to directly regulate activities in a foreign country that may cause the species to be endangered or threatened. Comment (6): Several commenters stated that there is no benefit to listing scarlet macaws under the Act because the species is already sufficiently protected by CITES and the WBCA. Our Response: The decision to list a species under the Act is based on whether the species meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species as defined under section 3 of the Act and is made solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available. The purpose of the WBCA is to ensure that exotic bird species are not harmed by international trade and encourages wild bird conservation programs in countries of origin. The purpose of CITES is to ensure that PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 international trade in plants and animals does not threaten their survival in the wild. Protection provided by other laws, such as CITES and WBCA, is taken into consideration when determining the status of the species. However, simply being protected by these other laws does not preclude the requirement to list and provide additional protections under the Act where the species meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species. Further, the standards for listing under each legal regime are different, and the protections afforded to species listed under each legal regime are different, though they can overlap in some respects. While CITES regulates the international trade of certain wildlife, it has limited regulatory authority once the species enters the United States for activities that take place within the United States, though there are restrictions on use after import for some specimens, especially Appendix I specimens. Listing under the Act helps ensure that the United States and its citizens do not contribute to the further decline of the species. Conservation measures or benefits provided to foreign species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and may encourage and result in conservation actions by foreign governments, Federal and State governments, private agencies and interest groups, and individuals. Comment (7): Several commenters noted that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the scarlet macaw as ‘‘least concern;’’ and therefore, listing under the Act is not warranted. Our Response: The decision to list a species under the Act is based on whether the species meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species as defined under section 3 of the Act and is made solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available. The IUCN uses different standards and criteria and the designations are not interchangeable. Within certain countries, particularly in the range of A. m. cyanoptera, the subspecies is considered in danger of extinction or on a country’s list of threatened or endangered species (Government of Mexico 2010a, p. 64; (Biodiversity and Environmental Resource Data System of Belize 2012, unpaginated; Meerman 2005, p. 30; (Government of Guatemala 2001, p. 15; Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente. 2008, p. 62). However, E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations because of the relatively good status of the species in the Amazon, which accounts for the majority of the species range and population, and the scarlet macaw’s relative tolerance of degraded and fragmented habitat (BLI 2011c, unpaginated), we found the scarlet macaw did not warrant listing under the Act rangewide at the species level (A. m. macao). The IUCN classified this entity—the overall species—as ‘‘Least Concerned.’’ Comment (8): A few commenters questioned our decision in the revised proposed rule to change the northern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) from endangered to threatened. The commenters assert that because we revised the boundaries and now attribute the population on Isla Coiba, Panama, to be part of the northern subspecies (A. m. cyanoptera), the decline in the number of known populations for the northern DPS of A. m. macao does not warrant a reversal of the Service’s prior determination. It indicates a reduction in the number of populations; therefore, the DPS is now at a greater risk of extinction. Our Response: The northern DPS of the southern subspecies, A. m. macao, consists of two main populations in Costa Rica, the Central Pacific Costa ´ rea de Conservacio´n Pacı´fico Rica (A Central (ACOPAC)) and South Pacific ´ rea de Conservacio´n Osa Costa Rica (A (ACOSA)) populations that are likely stable or increasing Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 128; Dear et al. 2010, p. 20; Brightsmith 2016, in litt., pp. 10–13) and consist of 1,000 to 2,000 birds; a group of at least 14–25 birds in Palo Verde (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 14; Dear et al. 2010, p. 8) in northwest Costa Rica, along with scattered sightings of scarlet macaws from Palo Verde National Park south to Carara National Park and throughout western Guanacaste (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 14); small groups of captive-released birds in some locations within the Costa Rica portion of the DPS; small populations in northwestern Panama in the Chiriquı´ province (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated), and an unknown number on the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya National Park (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated; Rodriguez and Hinojosa 2010, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated); and an unknown but likely small number of birds in northwest Colombia. Thus, although the two largest populations currently appear to be increasing and appear stable even with ongoing poaching pressure, they both VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 are small and their total range represents only a portion of the range. Northwest Colombia has large tracts of suitable habitat capable of supporting a population (although we have no information about the current population estimate for northwest Colombia). However, because current threats to scarlet macaws are ongoing, enforcement of existing regulations is inadequate, and the population sizes of scarlet macaws in this region are small, we reaffirm our determination that the northern DPS of A. m. macao is threatened in accordance with the definition in the Act. Comment (9): Several commenters stated that by listing the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. cyanoptera) as endangered, bird owners will not be able to sell birds, and if they cannot sell birds they will not breed birds or will breed hybrids to get around the listing. Thus, the gene pool for A. m. cyanoptera will be reduced, if not be eliminated. Our Response: Commenters responding to the 2012 proposed rule (77 FR 40222; July 6, 2012) noted that aviculturists have bred the species without regard for taxa, resulting in crosses of the two subspecies (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao). Therefore, the best available information indicates that pet scarlet macaws may be bred with little regard for genetics and include an unknown number of subspecies crosses, regardless of whether the species is listed under the Act (Schmidt 2013, pp. 74–75). The Act does not prohibit intrastate (within a state) sale of a listed species so bird owners could sell birds within state, but because A. m. cyanoptera is listed as endangered, interstate (between states) commercial sale is prohibited without a permit. We do not believe that the gene pool will be reduced or eliminated because while some scarlet macaws in captivity in the United States will be a mixture of subspecies, it is possible to determine with genetic techniques where individual scarlet macaws have come from and whether or not they are from one pure single subspecies or a mix of subspecies (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 23). Comment (10): Several commenters stated that we dismiss the benefit of captive-bred scarlet macaws, which may be used to repopulate the population if a major natural, biological, or manmade disaster occurs in the native habitat of the species, and to educate and raise awareness for the species. Our Response: We find that there is a difference in conservation value between captive-bred scarlet macaws that are bred for the pet trade and those PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6281 bred for potential release into the wild and that are not in trade. We are not aware of any evidence indicating that release of pet or pet-trade scarlet macaws benefits wild populations. Pet scarlet macaws are poor candidates for reintroduction programs because those bred for the pet trade are bred with little regard for genetics and include an unknown number of subspecies crosses (Schmidt 2013, pp. 74–75), pets socialized with humans fail to act appropriately with wild individuals when released, and individuals held as pets may pose a disease risk to wild populations (Brightsmith et al. 2005, p. 471). However, scarlet macaws bred in captivity for soft-release programs are more appropriate than pet scarlet macaws to contribute to the wild population because of the breeding techniques, decreased level of human interaction, disease testing, and training of these birds to survive on their own in the wild upon release. Refer to ‘‘Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws,’’ below, for examples of captive-bred birds raised and released into the wild to integrate with the wild populations of scarlet macaws. These birds released back into their native range and nearby existing populations may increase the overall population and contribute to the long-term conservation of the species. Comment (11): A few commenters stated that the information used in the proposed rule was outdated. Our Response: The Service is required by the Act to make determinations solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available. We use the existing information and are not required to develop new data. We based the proposed rule on all the information we received following the initiation of the status review for the scarlet macaw, as well as all of the information we found during our own research and that received during the comment periods of the 2012 proposed rule and 2016 revised proposed rule. The ‘‘best available’’ information depends on research being conducted in the field and the availability of information and may be more, or less, recent depending on the efforts being conducted. After publishing the proposed rule, we found additional information that had become available since the publication of the proposed rule and reviewed information that was submitted by the public, including studies from a species expert and conservation organizations within the scarlet macaw’s range countries. Comment (12): One commenter claimed that the Service violated mandatory statutory deadlines by waiting nearly 4 years to take further action on its original listing proposal E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6282 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations and never formally invoking the legally allowable 6-month extension. Our Response: We acknowledge that we failed to meet the statutory deadline for this rulemaking. However, we are obligated to make listing determinations under the Act based on the best available scientific and commercial information. In our proposed rule (77 FR 40222; July 6, 2012), we found that the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw, A. m. cyanoptera, and the northern DPS of the southern subspecies, A.m. macao, were in danger of extinction (an endangered species) based on their populations sizes and the magnitude of threats, such as loss of habitat and poaching, within the subspecies’ respective ranges. We also found the southern DPS of the southern subspecies, A. m. macao, not to be warranted for listing under the Act. During the public comment period on the proposed rule, we received several requests from the public to extend the comment period. Additionally, subsequent to the proposed rule, we received new information from the public and peer review, and we issued a revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016). As a result of this information, we made five substantive changes to our July 6, 2012, proposed rule. Specifically, we: (1) Revised the location of what we consider to be the boundary between the northern subspecies, A. m. cyanoptera, and the northern DPS of the southern subspecies, A. m. macao; (2) provided additional information on A. m. cyanoptera in northeast Costa Rica, southeast Nicaragua, and Panama, and reevaluated the status of the subspecies; (3) provided additional information on the northern DPS of A. m. macao, reevaluated the status of this DPS, and revised our proposed listing of this DPS from endangered status to threatened status; (4) added a proposal to treat the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as threatened based on similarity of appearance to A. m. cyanoptera and to the northern DPS of A. m. macao; and (5) added a proposed rule under section 4(d) of the Act to define activities that are necessary and advisable for the conservation of scarlet macaws listed as threatened and crosses of the two scarlet macaw subspecies. We then revised our determination for the southern subspecies of A. m. macao in consideration of the new information and comments we received to conclude that the northern DPS of A. m. macao’s risk of extinction is not as imminent as previously determined and that the southern DPS of A. m. macao has VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 similarity of appearance and will therefore be treated at threatened. We opened a new comment period to allow the public the opportunity to submit additional comments in light of the new information and our revised determinations. Thus, we have used this time to consider and incorporate complex data so that we may ensure our rulemaking is based on the best available information. Comment (13): A few commenters claimed that the Service offers no explanation on how the proposed 4(d) rule allowing all commercial and noncommercial international shipments of live or dead members of the southern subspecies (A. m. macao) and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera) can be effectively limited to only those entities given the similarity of appearance. The proposed 4(d) rule depends entirely on the ability to differentiate between birds and products made from their bodies, which the Service has previously stated cannot be done without genetic analysis. Our Response: Scarlet macaw subspecies, A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera, primarily differ in the coloration of their wing coverts (a type of feather) and wing size. We recognize that differences between A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao are not always apparent, particularly in birds from the middle of the species’ range, and evidence in trade is usually in the form of partial remains, detached feathers, and artwork incorporating their feathers. Additionally, aviculturists often breed species without regard to their taxa. Thus, identification of the subspecies or the geographic origin of birds can be difficult or improbable without genetic analysis. The 4(d) rule allows a person to import or export certain scarlet macaws (A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera)) without a permit issued under the Act. However, to import and export scarlet macaws a person must follow procedures and requirements of CITES and the WBCA, as the 4(d) rule adopts existing conservation regulatory requirements of CITES as the appropriate regulatory provisions for the import and export of certain scarlet macaws (see 4(d) Rule, below). Both subspecies of the scarlet macaw are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which ensures that the international trade of CITES-listed species does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. Trade must be authorized through a system of permits and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES Authorities of each CITES country. For species included in CITES Appendix I, PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 international trade is permitted only under exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. Any scarlet macaws or parts in international trade to the United States would require documentation that indicates the source and purpose of the specimen or parts, and we identify which countries the southern subspecies (A. m. macao) and potential subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera) are located in the wild. Birds from the two extremes of the range (Mexico and the Amazon) are morphologically discernable (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.). However, we recognize that it can be difficult to differentiate between subspecies and determine whether the specimen is part of A. m. cyanoptera, and also requires a permit under the Act. Over the last 20 years less than 200 entries in the LEMIS (Law Enforcement Management Information System) database were scarlet macaw parts or unspecified, and 38 percent of the overall entries were seized. Therefore, even if some parts are difficult to determine which subspecies of scarlet macaw without genetic analysis, which would add considerable cost and effort to law enforcement, the quantity of scarlet macaw imports into the United States is not extensive. Comment (14): One commenter cited Matuzak et al. (2008) for evidence that scarlet macaws are willing to feed on introduced species, which makes the species less susceptible to loss of native habitat. The commenter asserts that this is one reason why we should not list A. m. cyanoptera as endangered. Our Response: The fact that scarlet macaws consume nonnative species does not change our determination that A. m. cyanoptera is in danger of extinction because of the extent of the decline in the range and numbers of Ara macao cyanoptera due to ongoing habitat destruction and degradation, poaching for the pet trade, the lack of enforcement of existing regulatory mechanisms addressing these threats, and the small population sizes that work in combination with the other threats. Comment (15): A few commenters stated that threats to A. m. cyanoptera have been reduced over the past decade due to ongoing conservation efforts. The commenters also assert that our description of ‘‘extreme fragmentation of habitat and population’’ is an overstatement and habitat loss and fragmentation do not threaten the survival of A. m. cyanoptera. They claim scarlet macaws can fly dozens to hundreds of kilometers in a day and generally overcome fragmentation of populations; scarlet macaws use small E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations protected areas with sufficient large trees; and large areas of undisturbed habitat exist in Northern Central America. Thus, A. m. cyanoptera should not be listed as endangered. Our Response: Reintroduction programs to introduce captive-bred scarlet macaws into wild populations have proven successful, especially within the range of A. m. cyanoptera (see ‘‘Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws,’’ below). Information provided by a peer reviewer of the revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016) indicates that the scarlet macaw is likely increasing in numbers in the border region on the Caribbean slope of southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica, as well as showing an ability to inhabit humandisturbed habitats. However, destruction of forest habitat is one of the main causes of the decline of the scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica (Comisio´n Nacional Para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) 2011, p. 5; Lezama 2011, pers. comm.; McGinley et al. 2009, p. 11; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 50; Hansen and Florez 2008, pp. 48–50; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Collar 1997, p. 421; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, pp. 251–253). The remaining forest is fragmented and includes few large tracts of forest habitat (Bray 2010, pp. 92–93; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101). Although deforestation rates have declined in Mesoamerica since 1990, they are still very high (FAO 2010a, pp. 232–233; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487). Deforestation is occurring in many areas within the range of A. m. cyanoptera, including, but not limited to, in Chiapas, Mexico, western Pete´n in Guatemala; in the Mosquitia region in eastern Honduras and Nicaragua; and southeastern Nicaragua (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Fagan et al. 2013, unpaginated; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 63; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2011, p. 1; Chassot et al. 2009, p. 9). Therefore, as discussed in our July 6, 2012, and April 7, 2016, proposed rules, and reaffirmed herein, the low numbers of individuals of this subspecies, fragmentation of its habitat and population, and the substantial threats of habitat loss and poaching acting on this subspecies throughout its range place it in danger of extinction at this time. Comment (16): One commenter disagrees with our determination that disease could be introduced through reintroduction programs that may affect wild populations of scarlet macaws. The commenter stated that disease does not pose a risk to wild populations, especially in northern Central America, and cited Boyd and McNab 2008. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Our Response: We are not aware of any information indicating that disease poses a significant threat to the species, especially in northern Central America. The risk of introducing diseases into wild populations increases when a large number of birds are introduced annually, but this is cost-prohibitive and unlikely (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. vii). Generally speaking, disease risk is small because the probable frequency of occurrence is low (Clum 2008, p. 79). As long as adequate disease testing is performed, and there are existing protocols for minimizing the threat of introducing exogenous diseases (i.e., diseases that originate outside of the organism) into wild populations, the birds for release could come from multiple suitable sources (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. vii, Boyd et al. 2008, p. 112). Comment (17): Some commenters disagreed with proposing a 4(d) rule that would allow the import and export of captive-bred scarlet macaws and interstate commerce without a permit. Our Response: The Act does not prohibit these activities for threatened species. However, under 4(d), we may extend some or all of the prohibitions of 9(a)(1) to threatened species and are exercising our authority to do so here. We assessed the conservation needs of the scarlet macaw in light of the broad protections provided to the species under CITES and the WBCA. The best available data indicate that the current threat of trade to the scarlet macaw stems mainly from illegal trade in the domestic markets of Central and South America (Weston and Memon 2009, pp. 77–80; Shanee 2012, pp. 4–9). Accordingly, we find that adopting the import and export prohibitions of 9(a)(1), which extend only to the jurisdiction of the United States, would not regulate such activity and is not likely to impact the species status. Additionally, because interstate commerce within the United States has not been found to threaten the scarlet macaw or affect efforts at recovery of wild populations, and international trade of this species is regulated under CITES, we do not find it necessary to regulate such activity for this species. Therefore, we find the 4(d) rule contains all the prohibitions and authorizations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species. Comment (18): One commenter asserts that the Service’s statement that northwest Colombia has large tracts of forest suitable for supporting a presently unknown scarlet macaw population and could contribute to the resiliency and redundancy of the DPS is both speculative, because it is unknown if PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6283 scarlet macaws presently exist there, and is undercut by the finding that deforestation is ongoing and expected to continue in this area. Our Response: The scarlet macaw was reported to occur in relatively small areas outside the Amazon, including west of the Andes in northwest Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200). The best available information indicates that the population in northwest Colombia faces significant ongoing threats and may be potentially extirpated from this region (Donegan 2013, in litt.; Ellery 2013, in litt.; McMullen 2010, p. 60). However, although no current population estimates are available, this region is reported to have large tracts of forest suitable for supporting scarlet macaws (Ortega and Lagos 2011, p. 82; Salaman et al. 2009, p. 21). While the commenter did not provide any additional information to their concern, the information that this region is reported to have large tracts of suitable habitat was not a focus of our status determination regarding the status of the population of A. m. macao. Comment (19): A few commenters provided new information concerning reintroduction efforts in the native range of A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao. These commenters encouraged us to incorporate information about reintroduction programs into our final rule. The commenters claimed that positive information, such as captive-breeding and release programs that are occurring throughout the species’ range, are discounted compared to negative information, such as threats, on population status. They encouraged the Service to equally consider information for and against endangerment, including the potential uses of captive birds in conservation. Our Response: Captive-bred birds released back into their native ranges and nearby existing populations have the potential to increase the overall population in the wild and contribute to the long-term conservation of the species, although the success of reintroduced scarlet macaws partly depends on the methods used to raise and release captive-bred birds into the wild. We have incorporated this information in our analysis and included a description of the reintroduction efforts for A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao in their respective ranges. See ‘‘Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws,’’ below. Comment (20): One commenter claims that listing of the southern DPS of A. m. macao based on similarity of appearance alone is not warranted in E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6284 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the absence of any potential threat to wild populations. The movement of the southern DPS of A. m. macao would be subjected to extensive permitting and reviews under CITES and the WBCA, so listing it under the Act would provide little extra protection. Our Response: During the public comment period for the proposed rule (77 FR 40222; July 6, 2012), we received additional information supporting a similarity of appearance listing for the southern DPS of A. m. macao and scarlet macaw subspecies crosses between A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao, which we incorporated into the revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016) and carry forward in this final rule. Because it can be difficult to visually differentiate between the two subspecies and this difficulty is an additional threat for the northern DPS of A. m. macao, we determined that treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao under the Act’s section 4(e) similarity of appearance provisions will substantially facilitate law enforcement actions to protect and conserve scarlet macaws. Extending the protections of the Act to the similar entities through this listing of those entities due to similarity of appearance under section 4(e) of the Act and providing applicable prohibitions and exceptions in a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act will provide greater protection to A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao. For these reasons, we are treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao as threatened due to the similarity of appearance to the northern DPS of A. m. macao, pursuant to section 4(e) of the Act. Furthermore, simply being protected by CITES and the WBCA does not preclude the need to list and provide additional protections under the Act. Listing under the Act helps ensure that the United States and its citizens do not contribute to the further decline of the species. Background Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the implementing regulations in part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The Act defines ‘‘endangered species’’ as any species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(6)), and ‘‘threatened species’’ as any species that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(20)). We summarize below the information on which we based our final determination and evaluation of the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. We are also adopting a rule authorized under section 4(d) of the Act for the scarlet macaw to further its conservation. We find this rule contains the prohibitions and authorizations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the scarlet macaw. Species Information Species Description The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is one of several large neotropical parrot species commonly referred to as macaws. They measure 84–89 centimeters (33–35 inches) in length, weigh 900–1490 grams (2.0–3.3 pounds), and are one of the larger macaws (Collar 1997, p. 421). Scarlet macaws are brilliantly colored and predominantly scarlet red; most of the head, body, tail, and underside of the wings are red. Color on the upper side of the wing appears generally as bands of red, yellow, and blue, with varying amounts of green occurring between the yellow and blue band. Lower back, rump, and tail coverts (upper tail feathers) are blue. The species has large white, mostly bare facial patches on either side of its bill. The upper bill is a light, whitish color, whereas the lower bill is black. The sexes are similar, and immature birds are similar to adults, except immature birds have shorter tails (Collar 1997, p. 421; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 100; Forshaw 1989, pp. 404, 406). Taxonomy The scarlet macaw was first described in 1758, by Linnaeus (Collar 1997, p. 421; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 99). In 1994, the subspecies Ara macao cyanoptera, was separated from the originally described taxon (or nominate form), A. m. macao (Wiedenfeld 1994, entire). Ara macao cyanoptera occurs from southern Mexico south to central Nicaragua. Birds from southern Nicaragua to northern Costa Rica represent a zone of intergradation between the two forms; the nominate form (A. m. macao) occurs from this zone southward through the South American range of the species (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 100–101). Ara macao cyanoptera is different from A. m. macao in size and wing color; A. m. cyanoptera is larger than A. m. macao, with significantly longer wing lengths; and the yellow wing coverts that are tipped in blue have no green band PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 separating the yellow and blue as in A. m. macao. The subspecies classification described by Wiedenfeld (1994, entire) is used in the scientific community and the subspecies are recognized by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) as valid taxa (ITIS 2011, unpaginated). The subspecies classification is supported by genetic analyses (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.; Schmidt and Amato 2008, pp. 135–137). Schmidt (2013) represents the only spatial analysis of scarlet macaw genetic variation across the historical range of the species, and we consider this study to be the best available information on the range of the two subspecies. Therefore, the mainland Central America boundary between A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao is the central mountain range of Costa Rica, with A. m. cyanoptera found on the Caribbean (eastern) slope of the country and A. m. macao on the Pacific (western) slope. Additionally, scarlet macaws on Isla Coiba are likely to be the subspecies A. m. cyanoptera. Consequently, we consider scarlet macaws in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica, and Isla Coiba in Panama to be A. m. cyanoptera. We consider birds on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica and southward through the remainder of the species’ range in South America to be A. m. macao (see Figure 1, below). The data also show genetic differentiation between A. m. macao that occur on either side of the Andes in South America, indicating two populations: One consisting of birds west of the Andes in northwest Colombia, mainland Panama, and Pacific slope of Costa Rica; and the other population consisting of birds east and south of the Andes and throughout the species’ South American range (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.). Range The range of the scarlet macaw is the broadest of all the macaw species (Ridgely 1981, p. 250). Extending from Mexico southward to central Bolivia and Brazil, it covers an estimated 7,030,975–10,200,000 square kilometers (km2) (2,714,675–3,938,242 square miles (mi2)) (BirdLife International (BLI) 2018, unpaginated; Vale 2007, p. 112). The majority (83 percent) of the species’ range lies within the Amazon Biome of South America (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; BLI 2011b, unpaginated; BLI 2011c, unpaginated). Historically, the range of the scarlet macaw included the southern portion of the Mexico state of Tamaulipas E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6285 southward through the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, and Campeche; all of Belize; the Pacific and Caribbean slopes of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica; the Pacific slope of Panama and Costa Rica; the Magdalena Valley in Colombia; and that part of South America within Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, and Bolivia and Brazil as far south as Santa Cruz and northern Mato Grosso, respectively (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 100–101; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, p. 250; In˜igo-Elias 2010, p. 8). Some authors report the native range of the species to include Trinidad and Tobago (BLI 2011d, unpaginated; Forshaw 1989, p. 406). However, the historical record consists of only two questionable site records of the species in Trinidad and Tobago (Forshaw 1989, p. 407; French 1973, p. 76). The species may occur in that country as a very occasional vagrant or an escapee from captivity (Forshaw 1989, p. 407). The scarlet macaw’s range in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America) has been reduced and fragmented over the past several decades primarily as a result of habitat destruction and harvesting the species for the pet trade (Vaughan et al. 2003, pp. 2–3; Collar 1997, p. 421; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150). It has been extirpated from almost all of its former range in Mexico, all of its former range in El Salvador, and much of its former range throughout Central America. Currently, in Mesoamerica, the A. m. cyanoptera occurs in the Maya Forest region of eastern Chiapas, in Mexico, western Pete´n, in northern Guatemala, and Chiquibil, in southwest Belize; in the Mosquitia region of eastern Honduras and Nicaragua; in the border region of southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica near the Rio San Juan (San Juan River); the A. m. macao occurs in Palo Verde in northwestern Costa Rica; Carara National Park and surrounding area, in west-central Costa Rica; the Osa Peninsula and surrounding area, Costa Rica; and in western border region of Panama and Costa Rica in the Chiriquı´ province and on the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula and Isla Coiba, Panama. In South America, the A. m. macao occurs in small areas outside the Amazon west of the Andes in northwest Colombia and in parts of several northern Venezuelan states. Within the Amazon, the scarlet macaw still occurs over much of its historical range (see Figure 1, below). Distribution and Abundance cyanoptera (occurring from southern Mexico to Nicaragua and Isla Coiba, Panama), and 1,000 A. m. macao (northern DPS and occurring in Costa Rica and mainland Panama) (Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 102). More recently, the current population of A. m. cyanoptera was estimated to be fewer than 1,000 birds (McNab 2009, p. 1). The known populations of scarlet macaw in their range countries are described below (see Table 1). All the Using 1992 estimates from Honduras, and extrapolating from these estimates, the total number of scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica is approximately 5,000 birds, consisting of 4,000 A. m. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 ER26FE19.015</GPH> Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 6286 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations population estimates are of birds, except Mexico, in which breeding pairs were estimated. TABLE 1—SCARLET MACAW POPULATIONS THROUGHOUT ITS RANGE [Estimates are individuals unless otherwise stated] Population range country Population name Ara macao cyanoptera: Southeast Mexico ........................................ Population estimates ∼50; < 200 breeding pairs. Guatemala ................................................... Belize ........................................................... Eastern Honduras, Northeastern Nicaragua upper Rio Uxpanapa region; Usamacinto Watershed—Eastern Chiapas, Mexico, Lacando´n Forest. Northern Pete´n ................................................. Chiquibul .......................................................... Mosquitia Region ............................................. Southeast Nicaragua Border and Northeast Costa Rica. Isla Coiba, Panama ..................................... Rio San Juan (San Juan-La Selva/San JuanEl Castillo). Isla Coiba ......................................................... Total A. m. cyanoptera ......................... Ara macao macao Northern DPS: Cerro Hoya National Park ........................... Costa Rica ................................................... Costa Rica ................................................... Northwest Colombia .................................... .......................................................................... 2,000–3,000. Mainland Panama ............................................ Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC) Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) ................... Northwest Colombia ......................................... <25. ∼450. 800–1,200; up to 2,000. unknown. Total A. m. macao Northern DPS ........ .......................................................................... 1,000–2,000. Total Mesoamerica ....................... Ara macao macao Southern DPS: Amazon, south and east of the Andes Mountains (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, and Bolivia and Brazil). .......................................................................... 3,000–5,000. Amazon ............................................................ 15,000–45,000. .......................................................................... ∼20,000–50,000. Total Ara macao ................................... Mesoamerica Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize (Maya Forest) (A. m. cyanoptera) Described as previously abundant in Mexico (CONABIO 20l1, p. 2) and numbering in the many thousands (Patten et al. 2010, p. 30), the A. m. cyanoptera is now reported to occur in only two small populations in Mexico. One population occurs in the upper Rio Uxpanapa region near San Francisco La Paz in Oaxaca (Inigo-Elias 1996, pp. 16– 17). Citing several sources, Inigo-Elias (2010, unpaginated) and McReynolds (2011, in litt., unpaginated) indicate that the upper Uxpanapa River population consists of possibly 50 scarlet macaws. It is possible that the species may occur seasonally in this area (Peterson et al. 2003, p. 232). The second population that occurs in Mexico is along the southern Mexico and Guatemala border area of eastern Chiapas, and is discussed below. Within the tri-national region of southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize, the species occurs in three small populations or subpopulations: (1) In the Usamacinto watershed in eastern Chiapis, Mexico, located in the Lacandon forest that is within the Maya VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Forest, which is the largest remaining expanse of tropical rainforest in the Americas (The Nature Conservancy 2018, unpaginated), and includes the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (approximately 3,000 km2 (1,158 mi2), several smaller protected areas, and the municipality of Maques de Commillas (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2012a, unpaginated; McReynolds 2011, in litt.; Enriquez et al. 2009, p. 13; Castillo-Santiago et al. 2007, pp. 1215, 1217; Inigo-Elias 1996, pp. 16–17, 23); (2) in the western Department of Pete´n in northern Guatemala, primarily in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) (Garcia et al. 2008, pp. 49–64; McNab 2009, p. 1); and (3) in southwest Belize, where it is known to breed only in the Chiquibul region, which includes Chiquibul National Park and other protected areas (Salas and Meerman 2008, p. 42). Based on field studies conducted from 1989 to 1993, it was estimated that probably fewer than 200 breeding pairs exist within Mexico’s Usamacinto watershed (In˜igo-Elias 1996, pp. 96–97). In Guatemala, the population is estimated at 150 to 250 birds (McNab 2008, p. 7; Wildlife Conservation Society Guatemala 2005, in McReynolds PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 150–250. 60–219. Honduras: 1,000–1,500; Nicaragua: <100– 700. possibly >200. 100–200. 2011, in litt., unpaginated; McNab 2009, p. 1). Estimates from Belize vary from 60 to 219 individuals, but based on field observations in 2009, the current Belize population is estimated at 200 individuals (McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). However, the total population in the tri-national Maya region (Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize), based on habitat modeling and current threats, was estimated to be 399 individuals—137 in Mexico, 159 in Guatemala, and 103 in Belize (Garcia et al. 2008, pp. 52–53). Populations in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize are described as not being completely isolated from one another. It is likely that the population in western Pete´n, Guatemala, and the population in southeastern Mexico are connected because there is continuous habitat and the birds from Guatemala, when they disperse in the non-breeding season, are known to go to the west of their breeding grounds (Brightsmith 2016, in litt. p. 8). In a radio telemetry study, a fledgling radio-tagged in Guatemala flew 130 km (81 mi) to Mexico in one day (McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). In addition, studies provide evidence of gene flow between nest sites in Guatemala and Belize, and E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations high levels of genetic diversity in the trinational region (Schmidt and Amato 2008, p. 137). However, the Belize population may be more isolated from the Guatemala and Mexico populations because the area between these populations is well covered by eBird observers and no scarlet macaws have been seen even though there is highquality habitat (Brightsmith in litt. 2016, unpaginated). Honduras (A. m. cyanoptera) The scarlet macaw was widespread in Honduras, occurring in the arid lowlands of the Pacific slope and the interior below 1,100 m (3,609 ft), as well as in the Caribbean lowland rainforest (Monroe 1968, p. 139). The scarlet macaw may have had a distribution over 60 percent of the national territory at the end of the 19th century (Monroe 1968, p. 139; Portillo Reyes et al. 2010, p. 69). Currently, the scarlet macaw is restricted to the Mosquitia region, which is a region of extensive forest straddling the southeastern Hondurasnortheastern Nicaragua border (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 101–102; Portillo Reyes 2005, p. 71). This region includes several thousand square kilometers in protected areas, such as the Pla´tano Biosphere Reserve (5,000 km2 (1,931 mi2)) Reserva de la Biosfera Tawahka (Tawahka Biosphere Reservation) (2,500 km2 (965 mi2)), the Parque Nacional Patuca (Patuca National Park) (3,755 km2 (1,450 mi2)) in Honduras, and the Bosawa´s Biosphere Reserve (21,815 km2 (8,423 mi2)) in neighboring Nicaragua (UNESCO 2012b, unpaginated; UNESCO 2012c, unpaginated; Vallely et al. 2010, p. 52). The total population of Honduras was estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 birds in 1992, reportedly occurring in the Colo´n area and provinces of Olancho and Gracias a Dios that are in the Mosquitia region of Honduras (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 101–102). An estimate of scarlet macaws in the Rus Rus area of the Honduran Mosquitia (Rus Rus is in the province of Gracias a Dios) was 1,000 to 1,500 birds (McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). However, this estimate was based on the assumption that all the chicks reported as poached by Portillo Reyes et al. (2004, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated) would fledge and assumed a 20 percent reproductive success rate. There are no population estimates for the Rı´o Patuca and Rı´o Pla´tano areas, though there have been flocks as large as eight counted on the Rı´o Pla´tano (Gallardo 2002, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). The most recent information indicates that loss of habitat and demand for the pet trade pose a substantial threat for VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 the species in this region (Portillo Reyes 2005, in Portillo Reyes et al. 2010, p. 6; Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 8). Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera) Scarlet macaws in eastern Nicaragua along the Caribbean slope were estimated to be 1,500 to 2,500 birds in 1995 (Wiedenfeld 1995, in Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150). However, the species was not detected during either of two national surveys of parrots conducted in 1999 and 2004 (Lezama et al. 2004, p. 102; McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). Some estimates predict up to 700 birds in this region of Nicaragua; groups of 30 to 40 scarlet macaws are frequently reported in the Rı´o Coco area (Lezama 2011, pers. comm., in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated), which forms the border with Honduras. Others consider the number in eastern Nicaragua to be fewer than 100 birds (Feria and de los Monteros 2007, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated)). The only scarlet macaws on the Pacific slope of Nicaragua are confined to Cosigu¨ina Volca´n Nature Preserve, with approximately 20 to 50 birds (Bjork 2008, p. 15; Lezama 2011, pers. comm., in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) Scarlet macaws (A. m. cyanoptera) occur in southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica on both sides of the border. This region consists of the El Castillo-San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor that is located on both sides of the Rı´o San Juan (San Juan River) (Monge et al. 2012, p. 6), which separates Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In 2004, several groups of scarlet macaws were reported in the Rı´o San Carlos area close to the border with Nicaragua, in what is now designated as Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre mixto Maquenque), which also abuts the Indio Maı´z Biological Reserve in Nicaragua (Chassot and Monge-Arias 2004, pp. 12– 13; Chassot 2011, pers. comm.). Multiple scarlet macaws were observed flying from Nicaragua over the Rı´o San Juan into Costa Rica (Chassot and Monge-Arias 2004, pp. 12–13). Evidence of scarlet macaws in northeast Costa Rica obtained during several years of research on great green macaws (Ara ambiguus) indicates that scarlet macaws in this region are increasing (Chassot and Monge-Arias 2004, pp. 12–13; Brightsmith 2012, in litt., unpaginated). During the 2009 scarlet macaw breeding season, an intensive search for scarlet macaw nests PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6287 was conducted on both sides of the Rı´o San Juan as part of a larger study to quantify and characterize nests of both scarlet and great green macaws (Monge et al. 2012, entire). They found six scarlet macaw nests (five in Costa Rica, one in Nicaragua). The scarlet macaw has recently expanded its range southward to La Selva Biological Station, which is approximately 35–40 km (15–18 miles) south of the Rı´o San Juan, and sightings of scarlet macaws have increased in the region (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 5; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated). Scarlet macaws were absent from this station since it was established in the 1960s, but they have been observed breeding on adjacent land since the mid-2000s (Brightsmith 2012, in litt., unpaginated). Approximately 50 scarlet macaws occur in Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Costa Rica (Penard et al. 2008, in McReynolds 2011 in litt., unpaginated). There are no density estimates of scarlet macaws from this area, but based on the density reported for great green macaws (0.07 birds per km2) in an area of 3,000 km2 (1,158 mi2), there could be more than 200 scarlet macaws in northeastern Costa Rica (Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 6; Brightsmith 2012, in litt., unpaginated). Scarlet macaws were described as having previously occurred in tropical wet and dry forests throughout most of Costa Rica (Vaughan et al. 1991, abstract), while Ridgely (1981, p. 252) describes the species as having always occurred primarily on the Pacific slope of the country. Aside from the birds in northeastern Costa Rica, the scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) occurs in two viable populations on the Pacific slope: In the ACOPAC in the region of Carara National Park, which contains approximately 450 birds (Arias et al. 2008, in McReynolds 2011, in litt.); and in Costa Rica’s Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) in the region of Corcovado National Park and the Osa Peninsula, which contains between 800 and 1,200, but possibly up to 2,000 birds (Dear et al. 2005 and Guzman 2008, in McReynolds 2011, in litt.). However, based on plausible regional estimates, the population for the entire country is approximately 1,800 birds (McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). By all indications, the scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) has been expanding from the traditional stronghold in and around Carara National Park (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 11). Since 2013, scarlet macaws in groups of up to 30, along with pairs during the height of the breeding season, were observed hundreds of times down the coast and approximately 70 km (43 mi) south of E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6288 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the point where the census is usually conducted. In addition, scarlet macaws from the areas immediately to the northwest of Carara have been reported. Scarlet macaws may frequently pass through these areas but may not be present continuously or at high densities (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 12). The nearest areas with repeated sightings of the species are Ensenada Lodge at 60 km (37 mi) north of the census location for Carara; 40 km (25 mi) from the small population of 14–25 birds in Palo Verde (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 12; Dear et al. 2010, p. 8); and 60 km (37 mi) from the core of the ACOPAC population. This site has 16 sightings, with 13 since 2012, and group sizes have been small (1 to 4). But it is unclear what the source of these birds may be; they could be escaped or released birds, or could be natural dispersers from either the Palo Verde or ACOPAC populations (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 14). Because there have been scattered sightings of scarlet macaws from Palo Verde National Park south to Carara National Park and throughout western Guanacaste, the birds near Palo Verde are no longer considered completely isolated (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 14). However, evidence to support successful expansion and establishment to the north is weak (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 13). The ACOSA population is simultaneously expanding up the coast from the south, so sightings of scarlet macaws between the ACOPAC and ACOSA may represent individuals from either of the populations. In fact, birds were reported to occur in a 50-km (31mi) area, which is the midpoint between the two populations (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 11). Moreover, 85 percent of residents interviewed in 2005 believed scarlet macaws were more abundant than 5 years prior, suggesting this population may be increasing (Dear et al. 2010, p. 10). However, it is difficult to distinguish between expansion of the ACOPAC population to the south and the expansion of the ACOSA population to the north (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 11). Panama (A. m. macao) The scarlet macaw was once described as almost extinct on the mainland of Panama, but abundant and occurring in substantial numbers on Isla Coiba, which once was a penal colony where settlement and most hunting was prohibited (Ridgely 1981, p. 253). More recent information on distribution and abundance in the country indicates that mainland Panama has very few scarlet macaws (McReynolds 2011, in litt., VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 unpaginated). In 1998, there were sporadic sightings of scarlet macaws in the western border region of Panama and Costa Rica, in the area of the upper Rı´o Corotu (or Rı´o Bartolo Arriba) near Puerto Armuelles in the Chiriquı´ province (Burica Press 2007, unpaginated; McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). A few (fewer than 10) scarlet macaws were observed in 2015, in northwestern Panama, near Querevalo and also in the Chiriquı´ province (Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated), but it is uncertain if these birds were wild or escaped captively-raised birds dispersing south from a reintroduction program at Tiskita, Costa Rica (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17) (see ‘‘Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws,’’ below). Additionally, there is a small, but unknown, number on the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya National Park, Tonosi Forest Reserve, and farther to the east (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated; Rodriguez and Hinojosa 2010, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). The current population of scarlet macaws in Panama is likely less than 200, with the vast majority of the population occurring on Isla Coiba (Keller and Schmitt 2008, in Brightsmith 2012, in litt. and McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). South America (A. m. macao) Within South America, the scarlet macaw occurs primarily in the Amazon Biome, which overlaps eastern Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, northeast Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and most of Brazil (collectively referred to as the Amazon in this document) (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; In˜igo-Elias 2010, unpaginated; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Collar 1997, p. 421; Forshaw 1989, pp. 406–407). The Amazon comprises approximately 83 percent of the species’ entire range (BLI 2011c, unpaginated). The scarlet macaw is also reported to occur in relatively small areas outside the Amazon, including west of the Andes in northwest Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200) and in parts of several northern Venezuelan states (Hilty 2003, p. 327). We are aware of little recent information on local (country, region) populations within South America. The only local population estimate we are aware of includes the Tambopata Province of Peru (Lloyd 2004, p. 270). Using density estimates calculated from field counts in different forest types, and area of forest cover presented in Kratter (1995, in Lloyd 2004, p. 269), the PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Tambopata population was calculated to number from 4,734–24,332 individuals. The population of scarlet macaws in Peru is adjacent to large populations in adjacent Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia (Brightsmith 2009, in litt., unpaginated). Therefore, the total individuals could represent scarlet macaws from more than just Peru. The remaining information on the species’ populations in South America is qualitative. In Colombia, the species is believed to occur west of the Andes in the Magdalena Valley and in gallery forest and partially cleared rainforest where large trees have been left (Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200; Forshaw 1989, p. 407); their presence may be the result of seasonal movements for food resources (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425). The species is also common east of the Andes and in the Orinoco and Amazon Basins in Colombia, but there are no current population estimates (Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200; In˜igoElias 2010, unpaginated). In Venezuela, the species is becoming rare with patchy distribution in the states of Bolı´var, Monagas, Apure, and Amazonas (In˜igoElias 2010, unpaginated; Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps, Jr. 1978, p. 99; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425); there are no current population estimates. The species has been described as occurring widely throughout the Amazon basin of Brazil, eastern Ecuador, and eastern Peru (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425). However, more recently it was described as uncommon, locally extirpated in areas, and declining in eastern Peru (Inigo-Elias 2010, unpaginated). Citing several published works from the 1970s and 1980s, scarlet macaws were described as locally extirpated from areas with a history of ornithological study in northeastern Ecuador and northeastern Bolivia (Forshaw 1989, p. 407), although it has also been described as occurring in northern and eastern Bolivia in Santa Cruz (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425). Other authors reported that in recent decades scarlet macaws have rapidly declined in the lowland Ecuadorian Amazon in Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, in Karubian et al. 2005, p. 618). The scarlet macaw occurs widely in the Guianas, which includes Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425), although the species may be uncommon in the vicinity of settlements (Forshaw 1989, p. 407). In Suriname, scarlet macaws are common in the interior rainforest but seldom seen in the coastal area and are rare in the eastern part of the country (Spaans et al. 2018, unpaginated). Other sources indicate E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations that the species is found along tropical riparian evergreen forests in western and central Suriname (Haverschmidt and Mees 1994, in In˜igo-Elias 2010, unpaginated). In Brazil, the species is widely distributed throughout the Amazon, but there are no current population estimates (In˜igo-Elias 2010, unpaginated; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425). Overall, the scarlet macaw is generally considered common and widespread over much of its range in the Amazon (Hilty 2003, p. 327; Angehr et al. 2001, p. 161; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Collar 1997, p. 421; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200; Ridgely 1981, p. 251). Using the estimate of 20,000–50,000 birds for the total population, and the estimate of 5,000 birds in Mesoamerica, the South American population of the scarlet macaw can be very roughly estimated to be 15,000–45,000 birds. Essential Needs of the Species Habitat The scarlet macaw inhabits various habitat types throughout its range, including tropical humid evergreen forest, deciduous and humid forest, intact and partially cleared lowland rain forest, mixed pine and broad-leaved woodlands, open areas and edges with scattered stands of tall trees, gallery forest, mangroves, and savannas, with many of the areas that scarlet macaw inhabit near rivers (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101; Forshaw 1989, p. 407; Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps, Jr. 1978, p. 99). The species generally occurs from sea level to about 500 meters (m) (1,640 feet (ft)) elevation, but has been reported ranging up to 1,500 m (4,921 ft) in Central America (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Vaughan 1983, in Vaughan et al. 2006, p. 919). The scarlet macaw is considered somewhat tolerant of degraded or fragmented habitat (BLI 2011c, unpaginated; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Brightsmith in litt. 2016, pp. 4–7). If not hunted or captured for the pet trade, they can survive in human-modified landscapes provided sufficient large trees remain for nesting and feeding requirements (BLI 2011c, unpaginated; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, p. 251). Landscapes may include a combination of agricultural land, pastureland, timber harvesting areas, and remnant forest patches (Vaughn et al. 2006, p. 920; Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 120; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 7); partially cleared forest where large trees have been left standing (Forshaw 89, p. 407); pastureland with scattered woodlots or VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 6289 Collar 1997, pp. 296, 298; Munn 1992, pp. 53–56). Scarlet macaws are secondary cavitynesting birds, meaning they do not create their own cavities but rely upon natural or abandoned cavities for nesting; their breeding success is dependent upon the availability and quality of nesting sites. They nest in both live and dead trees and in a variety of tree species, including, but not Diet and Foraging limited to, Ceiba pentandra (kapok Scarlet macaws, like most parrots, tree), Schizolobium parahybum feed primarily in the canopy (Vaughan (Brazilian firetree), Vatairea lundellii et al. 2006, p. 920; Renton 2006, p. 282; (bitter angelim), Caryocar costaricense Lee 2010, p. 20) and display a wide (no common name), Acacia glomerosa dietary breadth. They have been (white tamarind), Dipteryx micrantha reported to consume up to 52 plant (Brazilian teak), Iriartea deltoidea (stilt species in the Amazon of Peru (Gilardi palm), and Erythrina spp. (coral tree) 1996, in Matuzak et al. 2008, p. 361) and (Guittar et al. 2009, pp. 389–399; Renton up to 43 different plant species in Costa and Brightsmith 2009, pp. 3–4; Rica (Vaughan et al. 2006, p. 920; Brightsmith 2005, p. 297; Vaughan et al. Matuzak et al. 2008, p. 355). Fruits and 2003, p. 8; In˜igo-Elias 1996, p. 57; seeds comprise the majority of a scarlet Marineros and Vaughan 1995, p. 456; macaw’s diet, but they also consume, to Nycander et al. 1995, p. 431). Due to a lesser degree, fruit pulp, flowers, their large size, scarlet macaws require leaves, bark, lichen, and bromeliads large cavities, which are usually found (Lee 2010, pp. 153–160; Matuzak et al. in older trees. The average height of 2008, p. 355; Renton 2006, p. 281; scarlet macaw nests ranges from about Vaughan et al. 2006, pp. 920, 924; 16 to 24 m (52.5 to 79 ft) above the Marineros and Vaughan 1995, pp. 451– ground (Guittar et al. 2009, pp. 389–391; 452; Nycander et al. 1995, p. 424). Anleu et al. 2005, p. 44; Inigo-Elias Plant species consumed by scarlet 1996, p. 59; Marineros and Vaughn macaws are both seasonal and available 1995, p. 455). In addition to cavity size year round (Abramson et al. 1995, p. and height parameters, scarlet macaws 24). Changes in local abundance appear to select nest sites with a clear patterns of parrots can be triggered by understory or isolated from surrounding seasonal availability of food resources vegetation, possibly to reduce predation within habitat mosaics (Renton 2002, p. rates (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 93; 17; Haugaasen and Peres 2007, p. 4179). Brightsmith 2005, p. 302). The species Fluctuations in food abundance are will also nest in previously used likely to result in seasonal movements cavities (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, of scarlet macaws to areas with greater pp. 4–5; Nycander et al. 1995, p. 428), food availability (Karubian et al. 2005, and will readily investigate and nest in p. 624; Haugaasen and Peres 2007, pp. artificial (human-made) cavities when 4179–4180; Renton 2002, pp. 17–18; supplied (Brightsmith 2005, p. 297; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425). Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10; Nycander et Additionally, in some areas of the al. 1995, pp. 435–436). Scarlet macaws are frequently scarlet macaw’s range, they regularly visit claylicks (naturally forming wall of observed competing for nest cavities with other macaws, including other clay on a riverbank) where they species and other scarlet macaw pairs consume soil or minerals; it is unclear (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, p. 5; whether this provides a nutritional or Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10; Inigo-Elias other benefit to the species such as 1996, pp.79, 96; Nycander 1995, p. 428). counteracting toxins in food sources Thus, intense competition for nest (Brightsmith et al. 2010, entire; cavities suggests suitable nesting sites Brightsmith 2004, pp. 136–137; Lee may be limited in some areas (Vaughan 2010, p. 141). et al. 2003, pp. 10–12; Inigo-Elias 1996, Nesting and Reproduction p. 92; Nycander et al. 1995, p. 428; Reproductive biology of large parrots, Munn 1992, pp. 55–56). including the scarlet macaw, is Conservation Status generally characterized by low rates of The scarlet macaw has been included reproduction, small clutch sizes, low survival of nestlings and fledglings, late in Appendix I of CITES since 1985 (United Nations Environment age to first reproduction, a large proportion of nonbreeding adults in any Programme–World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP–WCMC) given year, and restrictive nesting requirements (Wright et al. 2001, p. 711; 2012, unpaginated). The species is remnant patches of rainforest (Vaughn et al. 2009, p. 396; Forshaw 89, p. 407); and areas of human settlement (towns) (Guittar et al. 2009, p. 390). However, the species occurs at lower densities in disturbed or secondary (recovering) forest habitat than in primary (undisturbed) forest (Cowen 2009, pp. 11–15; Karubian et al. 2005, pp. 622– 623; Lloyd 2004, pp. 269, 272). PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6290 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations currently classified as ‘‘Least Concern’’ by the IUCN. In 2011, BLI proposed reclassifying the scarlet macaw in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species from ‘‘Least Concern’’ to ‘‘Threatened,’’ based on the area of Amazon habitat projected to be lost to deforestation by 2050 (BLI 2011b, unpaginated; BLI 2011e, unpaginated). However, based on review and recommendations from regional experts, a current revision of the proposal recommends the species remain classified as ‘‘Least Concern’’ due to its level of tolerance of degraded and fragmented habitat (BLI 2011c, unpaginated) and the relatively good status of the species in the Amazon, which accounts for the majority of the species range and population. In Mesoamerica, the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. cyanoptera) is considered in danger of extinction in Mexico (Government of Mexico 2010a, p. 32), Belize (Biodiversity and Environmental Resource Data System of Belize 2012, unpaginated; Meerman 2005, p. 30), Costa Rica (Costa Rica Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion 2012, unpaginated), and Panama (Fundacio´n de Parques Nacionales y Medio Ambiente 2007, p. 125). This subspecies is also on Guatemala’s Listado de Especies de Fauna Silvestre Amenazadas de Extincio´n (Lista Roja de Fauna) (list of species threatened with extinction (red list of fauna)) (Government of Guatemala 2001, p. 15), Honduras’s Listado Oficial de Especies de Animales Silvestres de Preocupacio´n Especial en Honduras (Official List of Species of Wild Animals of Special Concern in Honduras) (Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente. 2008, p. 62), and Nicaragua’s list of species for which the season of use (e.g., for harvest or capture) is indefinitely closed (Nicaragua Ministerio del Ambiente y Los Recursos Naturales 2010, entire). In South America, the subspecies A. m. macao is listed as vulnerable in Peru (Government of Peru 2004, p. 276855), but a more recent evaluation of the species categorizes it at the lower threat level of ‘‘near threatened’’ (Brightsmith 2009, in litt., unpaginated). The species is also categorized as ‘‘near threatened’’ in Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, in Karubian et al. 2005, p. 618) and as ‘‘near threatened’’ on Venezuela’s red list (Rodriguez and Rojas-Suarez 2008, p. 50). We are unaware of the scarlet macaw having official conservation status in any other of the species’ range countries (e.g., Colombia, the Guianas, Brazil, and Bolivia). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Factors Affecting the Species Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. In considering what factors may constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to the factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat and we then attempt to determine if it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as an endangered or threatened species as those terms are defined by the Act. In 2016, we revised our proposal to list the northern subspecies of the scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) as an endangered species under the Act, the northern DPS of the southern subspecies Ara macao macao as a threatened species under the Act, and the southern DPS of the southern subspecies Ara macao macao as threatened due to similarity of appearance under the Act (81 FR 20302, April 7, 2016). Please see our analysis of those entities and the factors affecting their status below. Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range One of the two main threats to neotropical parrot species is loss of forest habitat (Snyder et al. 2000, p. 98). Deforestation, which includes clearcutting forests to convert them to other land uses such as agriculture and cattle ranching, as well as forest degradation, which is the reduction in forest biomass such as through selective logging or fire, occurs throughout much of the scarlet macaw’s range. The primary cause of forest loss is conversion to agriculture (crop and pasture), although other land uses such as infrastructure, logging, fires, oil and gas extraction, and mining PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 also contribute significantly and to varying degrees in different areas of the species’ range (Blaser et al. 2011, pp. 263, 290, 299, 310, 319, 334, 343–344, 354, 363–364, 375, 393–394; Boucher et al. 2011, entire; Clark and Aide 2011, entire; FAO 2011a, pp. 17–18; May et al. 2011, pp. 7–13; Pacheco 2011, entire; Government of Costa Rica 2010, pp. 38– 39; Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 40–45; Armenteras and Morales 2009, pp. 133– 145, 176–191; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Mosandl et al. 2008, pp. 38–40; Nepstad et al. 2008, entire; Foley et al. 2007, pp. 26–27; Fearnside 2005, pp. 681–683). The construction of roads are an important driver of deforestation because they provide access to previously remote areas and allow further expansion of activities that result in additional areas of deforestation and degradation (Davidson et al. 2012, p. 323; Lambin and Meyfroidt 2011, pp. 3468–3469; May et al. 2011, pp. 6, 9–11; Foley 2007, pp. 26–27; Soares-Filho et al. 2006, p. 520; Fearnside 2005, pp. 681–683; Laurance et al. 2004, entire). Historically, large areas of forest have been removed throughout Mesoamerica, and the large tracts of forest that remain, such as the Maya and Lacandon Forests, the transnational forest in the Mosquitia region, and the major transnational forest on the Atlantic border of Costa Rica and Panama, have almost been cut off from each other by deforestation (Bray 2010, p. 93). Activities that lead to deforestation and forest degradation pose a threat to the scarlet macaw because they directly eliminate the species’ tropical forest habitat by removing the trees that support the species’ essential needs for nesting, roosting, and food (see Essential Needs of the Species, above). Removing large sections of forest habitat may fragment the landscape and reduce and isolate populations. As the size of the habitat is reduced, it is less likely to provide the essential resources for species that require large ranges—such as scarlet macaws—and small patches of habitat retain far fewer species and populations than large patches (IbarraMacias 2009, p. 6; Lees and Peres 2006, pp. 203–205). Scarlet macaws use partially cleared and cultivated landscapes if the landscape provides dietary requirements and maintains enough large trees. This species is dependent on larger, older trees that have large nesting cavities. However, scarlet macaws have a better chance of surviving in large tracts of forest where suitable cavities are more common than in open and small forest remnants (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 91). Selective E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations logging can lead to forest degradation because this practice generally targets older and larger trees, thus decreasing suitable nesting sites, increasing competition, and causing the loss of current generations through an increase in infanticide and egg destruction (Lee 2010, pp. 2, 12). Indirectly, clearing or degrading forests often provides people with easier access to previously inaccessible areas inhabited by scarlet macaws, which in turn increases the vulnerability of species to overexploitation by humans (Peres 2001, entire; Putz et al. 2000, pp. 16, 23) (see Factor B discussion, below). Additionally, gaining access is also often followed by full deforestation and lands cleared for agricultural use (Kaimowitz and Angelsen 1998, in Putz et al. 2000, p. 16). Below, we provide a summary of information on deforestation and forest degradation within the range countries of the A. m. cyanoptera and northern DPS of A. m. macao. Mesoamerica Destruction of forest habitat is one of the main causes of the decline of the scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica (CONABIO 2011, p. 5; Lezama 2011, pers. comm.; McGinley et al. 2009, p. 11; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 50; Hansen and Florez 2008, pp. 48–50; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Collar 1997, p. 421; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, pp. 251–253). Habitat destruction is occurring rapidly in many areas within the range of the scarlet macaw in this region, including in Chiapas, Mexico; western Pete´n in Guatemala; eastern Olancho in Honduras; and eastern Nicaragua (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Hansen et al. 2013, entire). This region has deforestation rates that are among the highest rates in the world (Bray 2010, pp. 92–95; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Carr et al. 2006, pp. 10–11; FAO 2015, pp. 9–14); the remaining forest is fragmented and includes few large tracts of forest habitat (Bray 2010, pp. 92–93; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101). Although deforestation rates have declined in Mesoamerica since 1990, they are still very high (FAO 2010a, pp. 232–233; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; FAO 2015, pp. 9–14) and include the loss of significant amounts of primary forest (FAO 2010a, pp. 55, 259). Mexico (A. m. cyanoptera) The main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Mexico are conversion of forest to pasture and agriculture, and uncontrolled logging (Government of Mexico 2010b, pp. 22– 24; Jimenez-Ferrer et al. 2008, pp. 195– 196; Castillo-Santiago et al. 2007, p. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 1217; Oglethorpe et al. 2007, p. 85). From 1990 to 2015, Mexico lost approximately 3.7 million hectares (ha) (9.2 million acres (ac)) of total forest (FAO 2015, p. 12) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below), and had one of the largest decreases in primary forests worldwide (FAO 2010a, pp. 56, 233), although the rate slowed toward the latter part of that period (FAO 2015, p. 12). In southeastern Mexico, the area of land devoted to cattle ranching has increased dramatically due to the increase of regional meat prices and a decrease in the economy of staple crop cultivation (Jimenez-Ferrer et al. 2008, pp. 195–196; Soberanes 2018, unpaginated). Most of Mexico’s remaining scarlet macaws occur in the Lacandon Forest of the southeastern state of Chiapas. This state encourages cattle ranching through subsidies, and clearing of forest for pasture in the state is ongoing (Enriquez et al. 2009, pp. 48– 49, 58). In fact, Chiapas had the second highest rate of deforestation of Mexico’s 31 states, with forest losses averaging approximately 600 km2 (232 m2) per year (Masek et al. 2011, p. 10). Within the Lacandon Forest, cattle ranching is the most profitable activity, and it is extensive in the region (Jimenez-Ferrer et al. 2008, pp. 195–196). Outside of protected areas in the Lacandon Forest, the deforestation risk is primarily categorized as high to very high; inside protected areas the risk of deforestation is categorized as low to very low (Secretarı´a de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de Me´xico— SEMARNAT 2011, unpaginated). Monte Azules Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the Lacandon Forest, and it has been relatively successful at conserving the resources within its boundaries (Castillo-Santiago et al. 2007, pp. 1223–1224; Figueroa and Sanchez-Cordero 2008, p. 3231). However, according to Mexico’s Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Procuradurı´a Federal de Proteccio´n al Ambiente (Profepa)) more than 60 percent of illegal logging in the country occurs in 32 priority forest regions, including the reserve (Enriquez et al. 2009, pp. 28, 57). While illegal logging has received more attention from Mexico’s policy makers, efforts to address the problem have had limited success due to insufficient human and financial resources to enforce laws, and poorly designed control efforts (Blaser et al. 2010, p. 346; Enriquez et al. 2009, p. 57; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 491) (see Factor D discussion, below). From 2001 to 2007, Profepa secured about 0.13 percent of the calculated total of timber illegally extracted in the country PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6291 (CCMSS 2007, in Enriquez et al. 2009, p. 57). We are unaware of information on projected future rates of deforestation specifically in the Lacandon Forest region, but a loss of approximately 20,000 km2 (7,722 mi2) between 2000 and 2015 in the southeastern States (which include Chiapas) was projected, assuming the same rate of loss that occurred during the period 1987–2000 (Diaz-Gallegos et al. 2010, p. 194). By 2030, forest area in Mexico as a whole is projected to decrease, with anywhere from about 10 to 60 percent of mature forests lost, and up to 54 percent of regrowth forests lost (Commission for Environmental Cooperation 2010, pp. 45, 75). Mexico implements several forest conservation measures and has made significant progress in conserving forest within its boundaries (Blaser et al. 2011, pp. 344–346; Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) 2010, pp. 34– 36; Masek et al. 2011, p. 17; FAO 2010a, p. 233; Enriquez et al. 2009, pp. 4, 36– 41). However, deforestation and forest degradation continue to be a threat to the subspecies in Mexico because the clearing of forest for agriculture, cattle ranching, and illegal logging is ongoing in Chiapas and projected to continue, and illegal logging is ongoing in the largest reserve in the Lacandon Forest in conjunction with the high risk of deforestation in protected areas outside of the forest. Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera) The countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have the highest deforestation rate in Latin America (FAO 2010a, p. 232; FAO 2015, pp. 9–14). Guatemala lost 483 km2 (186.5 mi2 or 1.2 percent), Honduras lost 1,418 km2 (547.5 mi2 or 2.3 percent), and Nicaragua lost, 560 km2 (216 mi2 or 1.5 percent) of total forest, per year between 1990 and 2015 (FAO 2015, pp. 9–14) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below). Belize has a lower deforestation rate of 100 km2 (39 mi2 or 0.7 percent) per year (FAO 2015, pp. 9), but deforestation is increasing in the Chiquibul region, which is the only region scarlet macaws are known to nest in the country (Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 44–45; Salas and Meerman 2008, pp. 22, 42). The main causes of deforestation and forest degradation within the range of the scarlet macaw in these countries include clearing for agriculture and cattle ranching, illegal human settlements in protected areas, illegal logging, purposefully set fires, and in E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6292 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations some areas, activities related to drug trafficking. Some or all of these activities are ongoing in areas occupied by the species, including in the MBR in Guatemala; Rı´o Pla´tano Biosphere in Honduras; Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua; and the Chiquibul region in Belize. Guatemala (A. m. cyanoptera) Guatemala has lost approximately 1.2 million ha (3 million ac) of forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, p. 11). Approximately 38 percent of Guatemala’s remaining forest area is primary forest (FAO 2015, p. 36). Deforestation is the dominant trend nationally, but rates of loss appear to be much higher in tropical over temperate areas. The most significant threat to the conservation of biodiversity and tropical forests is habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation from wildfires, agriculture and cattle ranching, mineral and petroleum development, and drug trafficking (Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 3). Deforestation in the conifer forests of the highlands has existed for centuries, but today it mostly takes place in the Pete´n (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 310) where a population of A. m. cyanoptera occurs. Approximately 65 percent of the deforestation in Guatemala occurs in the Pete´n region, with most (approximately 60 percent) occurring outside protected areas (IARNA 2006, in Tolisana and LopezSelva 2010, p. 22). Additionally, the Pete´n of Guatemala is one of the few areas in the entire region that is still undergoing intensive tropical colonization resulting in forest loss from agriculture and represents the most intense deforestation threats to the Maya Forest (Bray 2010, pp. 100–102). Colonization pressure in the MBR is strong in the western and central regions; the human population increased 20-fold since 1960 and was predicted to double from 2008 to 2018 in the Pete´n (Bray et al. 2008, unpaginated). Habitat destruction is particularly severe in two protected areas, Laguna del Tigre National Park and Sierra del Lacando´n National Park; both of these areas were former strongholds of scarlet macaws (Garcia et al. 2008, p. 50). Furthermore, some parks that compose the MBR lost approximately 10 percent of forest cover between 1986 and 2004, with forest loss thought to be accelerating (Bray 2010, p. 100). Between 1974 and 1997, the MBR lost 65 percent of its buffer zone, and areas near roads showed increasing deforestation pressures in 1995–1997 (Hayes et al. 2002, p. 305; Bray et al. 2008, unpaginated). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Considerable efforts have been made since the start of the 21st century to reorganize the control and management of forest resources in Guatemala (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 317). In the rainforests of the Pete´n, large community-run timber concessions allow local people to improve their livelihoods on the basis of forest resources. However, forest management is hindered by high rates of deforestation and forest degradation driven by agricultural expansion, mining, illegal logging, drug-trafficking, and other threats (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 317; Reynolds 2008, pp. 6–7). Belize (A. m. cyanoptera) Belize has a lower deforestation rate (100 km2 (39 mi2, or 0.7 percent)) per year than the other countries in Mesoamerica (FAO 2015, p. 9), but deforestation is increasing in the Chiquibul region, which is the only region scarlet macaws are known to nest in the country (Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 44–45; Salas and Meerman 2008, pp. 22, 42). Belize lost 250,000 ha (618,000 ac) of total forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, pp. 9, 40). The Chiquibul National Park (CNP) is Belize’s largest protected area, measuring approximately 161,874 ha (400,000 ac). It is located in the Cayo District and within a larger forest region known as the Chiquibul Forest, which abuts the Belize-Guatemala border and is contiguous to the ChiquibulMontan˜as Mayas Biosphere Reserve that is located in the Department of Pete´n, Guatemala (Salas and Meerman 2008, p. 10). This region also includes the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. The most significant pressure on the CNP, the Chiquibul Forest, and biodiversity within this region includes deforestation from urban encroachment, agriculture expansion, wildfires, legal and illegal logging, illegal hunting, mining and oil exploration, and dam construction (Salas and Meerman 2008, pp. 45–46; Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, p. 42). The border areas of Belize, including the Chiquibul Maya Mountain that contains the CNP, Chiquibul Forest Reserve, and Caracoal Archaeological Reserve, are vulnerable because insufficient enforcement resources are available, particularly for Guatemalans who are impacting forested areas on the Belize side of the border. Satellite imagery showed 113 ha (280 ac) in the CNP had been cleared as of 1987 by Guatemalans for agricultural use, this increased six-fold to 692 ha (1,710 ac) by 1994, and to approximately 3,126 ha PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 (7,725 ac) by 2007 (FCD 2007, in Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, p. 45). Additionally, more than 405 ha (1,000 ac) of freshly cultivated area was reported in the CNP and incursions into Belize by Guatemalan armed forces have also been observed (FCD 2007, in Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, p. 45). Unlike legal extraction, which can be regulated, illegal extraction and particularly illegal extraction by non-Belizean nationals continues to escalate, which poses a greater threat to forests than legal extraction (Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 42–45). Transboundary incursions, while temporary, can have a severe impact on the forest because of the increase in demand for land for housing and farms, as well as the introduction or reinforcement of unsustainable agricultural practices (Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, p. 42). Honduras (A. m. cyanoptera) Honduras lost approximately 3.5 million ha (8.7 million ac) of forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, p. 11) and had the highest rate of deforestation in the Americas (see Tables 2a and 2b, below). The Honduran forest landscape is characterized by relative stability in temperate areas with localized areas of variability in forest cover but with continuing deforestation in tropical areas (Bray 2010, p. 104), especially in the eastern tropical broadleaved forest (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 334; Humphries et al. 1998, p. 99; Hansen and Florez 2008, p. 12). The most dramatic losses have been in the forests of the Atlantic Coast, which declined by approximately 73 percent between 1962 and 1990, compared to only 30 percent loss for other broadleaf forests in the same period (Humphries 1998, p. 99). The high level of deforestation is due to illegal logging, infrastructure (e.g., roads), institutionalized forest sector corruption, production of biofuels, and expanding agricultural frontiers (although some of the latter may be regarded as socially desirable) (Richards et al. 2003, p. 282). In the past, deforestation was due to agro-industrial development, mainly for banana plantations. However, more recently demand for land by small-scale farmers is thought to be the major cause (ITTO 2006, in Blaser et al. 2011, p. 334); often, such small-scale farmers ultimately sell the deforested land to larger farmers and agro-industrial owners (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 334). In addition, the country has a high dependence on wood as an energy E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations source for poor households; thirty-eight percent of the population uses firewood for domestic purposes, which is considered a very high consumption rate (Government of Honduras 2009, unpaginated). The Mosquitia region has been characterized by relatively low population density and inaccessibility, and its indigenous inhabitants have maintained the forest cover for centuries. However, the Honduran Mosquitia appears to be under significant deforestation pressure and continues to suffer from colonization, agricultural expansion, and illegal logging, which has led to deforestation and degradation in this region and parts of the Rı´o Pla´tano Biosphere Reserve (Bray 2010, p. 102; Anderson and Devenish 2009, pp. 256–257; Hayes 2007, pp. 733–734). Recent information indicates that loss of habitat and demand for the pet trade (see Factor B discussion, below) are significant threats in this region (Portillo Reyes 2005, in Portillo Reyes et al. 2010, p. 6; Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 8). Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera) In terms of total forest loss, Nicaragua has lost more forest than all other Central American countries except Honduras. Nicaragua has lost approximately 1.4 million ha (3.5 million ac) of forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, pp. 11, 41) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below). Much of the historic deforestation in Nicaragua was due to the expansion of cattle ranching and cotton farming until both industries declined in the 1980s, resulting in abandonment of much pasture land that left almost 1 million ha (2.5 million ac) in forest fallow (Bray 2010, p. 106). More recently, forest loss and degradation in Nicaragua was due to the expansion of agricultural and grazing land, slash-and-burn agricultural practices that create a mosaic of forest and cultivated patches across an increasing expanse of the landscape (Global Witness 2007, in McGinley 2009, p. 13). Illegal logging and institutionalized forest sector corruption have also led to forest loss and degradation (Richards et al. 2003, p. 282). Deforestation and forest degradation has also been attributed to forest fires, pests (e.g., pine bark beetle (Dendroctonus sp.)) and hurricanes, though to a much lesser degree than to anthropogenic factors (Rodrı´guez Quiros 2005, in McGinley 2009, p. 13). Farmers often use fire to clear forest and scrubland in preparation for crops, and though these practices are typically intended to be limited to a specific area, they can spread to adjacent vegetation VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 and lead to uncontrollable wildfires that result in forest and other biodiversity degradation and loss (McGinley 2009, p. 35). The Nicaraguan Mosquitia (on the Caribbean slope), which is one area where the scarlet macaw is known to occur in the country, is considered an important area of extensive lowland tropical forest that it is threatened by rapid deforestation due to colonization and the advancement of the agricultural frontier (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; McGinley 2009, p. 31; Bray 2010, p. 105). The bulk of Nicaragua’s forests on the Caribbean slope are in indigenous territories that hold rights to own their own forests, but most lack formal titles and tenure conflicts are widespread (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; McGinley 2009, p. 13). For example, Mosquitia residents contend that public management of protected areas fails to control agricultural expansion and violates indigenous ancestral rights to the land and its resources (Hayes 2007, p. 734). Illegal logging is a threat to forests in the Caribbean region and the Mosquitia (Bray 2010, p. 105). Illegal logging in broadleaf forests was estimated to be 30,000 to 50,000 m3/ year (1.1 to 1.8 million ft3/year), or approximately 50 percent of the total production (Richards et al. 2003, p. 284). However, with respect to the binational Mosquitia region, the pressures appear to be greater on the Honduran side, although areas outside the core of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve area are also under pressure (Bray 2010, p. 106). The indigenous occupied core zones of Bosawas are showing virtually no deforestation, with one such area having 97 percent forest cover in 2003 (Hayes 2007, p. 741). In contrast, the Rı´o Pla´tano Biosphere Reserve on the Honduran side of the Mosquitia is under great deforestation pressures because of failed efforts to centralize management in the government, while protection is much more effective in the Bosawas core area due to the decentralization of management in the hands of the indigenous inhabitants (Bray 2010, p. 106). Deforestation is ongoing in southeast Nicaragua and resulted in forest cover loss from 2000–2017 (Hansen et al. 2013, entire). Southeast Nicaragua includes the Indio Maı´z Biological Reserve (IMBR) and its buffer zone. The reserve is situated at the southeastern border of the country (Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 63) and is one of Nicaragua’s best preserved forested areas (Ravnborg et al. 2006, p. 2). However, the reserve is threatened by the growing human population in or PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6293 around the reserve, a result of the continuous arrival of families from other parts of the country into the region in search of cheap land (Ravnborg 2010, pp. 12–13; Ravnborg et al. 2006, pp. 4–5). Between 1998 and 2005, the population increased more than 100 percent in the municipality of El Castillo, which is composed entirely of IMBR buffer zone and core area (Ravnborg 2010, p. 10). The expansion of African palm plantations, pasture lands, human settlements, and logging have contributed to an estimated 60 percent deforestation of the buffer zones surrounding IMBR and these activities are expanding in the reserve (Fundacion del Rio and IUCN 2011, pp. 7–8; Ravnborg 2010, pp. 12–13; Nygren 2004, pp. 193–194; Ravnborg et al. 2006, p. 2). Forest conservation efforts in the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border region have resulted in lower deforestation rates within the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor, which includes the IMBR along with other protected areas (Chassot et al. 2010a, in Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 67), although both primary and regrowth forest within the corridor and within the larger border region continue to decrease due to timber extraction and agricultural expansion (Fagan et al. 2013, unpaginated; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 63; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2011, p. 1; Chassot et al. 2009, p. 9). Thus, despite the existence of protected areas, deforestation continues to occur and is a serious threat to biodiversity in this region (Fundacion del Rio 2012a, pp. 2–3; Fundacion del Rio 2012b, pp. 2–3; Fundacion del Rio and IUCN 2011, pp. 34, 37, 73–74; Chassot et al. 2006, p. 84). According to eBird (Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated), many sightings of scarlet macaws exist in southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica since the issuance of our proposed rules (77 FR 40222, July 6, 2012; 81 FR 20302, April 7, 2016), indicating that the species has continued to expand its range in this region. However, expansion of scarlet macaws in this region will likely be limited due to high rates of deforestation (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., pp. 4–8). Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao Northern DPS) Costa Rica experienced some of the highest rates of deforestation in the world historically (Bray 2010, p. 107; Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 68), and as a result, the country’s forest cover declined from 67 percent in 1940, to 17–20 percent in 1983 (Bray 2010, p. 107). Much of this deforestation was driven by agriculture and cattle ranching; however, agriculture E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6294 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations expansion was not as prevalent as livestock expansion (Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 38). Cattle ranching underwent a serious contraction after 1989 (Arroyo-Mora et al. 2005, p. 28). In 1993, only 20 percent of original scarlet macaw habitat remained, all within protected areas (Marineros and Vaughan 1995, pp. 445–446). However, during the 1990s, Costa Rica implemented several forest conservation strategies, including new laws protecting forests and mechanisms of payment for ecosystem services (Bray 2010, pp. 107– 109; Kaimowitz 2008, pp. 488–491; Pagiola 2008, entire; Sanchez-Azofeifa et al. 2003, entire). Costa Rica is the only country in Mesoamerica to experience a positive change in forest cover from 1990 to 2015 (FAO 2015, p. 10) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below). Total forest cover in 2005 was estimated to be 53 percent (Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 68), more than double the country’s forest cover in the 1980s. Between 1990 and 2015, Costa Rica gained 192,000 ha (474,442 ac) of total forest area, with an annual rate of approximately 7,700 ha (19,000 ac or 0.3 percent) (FAO 2015, p. 10). Even though Costa Rica has an increase in total forest over the past 25 years (1990–2015), some level of deforestation still occurs in parts of the country due to expansion of agriculture and livestock activities, and to illegal logging in private forests, national parks, and reserves (Government of Costa Rica 2011, p. 2; Government of Costa Rica 2010, pp. 10–11, 38, 52–54; Parks in Peril 2008, unpaginated). Fifty percent of forests in Costa Rica are found in individual rural private properties (Government of Costa Rica 2011, p. 1). The major driver of deforestation on private lands is the conversion of forest to livestock and agricultural uses. In many cases, land users generate a higher annual income with agriculture or livestock-raising than with forests. In protected areas, underfunding and lack of human resources allows the penetration of squatters and illegal loggers. Additionally, land tenure issues contribute to forest loss because indigenous communities have difficulties keeping nonindigenous farmers from encroaching onto their lands (Government of Costa Rica 2011, p. 1) National Parks on the Caribbean slope are experiencing higher deforestation on surrounding lands than those on the Pacific slopes, which is attributed to the intensification and expansion of agricultural cash crops such as banana and pineapple (Sanchez-Azofeifa et al. 2003, p. 129). However, Corcovado VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 National Park, the largest protected area in ACOSA, is one of the protected areas in Costa Rica most affected by deforestation close to its boundaries (Sanchez-Azofeifa et al. 2003, pp. 128– 129). A comprehensive study of deforestation in Costa Rica’s park system found that deforestation inside protected areas was negligible from 1987 to 1997, and that 1-km (0.62-mi) buffer zones around the protected areas had a net forest gain for the same period. However, a 1 percent annual deforestation rate was found in 10-km (6.2-mi) buffer zones, suggesting increased isolation of protected areas (Sanchez-Azofeifa et al. 2003, pp. 128– 134). Additionally, in the ACOPAC population region, more deforestation is ongoing northwest of Carara than to the south (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 12). The scarlet macaw occurs in northeastern Costa Rica, near Palo Verde and surrounding areas in northwest Costa Rica, and in the two main populations of the ACOPAC and ACOSA. Overall, Costa Rica is both losing and gaining forest cover throughout the country (Hansen et al. 2013, entire; Brightsmith 2016, in litt. p. 1). However, the best available information indicates that the scarlet macaw population in Costa Rica appears to be increasing, and Costa Rica is the only country in Central America to experience a positive change in forest cover over the past 25 years (1990– 2015). We conclude that deforestation or forest degradation in the current range of the scarlet macaw in Costa Rica is not occurring at a level that is causing a further decline in the species; however, this area is not enough to sustain the northern DPS of A. m. macao in the future in given the threats occurring in the remainder of the range. Panama (A. m. macao Northern DPS) Deforestation in Panama is relatively low for the Mesoamerica region; the annual decrease from 1990–2015 was 169 km2 (65 mi2 or 0.4 percent) (FAO 2015, p. 12) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below). Drivers of deforestation include urbanization, cattle ranching, agroindustrial development, unregulated shifting cultivation, open mining, poor logging practices, charcoal-making, and fire (ITTO 2005, in Blaser et al. 2011, p. 354). Deforestation in the country currently occurs primarily in the Darien, Colon, Ngabe Bugle, and Bocas del Toro provinces (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 354), which are outside the range in which scarlet macaw currently occurs in Panama. Illegal logging is widespread in the humid forests, even in protected areas (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 361). PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Most of Panama’s scarlet macaw population occurs on Isla Coiba, which was used by the government of Panama as a penal colony until 2004, thus limiting human access and development on the island (Government of Panama 2005, p. 23; Steinitz et al. 2005, p. 26). Consequently, forests on the island remain largely intact. The Panamanian Tourism Authority has developed a master plan for sustainable tourism for Isla Coiba (2007–2020), which includes strategic guidelines for tourism management. Further details on these guidelines are not provided, but the plan does not include infrastructure or high-impact development (UNESCO 2011c, p. 60). Available information indicates that deforestation is not occurring on Isla Coiba (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 1; Hansen et al. 2013, entire), although some level of degradation on the island may occur by a herd of approximately 2,500 to 3,500 feral cattle (UNESCO 2011c, pp. 23, 43; Suman et al. 2010, p. 25). However, the extent of the cattle’s impact is unknown. The complete eradication of the cattle from Coiba National Park was classified as a priority issue (Suman et al. 2010, p. 25), but we are not aware of information indicating that the removal of cattle has occurred. While cattle on Isla Coiba may be inhibiting the regrowth of former pasture to secondary forest, they are probably not having a significant impact on the larger forest trees on which scarlet macaws depend (Angehr 2012, in litt., unpaginated). On the mainland of Panama, in the area of the upper Rı´o Corotu´ near Puerto Armuelles and Quere´valo in the Chiriquı´ province where there have been sporadic sightings of scarlet macaws, we are unaware of information indicating that deforestation and forest degradation are impacting scarlet macaws. We are also unaware of information indicating that deforestation is occurring near the small (but unknown) number of scarlet macaws on the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya National Park and in the forest reserves just to the east. Less than 15 percent of the peninsula is covered by mature forest, but most of the remaining forest can be found in Cerro Hoya National Park and the Tronosa Forest Reserve to the east (Miller et al. 2015, p. 1). We are aware of little information on the magnitude and extent of deforestation and forest degradation on Panama’s mainland and Isla Coiba, although the most recent information indicates that deforestation is not occurring on Isla Coiba or any areas where the scarlet macaw remains in E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6295 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations very small populations on the mainland. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN concluded that the main conservation concerns (i.e., cattle) on Isla Coiba remain poorly addressed (UNESCO 2011c, p. 61). Summary Tables TABLE 2a—TOTAL FOREST AREA IN MESOAMERICA 1990–2015 Forest area (1,000 ha) 1990 Belize ................................................................................... Costa Rica ........................................................................... Guatemala ............................................................................ Honduras .............................................................................. Mexico .................................................................................. Nicaragua ............................................................................. Panama ................................................................................ 2000 1,616 2,564 4,748 8,136 69,760 4,514 5,040 2005 1,459 2,376 4,208 6,392 67,856 3,814 4,867 2010 1,417 2,491 3,938 5,792 67,083 3,464 4,782 2015 1,391 2,605 3,722 5,192 66,498 3,114 4,699 1,366 2,756 3,540 4,592 66,040 3,114 4,617 TABLE 2b—PERCENT CHANGE OF TOTAL FOREST AREA IN MESOAMERICA 1990–2015 Annual change rate 1990–2000 1,000 ha/yr Belize ............................... Costa Rica ....................... Guatemala ........................ Honduras .......................... Mexico .............................. Nicaragua ......................... Panama ............................ % change ¥15.7 ¥18.8 ¥54.0 ¥174.4 ¥190.4 ¥70.0 ¥17.3 Northwest Colombia (A. m. macao Northern DPS) Colombia has lost approximately 5.9 million ha (14.6 million ac) of forest over the past 25 years, with a steady rate of change over that time frame (FAO 2015, p. 10). In northwest Colombia, forest loss is due primarily to conversion of land to pasture and agriculture, but also mining, illicit crops, and logging (Ortega and Lagos 2011, pp. 85–86). Scarlet macaws in northwest Colombia are believed to be affected primarily by habitat loss, and to a lesser extent trade (Donegan 2013, in litt., unpaginated). The Magdalena and Caribbean regions of northwest Colombia have approximately 7 percent and 23 percent (respectively) of their land area in original vegetation, with the remainder converted primarily to grazing land (Etter et al. 2006, p. 376). The Magdalena region lost 40 percent of its forest cover between 1970 and 1990, and an additional 15 percent between 1990 and 1996 (Restrepo and Syvitski 2006, pp. 69, 72). Within the Caribbean region, Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Paramillo (460,000 ha (1,136,680 ac)), Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Colorados (Los Colorados Fauna and Flora Sanctuary) (1,000 ha (2,500 ac)), 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 1,000 ha/yr ¥1.0 ¥0.8 ¥1.2 ¥2.4 ¥0.3 ¥1.7 ¥0.3 South America VerDate Sep<11>2014 2000–2010 ¥6.8 22.9 ¥48.6 ¥120.0 ¥135.8 ¥70.0 ¥16.8 2010–2015 % change ¥0.5 0.9 ¥1.2 ¥2.1 ¥0.2 ¥2.0 ¥0.4 1,000 ha/yr ¥5.0 30.2 ¥36.4 ¥120.0 ¥91.6 0.0 ¥16.4 and Reserva Forestal de Montes de Maria (Montes Maria Forest Reserve) (7,460 ha (18,500 ac)) have lost 42, 71, and 70 percent of their forest, respectively, since they were created in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Millet et al. 2004, p. 454). The Caribbean region of northwest Colombia showed the highest projected rate of change of forest cover by the year 2030 of all regions evaluated (Gonza´les et al. 2011, p. 45). Deforestation is ongoing in northwest Colombia (Colombia Gold Letter 2012, pp. 1–2; Ortega and Lagos 2011, pp. 81– 82). Few large tracts of forest remain within the range of the scarlet macaw in this region, for instance, in the areas of Serrania de San Lucas and PNN Paramillo, but these areas in northwest Colombia are also deforestation hotspots (Ortega and Lagos 2011, p. 82; Salaman et al. 2009, p. 21). Summary of Factor A The destruction and modification of the scarlet macaw’s habitat because of deforestation and forest degradation is a threat to the scarlet macaw throughout parts of its current range, although the magnitude of this impact varies across its range. Deforestation has fragmented habitat and continues to reduce and isolate areas that support populations of scarlet macaws. It directly eliminates the species’ tropical forest habitat by PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 1990–2015 % change ¥0.4 1.1 ¥1.0 ¥2.4 ¥0.1 0.0 ¥0.4 1,000 ha/yr ¥10.0 7.7 ¥48.3 ¥141.8 ¥148.8 ¥56.0 ¥16.9 % change ¥0.7 0.3 ¥1.2 ¥2.3 ¥0.2 ¥1.5 ¥0.4 removing the trees that support the species’ nesting, roosting, and food requirements. Further, clearing or degradation of forests, including selective logging and the development of roads, provides additional opportunities for humans to expand into previously inaccessible areas, which in turn creates easier access and opportunity to exploit previously undisturbed areas. Subsequent encroachment is often followed by additional deforestation as lands are cleared for cattle ranching and agriculture. Although scarlet macaws are known to use partially cleared and cultivated landscapes, they are only able to do so if the landscape maintains enough large, older trees that provide the essential needs of the species. Deforestation rates in Mesoamerica, excluding Costa Rica, are the highest in Latin America due to expanding agriculture, cattle ranching, and selective and often illegal logging. Destruction of forest habitat is one of the main causes of the decline of scarlet macaw subspecies Ara macao cyanoptera. Throughout the range of the northern subspecies (A. m. cyanoptera) where most of the species’ historical habitat has been eliminated, evidence indicates that deforestation is ongoing. We consider deforestation and forest degradation to be an immediate threat to E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6296 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the subspecies because clearing of forest for agriculture, cattle ranching, and illegal logging that leads to the loss of scarlet macaw habitat are ongoing in Mexico in the Lacandon Forest and Chiapas, in the western Pete´n of Guatemala, and in the Chiquibul region of Belize. The Honduran Mosquitia appears to be under significant deforestation pressure and continues to suffer from rapid colonization, agricultural expansion, and illegal logging. Nicaragua lost more forest than all other Central American countries except Honduras. With respect to the binational Mosquitia region, pressure appears to be greater on the Honduran side, but Nicaragua suffers rapid deforestation due to colonization and illegal logging. The border region (Rı´o San Juan (San Juan River) of southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica has sections of contiguous forests; however, deforestation continues to occur and is a serious threat to biodiversity in this area. Throughout the range of the northern DPS of the southern subspecies (Ara macao macao) evidence indicates that Costa Rica is both losing and gaining forest cover throughout the country. Costa Rica experienced some of the highest rates of deforestation in the world historically. More recently, Costa Rica has an increase in total forest over the 25-year period from 1990–2015 and is the only country in Central America to experience a positive change in forest cover. But some level of deforestation still occurs in parts of the country due to expansion of agriculture and livestock activities, and illegal logging in private forests and in national parks and reserves. The available information indicates that the scarlet macaw population in Costa Rica appears to be increasing, and we are unaware of any information indicating that deforestation or forest degradation in the current range of the scarlet macaw in Costa Rica is occurring at a level that is causing or likely to cause a further decline in the species. In Panama, we are aware of little information on the magnitude and extent of deforestation and forest degradation on the mainland, although the scarlet macaw was described as almost extinct from mainland Panama. Currently, deforestation is concentrated in provinces outside the range of where scarlet macaws occur in Panama. On Isla Coiba, where most of the population in Panama occurs, evidence indicates large-scale deforestation is not a threat to the species. Much of northwest Colombia has been deforested and it is expected to continue VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 in the region. The Caribbean region of northwest Colombia showed the highest projected rate of change of forest cover of all regions evaluated. Forest loss in the region is due primarily to conversion of land to pasture and agriculture, mining, illicit crops, and logging. The number of scarlet macaws in northwest Colombia is unknown, but habitat loss has caused the decline of the species there, such that the species has been all but extirpated from large areas in the region. However, the region is reported to have large tracts of suitable forest habitat. The scarlet macaw subspecies (Ara macao cyanoptera and A. m. macao) in Mesoamerica are significantly impacted by deforestation in many countries in this region, which comprises less than 17 percent of the species’ range. Because deforestation is ongoing and the populations of the scarlet macaw subspecies A. m. cyanoptera are small, we consider habitat destruction and modification to be a substantial threat to the northern subspecies A. m. cyanoptera throughout its range in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (Atlantic slope). But even though deforestation continues in parts of Costa Rica, we do not find that it is occurring at a level that is an immediate threat to A. m. macao on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, especially because the data indicate that the species is likely increasing within the two main populations on the Pacific Coast. Similarly, the data indicate that deforestation is not impacting the scarlet macaw in Panama where it currently occurs. Therefore, we do not consider deforestation to be as significant of a stressor to A. m. macao in Costa Rica and Panama. However, in Colombia, habitat loss has caused the decline of the species from large areas in the region, and many of the areas in northwest Colombia are deforestation hotspots, even though the region is reported to have large tracts of suitable forest habitat. Factor B: Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes Parrots and macaws have been captured and traded for centuries in the Neotropics (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 9; Guedes 2004, p. 279; Snyder et al. 2000, pp. 98–99). Because they are colorful, adapt to captivity, and can imitate language, they are captured for their feathers and used as pets (Guedes 2004, p. 279). The scarlet macaw is a popular pet species within its range countries, and the majority of birds sold as pets remain within country (Snyder PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 et al. 2000, p. 150; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 102). Poaching of parrots from the wild is driven by demand from the pet industry and rural poverty where wild parrot populations exist. Capture for sale in local markets can provide a significant source of supplemental income in rural areas (Huson 2010, p. 58; Gonza´lez 2003, p. 438). Overall, capture for the pet trade, along with habitat loss as described above, are the main factors impacting the existence of scarlet macaws in the wild (In˜igo-Elias in litt. 1997, in Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Guedes 2004, p. 280). Because the scarlet macaw is a longlived species with a low reproductive rate, low survival of chicks and fledglings, late age to first reproduction, and large proportions of nonbreeding adults, this species is particularly vulnerable to overexploitation from harvesting (Munn 1992, p. 57; Wright et al. 2001, p. 712). Capture of parrots decreases the population, inhibits future breeding by removing reproductive age adults, causes mortality of eggs or chicks, causes the loss of or damage to nesting sites, and can stop population growth and cause local extirpations if individuals are removed year after year (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 14). When chicks are targeted, the effects on the population may be difficult to detect because scarlet macaws are long-lived and it would take time to show a decline (Wright 2001, p. 717). When adults are targeted, the population is depleted more rapidly because reproductive individuals are removed from the population and the impact is immediate (Collar et al. 1992, p. 6). Legal International Trade The United States and Europe were historically the main markets for wild birds in international trade (FAO 2011b, p. 3). Trade in parrots was particularly high in the 1980s, due to a huge demand from developed countries (Rosales et al. 2007, pp. 85, 94; Best et al. 1995, p. 234). However, in the years following the enactment of the WBCA in 1992 (16 U.S.C. 4901 et seq.), poaching levels were lower than in prior years, suggesting that import bans in developed countries reduced poaching levels in exporting countries (Wright et al. 2001, pp. 715, 718). A massive reduction occurred in the number of wild-caught parrots imported to the United States, both from Central and South America and the rest of the world, following the enactment of the WBCA (Pain et al. 2006, p. 327). The European Union, which was the largest market for wild birds following enactment of the WBCA, banned the import of wild birds in 2006 due to E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations disease concerns (FAO 2011b, p. 21), thus eliminating another market for wild birds and further reducing international trade. The scarlet macaw was initially listed in Appendix II of CITES (June 6, 1981), but effective January 8, 1985, was included in Appendix I. Species included in Appendix I are considered threatened with extinction, and international trade is permitted only under exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. Of the total live specimens reported in trade between 1985 and 2016, approximately 95 percent of the total live, wild-sourced scarlet macaws that were in trade during 1985 to 2016 were exported from Suriname, which is one of only two countries in South America that still legally export significant quantities of wildlife (Duplaix 2001, p. ii) and the only scarlet macaw range country that entered a reservation to the Appendix I listing of the species. A reservation means that these countries are treated as a country not party to CITES with respect to the species concerned. However, if a country with a reservation to a listing in the CITES Appendices wishes to trade that species with a country that has not taken the same reservation, then that trade must follow the CITES permit requirements (CITES 2018, unpaginated). Wildlife exports generate significant income and jobs in Suriname, and the country has set an annual voluntary export quota of 100 live specimens per year since 1998. The quota includes a notation that Parties may not authorize import for primarily commercial purposes (CITES 2018, unpaginated). Suriname’s wildlife export quotas are reported to be ‘‘realistic’’ in that they are based on the belief that larger parrots cannot sustain large harvests (Duplaix 2001, pp. 10, 65, 68). Actual exports of CITES listed species are often lower than Suriname’s allowed quotas (FAO 2010b, p. 42; Duplaix 2001, p. 10). However, in a number of recent years, Suriname has also reported exports in excess of its quota of 100 live specimens. Poaching Within Mesoamerica The scarlet macaw is protected by domestic laws within all countries in Mesoamerica (see Factor D discussion, below). However, enforcement of wildlife laws in these countries is generally lacking because they often do not have the resources, personnel, or both to adequately enforce their laws (TRAFFIC NA 2009, p. 20; Valdez et al. 2006, p. 276; Mauri 2002, entire). Additionally, low salaries and high unemployment in the region drives people to search for extra sources of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 income, and as a result, scarlet macaws are still captured throughout the region and traded illegally (TRAFFIC NA 2009, pp. 23–24). Due to the high mortality rate associated with capture and transport, the number of birds actually sold or exported for the pet trade represents only a portion of those removed from the wild. Cumulative mortality rates before parrots reach customers have been estimated to be as high as 77 percent; for nestlings, approximately 80 percent died before reaching a pet store (Inigo and Ramos 1991 and Enkerlin 2000, in CantuGuzman et al. 2007, p. 60). Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize (A. m. cyanoptera) Poaching has occurred at significant levels in the Maya Forest region of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, and is one of the most important factors influencing population growth of the scarlet macaw in this region, indicating that even relatively low levels of poaching could result in population declines (Clum 2008, pp. 76–80). Poaching is a persistent problem and the second largest threat to scarlet macaws in Mexico after deforestation, although information on the extent of poaching in Mexico is largely unavailable (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 62; Boyd and McNab 2008, p. xiii). In many instances, poachers damage trees to reach the birds. During the 1993 breeding season, four nest trees from a total of 41 were cut down and another was burned (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 62). Detained traffickers reported that parrot populations in Chiapas (the primary state in which the species occurs in Mexico) have decreased so much that trapping is now conducted in protected areas in Chiapas (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 14). Fewer than 50 scarlet macaws are captured annually in Mexico (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 35). Much of the scarlet macaw population in Guatemala is currently protected through conservation efforts. Prior to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) monitoring nests in 2002, poaching was a serious concern. Between 1992 and 2002, citing Proyecto Guacamaya of ProPeten data, 115 chicks were poached from the Laguna del Tigre area (Moya and Castillo Villeda 2002, in McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). However, since 2003, the severity of poaching has greatly decreased because of WCS’s conservation efforts (Garcia et al. 2008, p. 51). Although in areas where the WCS is not working and protection is lacking, which is up to 25 percent of the population in Guatemala, it is likely that these nests are poached (Boyd and PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6297 McNab 2008, p. vi; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 51). In the Chiquibul Forest in Belize, poaching is a threat to scarlet macaws, but the situation has improved in recent years. In 2011, the poaching rate was 89 percent (Breaking Belize News 2017, unpaginated). Nests were being poached by guaceros and xateros, which are Guatemalans who illegally cross the border into Belize for economic reasons. Thus, with this high percentage of poached chicks, scarlet macaws essentially had no productivity (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). Of the nests monitored in 2013, approximately 30 percent of the failed nests were attributed to poaching; these nests contained 33 percent of the total hatchlings (The Guardian Belize 2014, unpaginated). Incidences of poaching were reduced to an average of 35 percent between 2012 and 2015 (Breaking Belize News 2017, unpaginated). Over the past 5 years, the Scarlet Six team (see Conservation Measures, below) has reduced overall nest poaching from higher than 90 percent to less than 30 percent, and 2017 is the second year in a row that no known nests were poached (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). Honduras and Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera) Poaching of the scarlet macaw occurs in both Honduras and Nicaragua, although little quantitative information is available (TRAFFIC NA 2009, p. 5). In Honduras, the scarlet macaw population has decreased and is experiencing severe reproductive limits due to poaching (Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife 2011, unpaginated). Nest monitoring indicated 5 of 6 nests active in February 2003 were poached by August (McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). In 2003, an estimated 200 to 300 chicks were poached just in the Rus Rus area of the Honduran Mosquitia (Portillo Reyes et al. 2004, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). In a 2010–2011 survey of 20 nests previously used by parrots, 16 of which were scarlet macaws, 17 showed evidence of poaching including all the scarlet macaw nests (Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife 2011, unpaginated). In Nicaragua, capture of parrots for the pet trade is described as common (Herrera 2004, p. 1). Scarlet macaws are one of the three most preferred species in Nicaragua’s parrot trade and are among the main CITES-species harvested for illegal trade in the country (McGinley et al. 2009, p. 16; Lezama 2008, abstract; Nicaragua Ministerio del Ambiente y Los Recursos Naturales E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6298 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations (MARENA) 2008, p. 25). Based on interviews with locals, Nicaraguan poachers bring chicks into Honduras from Nicaragua, where they more easily enter into trade (Portillo-Reyes et al. 2004, in McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). Confiscations and prosecutions by government authorities occurred in 2009 in the Caribbean region of the county and in 2010 in Managua where a dozen scarlet macaws were for sale (McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). Parrot populations in Nicaragua have declined by as much as 60 percent since the mid-1990s, although the loss of habitat has also contributed to the decline (MARENA 2008, p. 51). Additionally, the small population in the Cosigu¨ina Nature Reserve on the Pacific Coast suffers from poaching of both chicks and adults (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). residents interviewed believed that scarlet macaws were still being poached in the ACOSA, although 85 percent of the interviewees believed numbers of scarlet macaws were increasing (Dear et al. 2010, pp. 10–13). Forty-three percent of the interviewees mentioned that less poaching occurs now than before, and none said the activity had increased (Dear et al. 2010, p. 13). Therefore, it is believed that poaching is ongoing but has decreased and the ACOSA population is increasing (Dear et al. 2010, p. 19). Based on interviews, it was estimated that 25 to 50 chicks are poached each year (Dear et al. 2005, p. 19). In 2006, 11 of 57 (19 percent) potential nest cavities found in ACOSA were reported by local residents as recently poached, but the actual number of poached nests is likely greater (Guittar et al. 2009, pp. 390, 392). Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) Historically, scarlet macaws in Costa Rica experienced heavy poaching pressure. Of 56 known nest cavities in the ACOPAC studied from 1992 to 2000, 64 percent were considered at high risk and 23 percent were at medium risk (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 8; McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). In studies conducted in the 1990s in Carara National Park, which is the traditional stronghold of the ACOPAC population of scarlet macaws, 56 to 64 percent of evaluated nest sites showed signs of being poached with some nests poached yearly (Vaughan et al. 2003, pp. 6, 8; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Marineros and Vaughan 1995, p. 460). However, anti-poaching efforts in ACOPAC during 1995–1996 may have increased recruitment into the population (Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 127). From 2004 to 2009, most of the poached animals were paca (Cuniculus paca), but scarlet macaws were also poached and were among the top four species identified by park officials as most at risk of poaching, local extinction, or both (Huson 2010, pp. 19–20). Hunting is important in the communities for both subsistence and monetary gain; with low-income communities surrounding the park, the incentives to poach are great (Huson 2010, p. 66). A significant effort to control poaching in the Carara area is ongoing because poaching continues to be a serious problem (Vaughan 2005, pers. comm., in McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). However, the ACOPAC population of scarlet macaws was believed to be selfsustaining, even with heavy poaching pressure (Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 128). In 2005, in the ACOSA, approximately half (48 percent) of Panama (A. m. macao) Little information is available on capture of scarlet macaws in Panama, although it was a factor leading to the virtual extirpation of this species from the country (McReynolds 2016, in litt. unpaginated). Trade in rare and endangered species is a constant threat in the country due to the high prices paid for these animals and their parts (Parker et al. 2004, p. II–6; Keller and Schmitt 2008, abstract). Additionally, poaching is a common occurrence in rural areas because wild game is a traditional source of protein for residents (Parker et al. 2004, p. II–6). Cerro Hoya National Park is located within Panama’s most impoverished province, and thus the capture of scarlet macaws is a potential threat because campesinos (a Latin American Indian farmer or farm laborer) invade unoccupied lands and poaching for sustenance and monetary gain is common (Government of Panama 2005, p. 36). Moreover, despite a program to use captive scarlet macaw feathers to cut down on hunting of wild birds for their feathers, hunting still occurs and poaching of chicks for pets remains a problem at Cerro Hoya National Park (Rodriquez and Hinojosa 2010, in McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). While scarlet macaws may occasionally be illegally captured on Isla Coiba, we are not aware of any information that poaching is currently a threat to the species on the island. The scarlet macaw primarily occurs on the south end where poaching is a possibility. However, based on interviews with the owner of Bird Coiba (the bird guide service for the island), two rangers with many years of experience on the island, and a discussion with the superintendent of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Isla Coiba National Park, poaching is not a known problem on the island (McReynolds 2016, in litt. unpaginated). The island has no permanent habitations except a police base and the ranger base; the island has no roads and very few maintained trails, which are all short; and access is by boats that are boarded and checked regularly (McReynolds 2016, in litt. p. 8). Summary of Factor B Parrots and macaws have been captured and traded for centuries in the Neotropics. Despite regulation of international scarlet macaw trade through CITES, the WBCA, and similar stricter measures by the European Union, some level of international trade occurs with wild scarlet macaws. However, most scarlet macaws reported in trade are from non-wild sources; were captive-bred; or were parts, feathers, or scientific specimens rather than live birds. Of the wild-sourced, live birds, the vast majority were exported from Suriname, which is reported to set realistic quotas. Therefore, international trade of scarlet macaws is not a current threat to the species. The scarlet macaw is a popular pet species within its range countries and overutilization as a result of poaching for the pet trade is a significant threat to the scarlet macaw in some areas of its current range. The scarlet macaw is susceptible to overharvest because it is a long-lived species with a low reproductive rate and it is slow to recover from harvesting pressures; thus, removal of individuals year after year can stop population growth and cause local extirpation. Most harvested birds likely remain within the species’ range countries. The subspecies Ara macao cyanoptera occurs mainly in small populations; thus, poaching wild birds for the pet trade is detrimental to sustaining these populations. Evidence suggests poaching occurs at significant levels in the Maya Forest region, where even moderate levels of poaching could cause a decline in these already small populations. Many of the scarlet macaws nesting sites in Guatemala are currently protected through conservation efforts compared to nesting sites in Mexico; therefore, success rates in Mexico are almost certainly lower than in Guatemala, even though about 25 percent of Guatemala’s population is unprotected. In Belize, nest poaching has been dramatically reduced over the past 5 years but continues. Although quantitative data from Honduras and Nicaragua are lacking, poaching is recognized as a significant threat to the scarlet macaws in these countries. E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations The subspecies Ara macao macao in Costa Rica and Panama has experienced heavy poaching pressure historically. Efforts to control poaching are ongoing in Costa Rica, but it continues to be a substantial problem. Little information is available regarding poaching of scarlet macaws in Panama. It is one factor that led to the near extirpation of this species from mainland Panama and remains a concern at Cerro Hoya National Park. Poaching is not a threat on Isla Coiba. The scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica consists mostly of small populations, and it is reasonable to conclude that any level of poaching poses a significant threat to the species in this portion of its range, especially considering the susceptibility of scarlet macaws because of its reproductive traits. The available information indicates that poaching of Ara macao cyanoptera chicks and adults is a significant stressor throughout its range. Populations of A. m. macao in Costa Rica on the Pacific slope are likely increasing even with poaching pressure, indicating that poaching may not be a major threat in Costa Rica. However, poaching continues and remains a concern. Little information exists regarding poaching of scarlet macaws in Panama, but because poaching was one of the reasons for the species’ almost extirpation on the mainland and the remaining populations are very small and susceptible to poaching, we consider poaching to be a stressor to scarlet macaws on mainland Panama. We are not aware of information regarding the level of poaching in northwest Colombia. Factor C. Disease or Predation In our proposed rule (77 FR 40237– 40238; July 6, 2012), we concluded that disease and predation are not threats to the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw or the northern DPS of the southern subspecies. We received no additional information indicating otherwise. Factor D: Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms Forest Conservation Regulations With the exception of Belize, all countries in the range of A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao have a national or subnational policy framework on forests and their management, although Belize has a variety of regulations that protect their natural resources. Of those countries with a policy framework, all but Colombia have specific national forest laws in support of these policies, but VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 laws supporting national forest policy in Colombia are incorporated within other laws (FAO 2010a, pp. 302–303). All range countries except Belize also have National Forest programs that provide the framework to develop and implement their forest policies, although the status of Panama’s program is unknown (for information on regulatory mechanisms pertaining to forest management in scarlet macaw range countries see: Pen˜a-Claros et al. 2011, entire; Espinosa et al. 2011, pp. 21–26; FAO 2011c, p. 78; Government of Colombia 2011, pp. 89–91, 203–211; Guignier 2011, pp. 12–22; Larson and Petkova 2011, entire; May et al. 2011, pp. 16–55; Stern and Kernan 2011, pp. 52–54, 88– 90; United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN–REDD) 2011, unpaginated; Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Development 2010, pp. 54, 57–58; Blaser et al. 2010, pp. 263– 267, 277– 281, 291–293, 300–302, 311– 312, 320– 323, 334–337, 345–346, 365– 367, 376– 377, 394–396; CIFOR 2010, p. 45; FAO 2010a, pp. 150–158, 302–303; Government of Belize 2010, pp. 27–34; Sparovek 2010, pp. 6046–6047; Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, pp. 24–28; Bauch et al. 2009, entire; McGinley et al. 2009, pp. 18–30; Patriota 2009, pp. 612–615; Trevin and Nasi 2009, entire; Byers and Israel 2008, pp. 29–34; Torres-Lezama et al. 2008, entire; Hopkins 2007, pp. 398– 405; Playfair 2007, entire; Portilla and Eguren 2007, pp. 19–32; World Bank 2007, pp. 10–28, 71–76; Clark 2006, pp. 19–29; Grenand et al. 2006, pp. 49, 54– 56; Baal 2005, unpaginated; Parker et al. 2004, pp. III–1–III–8, Annex H, Annex I; Government of Belize 2003, entire; Bevilacqua et al. 2002, pp. 6–9; Mauri 2002, entire; Vreugdenhil et al. 2002, pp. 6–10). Habitat destruction or modification from deforestation and forest degradation occurs in most portions of the range of the A. m. cyanoptera. Many, if not all, of these countries have regulations aimed at conserving forested area, but for the most part they are not able to adequately enforce their regulations due to lack of financial, personnel, and technical resources; conflicts over land ownership, which can lead to illegal logging and expansion of agriculture and pasture; and lack of oversight or coordination with a governing body. In the northern DPS of the southern subspecies A. m. macao, Costa Rica is both losing and gaining forested land, but we are unaware of any information indicating that deforestation or forest degradation in the current range of the PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6299 scarlet macaw in Costa Rica is occurring at a level that is causing a decline in the species. Forest area has increased over 25 years and the range of scarlet macaws on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica has increased. In Panama, although largescale deforestation is not occurring where the small populations of scarlet macaws are currently known to exist, small-scale logging continues with little oversight and significantly contributes to ongoing forest degradation. In northwest Colombia, even though the region is reported to have large tracts of suitable forest, many of the areas in northwest Colombia are deforestation hotspots. Habitat loss has caused the decline of the species from large areas in the region, and existing regulations have not been sufficient to reverse the transformation of natural ecosystems. Major forest reserves have been degraded from their original condition. Therefore, the existing regulatory mechanisms addressing this threat in Panama and Colombia are not adequate to protect forested land that the species depends on. Illegal Capture and Trade The scarlet macaw is protected under CITES, an international agreement among governments to ensure that the international trade of CITES-listed plant and animal species does not threaten species’ survival in the wild. Under this treaty, CITES Parties (member countries or signatories) regulate the import, export, and re-export of specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant and animal species. Trade under CITES is authorized through a system of permits and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES Management Authority of each CITES Party (CITES 2018, unpaginated). All the countries within the range of the scarlet macaw are Parties to CITES. However, when the species was included in Appendix I in 1985, Suriname (along with three European countries: Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) entered a reservation to the listing (Austria withdrew its reservation in 1989) (UNEP–WCMC 2012, unpaginated). A reservation means that a country is treated as not a party to CITES with respect to the species concerned. However, if a country with a reservation to a listing in the CITES Appendices wishes to trade that species with a country that has not taken the same reservation, then that trade is subject to the CITES permit requirements since the non-reserving Party is bound by the CITES requirements (CITES 2018, unpaginated). The import of scarlet macaws into the United States is also regulated by the E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6300 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations WBCA, which was enacted on October 23, 1992. The purpose of the WBCA is to promote the conservation of exotic birds by ensuring that all imports of exotic birds to the United States are biologically sustainable and not detrimental to the species in the wild. The WBCA restricts the import of most CITES-listed live or dead exotic birds. Import of dead specimens is allowed for scientific purposes and museum specimens. Permits may be issued to allow import of listed birds for various purposes, such as scientific research, zoological breeding or display, or personal pets, when certain criteria are met. The Service may also approve cooperative breeding programs and subsequently issue import permits to allow the import of birds for use in such programs. The United States may also approve foreign sustainable use management plants under the WBCA. At this time, the scarlet macaw is not part of a Service-approved cooperative breeding program, and very few wildcaught birds have been recorded for importation. The Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42; 16 U.S.C. 3371–3378) was originally passed in 1900, and was the first Federal law protecting wildlife. Today, it provides civil and criminal penalties for the illegal trade of animals and plants. Under the Lacey Act, in part, it is unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold: (1) In violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law; or (2) in interstate or foreign commerce, any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law. The Lacey Act covers all fish and wildlife and their parts or products, plants protected by CITES. Although illegal trapping for the pet trade occurred at high levels during the 1980s, international trade has decreased significantly as a result of tighter enforcement of CITES regulations, adoption of the WBCA, and similar stricter measures under European Union legislation, along with adoption of national legislation in range countries (Snyder et al. 2000, p. 99). Based on the best available data, we found no information indicating international trade is currently a threat to the scarlet macaw populations. The laws and regulations that govern capture and trade of scarlet macaw in the range countries are briefly discussed below. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Mexico (A. m. cyanoptera) The General Law of Wildlife for Mexico establishes that no bird specimen corresponding to the family Psittacidae or psittacid (including Ara macao cyanoptera), whose natural distribution is within the national territory, may be subject to extractive exploitation for subsistence or commercial purposes, especially species that are endemic, threatened, endangered, or protected by international treaties (Official Mexican Standard NOM–059–SEMARNAT–1994; Animal Legal and Historical Center 2018, unpaginated; Cantu-Guzman 2007, p. 45). Mexico considers the scarlet macaw to be in danger of extinction within the country (Government of Mexico 2010a, p. 32). The Secretariat may only grant authorizations for extractive use for conservation or scientific research purposes. Responsibility for implementation lies with Profepa, the agency of the Environment Ministry in charge of policing environmental laws (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 45). The most serious difficulty Profepa faces in the combat against illegal bird trade is the limited number of inspectors it has for the whole country (Profepa 2002, in Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 45). Seizures by Profepa was estimated at approximately 2 percent of the annual illegal trade, which represents a very small portion of the number of parrots captured each year (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 49). Of the 65,000 parrots that were captured annually, data indicate as few as up to 50 scarlet macaws (or less than 0.1 percent of the total parrots) were captured annually in Mexico, even though some of these may be from Central American countries (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 35). From 1995 to 2005, 144 scarlet macaws were seized by Profepa (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 52). Guatemala (A. m. cyanoptera) National hunting legislation was first passed in Guatemala in 1970, with the mandates of this national policy reinforced in the legislation passed on protected areas in 1989. Hunting is widely used by most rural residents in Guatemala to supplement food and income needs, and is largely unregulated and inconsistently monitored (Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44). Most of the data on hunting has not been published or systematically organized to indicate the magnitude or intensity of local and national hunting pressures (CECON–PROBIOMA 2005, in Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44). PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 National and municipal agencies generally have insufficient human resources, have insufficient training, and lack the necessary equipment to effectively monitor or mitigate hunting impacts, and much of the monitoring that does occur is done on a relatively haphazard basis by different research institutions and nongovernmental organizations (Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44). A similar situation to unregulated hunting exists for the capture and sale of live animals to supply the pet trade, research institutions, and zoological collections. Scarlet macaws are overexploited; nestlings are taken from their tree cavity nests prior to fledging and sold on the local market in the Pete´n (Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44). Guatemalan authorities do a relatively good job of trying to control this traffic, but rumors that scarlet macaw chicks can fetch $300–$600 USD on the black market continue to fuel illegal trade within the country (Muccio 2009, p. 14). Belize (A. m. cyanoptera) Belize’s Wildlife Protection Act provides for the regulation of hunting and the commercial dealing in wildlife. It prohibits hunting of specific species, in closed areas, and of immature wildlife or females accompanied by their young. It is administered by the Forest Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (Government of Belize 2010, p. 29). This law prohibits hunting of the scarlet macaw and prohibits hunting wildlife in a forest reserve without a license (Wildlife Protection Act 2000, entire). Scarlet macaws have been poached by Guatemalans (guaceros and xateros) that illicitly cross the border into Belize for economic reasons. Most poaching is opportunistic. Past incidences of conflict between law enforcement and Guatemalan nationals have occurred (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). The Belize Defense Force cooperates with the Scarlet Six team to deter poaching scarlet macaw chicks (see Conservation Measures, below). Honduras (A. m. cyanoptera) Three institutions are charged with biodiversity conservation in Honduras: The Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA); the Secretariat of Agriculture and Cattle Ranching (SAG); and the ICF who develops programs, regulations, or projects for biodiversity conservation with an emphasis on species in danger of extinction (Hansen and Florez 2008, p. 17). Internal legislation concerning biodiversity centered on a 1990 E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations government decree prohibiting the capture and sale of wildlife within Honduras. However, it has been criticized for contributing to illegal trafficking of wildlife through neighboring countries, particularly through the sparsely populated border with Nicaragua (Anderson and Devenish 2009, p. 257). A National Biodiversity Strategy was published in 2000 (Anderson and Devenish 2009, p. 257). However, no specific legislation to manage biodiversity exists (World Bank 2007, p. 12).Wildlife is sold openly in the streets, and families maintain scarlet macaws as pets (Hansen and Florez 2008, p. 22). Also, despite the Rı´o Pla´tano Biosphere Reserve’s status, poaching occurs within its boundaries. Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera) Historically, wildlife in Nicaragua has been used as food for poor rural and indigenous populations, for sport hunting, for medicinal and cultural use, and as pets (MARENA 2008, p. 22). Illegal capture and trade of wildlife species is also a source of income (McGinley et al. 2009, p. 16). Despite the scarcity of records, laws to regulate wildlife trade in Nicaragua have existed since the late 19th century. MARENA is a key agency responsible for conservation of endangered species in Nicaragua. In 2008, 123 species were permanently banned from harvest or use, and another 61 species were partially banned; many of these banned species are also listed by the IUCN or by CITES. Hunting of the scarlet macaw is prohibited (Nicaraguan laws 559 and 641; FAOLEX 2018, unpaginated). Nonetheless, these national species protection bans are rarely applied and enforced (McGinley et al. 2009, p. 22). The scarlet macaw is a principal species involved in illegal trade (McGinley et al. 2009 p. 16; MARENA 2008, p. 25). On the Caribbean coast, commercial harvesting occurs of species such as scarlet macaws, which is not currently subject to a harvesting quota and are sold on the local market (MARENA 2008, p. 25). Nicaragua’s adoption of CITES has led to improvement in the management and regulation of domestic and international wildlife trade. Nonetheless, the existing legal framework is inadequate for the protection and sustainability of domestic wildlife trade (McGinley et al. 2009, p. 22). Furthermore, nonregulatory instruments, such as monitoring, research, education, and information, are poorly, if at all, used in the oversight of commercial wildlife trade in Nicaragua (McGinley et al. 2009, p. 22). VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) Costa Rica’s Wildlife Conservation Law and its amendments prohibit the hunting, collection, and extraction of species, except in certain cases for subsistence by indigenous groups, scientific purposes, or species control (Costa Rican Embassy 2013, unpaginated; NOVA 2013, unpaginated; Tico Times 2017, unpaginated). The Biodiversity Law has the objective of conserving biodiversity and the sustainable use of the resources, as well as to distribute in an equitable manner the benefits and derived costs. The law includes the obligation of the state to avoid and prevent damage or destruction, present or future, to human, animal, or plant health, or to the integrity of the ecosystems, and to avoid any risk or danger which threatens the permanence of ecosystems (Hopkins 2007, p. 404). Costa Rica has protected its resources through an ambitious national parks and biological reserves system, but they are inadequately funded and insufficiently controlled (Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 34). Poaching by local communities is a problem of great concern; hunting within national park boundaries is illegal, but such activities are difficult to monitor and enforce with limited funds and supervision (Huson 2010, p. 18; Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 52). This limitation is reported in Carara National Park, in which park officials believe that they do not have enough enforcement staff to effectively control poaching (Huson 2010, p. 8). Panama (A. m. macao) To protect and regulate the use of wildlife, flora and fauna, the Panamanian government has created numerous laws. The initial legislation protecting Panama’s biological diversity was Law 23 (1967) on the protection and conservation of wildlife (Parker et al. 2004, p. III–2). Another important piece of legislation is Resolution DIR– 002–80 (1980) that identifies 82 species in danger of extinction and bans hunting, capturing, buying, selling, or exporting of all species included in this list (Parker et al. 2004, p. III–2). Scarlet macaw is one of these species. Other important regulatory mechanisms include Resolution DIR–003–80 (1980) that regulates wildlife in captivity and its importation and exportation, and the Wildlife Law 24 (1995), which establishes that wildlife is part of the natural heritage of Panama and provides for the protection, restoration, research, management and development of the country’s genetic resources, including PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6301 rare species (Parker et al. 2004, p. III– 2; Blaser et al. 2011, p. 355). The Panamanian national police force is responsible for preventing all infractions of the law, such as hunting violations (Parker et al. 2004, p. III–8). ANAM counts on police support, which is often more concerned about major crime, and routinely treats environmental infractions as minor nuisances. Local corregidores (i.e., local administrative officials) often have little knowledge of environmental laws and little impact on their enforcement, but these local officials are important links in the enforcement of environmental laws, and have influence on resident’s behavior (Parker et al. 2004, p. V–10). Training officials adjacent to or within protected areas results in less illegal hunting and harvesting in protected areas (Parker et al. 2004, pp. III–2, V– 10). Nonetheless, sport and commercial hunting without regulation and subsistence hunting in the country continue. Colombia (A. m. macao Northern DPS) Under Colombian wildlife legislation, all wildlife belongs to the State; although local communities (e.g., mayors, regional autonomous corporations, indigenous reserves) have the right to participate in decisions regarding resources under their jurisdictions and to enjoy a healthy environment (International Institute for Environment and Development 2018, unpaginated; Blaser et al. 2011, p. 297). Wildlife legislation stipulates a general ban on hunting, but subsistence hunting and fishing are allowed provided no ban is in place for a particular species. In 1994, illegal hunting was established as a crime in the penal code, which includes penalties for poaching and illicit use of renewable natural resources (Gomez et al. 2015, unpaginated). Trade of scarlet macaws taken from the wild is forbidden in Colombia, although regulations are not always followed and scarlet macaws are involved in illegal trade in the country (CITES 2001, p. 8). The Colombian National Army and National Police are cooperating with the Ministry of the Environment to protect the country’s wildlife and combat illegal wildlife trafficking, much of that illegally acquired wildlife is intercepted near the northern Colombian coasts (Pedraza 2015, unpaginated). Summary of Illegal Capture and Trade Legal international trade is not a current threat because of international laws such as CITES, the WBCA, and similar stricter measures under European Union legislation that restrict the trade of wild scarlet macaws. All E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6302 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations birds from the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in Belize (Schmidt 2013, abstract). Gene flow occurs between nest sites in Guatemala and Belize, and levels of genetic diversity are high in the trinational region (Schmidt and Amato 2008, p. 137), but the Belize population may be more isolated from the Guatemala and Mexico populations (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 8). The isolation of populations and subsequent loss of genetic exchange would impact the population at different timescales. In the short term, populations may suffer the deleterious consequences of inbreeding; over the long term, the loss of genetic variability diminishes a species’ capacity to adapt to changes in Summary of Factor D the environment (Blomqvist et al. 2010, entire; Reed and Frankham 2003, pp. We found threats discussed under 233–234; Nunney and Campbell 1993, Factors A and B to be threats to the pp. 236–237; Soule´ and Simberloff species throughout all of the range of 1986, pp. 28–29; Franklin 1980, pp. subspecies A. m. cyanoptera, except on 140–144). Isla Coiba, Panama; and in the range of Negative impacts associated with the subspecies A. m. macao in Costa small population size and vulnerability Rica (Factor B only), Panama, and to random demographic fluctuations or Colombia west of the Andes (Factor A natural catastrophes may be further only). The existing regulatory magnified by synergistic interactions mechanisms do not appear to be with other threats, such as those adequate to address threats, primarily discussed in Factors A and B. because these countries lack resources Small populations that are declining to effectively enforce all their laws. Therefore, we conclude that the existing can be especially vulnerable to habitat regulatory mechanisms are not adequate loss (O’Grady et al. 2004, pp. 513–514). As bird assemblages in forest habitat are to protect subspecies A. m. cyanoptera reduced because the size of the habitat throughout all of its range, and the is reduced, smaller areas are less likely northern DPS of A. m. macao from the to provide the essential resources for threats of deforestation and species such as scarlet macaw that have overutilization. large ranges. Thus, deforestation in Factor E: Other Natural or Manmade combination with other negative Factors Affecting the Species’ Continued impacts can have profound effects and Existence potentially reduce a species’ effective population (the proportion of the actual Small Population Size and Synergistic population that contributes to future Effects of Threats generations) by orders of magnitude Small, isolated populations place (Gilpin and Soule´ 1986, p. 31). For species at greater risk of local example, an increase in habitat extirpation or extinction due to a variety fragmentation can separate populations of factors, including loss of genetic to the point where individuals can no variability, demographic and longer disperse and breed among habitat environmental stochasticity, and natural patches, causing a shift in the catastrophes (Lande 1995, entire; demographic characteristics of a Lehmkuhl and Ruggiero 1991, p. 37; population and a reduction in genetic Gilpin and Soule´ 1986, pp. 25–33; Soule´ fitness (Gilpin and Soule´ 1986, p. 31). and Simberloff 1986, pp. 28–32; Shaffer This risk is especially applicable for 1981, p. 131; Franklin 1980, entire). scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica, where Stochastic events that put small the species was once wide-ranging but populations at risk include, but are not has lost a significant amount of its limited to, variation in birth and death historical range due to habitat loss and rates, fluctuations in gender ratio, degradation. Large forests areas have inbreeding depression, and random been removed throughout Mesoamerica environmental disturbances such as fire and the large tracts of forest that remain, such as the Maya and Lacandon Forests, and climatic shifts (Blomqvist et al. the transnational forest in the Mosquitia 2010, entire; Gilpin and Soule´ 1986, p. region, and the transnational forest on 27; Shaffer 1981, p. 131). the border of Costa Rica and Panama, Overall levels of genetic variation in have almost been cut off from each other the scarlet macaw remain high, but a by deforestation (Bray 2010, p. 93). decrease in diversity was noted among range countries have laws and policies that aim to prevent illegal capture and trade of scarlet macaws, although some hunting and capture continues. However, illegal capture for the domestic pet trade within most range countries occurs at a level that is likely to negatively impact the species throughout all of the range of subspecies A. m. cyanoptera, and in the range of the subspecies A. m. macao in Costa Rica and Panama. Because capture for the pet trade is ongoing and poses a threat to scarlet macaws in these regions, we conclude that the regulatory mechanisms addressing this threat in these regions are inadequate. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Scarlet macaws may use partially cleared and cultivated landscapes if the landscape provides dietary requirements and maintains enough large trees because this species is dependent on larger, older trees that have large nesting cavities. However, scarlet macaws have a better chance of surviving in large tracts of forest where suitable cavities are more common than in open and small forest remnants (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 91). Commercial exploitation of scarlet macaw chicks may further contribute to inbreeding depression and loss of genetic diversity. However, other large, long-lived avian species have demonstrated significant retention of molecular diversity after marked declines, thus indicating that longevity of the species may act as an intrinsic buffer against the rapid loss of genetic variation (Schmidt 2013, pp. 132–133). But the presence of high genetic variation in long-lived species may mask demographic instability introduced by habitat alteration and overexploitation, resulting in a sudden and marked loss of diversity (Schmidt 2013, p. 133). Systematic removal of scarlet macaw nestlings over extended periods of time has likely produced an unstable age distribution in the trinational region (Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize), heavily skewed toward older individuals with low recruitment (Clum 2008, p. 79). Historically, the scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica existed in much higher numbers in more continuous habitat. Currently, the scarlet macaw occurs in relatively small and fragmented populations within Mesoamerica; most populations in this region are believed to contain approximately 100 to 700 individuals, with only two populations potentially containing more than 1,000 individuals. The total population size for scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica is likely no greater than 5,000 individuals. Overall, suitable habitat is becoming increasingly limited and is not likely to expand in the future. Therefore, the species’ reproductive and life-history traits, combined with its limited and fragmented habitat, increases the species’ vulnerability to deforestation and overutilization in the A. m. cyanoptera and northern DPS of A. m. macao subspecies due to the small size of the species’ populations. Competition for Nest Cavities Competition for suitable nest cavities limits reproductive success by limiting the available nesting sites and thus limiting the number of pairs that can breed, or by causing nest mortality as a result of agonistic interactions. E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Intraspecific competition between different pairs of scarlet macaws, and competition with pairs of other macaw species, is reported to be intense in some areas (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, p. 5; Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 96; Nycander 1995, p. 428). Competition for nesting sites occurs throughout the scarlet macaw’s range. In Mexico, species including other psittacines (Amazona farinosa, Amazona autumnalis), toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus), and falconiforms (Herpetotheres cachinnans) breed synchronously with scarlet macaws and compete to use the same nest cavities (Inı´go-Elias 1996, p. 61). In Costa Rica, quality nest sites appear to be in demand because at least four pairs of scarlet macaws were seen competing for the same nest cavity, which may be a limiting factor in the successful fledgling in the population (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10). Additional avian nest competitors include chestnut-mandibled toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii), barred forest falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus), and yellow-napped parrot (Amazona auropalliata) (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10). At a remote site in southeastern Peru, approximately 70 percent of the nesting attempts involved competition over nests (Brightsmith 2010, unpaginated). Competition for nest sites with other macaws was found to be the primary cause of failure of nests with chicks. Scarlet macaws and red-andgreen macaws (Ara chloropterus) frequently compete for nest cavities, which have been recorded annually. The smaller and less competitive scarlet macaws are at a disadvantage, perhaps contributing to their use of a wider range of cavity resources (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, p. 5). Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) are also reported to be a serious competitor with scarlet macaws for nest cavities (Garcia et al. 2008, p. 52; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 13; Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 61). Africanized honey bees are an exotic species originally introduced in Brazil in 1956 (Whitfield et al. 2006, p. 644). They subsequently spread throughout South and Central America, displacing naturalized European honey bees (Apis mellifera), and arriving in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize around 1986 (Whitfield et al. 2006, pp. 643–644; Clarke et al. 2002 and Rogel et al. 1991, in Berry et al. 2010, p. 486; Fierro et al. 1987, unpaginated). Africanized honey bees occur at higher densities and are more aggressive than naturalized European honey bees (Rogel 1991 and Clarke et al. 2002, in Berry et al. 2010, p. 486). Studies in Mexico, Guatemala, VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 and Costa Rica reported bees attacking nests with eggs and chicks and that the bees usurped nesting cavities, resulting in the failure of the scarlet macaw nest (Inı´go-Elias 1996, p. 61; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 52). Additionally, breeding pairs of scarlet macaws were attacked when they approached the nest cavity (Inı´go-Elias 1996, p. 61; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 52). Because these bees occur throughout the scarlet macaw’s range in Central and South America and have demonstrated a negative effect on scarlet macaw nesting, we assume these bees are competitors for nest cavities throughout the scarlet macaw’s range, but we are unaware of any other data or information regarding the magnitude of these impacts on scarlet macaw nesting success. Climate Change Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and projected changes in climate and the effects of any such change. Described in general terms, climate refers to the mean and variability of different types of weather conditions over a long period of time, which may be reported as decades, centuries, or thousands of years. The term ‘‘climate change’’ thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures of climate (e.g., temperature, precipitation) that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, and whether the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, p. 78). Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species, and these may be positive or negative depending on the species and other relevant considerations, such as the effects of interactions with non-climate conditions (e.g., habitat fragmentation). We use our expert judgment to weigh information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of the effects of climate change that are relevant to the scarlet macaw. Several studies project various changes in climate in Mesoamerica and the Amazon by the mid- to late century or sooner (Karmalkar et al. 2011, entire; Kitoh et al. 2011, entire; Giorgi and Bi 2009, entire; Anderson et al. 2008, entire; Cook and Vizy 2008, entire; Li et al. 2008, entire; Christensen et al. 2007, pp. 892–896). Although there are uncertainties in these models and variation in projections, the general trajectory under most scenarios is one of increased warming in Mesoamerica and the Amazon, and decreased precipitation in Mesoamerica and some areas of the Amazon. Several studies PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6303 project changes in habitat in areas of the species’ range, either from the effects of climate change or from the effects of climate change in combination with deforestation (Imbach et al. 2011, abstract; Marengo et al. 2011, entire; Asner et al. 2010, entire; Vergara and Scholz 2010, entire; Malhi et al. 2009, entire; Malhi et al. 2008, entire; Nepstad et al. 2008, entire). However, high levels of uncertainty remain in projecting habitat changes within the species’ range (see review by Davidson et al. 2012, entire), and there is no consensus on the type or extent of habitat changes that will occur. Therefore, because the scarlet macaw is tolerant of a relatively broad range of ecological conditions; occurs in a variety of habitat types including wet forest, dry forest, and savanna provided they contain suitable nest cavities and roosting sites; has a broad diet including nonnative species; and is known to inhabit patchworks of forest and human-modified landscapes, we assume the scarlet macaw is likely to adapt to some level of change in its environment provided its essential needs are met. Overall, we are unaware of any information indicating that the effects of climate change are now causing, or will in the future cause, declines in the scarlet macaw population. Summary of Factor E Small population size and competition for next cavities may be threats to the scarlet macaw in some parts of its range in Mesoamerica and northwest Colombia. Populations have a high level of genetic diversity, but they remain vulnerable to stochastic demographic and environmental events because of their small populations. Competition for nest cavities may be a limiting factor and likely reduces reproductive success. The general consensus is that the scarlet macaw’s range is going to become hotter and drier; however, the scarlet macaw is tolerant of a relatively broad range of ecological conditions. Because the species persists in small and mostly isolated populations, threats often operate synergistically, particularly when populations of a species are decreasing. Thus, the initial effects of one threat factor can exacerbate the effects of other threats (Gilpin and Soule´ 1986, pp. 25–26). Within the preceding review of the five factors, we have identified threat factors A and B that may have interrelated impacts on this species, particularly in Mesoamerica. The species’ productivity in Mesoamerica may be reduced because of any of these threats, either singularly or in E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6304 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations combination. For example, deforestation reduces the amount of nesting cavities, which increases competition among pairs of scarlet macaws and other species for nesting sites. Deforestation and the infrastructure that may accompany it creates access to previously inaccessible areas, thereby opening up new areas of the species’ range to the threat of poaching and further habitat loss. Therefore, because the populations of scarlet macaw are small and mostly isolated in Mesoamerica, and these small populations are subject to a combination of threats, we believe that small population size is a contributing stressor to scarlet macaws throughout Mesoamerica, including the entire range of subspecies A. m. cyanoptera and the range of A. m. macao in Costa Rica, Panama, and northwest Colombia. Conservation Measures Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws Reintroduction efforts for the scarlet macaw have occurred throughout the range of A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of the southern subspecies A. m. macao. We briefly discussed some of the reintroduction efforts in our July 6, 2012, and April 7, 2016, proposed rules to list the scarlet macaw (77 FR 40222 and 81 FR 20302, respectively). However, based on public and peer reviewer comments we received, we are incorporating additional information regarding these conservation efforts and programs that reintroduce captive-bred and confiscated scarlet macaws back into the wild within their respective historical ranges. We received information on some of the release sites and reintroduction programs and describe many of them, although we may not have information on every reintroduction program occurring for scarlet macaws. Most, if not all, of the reintroduction sites are within, adjacent to, or at least within flight distance of currently existing populations. Because of the increasing number of reintroduction projects involving various species worldwide, the IUCN Species Survival Commission published guidelines for reintroductions to help ensure that reintroduction efforts achieve intended conservation benefits and do not cause adverse side effects of greater impact (IUCN/SSC 2013, entire; IUCN/SSC 1998, entire). Additionally, recommendations were made specific to parrot reintroductions based on a review of previous releases and reintroductions of psittacines worldwide (White et al. 2012, entire). We considered these guidelines and recommendations when evaluating the effectiveness of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 reintroduction programs to conserve scarlet macaw throughout its range in Mesoamerica. Reintroduction of Ara macao cyanoptera Mexico In 1993, Xcaret began a program of scarlet macaw reproduction in captivity, developing and using the best protocols for hand rearing, and establishing new procedures to facilitate parental rearing of the chicks without human intervention (Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 51). The aim is to rear captive-bred macaws that will adapt to the wild successfully and not require post-release supplemental feeding (Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 48). The release program began in 2013. Xcaret supplies captive scarlet macaws for reintroduction at two sites in Mexico: (1) Palenque, Chiapas; and (2) Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz (Xcaret 2014, unpaginated). The Palenque, Chiapas, release site is located in forested habitat of Aluxes Ecopark of Palenque, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center that encompasses 44 ha (108 ac). This site is approximately 0.5 km (0.3 mi) from Palenque National Park (Amaya et al. 2015, p. 457) and more than 100 km (62 mi) away from the nearest current wild population (Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 21). All scarlet macaws used for reintroduction were captive bred at Xcaret Ecopark. In the April 7, 2016, proposed rule (81 FR 20302), we identified the program in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, in which 96 scarlet macaws were released between April 2013 and June 2014, with a 91 percent survival rate as of May 2015, including nine nesting events and successful use of wild foods by released birds (Estrada 2014, p. 345). Results of the reintroduction program in Palenque, Chiapas, show that the dietary diversity and breadth of the reintroduced scarlet macaws closely approaches that of wild macaws; the reintroduced birds have the capacity to find and track wild food sources; they have very low mortality in the released population (9 percent); they have had nine successful nesting events, including seven in natural cavities (Estrada, unpublished, in Amaya et al. 2015, p. 471); and they have expanded their foraging and activity range outside of the release site (Amaya et al. 2015, pp. 466–471). This reintroduction appears successful at integrating captive-reared scarlet macaws into the wild and could be a model for reintroduction efforts throughout the range. During the years of 2008–2010, the status of parrot species in Los Tuxtlas, PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 Veracruz, Mexico, was assessed by obtaining data on abundance, habitat use, and date of pet trade. Only three species out of the nine species previously reported remain in this area (De Labra et al. 2010, p. 599). Scarlet macaw was not recorded, and there is a consensus of local and historical extinction of the Ara macao in this region (Schaldach and Escalante 1997 and Winker 1997, in De Labra et al. 2010, p. 607). Since that time, La Otra Opcio´n is a 336-ac (136-ha) private ecological reserve and breeding center for endangered species in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve buffer zone has worked to reintroduce scarlet macaws in the Los Tuxtlas region. In 2014, scarlet macaws were reintroduced to this area after disappearing for 40 years, and to date, more than 100 scarlet macaws have been released (Raigosa et al 2016, in Defenders of Wildlife 2016, in litt., p. 4; Mexico Daily News 2017, unpaginated; Escalante 2016, unpaginated). Many captive-bred scarlet macaws remain in the wild with pairing observed and potential nesting (Mexico Daily News 2017, unpaginated; Escalante 2016, unpaginated). Thus, this reintroduction effort appears moderately successful integrating scarlet macaws into the wild population in Mexico. The reintroduction programs in Palenque and Los Tuxtlas were aligned with the IUCN guidelines and the recommendations made by White et al. 2012. After the first year of implementation in Palenque, the number of reintroduced and surviving macaws raises the number of extant macaws in the wild in Mexico by about 34 percent (Estrada 2014, p. 360). Considering Palenque and Los Tuxtlas together, the population of scarlet macaws in Mexico has increased up to 82 percent in 3 years (Rodriguez 2016, unpaginated; Lopez 2018, unpaginated). Guatemala The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) started working in Guatemala in 1992, with the mission of conserving the MBR as one of Mesoamerica’s most important wildlife conservation areas. The MBR is the last stronghold for scarlet macaws in Guatemala and contains the most important nesting area for the species in the country. The WCS has worked to reduce poaching, protect nesting sites from deforestation, monitor nesting success and distribution, construct artificial nests, provide environmental education in local communities, and create a captiverelease program (WCS 2016, pp. 6–16). In addition, they started a veterinarian evaluation program, supplementary E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations feeding, and management of wild chicks during nesting season (WCS 2018, unpaginated). In June 2016, WCS placed six rehabilitated chicks in safe scarlet macaw nests (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 9). With these interventions, they have increased the number of fledglings per nest (WCS 2018, unpaginated; WCS 2016, p. 11). WCS Guatemala is also working in collaboration to eradicate wildlife trafficking between Belize and Guatemala. The Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (Asociacio´n Rescate y Conservacio´n de Vida Silvestre (ARCAS)) is a rehabilitation and breeding-for-release center for Guatemalan wildlife that has been confiscated from the black market by the Guatemalan government. Since its establishment, the ARCAS Rescue Center has grown into one of the largest and most complex wildlife rehabilitation centers in the world and a leader in training programs for other wildlife rescue groups and veterinary students (Oakland Zoo 2018, unpaginated). In October 2015, in Pete´n, ARCAS released nine captive-bred scarlet macaws into the wild in Guatemala, which was the first time captive-bred scarlet macaws were released into the wild in Guatemala. At least 60 percent of the released birds survived more than 10 months on their own, showing that they successfully adapted to the environment and were able to feed and fly on their own. This program for rehabilitation and release has generated quantifiable results that can be used to prove the viability of such a strategy in the reinforcement of the depleted scarlet macaw population of the Sierra del Lacando´n National Park, which is where the scarlet macaws were released and is one of the largest and best protected natural areas in the MBR (ARCAS 2016, pp. 5–6). In 2016, they planned to release 10 more scarlet macaws (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 10), but we do not have any information regarding the results of this release. Belize In Belize, the protection of the scarlet macaw in the Chiquibul region is provided by numerous organizations, some of which have joined efforts to improve protection with the goal of increasing the chance of survival for this species (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute 2015, unpaginated). For example, the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team (Scarlet Six), Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), and the Belize Self-Defense Forces work together to reduce illegal gold mining; timber extraction; and poaching of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 animals, particularly scarlet macaw chicks. The FCD rangers patrol the Chiquibul Forest, collaborate with the Scarlet Six, and receive support from the Belize Defense Force. Their goal is to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the western Chiquibul-Maya Mountains (FCD 2016, p. 4). In addition to protecting scarlet macaws in the wild, the FCD also started a captive-rearing program modeled after successful programs in Mexico and Guatemala (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). If a nest cannot be effectively protected by the rangers while the chicks are growing, or if a nest produces a third chick that will not survive, FCD removes the chicks from the nest and brings them to the lab. All eight macaws in 2015’s cohort successfully fledged, but it took until January 2016 before they left the area for good (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). The FCD also signed an agreement with WCS in Guatemala and Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. in July to coordinate research, management, and conservation efforts of scarlet macaws in the Maya Forest (FCD 2016, p. 13). In January 2016, FCD signed an extended agreement of cooperation with Asociacio´n Balam for the protection of the Chiquibul ecosystem for the period 2016–2020. This agreement primarily seeks to jointly promote the protection of the Chiquibul Maya Mountains ecosystem and reduce conflict among communities located on the Belize and Guatemala adjacency zone (FCD 2016, p. 9). Honduras In Honduras, scarlet macaws have been released into multiple sites. Releasing scarlet macaws at the Isla Zacate Grande biological station in Honduras began around 1996–1997 (Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 50; Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). A private reserve released scarlet macaws on the island. This reintroduction effort started with four chicks; a few years later, they received and released another five scarlet macaws (adults and chicks) of unknown origin (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). About 20 scarlet macaws have been released at the site (Bjork 2008, pp. x, 17–18; Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 50). Some of the reintroduced birds have ranged outside the release point to nearby communities and the adjacent island of Amapala, Honduras. Released birds have been observed around the Gulf of Fonseca, where Paso Pacifico is conducting a scarlet macaw conservation program on the Cosigu¨ina Peninsula, Nicaragua (see ‘‘Nicaragua,’’ below), which hosts a small wild population of 20 to 50 birds (Paso PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6305 Pacifico 2017, unpaginated; Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). Isla Zacate Grande is approximately 35 km (22 mi) (overwater) from the Cosigu¨ina Peninsula, an overland flight distance within documented range for scarlet macaws (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). Although no formal records are kept, nesting activity has been observed in artificial nests placed in natural hollows (Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 50). However, as a model, there are concerns about the reintroduction at this site because disease testing was not performed; there was no documentation of the project; the birds have no fear of humans and continue to depend on regular supplemental food; and the birds appear to have been conditioned to nest in inappropriate situations (i.e., low to the ground), which makes them highly vulnerable to human and non-human predators alike. High security and longterm daily maintenance is required (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x; Bjork 2008, pp. 17–18). A reintroduction of scarlet macaw at the Copa´n archaeological site (Parque Arqueolo´gico Copa´n Ruinas) in Honduras began in 2011. The World Parrot Trust, the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve, the Institute of Anthropology and History of Honduras and the Association Copa´n have organized a long-running program to return the scarlet macaw to the Parque Arqueolo´gico Copa´n Ruinas, a national park (Raigoza Figueras 2014, pp. 50–51). The Macaw Mountain scarlet macaw breeding program is releasing birds into the forests surrounding the Copa´n Ruins (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 6). Most of the birds come from private donations of pet birds; others were confiscated by the Environment Office of the Public Ministry (Macaw Mountain 2017, unpaginated). In 2018, scarlet macaws released produced seven chicks (World Parrot Trust 2019, unpaginated). We are not aware of the release methods or if this program takes into account the IUCN guidelines and White et al. (2012) recommendations. However, this program has been judged a resounding success (Macaw Mountain 2019, unpaginated; Asociacio´n Copan 2017, unpaginated). A macaw conservation and local development program was started in the Mosquitia region of Honduras by the Lafeber Company, Dr. Kim Joyner, indigenous peoples of several villages, the Forestry Service of Honduras, Universidad Nacional Auto´noma Honduras, and the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 7; Lafeber 2018, unpaginated). This program started in 2010, and in 2011 through 2012, confiscated scarlet E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6306 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations macaws were released at the village Mabita. Once these birds grew large enough to fly, they were released from their cages, slowly learning to fly around the village. Government officials have released more birds, for a total of 22, and approximately 16 regularly visit the village, coming in every morning to feed. The earliest birds released in Mabita (in 2011) have an active nest; they have produced two chicks, which demonstrates that the program can successfully raise birds to reproduce in the wild (Lafeber 2018, unpaginated). However, it is not ideal that the birds are so dependent on humans for food. We are not aware of the release methods or if this program takes into account the IUCN guidelines and White et al. (2012) recommendations. Nicaragua Paso Pacifico works throughout Nicaragua, focusing on the natural ecosystems of Central America’s Pacific slope (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 5). In 2015, they launched a scarlet macaw conservation program in the Cosigu¨ina Volcano area of northern Nicaragua (Paso Pacifico 2017, unpaginated). With financial support from the Loro Parque Fundacio´n, among others, community rangers protect and monitor the remaining scarlet macaws. Their objectives are to establish accurate baseline information about the population, focusing on demographics, nesting success, and habitat use in the reserve; to strengthen the ability of the Nicaraguan army to deter poachers; to involve and empower the local community to protect nesting scarlet macaws; and to increase awareness among Ministry of Environment officials and the Nicaraguan environmental community (Loro Parque Fundacio´n 2015, unpaginated). They have also been working closely with families from La Salvia, the village nearest to the scarlet macaw nesting area, through an educational program involving birdwatching and other field-based activities that highlight the significance of the scarlet macaw and the dry tropical forests at Cosigu¨ina (pasopacifico 2017, unpaginated). Two scarlet macaw chicks have safely fledged, which was the first successful macaw nest documented in this area in over 20 years (pasopacifico 2017, unpaginated). Reintroduction of Ara macao macao Costa Rica On the Nicoya Peninsula in northwestern Costa Rica, scarlet macaws are currently released at Punta Islita, Playa Tamboor, and Curu´ National VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 Wildlife Refuge, which are all within 50 km (31 mi) of each other. It is difficult to determine how these populations will fare over time because these populations are fairly isolated, but these three release sites could help repopulate the Nicoya Peninsula (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 15). The Punta Islita release site is situated in the tropical moist forest of Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast; wild scarlet macaws had been locally extinct in this area for decades. Between 2011 and 2018, 37 scarlet macaws were released at this site (Ara Project 2017, unpaginated). We have no data concerning the current status of the released birds. At Curu´, scarlet macaws were released starting in January 1999. Ten of the 13 birds released were still alive after 4 years, and pairs have attempted to nest in natural tree cavities in two different years, but no chicks have been produced (Brightsmith et al. 2005, p. 468). At Playa Tambor, we do not have information on the number of scarlet macaws released into the wild or the success of the releases at this site. Within the scarlet macaw’s range in southwestern Costa Rica, a few reintroduction programs exist around the Gulf (Golfo Dulce) and the Osa Peninsula. These include Santuario Silvestre de Osa (SSO), which releases birds close to Piedras Blancas National Park; Zoo Ave, which releases birds in the Golfito area; Amigos de las Aves, which releases offspring of confiscated birds in Alajuela, Punta Banco (Dear et al. 2010, pp. 15–17; Forbes 2005, p. 97); and Tiskita Lodge and the Ara project, which releases birds in Tiskita Jungle Lodge’s private reserve also in Punta Blanco (Ara Project 2018, unpaginated). These organizations receive and release birds confiscated from poachers from all parts of the country (Dear et al. 2010, p. 15). Seventy-seven scarlet macaws were released in 1997; as of 2002, almost 90 percent of the released birds were still alive (Dear et al. 2010, p. 16). Additionally, the range of birds released at Punta Banco has grown to reach 84 km2 (32 mi2) (Forbes 2005, in Dear et al. 2010, p. 17). The breeding center in Alajuela has since closed and moved to Tiskita (Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). Between 2002 and 2014, nine groups of birds were released in Tiskita, most of which are thriving and reproducing in the wild (Ara Project 2018, unpaginated; Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). To date, the survival rate is close to 90 percent, and at least five pairs have successfully fledged chicks in natural cavities since 2008. Over 75 scarlet macaws have been released into the wild at this site (Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 unpaginated). This reintroduction program has ceased because a viable population has been established that is large enough to potentially connect with populations in the ACOSA that are farther north along the coast (Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). Thus, releases could potentially aid in recolonization of the macaw population’s original range, to the extent that the habitat within that range remains suitable. In total, the past and ongoing reintroduction efforts have added hundreds of scarlet macaws to the wild in Costa Rica. Additionally, most reintroduction projects conduct environmental education at a local level and attract additional media attention at the local and national level. As a result, each reintroduction project educates the public about the importance of scarlet macaws and of conservation and the environment in general (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 22). Impacts of Reintroducing Captive-Bred Scarlet Macaws Into the Wild Releases of captive scarlet macaws could increase the wild populations because many of the reintroduced captive-raised and confiscated birds are released adjacent to existing populations or at least within the range that scarlet macaws are known to disperse, and some of the release birds have adapted to surviving in the wild by finding mates and food and nesting resources similar to what wild scarlet macaws use. In addition, releases of scarlet macaws could potentially aid in recolonization of the population’s original range in Mesoamerica, to the extent that the habitat within that range remains suitable and programs are available to protect scarlet macaws in the wild from poachers. Conversely, releases of captive scarlet macaws could potentially pose a threat to wild populations by exposing wild birds to diseases for which wild populations have no resistance, invoking behavioral changes in wild macaws that negatively affect their survival, or compromising the genetic integrity of wild populations (Dear et al. 2010, p. 20; Schmidt 2013, pp. 74–75; also see IUCN 2013, pp. 15– 17). However, generally speaking, disease risks are small because the probable frequency of occurrence is low (see Factor C discussion in 77 FR 40237–40238; July 6, 2012). Other Conservation Programs Conservation programs operate in some areas of the scarlet macaw’s range but not throughout its entire range. Many partner organizations work together to implement these E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations conservation programs that study and aim to increase the viability of scarlet macaw populations in the wild. To the extent that we have information indicating the effects of these programs on the scarlet macaw’s status, we included information in the Factors Affecting the Species, above. In addition, general conservation measures such as education, use of artificial nest boxes, and nest monitoring are discussed below. Because too many organizations exist to list them all here, we summarize the general actions taken. Organizations in certain regions where scarlet macaws persist conduct the following conservation efforts: (1) Implement education programs that promote the scarlet macaw, as well as sustainable forest management, because much of the territory in the scarlet macaw’s range is held by local communities or indigenous people (Ara Project 2017, unpaginated; Vaughan et al. 1999, entire; WCS 2010, entire; FAO 2010a, pp. 238–239, Blaser et al. 2011, pp. 312, 346; Marineros and Vaughan 1995, pp. 462–463); (2) Protect and monitor nests to reduce poaching, which has reduced overall nest poaching in Belize from higher than 90 percent to less than 30 percent, with 2017 the second year in a row that no known nests were poached, and has greatly decreased the severity of poaching in Guatemala (Harbison 2017, unpaginated; Garcia et al. 2008, p. xii); (3) Construct artificial nest boxes, which increases nesting sites and ultimately recruitment (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10; Brightsmith 2000a, entire; Brightsmith 2000b, entire; Brightsmith 2005, p. 297; Nycander et al. 1995, pp. 435–436); and (4) Use local conservation organizations to coordinate conservation activities with stakeholders (Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 123; WCS 2008, entire). Finding Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the implementing regulations in part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Section 3 of the Act defines an ‘‘endangered species’’ as ‘‘any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,’’ and a ‘‘threatened species’’ as ‘‘any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the species and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 considered the five factors in assessing whether the scarlet macaw meets the definition of an endangered species or threatened species. We examined the best scientific and commercial information available regarding factors affecting the status of the scarlet macaw. We reviewed the petition, information available in our files, information provided by peer review and public comments, and other available published and unpublished information. Final Determination for the Northern Subspecies (Ara macao cyanoptera) The northern subspecies of scarlet macaw, Ara macao cyanoptera, exists in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, eastern Costa Rica, and Isla Coiba in Panama. Little quantitative data on historical populations are available, but evidence indicates that the range of this subspecies has been greatly reduced and the total current population of A. m. cyanoptera, based on available data (see Table 1), is estimated to be approximately 2,000 to 3,000 individuals. The primary threats we identified to A. m. cyanoptera are habitat loss due to activities that cause deforestation and forest degradation (Factor A), poaching for the pet trade and sustenance (Factor B), and small population size that works in combination with the other threats (Factor E). The existing regulatory mechanisms are not adequate to protect the species from these threats to the level that the species is not in danger of extinction (Factor D). Destruction of forest habitat is one of the main causes of the decline of A. m. cyanoptera. Deforestation rates in Mesoamerica, excluding Costa Rica, are the highest in Latin America due to expanding agriculture, cattle ranching, and selective and often illegal logging. Throughout the range of the subspecies where most of the species’ historical habitat has been eliminated, deforestation is rapidly occurring, including in all the forested areas where scarlet macaws currently exist (except Isla Coiba, Panama). Activities that lead to deforestation and forest degradation directly eliminate the scarlet macaw’s tropical forest habitat by removing the trees that support the species’ essential needs for nesting, roosting, and food. Scarlet macaws are known to use partially cleared and cultivated landscapes, but they are only able to do so if the landscape maintains enough large, older trees that provide the essential needs of the species. Poaching, mainly for the pet trade but also for sustenance, is the other main cause of decline of A. m. cyanoptera. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6307 The scarlet macaw is a popular pet species within its range countries, and overutilization as a result of poaching is a significant threat to A. m. cyanoptera (except on Isla Coiba, Panama). The scarlet macaw is susceptible to overharvest because it is a long-lived species with a low reproductive rate and slow to recover from harvesting pressures. Thus, removal of individuals year after year can inhibit population growth and cause local extirpation. Evidence suggests poaching occurs at significant levels in the Maya Forest region, even with conservation measures such as monitoring and protecting nesting sites in Guatemala and Belize, and is a significant threat in Honduras and Nicaragua. Poaching is exacerbated by habitat removal because it increases access to previously inaccessible areas, thereby opening up new areas to poaching. Most if not all of the countries within the range of A. m. cyanoptera have regulations aimed at conserving forested lands, biodiversity, and prohibit poaching of scarlet macaws. However, these countries are not able to adequately enforce their regulations due to lack of resources, conflicts over land ownership that lead to illegal logging and expansion of agriculture and pasture, and lack of oversight or a governing body to enforce the regulations. Some range countries employ conservation measures such as protecting nesting sites from poachers and reintroducing captive-bred scarlet macaws into the wild. While these programs have had success protecting nests from poachers and slightly increasing the number of scarlet macaws in the wild in some populations (see Conservation Measures, above), many of the reintroduction programs do not have data to show long-term viability of reintroduced birds. Therefore, while conservation measures have had a positive impact on the populations of A. m. cyanoptera, these conservation actions occur in small sections of the range of the subspecies and the threats identified above are ongoing. Scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica maintain a high level of genetic diversity, but because of the few populations and the small numbers in each of the populations, and their virtual isolation from other populations due to deforestation, they remain vulnerable to extirpation and extinction. Fewer than 5,000 scarlet macaws remain in this relatively large geographic area. Because of the extent of the decline in the range and numbers of Ara macao cyanoptera due to ongoing habitat destruction and degradation, poaching, E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6308 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations the lack of enforcement of existing regulatory mechanisms addressing these threats, and the small population sizes that work in combination with the other threats, we find that these threats place A. m. cyanoptera in danger of extinction. Therefore, on the basis of the best scientific and commercial information available, we find that A. m. cyanoptera meets the definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ in accordance with the definition in the Act. Final Determination for the Northern DPS of Southern Subspecies (Ara macao macao) The range of Ara macao macao north and west of the Andes has been greatly reduced and fragmented. The scarlet macaw has been almost extirpated from mainland Panama and much of its former range in Costa Rica. Its remaining distribution is on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica, in the Chiriquı´ province and at the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya National Park in Panama, and in northwest Colombia. Because information indicates that the ACOPAC and ACOSA populations in Costa Rica, which make up the bulk of the northern DPS of A. m. macao, may be stable and likely increasing and expanding their range on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica, it is reasonable to conclude that the northern DPS of A. m. macao is not currently in danger of extinction and does not meet the definition of an ‘‘endangered species’’ under the Act. A threatened species’’ is ‘‘any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ The Act does not define the phrase ‘‘foreseeable future,’’ but we interpret it to describe the extent to which we can reasonably rely on the predictions about the future in making determinations about the future conservation status of the species. We conclude that it is reasonable to rely on the information contained in the studies discussed above under ‘‘Factors Affecting the Species’’ involving landuse trends and population sizes, as well as the information regarding enforcement of existing regulations and other factors that negatively influence the species, to make a determination about the future conservation status of the northern DPS of A. m. macao. Poaching continues and remains a concern for the future viability of the species for the foreseeable future. In Panama, poaching of scarlet macaws was one factor that led to the virtual extirpation of this species from the mainland, and poaching remains a concern at Cerro Hoya National Park, VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 which is one of the only locations where a very small population of scarlet macaws exists on mainland Panama. Additionally, the best available information indicates that the population in northwest Colombia faces significant ongoing threats from deforestation within the foreseeable future. No current population estimates are available for northwest Colombia, and this region is reported to have large tracts of suitable forest habitat, but many areas in northwest Colombia are considered deforestation hotspots. Thus, although the two largest populations currently appear to be increasing, they both are small and their total range represents only a portion of the range of the northern DPS. Therefore, we find that the best available information indicates that current threats to scarlet macaws in northwest Colombia (deforestation); ongoing poaching of scarlet macaws in Costa Rica and mainland Panama; ongoing, small-scale, subsistence logging in Panama; inadequate enforcement of existing regulations; and the small population sizes of scarlet macaws in this region put this DPS in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. On the basis of the best scientific and commercial information available, we find that the northern DPS of A. m. macao meets the definition of a ‘‘threatened species’’ in accordance with the definition in the Act. Similarity of Appearance Final Determination for Southern DPS of Southern Subspecies (Ara macao macao) In our proposed rule we found that the southern DPS of the southern subspecies A. m. macao did not warrant listing as an endangered species or a threatened species based on its status. However, we determined that it is advisable to treat the southern DPS as a threatened species based on its similarity of appearance to the northern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses of A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao. Section 4(e) of the Act authorizes the treatment of a species, subspecies, or distinct population segment as endangered or threatened if: ‘‘(A) [S]uch species so closely resembles in appearance, at the point in question, a species which has been listed pursuant to [section 4 of the Act] that enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the listed and unlisted species; (B) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional threat to an endangered or threatened species; and (C) such treatment of an PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 unlisted species will substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the policy of this [Act].’’ All applicable prohibitions and exceptions for species treated as threatened under section 4(e) of the Act due to similarity of appearance to a threatened or endangered species will be set forth in a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act. Several factors make differentiating between scarlet macaw listable entities difficult. First, the scarlet macaw subspecies, Ara macao macao and Ara macao cyanoptera, primarily differ in the coloration of their wing coverts (a type of feather) and wing size. But these differences are not always apparent, especially in birds from the middle of the species’ range (which may include crosses between A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao), sometimes making it difficult to visually differentiate between subspecies (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.; Weidenfeld 1994, pp. 99– 100). According to information received from the Service’s Forensics Laboratory, many scarlet macaw remains submitted for examination by Office of Law Enforcement special agents and wildlife inspectors do not consist of intact carcasses; rather, evidence is usually in the form of partial remains, detached feathers, and artwork incorporating their feathers. Therefore, identification of the subspecies or the geographic origin of these birds is difficult or improbable without genetic analysis, which would add considerable difficulties and cost for law enforcement. Second, we are not aware of any information indicating that distinguishing morphological differences between the northern and southern DPSs of A. m. macao would allow for visual identification of the origin of a bird of this subspecies. Lastly, aviculturists have bred the species without regard for taxa, resulting in crosses of the two subspecies (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) that maintain a combination of characteristics of either parent being present in trade (Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 103). As a result, the similarity of appearance between an unlisted southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses to the listed northern DPS of A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera may result in the ability to pass off a protected specimen as an unlisted DPS or unlisted subspecies cross and poses an additional threat to the northern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies A. m. cyanoptera. Therefore, we consider this difficulty in discerning an unlisted southern DPS and unlisted subspecies crosses from the listed northern DPS of A. m. macao and E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations subspecies A.m. cyanoptera as an additional threat to the listed entities. The close resemblance between the listed and the unlisted entities would make differentiating the listed scarlet macaws (the subspecies Ara macao cyanoptera and the northern DPS of the subspecies Ara macao macao) from those that are not listed (individuals of the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crossings (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao)) difficult for law enforcement to enforce. Therefore, we determine that treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) under the 4(e) similarity of appearance provisions of the Act will substantially facilitate law enforcement actions to protect and conserve scarlet macaws. If the southern DPS of A. m. macao or subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) were not listed, importers and exporters could inadvertently or purposefully misrepresent a specimen of A. m. cyanoptera or the northern DPS of A. m. macao as a specimen of the unlisted entity, creating a loophole in enforcing the Act’s protections for listed species of scarlet macaw. Thus, the listing will facilitate Federal and State lawenforcement efforts to curtail unauthorized import and trade in A. m. cyanoptera or the northern DPS of A. m. macao. Extending the prohibitions of the Act to the similar entities through this listing of those entities due to similarity of appearance under section 4(e) of the Act and providing applicable prohibitions and exceptions in a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act will provide greater protection to A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao. Although the 4(e) provisions of the Act do not contain criteria as to whether a species listed under the similarity of appearance provisions should be treated as endangered or threatened, we find that treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as threatened is appropriate because the 4(d) rule, for the reasons mentioned in our finding below, provides adequate protection for these entities. For these reasons, we are proposing to treat the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as threatened due to the similarity of appearance pursuant to section 4(e) of the Act. 4(d) Rule When a species is listed as endangered, certain actions are prohibited under section 9 of the Act VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 and our regulations at 50 CFR 17.21. These include, among others, prohibitions on take within the United States, within the territorial seas of the United States, or upon the high seas; import; export; and shipment in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity. Exceptions to the prohibitions for endangered species may be granted in accordance with section 10 of the Act and our regulations at 50 CFR 17.22. The Act does not specify particular prohibitions and exceptions to those prohibitions for threatened species. Instead, under section 4(d) of the Act, the Secretary, as well as the Secretary of Commerce depending on the species, was given the discretion to issue such regulations as deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of such species. The Secretary also has the discretion to prohibit by regulation with respect to any threatened species any act prohibited under section 9(a)(1) of the Act. For the scarlet macaw, the Service is exercising our discretion to issue a 4(d) rule. By adopting the existing parrot 4(d) rule for the scarlet macaw, we are incorporating all prohibitions and provisions of 50 CFR 17.31 and 17.32. However, import and export of certain scarlet macaws into and from the United States and certain acts in interstate commerce are allowed without a permit under the Act, as explained below. The 4(d) rule will apply to the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (Ara macao macao) and to crosses of the two scarlet macaw subspecies, A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera. We are including subspecies crosses in this rule because aviculturists have bred the species without regard to their taxa, resulting in crosses of the two subspecies being present in trade. All prohibitions of 50 CFR 17.31 will apply to A. m. macao and subspecies crosses of A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera, except that import and export of certain A. m. macao and subspecies crosses into and from the United States and certain acts in interstate commerce will be allowed without a permit under the Act, as explained below. For activities otherwise prohibited under the 4(d) rule involving specimens of the southern DPS of the scarlet macaw and subspecies crosses, such activities will require authorization pursuant to the similarity-of-appearance permit regulations at 50 CFR 17.52. If an applicant is unable to meet the issuance criteria for a similarity-of-appearance permit and demonstrate that the scarlet macaw in question is a subspecific cross or originated from the southern DPS, PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 6309 authorization for an otherwise prohibited activity would need to be obtained under the general permit provisions for threatened species found at 50 CFR 17.32. For activities otherwise prohibited under the 4(d) rule involving specimen of the northern DPS of the scarlet macaw (A. m. macao), such activities would require authorization pursuant to the general permit provisions for threatened species found at 50 CFR 17.32. Import and Export The 4(d) rule will apply to all commercial and noncommercial international shipments of live and dead southern subspecies of scarlet macaws and subspecific crosses of A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera and their parts and products, including the import and export of personal pets and research samples. In most instances, the rule will adopt the existing conservation regulatory requirements of CITES and the WBCA as the appropriate regulatory provisions for the import and export of certain scarlet macaws. The import into the United States and export from the United States of birds taken from the wild after the date this species is listed under the Act; conducting an activity that could take or incidentally take scarlet macaws; and foreign commerce must meet the requirements of 50 CFR 17.31 and 17.32, including obtaining a permit under the Act. However, the 4(d) rule allows a person to import or export without a permit issued under that Act if the specimen either: (1) Was held in captivity prior to the date this species is listed under the Act; or (2) is a captivebred specimen, provided the export is authorized under CITES and the import is authorized under CITES and the WBCA. If a specimen was taken from the wild and held in captivity prior to the date this species is listed under the Act, the importer or exporter must provide documentation to support that status, such as a copy of the original CITES permit indicating when the bird was removed from the wild or museum specimen reports. For captive-bred birds, the importer must provide either a valid CITES export/re-export document issued by a foreign Management Authority that indicates that the specimen was captive-bred by using a source code on the face of the permit of either ‘‘C,’’ ‘‘D,’’ or ‘‘F.’’ Exporters of captive-bred birds must provide a signed and dated statement from the breeder of the bird confirming its captive status, and documentation on the source of their breeding stock. The source codes of C, D, and F for CITES permits and certificates are as follows: E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 6310 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations (C) Animals bred in captivity in accordance with Resolution Conf. 10.16 (Rev.), as well as parts and derivatives thereof, exported under the provisions of Article VII, paragraph 5 of the Convention. (D) Appendix-I animals bred in captivity for commercial purposes in operations included in the Secretariat’s Register, in accordance with Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15), and Appendix-I plants artificially propagated for commercial purposes, as well as parts and derivatives thereof, exported under the provisions of Article VII, paragraph 4, of the Convention. (F) Animals born in captivity (F1 or subsequent generations) that do not fulfill the definition of ‘‘bred in captivity’’ in Resolution Conf. 10.16 (Rev.), as well as parts and derivatives thereof. The 4(d) rule’s provisions regarding captive-bred birds apply to birds bred in the United States and abroad. The terms ‘‘captive-bred’’ and ‘‘captivity’’’ used in the 4(d) rule are defined in the regulations at 50 CFR 17.3 and refer to wildlife produced in a controlled environment that is intensively manipulated by man from parents that mated or otherwise transferred gametes in captivity. Although the 4(d) rule requires a permit under the Act to ‘‘take’’ (including harm and harass) a scarlet macaw, our regulations at 50 CFR 17.3 establish that ‘‘take’’ when applied to captive wildlife does not include generally accepted animalhusbandry practices; breeding procedures; or provisions of veterinary care for confining, tranquilizing, or anesthetizing, when such practices, procedures, or provisions are not likely to result in injury to the wildlife. We assessed the conservation needs of the scarlet macaw in light of the broad protections provided to the species under CITES and the WBCA. The scarlet macaw is included in Appendix I of CITES, a treaty that contributes to the conservation of the species by regulating international trade and ensuring that trade in Appendix-I species is not detrimental to the survival of the species. The purpose of the WBCA is to promote the conservation of exotic birds and to ensure that imports of exotic birds into the United States do not harm them. The best available data indicate that the current threat of trade of the scarlet macaw stems mainly from illegal trade that stays within the domestic VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 Jkt 247001 markets of Central and South America. Thus, the general prohibitions on import and export contained in 50 CFR 17.31, which extend only within the jurisdiction of the United States, would not regulate such activities. Accordingly, we find that the import and export requirements of the 4(d) rule provide the necessary and advisable conservation measures for this species. This 4(d) rule streamlines the permitting process by deferring to existing laws that are protective of scarlet macaws in the course of import and export and not requiring permits under the Act for certain types of activities. Required Determinations Interstate Commerce A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Branch of Delisting and Foreign Species (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Under the 4(d) rule, a person may deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship Ara macao macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera) in interstate commerce in the course of a commercial activity, or sell or offer to sell in interstate commerce A. m. macao and subspecies crosses without a permit under the Act. At the same time, the prohibitions on take under 50 CFR 17.21, as presently extended to threatened species under 50 CFR 17.31, will apply under this 4(d) rule, and any interstate commerce activities that could incidentally take A. m. macao and subspecies crosses or otherwise prohibited acts in foreign commerce will require a permit under 50 CFR 17.32. We have no information that suggests current interstate commerce activities are associated with threats to the scarlet macaw or would negatively affect any efforts aimed at the recovery of wild populations of the species. Therefore, we are not placing into effect any prohibitions on interstate commerce of scarlet macaw within the United States. Because the species will be otherwise protected in the course of interstate commercial activities under the take provisions and foreign commerce provisions contained in 50 CFR 17.31 as applied to this species, and international trade of this species is regulated under CITES, we find this 4(d) rule contains all the prohibitions and authorizations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the scarlet macaw. PO 00000 National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) We have determined that we do not need to prepare an environmental assessment, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations adopted under section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). References Cited Authors The primary authors of this rule are staff members of the Branch of Delisting and Foreign Species, Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. Regulation Promulgation Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below: PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 1531– 1544; 4201–4245, unless otherwise noted. 2. Amend § 17.11(h) by adding entries for ‘‘Macaw, scarlet’’, ‘‘Macaw, scarlet [Northern DPS]’’, ‘‘Macaw, scarlet [Southern DPS]’’, and ‘‘Macaw, scarlet [Subspecies crosses]’’ in alphabetical order under BIRDS to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, to read as follows: ■ § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife. * Frm 00034 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4700 * * (h) * * * E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2 * * 6311 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Common name * Scientific name * Where listed * * Listing citations and applicable rules Status * * * BIRDS * * Macaw, scarlet ........................... * Ara macao cyanoptera ............. * * Wherever found ........................ Macaw, scarlet [Northern DPS] Ara macao macao .................... Colombia (northwest of the Andes), Costa Rica (Pacific slope), Panama (mainland). T Macaw, scarlet [Southern DPS] Ara macao macao .................... T(S/A) Macaw, scarlet [Subspecies crosses]. Ara macao macao macao cyanoptera. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia (southeast of the Andes), Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela. Costa Rica, Nicaragua (Atlantic slope border region). * * * 3. Amend § 17.41 by revising paragraphs (c) introductory text and (c)(2)(ii) introductory text and by adding paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(E) to read as follows: ■ § 17.41 Special rules—birds. * * * * * (c) The following species in the parrot family: Salmon-crested cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis), yellow-billed parrot (Amazona collaria), white cockatoo (Cacatua alba), hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), and scarlet macaw (Ara macao macao and scarlet macaw subspecies crosses VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Feb 25, 2019 X Jkt 247001 Ara * Frm 00035 Fmt 4701 T(S/A) * (Ara macao macao and Ara macao cyanoptera)). * * * * * (2) * * * (ii) Specimens held in captivity prior to certain dates: You must provide documentation to demonstrate that the specimen was held in captivity prior to the dates specified in paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(A), (B), (C), (D), or (E) of this section. Such documentation may include copies of receipts, accession or veterinary records, CITES documents, or wildlife declaration forms, which must be dated prior to the specified dates. * * * * * PO 00000 E Sfmt 9990 * * 84 FR [insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 2/26/2019. 84 FR [insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 2/26/2019; 50 CFR 17.41(c).4d 84 FR [insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 2/26/2019; 50 CFR 17.41(c).4d 84 FR [insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 2/26/2019; 50 CFR 17.41(c).4d * * (E) For scarlet macaws: March 28, 2019 (the date this species was listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)). * * * * * Dated: February 4, 2019. Margaret E. Everson, Principal Deputy Director Exercising the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2019–03165 Filed 2–25–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P E:\FR\FM\26FER2.SGM 26FER2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 38 (Tuesday, February 26, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 6278-6311]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-03165]



[[Page 6277]]

Vol. 84

Tuesday,

No. 38

February 26, 2019

Part III





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Scarlet 
Macaw; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 84 , No. 38 / Tuesday, February 26, 2019 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 6278]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2012-0039; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-BC81


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the 
Scarlet Macaw

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) is an 
endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as 
amended; the northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the southern 
subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) is a threatened species under 
the Act, and the southern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet 
macaw (A. m. macao) and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. 
macao) to be threatened species based on similarity of appearance. We 
are also establishing a rule pursuant to section 4(d) of the Act for 
the A. m. macao subspecies and subspecies crosses to provide for its 
further conservation.

DATES: This rule is effective March 28, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of this rule, are available for 
public inspection at https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Morgan, Chief, Branch of Delisting 
and Foreign Species, Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS:ES, Falls Church, VA 22041; 
telephone 703-358-2444. If you use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, a species may warrant 
protection through listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. Listing a species as an 
endangered or threatened species can only be completed by issuing a 
rule.
    On July 6, 2012, we published in the Federal Register (FR) a 12-
month finding on a petition to list the scarlet macaw. We determined 
the scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) did not warrant listing under the Act 
at the species level but found the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw 
(Ara macao cyanoptera) and the northern distinct population segment 
(DPS) of the southern subspecies (A. m. macao) warranted listing and 
issued a proposed rule to list those entities as endangered under the 
Act (77 FR 40222). On April 7, 2016, we published a revised proposed 
rule (81 FR 20302) maintaining the proposed endangered status for A. m. 
cyanoptera, but (1) revising the proposed listing determination for the 
northern DPS of the southern subspecies (A. m. macao) from endangered 
to threatened; and (2) proposing to treat the southern DPS of A. m. 
macao and subspecies crosses as threatened based on similarity of 
appearance to A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao. We 
also proposed a rule under section 4(d) of the Act (a ``4(d) rule'') 
that incorporated the prohibitions and provisions of 50 CFR 17.31 and 
17.32 that we found necessary and advisable for the species' 
conservation.
    This rule lists the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. 
cyanoptera) as an endangered species, the northern DPS of the southern 
subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) as a threatened species, and 
the southern DPS of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. 
macao) and subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as a 
threatened species due to similarity of appearance under the Act. This 
rule also establishes a 4(d) rule for those listed as threatened 
species to further provide for the species' conservation.
    The basis for our action. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we 
determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based 
on any of the following factors: (A) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence. The primary causes attributed to the 
decline of the scarlet macaw (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) include 
habitat loss and forest degradation (Factor A), poaching for the pet 
trade (Factor B), lack of enforcement of existing regulations (Factor 
D), and small population size (Factor E).
    Section 4(d) of the Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior 
(Secretary) to extend to threatened species the prohibitions provided 
for endangered species under section 9 of the Act. For threatened 
species, section 4(d) of the Act gives the Service discretion to 
specify the prohibitions and any exceptions to those prohibitions that 
are appropriate for the species, as well as include provisions that are 
necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. 
A rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act allows us to include 
provisions that are tailored to the specific conservation needs of that 
threatened species.
    Our implementing regulations for threatened wildlife found at 50 
CFR 17.31 incorporate the section 9 prohibitions for endangered 
wildlife, except where a species-specific rule is promulgated under 
4(d) of the Act. While we proposed to rescind this provision last 
summer (83 FR 35174; July 25, 2018), that proposal has not been 
finalized at this time.
    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We invited peer reviewers and 
the public to comment on our listing proposals. All substantive 
information from peer review and public comments was fully considered 
and is incorporated into this final rule, where appropriate.

Previous Federal Actions

    Please refer to the proposed listing rule, published in the Federal 
Register on July 6, 2012 (77 FR 40222), for more comprehensive 
information on previous Federal actions for the scarlet macaw. The 
publication of the proposed listing rule opened a 60-day public comment 
period, which closed on September 4, 2012. Based on new information, we 
published a revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016) to make 
the following changes to our proposed rule: (1) Revise the location of 
what we consider to be the boundary between the two subspecies of A. 
macao; (2) provide additional information on the species in northeast 
Costa Rica, southeast Nicaragua, and Panama, and reevaluating the 
status of A. m. cyanoptera; (3) provide additional information on the 
northern DPS of A. m. macao, reevaluating the status of this DPS, and 
revise our proposed listing of this DPS from endangered status to 
threatened status; (4) add a proposal to treat the southern DPS of A. 
m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera) as 
threatened based on similarity of appearance to A. m. cyanoptera and to 
the northern DPS of A. m. macao; and

[[Page 6279]]

(5) add a proposed rule pursuant to section 4(d) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) to define the prohibitions and exceptions that apply to 
scarlet macaws listed as threatened. That revised proposed rule also 
opened a 60-day public comment period, which closed on June 6, 2016.

Summary of Changes From the Revised Proposed Rule

    In this final rule, and based on public comments, we incorporate 
additional information regarding the distribution of scarlet macaws in 
Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Specifically, we include 
information pertaining to reintroduction programs occurring throughout 
the range of Ara macao cyanoptera, and we include information that 
indicates the populations in Costa Rica in the northern DPS of the 
southern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) are likely 
increasing.
    We also took into account the relevant information from eBird into 
our analysis regarding the distribution of the species.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We reviewed all comments we received from peer reviewers and the 
public for substantive issues and new information. All substantive 
information from peer review and public comments has been fully 
considered and is incorporated into this final rule, where appropriate.
    We received 282 public comments combined on the proposed and 
revised proposed rules to list the scarlet macaw under the Act during 
their respective comment periods. Some of the comments we received were 
similar to comments that we received previously for the proposed rule; 
therefore, we only address these comments once in this final rule. See 
the Substantive Changes to the Proposed Rule section in the revised 
proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016).
    The following section summarizes information and issues raised in 
the public comments and provides our responses.
    Comment (1): Several commenters stated that listing the scarlet 
macaw will hurt U.S. businesses such as aviculture, pet food and supply 
companies, and veterinarians.
    Our Response: Determinations on whether a species should be added 
to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants 
are based on whether the species meets the definition of ``endangered 
species'' or of ``threatened species'' in section 3 of the Act. The Act 
directs the Service to make these determinations solely on the basis of 
the best scientific and commercial data available. Therefore, we may 
not consider economic impacts when determining the status of a species. 
We understand that listing the scarlet macaw will have an effect on 
those involved in the pet bird industry, especially bird breeders. The 
4(d) rule that we are putting in place streamlines the permitting 
process by extending certain prohibitions but deferring to existing 
laws (CITES and the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) that are 
protective of scarlet macaws (A. m. macao and subspecies crosses) in 
the course of import and export and by not requiring permits under the 
Act for certain types of activities. Additionally, we are not 
prohibiting the interstate commerce of scarlet macaws (A. m. macao and 
subspecies crosses) within the United States (see 4(d) Rule, below).
    Comment (2): Several commenters stated that reducing the 
availability of captive birds by listing the species under the Act may 
lead to an increase of wild-caught birds for the pet trade.
    Our Response: We do not anticipate that listing the scarlet macaw 
under the Act will further reduce the availability of captive birds or 
lead to an increase of wild-caught birds for the pet trade. The scarlet 
macaw is listed in Appendix I of CITES, which is an international 
agreement among governments to ensure that the international trade of 
CITES-listed plants and animals does not threaten the survival of the 
species in the wild. Trade must be authorized through a system of 
permits and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES 
Scientific and Management Authorities of each CITES Party. For species 
included in CITES Appendix I, international trade is permitted only 
under exceptional circumstances, which generally precludes commercial 
trade. The United States implements CITES through the Act and our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 23. It is unlawful for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to engage in 
any trade in any specimens contrary to the provisions of CITES, or to 
possess any specimens traded contrary to the provisions of CITES, the 
Act, or our implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 23. Protections for 
CITES-listed species are provided independently of whether a species is 
an endangered species or a threatened species under the Act.
    Two other laws in the United States apart from the Act also already 
provide protection from the illegal import of wild-caught birds into 
the United States: The WBCA and the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42-43; 16 
U.S.C. 3371-3378). The WBCA ensures that exotic bird species are not 
harmed by international trade and encourages wild bird conservation 
programs in countries of origin. Under the WBCA and our implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 15.11), it is unlawful to import into the United 
States any exotic bird species listed under CITES except under certain 
circumstances. The Service may issue permits to allow import of listed 
birds for scientific research, zoological breeding or display, 
cooperative breeding, or personal pet purposes, when the applicant 
meets certain criteria (50 CFR 15.22-15.25). Under the Lacey Act, in 
part, it is unlawful: (1) To import, export, transport, sell, receive, 
acquire, or purchase any fish, or wildlife taken, possessed, 
transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of 
the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law; or (2) to 
import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in 
interstate or foreign commerce any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, 
transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State 
or in violation of any foreign law. Similarly, under the Lacey Act it 
is unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or 
purchase specimens of this species traded contrary to CITES.
    Based in large part on the protection from illegal and legal trade 
afforded to the scarlet macaw by CITES, the WBCA, and the Lacey Act, 
the best available data indicate that the current threat from trade to 
the scarlet macaw stems mainly from illegal trade in the domestic 
markets within Central and South America (Weston and Memon 2009, pp. 
77-80; Shanee 2012, pp. 4-9). Additionally, interstate commerce within 
the United States is not a current threat to the scarlet macaw and will 
not affect any efforts to recover wild populations. Therefore, we do 
not anticipate that listing the scarlet macaw under the Act will 
further reduce the availability of captive-bred birds or lead to an 
increase of wild-caught birds since those birds are already regulated 
by existing laws. This 4(d) rule, in large part, adopts the framework 
of those laws.
    Comment (3): Several commenters stated that at least 25 States 
adopt the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants to their State list, which they claim would make it illegal to 
possess scarlet macaws or its feathers. The commenters stated that 
these laws do not include ``grandfathering,'' which means that those 
who have scarlet macaws prior to the listing and live in one of these 
States would be in violation of the law immediately once the listing is 
effective.

[[Page 6280]]

    Our Response: Ownership of a listed species is not prohibited by 
the Act and therefore, does not require a permit. We further note that, 
under section 9(b)(1) it is not unlawful to import or export a scarlet 
macaw that was held in captivity prior to the date of this final rule 
provided that its holding was not in the course of commercial activity. 
Further, while we have certainly not conducted an in-depth study on the 
various provisions of state law, we observe that under Article I of the 
United States Constitution, retroactive application of a law is 
permitted only in extraordinary cases. Ex post facto laws (or laws that 
criminalize conduct that was legal when originally performed) are 
generally prohibited. However, we acknowledge that we have no 
discretion over regulations that certain States implement regarding 
federally listed wildlife and plants.
    Comment (4): A few commenters stated that breeders and pet owners 
in the United States have been supplying feathers through sales or 
trade to Native American artisans, and the Service should find a way to 
accommodate feather and art sales within the United States because 
these artisans make ceremonial products to support themselves and their 
tribes.
    Our Response: The 4(d) rule will apply to all commercial and 
noncommercial international shipments of live and dead scarlet macaws, 
the southern subspecies of A. m. macao and subspecific crosses (A. m. 
macao and A. m. cyanoptera), and their parts and products, including 
the import and export of personal pets and research samples. In most 
instances, the 4(d) rule adopts existing regulatory requirements of 
CITES and the WBCA as the appropriate regulatory provisions for the 
import and export of scarlet macaws. Under the 4(d) rule, a person may 
deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship A. m. macao and subspecies 
crosses in interstate commerce in the course of a commercial activity, 
or sell or offer to sell in interstate commerce without a permit under 
the Act (see 4(d) rule, below). Therefore, the 4(d) rule would allow 
individuals to engage in certain commercial activities with A. m. macao 
and subspecies crosses that could provide Tribal artisans materials to 
make their products.
    The 4(d) rule does not include subspecies A. m. cyanoptera that is 
listed as endangered, and therefore, all the prohibitions of 50 CFR 
17.31 apply to this subspecies. While the Act does not prohibit 
intrastate (within a state) sale of a listed species, it does prohibit 
interstate (between states) commercial sale, unless a buyer obtains a 
permit. Permits for prohibited activities, such as interstate sale, 
import and export, can be issued for endangered species if the 
activities enhance the propagation or survival of the species in the 
wild. Additionally, a breeder could obtain a Captive-bred Wildlife 
Registration (CBW), which would authorize interstate commerce. However, 
it must be shown that the sale enhances the propagation or survival of 
the affected species and the principal purpose is to facilitate 
conservation breeding and not for the sale of protected species as 
pets.
    Comment (5): Several commenters stated that the Endangered Species 
Act is designed to protect domestic species only, and listing scarlet 
macaws under the Act does not address the main cause of decline for the 
species, which is habitat destruction in the species' native countries.
    Our Response: The broad definitions of ``species,'' ``fish or 
wildlife,'' and ``plant'' in section 3 of the Act do not differentiate 
between species native to the United States, species native to both the 
United States and one or more other countries, and species not native 
to the United States. Further, sections 4(b)(1)(A) and 4(b)(1)(B)(i) 
expressly require the Service to consider efforts by a foreign nation 
prior to making a listing determination. Additionally, the findings and 
purposes at sections 2(a)(4), 2(a)(5), and 2(b) also speak to the 
application of the Act to meet the United States international 
commitments under treaties and conventions, and numerous provisions of 
the Act and the implementing regulations refer to foreign jurisdictions 
(e.g., sections 8 and 8A of the Act, 50 CFR 424.11(e)). As such, we 
have no basis to determine the protections of the Act only apply to 
domestic species. However, we acknowledge that we do not have authority 
to directly regulate activities in a foreign country that may cause the 
species to be endangered or threatened.
    Comment (6): Several commenters stated that there is no benefit to 
listing scarlet macaws under the Act because the species is already 
sufficiently protected by CITES and the WBCA.
    Our Response: The decision to list a species under the Act is based 
on whether the species meets the definition of an endangered or 
threatened species as defined under section 3 of the Act and is made 
solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data 
available. The purpose of the WBCA is to ensure that exotic bird 
species are not harmed by international trade and encourages wild bird 
conservation programs in countries of origin. The purpose of CITES is 
to ensure that international trade in plants and animals does not 
threaten their survival in the wild. Protection provided by other laws, 
such as CITES and WBCA, is taken into consideration when determining 
the status of the species. However, simply being protected by these 
other laws does not preclude the requirement to list and provide 
additional protections under the Act where the species meets the 
definition of a threatened or endangered species. Further, the 
standards for listing under each legal regime are different, and the 
protections afforded to species listed under each legal regime are 
different, though they can overlap in some respects. While CITES 
regulates the international trade of certain wildlife, it has limited 
regulatory authority once the species enters the United States for 
activities that take place within the United States, though there are 
restrictions on use after import for some specimens, especially 
Appendix I specimens. Listing under the Act helps ensure that the 
United States and its citizens do not contribute to the further decline 
of the species.
    Conservation measures or benefits provided to foreign species 
listed as endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and 
may encourage and result in conservation actions by foreign 
governments, Federal and State governments, private agencies and 
interest groups, and individuals.
    Comment (7): Several commenters noted that the International Union 
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the scarlet macaw as 
``least concern;'' and therefore, listing under the Act is not 
warranted.
    Our Response: The decision to list a species under the Act is based 
on whether the species meets the definition of an endangered or 
threatened species as defined under section 3 of the Act and is made 
solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data 
available. The IUCN uses different standards and criteria and the 
designations are not interchangeable. Within certain countries, 
particularly in the range of A. m. cyanoptera, the subspecies is 
considered in danger of extinction or on a country's list of threatened 
or endangered species (Government of Mexico 2010a, p. 64; (Biodiversity 
and Environmental Resource Data System of Belize 2012, unpaginated; 
Meerman 2005, p. 30; (Government of Guatemala 2001, p. 15; Secretaria 
de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente. 2008, p. 62). However,

[[Page 6281]]

because of the relatively good status of the species in the Amazon, 
which accounts for the majority of the species range and population, 
and the scarlet macaw's relative tolerance of degraded and fragmented 
habitat (BLI 2011c, unpaginated), we found the scarlet macaw did not 
warrant listing under the Act rangewide at the species level (A. m. 
macao). The IUCN classified this entity--the overall species--as 
``Least Concerned.''
    Comment (8): A few commenters questioned our decision in the 
revised proposed rule to change the northern DPS of the southern 
subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) from endangered to 
threatened. The commenters assert that because we revised the 
boundaries and now attribute the population on Isla Coiba, Panama, to 
be part of the northern subspecies (A. m. cyanoptera), the decline in 
the number of known populations for the northern DPS of A. m. macao 
does not warrant a reversal of the Service's prior determination. It 
indicates a reduction in the number of populations; therefore, the DPS 
is now at a greater risk of extinction.
    Our Response: The northern DPS of the southern subspecies, A. m. 
macao, consists of two main populations in Costa Rica, the Central 
Pacific Costa Rica ([Aacute]rea de Conservaci[oacute]n Pac[iacute]fico 
Central (ACOPAC)) and South Pacific Costa Rica ([Aacute]rea de 
Conservaci[oacute]n Osa (ACOSA)) populations that are likely stable or 
increasing Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 128; Dear et al. 2010, p. 20; 
Brightsmith 2016, in litt., pp. 10-13) and consist of 1,000 to 2,000 
birds; a group of at least 14-25 birds in Palo Verde (Brightsmith 2016, 
in litt., p. 14; Dear et al. 2010, p. 8) in northwest Costa Rica, along 
with scattered sightings of scarlet macaws from Palo Verde National 
Park south to Carara National Park and throughout western Guanacaste 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 14); small groups of captive-released 
birds in some locations within the Costa Rica portion of the DPS; small 
populations in northwestern Panama in the Chiriqu[iacute] province 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated), 
and an unknown number on the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of 
Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya National Park (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 
17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated; Rodriguez and Hinojosa 2010, in 
McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated); and an unknown but likely 
small number of birds in northwest Colombia. Thus, although the two 
largest populations currently appear to be increasing and appear stable 
even with ongoing poaching pressure, they both are small and their 
total range represents only a portion of the range. Northwest Colombia 
has large tracts of suitable habitat capable of supporting a population 
(although we have no information about the current population estimate 
for northwest Colombia). However, because current threats to scarlet 
macaws are ongoing, enforcement of existing regulations is inadequate, 
and the population sizes of scarlet macaws in this region are small, we 
reaffirm our determination that the northern DPS of A. m. macao is 
threatened in accordance with the definition in the Act.
    Comment (9): Several commenters stated that by listing the northern 
subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. cyanoptera) as endangered, bird 
owners will not be able to sell birds, and if they cannot sell birds 
they will not breed birds or will breed hybrids to get around the 
listing. Thus, the gene pool for A. m. cyanoptera will be reduced, if 
not be eliminated.
    Our Response: Commenters responding to the 2012 proposed rule (77 
FR 40222; July 6, 2012) noted that aviculturists have bred the species 
without regard for taxa, resulting in crosses of the two subspecies (A. 
m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao). Therefore, the best available 
information indicates that pet scarlet macaws may be bred with little 
regard for genetics and include an unknown number of subspecies 
crosses, regardless of whether the species is listed under the Act 
(Schmidt 2013, pp. 74-75). The Act does not prohibit intrastate (within 
a state) sale of a listed species so bird owners could sell birds 
within state, but because A. m. cyanoptera is listed as endangered, 
interstate (between states) commercial sale is prohibited without a 
permit. We do not believe that the gene pool will be reduced or 
eliminated because while some scarlet macaws in captivity in the United 
States will be a mixture of subspecies, it is possible to determine 
with genetic techniques where individual scarlet macaws have come from 
and whether or not they are from one pure single subspecies or a mix of 
subspecies (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 23).
    Comment (10): Several commenters stated that we dismiss the benefit 
of captive-bred scarlet macaws, which may be used to repopulate the 
population if a major natural, biological, or manmade disaster occurs 
in the native habitat of the species, and to educate and raise 
awareness for the species.
    Our Response: We find that there is a difference in conservation 
value between captive-bred scarlet macaws that are bred for the pet 
trade and those bred for potential release into the wild and that are 
not in trade. We are not aware of any evidence indicating that release 
of pet or pet-trade scarlet macaws benefits wild populations. Pet 
scarlet macaws are poor candidates for reintroduction programs because 
those bred for the pet trade are bred with little regard for genetics 
and include an unknown number of subspecies crosses (Schmidt 2013, pp. 
74-75), pets socialized with humans fail to act appropriately with wild 
individuals when released, and individuals held as pets may pose a 
disease risk to wild populations (Brightsmith et al. 2005, p. 471). 
However, scarlet macaws bred in captivity for soft-release programs are 
more appropriate than pet scarlet macaws to contribute to the wild 
population because of the breeding techniques, decreased level of human 
interaction, disease testing, and training of these birds to survive on 
their own in the wild upon release. Refer to ``Reintroduction of 
Scarlet Macaws,'' below, for examples of captive-bred birds raised and 
released into the wild to integrate with the wild populations of 
scarlet macaws. These birds released back into their native range and 
nearby existing populations may increase the overall population and 
contribute to the long-term conservation of the species.
    Comment (11): A few commenters stated that the information used in 
the proposed rule was outdated.
    Our Response: The Service is required by the Act to make 
determinations solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available. We use the existing information and are not 
required to develop new data. We based the proposed rule on all the 
information we received following the initiation of the status review 
for the scarlet macaw, as well as all of the information we found 
during our own research and that received during the comment periods of 
the 2012 proposed rule and 2016 revised proposed rule. The ``best 
available'' information depends on research being conducted in the 
field and the availability of information and may be more, or less, 
recent depending on the efforts being conducted. After publishing the 
proposed rule, we found additional information that had become 
available since the publication of the proposed rule and reviewed 
information that was submitted by the public, including studies from a 
species expert and conservation organizations within the scarlet 
macaw's range countries.
    Comment (12): One commenter claimed that the Service violated 
mandatory statutory deadlines by waiting nearly 4 years to take further 
action on its original listing proposal

[[Page 6282]]

and never formally invoking the legally allowable 6-month extension.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that we failed to meet the statutory 
deadline for this rulemaking. However, we are obligated to make listing 
determinations under the Act based on the best available scientific and 
commercial information. In our proposed rule (77 FR 40222; July 6, 
2012), we found that the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw, A. m. 
cyanoptera, and the northern DPS of the southern subspecies, A.m. 
macao, were in danger of extinction (an endangered species) based on 
their populations sizes and the magnitude of threats, such as loss of 
habitat and poaching, within the subspecies' respective ranges. We also 
found the southern DPS of the southern subspecies, A. m. macao, not to 
be warranted for listing under the Act. During the public comment 
period on the proposed rule, we received several requests from the 
public to extend the comment period. Additionally, subsequent to the 
proposed rule, we received new information from the public and peer 
review, and we issued a revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 
2016). As a result of this information, we made five substantive 
changes to our July 6, 2012, proposed rule. Specifically, we: (1) 
Revised the location of what we consider to be the boundary between the 
northern subspecies, A. m. cyanoptera, and the northern DPS of the 
southern subspecies, A. m. macao; (2) provided additional information 
on A. m. cyanoptera in northeast Costa Rica, southeast Nicaragua, and 
Panama, and reevaluated the status of the subspecies; (3) provided 
additional information on the northern DPS of A. m. macao, reevaluated 
the status of this DPS, and revised our proposed listing of this DPS 
from endangered status to threatened status; (4) added a proposal to 
treat the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. 
cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as threatened based on similarity of 
appearance to A. m. cyanoptera and to the northern DPS of A. m. macao; 
and (5) added a proposed rule under section 4(d) of the Act to define 
activities that are necessary and advisable for the conservation of 
scarlet macaws listed as threatened and crosses of the two scarlet 
macaw subspecies. We then revised our determination for the southern 
subspecies of A. m. macao in consideration of the new information and 
comments we received to conclude that the northern DPS of A. m. macao's 
risk of extinction is not as imminent as previously determined and that 
the southern DPS of A. m. macao has similarity of appearance and will 
therefore be treated at threatened. We opened a new comment period to 
allow the public the opportunity to submit additional comments in light 
of the new information and our revised determinations. Thus, we have 
used this time to consider and incorporate complex data so that we may 
ensure our rulemaking is based on the best available information.
    Comment (13): A few commenters claimed that the Service offers no 
explanation on how the proposed 4(d) rule allowing all commercial and 
noncommercial international shipments of live or dead members of the 
southern subspecies (A. m. macao) and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao 
and A. m. cyanoptera) can be effectively limited to only those entities 
given the similarity of appearance. The proposed 4(d) rule depends 
entirely on the ability to differentiate between birds and products 
made from their bodies, which the Service has previously stated cannot 
be done without genetic analysis.
    Our Response: Scarlet macaw subspecies, A. m. macao and A. m. 
cyanoptera, primarily differ in the coloration of their wing coverts (a 
type of feather) and wing size. We recognize that differences between 
A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao are not always apparent, particularly 
in birds from the middle of the species' range, and evidence in trade 
is usually in the form of partial remains, detached feathers, and 
artwork incorporating their feathers. Additionally, aviculturists often 
breed species without regard to their taxa. Thus, identification of the 
subspecies or the geographic origin of birds can be difficult or 
improbable without genetic analysis.
    The 4(d) rule allows a person to import or export certain scarlet 
macaws (A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao and A. m. 
cyanoptera)) without a permit issued under the Act. However, to import 
and export scarlet macaws a person must follow procedures and 
requirements of CITES and the WBCA, as the 4(d) rule adopts existing 
conservation regulatory requirements of CITES as the appropriate 
regulatory provisions for the import and export of certain scarlet 
macaws (see 4(d) Rule, below). Both subspecies of the scarlet macaw are 
listed in Appendix I of CITES, which ensures that the international 
trade of CITES-listed species does not threaten the survival of the 
species in the wild. Trade must be authorized through a system of 
permits and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES 
Authorities of each CITES country. For species included in CITES 
Appendix I, international trade is permitted only under exceptional 
circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade.
    Any scarlet macaws or parts in international trade to the United 
States would require documentation that indicates the source and 
purpose of the specimen or parts, and we identify which countries the 
southern subspecies (A. m. macao) and potential subspecies crosses (A. 
m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera) are located in the wild. Birds from the 
two extremes of the range (Mexico and the Amazon) are morphologically 
discernable (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.). However, we recognize that it 
can be difficult to differentiate between subspecies and determine 
whether the specimen is part of A. m. cyanoptera, and also requires a 
permit under the Act. Over the last 20 years less than 200 entries in 
the LEMIS (Law Enforcement Management Information System) database were 
scarlet macaw parts or unspecified, and 38 percent of the overall 
entries were seized. Therefore, even if some parts are difficult to 
determine which subspecies of scarlet macaw without genetic analysis, 
which would add considerable cost and effort to law enforcement, the 
quantity of scarlet macaw imports into the United States is not 
extensive.
    Comment (14): One commenter cited Matuzak et al. (2008) for 
evidence that scarlet macaws are willing to feed on introduced species, 
which makes the species less susceptible to loss of native habitat. The 
commenter asserts that this is one reason why we should not list A. m. 
cyanoptera as endangered.
    Our Response: The fact that scarlet macaws consume nonnative 
species does not change our determination that A. m. cyanoptera is in 
danger of extinction because of the extent of the decline in the range 
and numbers of Ara macao cyanoptera due to ongoing habitat destruction 
and degradation, poaching for the pet trade, the lack of enforcement of 
existing regulatory mechanisms addressing these threats, and the small 
population sizes that work in combination with the other threats.
    Comment (15): A few commenters stated that threats to A. m. 
cyanoptera have been reduced over the past decade due to ongoing 
conservation efforts. The commenters also assert that our description 
of ``extreme fragmentation of habitat and population'' is an 
overstatement and habitat loss and fragmentation do not threaten the 
survival of A. m. cyanoptera. They claim scarlet macaws can fly dozens 
to hundreds of kilometers in a day and generally overcome fragmentation 
of populations; scarlet macaws use small

[[Page 6283]]

protected areas with sufficient large trees; and large areas of 
undisturbed habitat exist in Northern Central America. Thus, A. m. 
cyanoptera should not be listed as endangered.
    Our Response: Reintroduction programs to introduce captive-bred 
scarlet macaws into wild populations have proven successful, especially 
within the range of A. m. cyanoptera (see ``Reintroduction of Scarlet 
Macaws,'' below). Information provided by a peer reviewer of the 
revised proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016) indicates that the 
scarlet macaw is likely increasing in numbers in the border region on 
the Caribbean slope of southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa 
Rica, as well as showing an ability to inhabit human-disturbed 
habitats. However, destruction of forest habitat is one of the main 
causes of the decline of the scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica 
(Comisi[oacute]n Nacional Para el Conocimiento y Uso de la 
Biodiversidad (CONABIO) 2011, p. 5; Lezama 2011, pers. comm.; McGinley 
et al. 2009, p. 11; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 50; Hansen and Florez 2008, 
pp. 48-50; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Collar 1997, p. 421; Forshaw 
1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, pp. 251-253). The remaining forest is 
fragmented and includes few large tracts of forest habitat (Bray 2010, 
pp. 92-93; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101). 
Although deforestation rates have declined in Mesoamerica since 1990, 
they are still very high (FAO 2010a, pp. 232-233; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 
487). Deforestation is occurring in many areas within the range of A. 
m. cyanoptera, including, but not limited to, in Chiapas, Mexico, 
western Pet[eacute]n in Guatemala; in the Mosquitia region in eastern 
Honduras and Nicaragua; and southeastern Nicaragua (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 
487; Fagan et al. 2013, unpaginated; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 
63; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2011, p. 1; Chassot et al. 2009, p. 9). 
Therefore, as discussed in our July 6, 2012, and April 7, 2016, 
proposed rules, and reaffirmed herein, the low numbers of individuals 
of this subspecies, fragmentation of its habitat and population, and 
the substantial threats of habitat loss and poaching acting on this 
subspecies throughout its range place it in danger of extinction at 
this time.
    Comment (16): One commenter disagrees with our determination that 
disease could be introduced through reintroduction programs that may 
affect wild populations of scarlet macaws. The commenter stated that 
disease does not pose a risk to wild populations, especially in 
northern Central America, and cited Boyd and McNab 2008.
    Our Response: We are not aware of any information indicating that 
disease poses a significant threat to the species, especially in 
northern Central America. The risk of introducing diseases into wild 
populations increases when a large number of birds are introduced 
annually, but this is cost-prohibitive and unlikely (Boyd and McNab 
2008, p. vii). Generally speaking, disease risk is small because the 
probable frequency of occurrence is low (Clum 2008, p. 79). As long as 
adequate disease testing is performed, and there are existing protocols 
for minimizing the threat of introducing exogenous diseases (i.e., 
diseases that originate outside of the organism) into wild populations, 
the birds for release could come from multiple suitable sources (Boyd 
and McNab 2008, p. vii, Boyd et al. 2008, p. 112).
    Comment (17): Some commenters disagreed with proposing a 4(d) rule 
that would allow the import and export of captive-bred scarlet macaws 
and interstate commerce without a permit.
    Our Response: The Act does not prohibit these activities for 
threatened species. However, under 4(d), we may extend some or all of 
the prohibitions of 9(a)(1) to threatened species and are exercising 
our authority to do so here. We assessed the conservation needs of the 
scarlet macaw in light of the broad protections provided to the species 
under CITES and the WBCA. The best available data indicate that the 
current threat of trade to the scarlet macaw stems mainly from illegal 
trade in the domestic markets of Central and South America (Weston and 
Memon 2009, pp. 77-80; Shanee 2012, pp. 4-9). Accordingly, we find that 
adopting the import and export prohibitions of 9(a)(1), which extend 
only to the jurisdiction of the United States, would not regulate such 
activity and is not likely to impact the species status. Additionally, 
because interstate commerce within the United States has not been found 
to threaten the scarlet macaw or affect efforts at recovery of wild 
populations, and international trade of this species is regulated under 
CITES, we do not find it necessary to regulate such activity for this 
species. Therefore, we find the 4(d) rule contains all the prohibitions 
and authorizations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the 
species.
    Comment (18): One commenter asserts that the Service's statement 
that northwest Colombia has large tracts of forest suitable for 
supporting a presently unknown scarlet macaw population and could 
contribute to the resiliency and redundancy of the DPS is both 
speculative, because it is unknown if scarlet macaws presently exist 
there, and is undercut by the finding that deforestation is ongoing and 
expected to continue in this area.
    Our Response: The scarlet macaw was reported to occur in relatively 
small areas outside the Amazon, including west of the Andes in 
northwest Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200). The best available 
information indicates that the population in northwest Colombia faces 
significant ongoing threats and may be potentially extirpated from this 
region (Donegan 2013, in litt.; Ellery 2013, in litt.; McMullen 2010, 
p. 60). However, although no current population estimates are 
available, this region is reported to have large tracts of forest 
suitable for supporting scarlet macaws (Ortega and Lagos 2011, p. 82; 
Salaman et al. 2009, p. 21). While the commenter did not provide any 
additional information to their concern, the information that this 
region is reported to have large tracts of suitable habitat was not a 
focus of our status determination regarding the status of the 
population of A. m. macao.
    Comment (19): A few commenters provided new information concerning 
reintroduction efforts in the native range of A. m. cyanoptera and the 
northern DPS of A. m. macao. These commenters encouraged us to 
incorporate information about reintroduction programs into our final 
rule. The commenters claimed that positive information, such as 
captive-breeding and release programs that are occurring throughout the 
species' range, are discounted compared to negative information, such 
as threats, on population status. They encouraged the Service to 
equally consider information for and against endangerment, including 
the potential uses of captive birds in conservation.
    Our Response: Captive-bred birds released back into their native 
ranges and nearby existing populations have the potential to increase 
the overall population in the wild and contribute to the long-term 
conservation of the species, although the success of reintroduced 
scarlet macaws partly depends on the methods used to raise and release 
captive-bred birds into the wild. We have incorporated this information 
in our analysis and included a description of the reintroduction 
efforts for A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao in their respective 
ranges. See ``Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws,'' below.
    Comment (20): One commenter claims that listing of the southern DPS 
of A. m. macao based on similarity of appearance alone is not warranted 
in

[[Page 6284]]

the absence of any potential threat to wild populations. The movement 
of the southern DPS of A. m. macao would be subjected to extensive 
permitting and reviews under CITES and the WBCA, so listing it under 
the Act would provide little extra protection.
    Our Response: During the public comment period for the proposed 
rule (77 FR 40222; July 6, 2012), we received additional information 
supporting a similarity of appearance listing for the southern DPS of 
A. m. macao and scarlet macaw subspecies crosses between A. m. 
cyanoptera and A. m. macao, which we incorporated into the revised 
proposed rule (81 FR 20302; April 7, 2016) and carry forward in this 
final rule. Because it can be difficult to visually differentiate 
between the two subspecies and this difficulty is an additional threat 
for the northern DPS of A. m. macao, we determined that treating the 
southern DPS of A. m. macao under the Act's section 4(e) similarity of 
appearance provisions will substantially facilitate law enforcement 
actions to protect and conserve scarlet macaws. Extending the 
protections of the Act to the similar entities through this listing of 
those entities due to similarity of appearance under section 4(e) of 
the Act and providing applicable prohibitions and exceptions in a rule 
issued under section 4(d) of the Act will provide greater protection to 
A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao. For these 
reasons, we are treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao as threatened 
due to the similarity of appearance to the northern DPS of A. m. macao, 
pursuant to section 4(e) of the Act. Furthermore, simply being 
protected by CITES and the WBCA does not preclude the need to list and 
provide additional protections under the Act. Listing under the Act 
helps ensure that the United States and its citizens do not contribute 
to the further decline of the species.

Background

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the implementing 
regulations in part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing 
species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The Act defines 
``endangered species'' as any species that is in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 
1532(6)), and ``threatened species'' as any species that is likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(20)).
    We summarize below the information on which we based our final 
determination and evaluation of the five factors provided in section 
4(a)(1) of the Act. We are also adopting a rule authorized under 
section 4(d) of the Act for the scarlet macaw to further its 
conservation. We find this rule contains the prohibitions and 
authorizations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the 
scarlet macaw.

Species Information

Species Description

    The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is one of several large neotropical 
parrot species commonly referred to as macaws. They measure 84-89 
centimeters (33-35 inches) in length, weigh 900-1490 grams (2.0-3.3 
pounds), and are one of the larger macaws (Collar 1997, p. 421). 
Scarlet macaws are brilliantly colored and predominantly scarlet red; 
most of the head, body, tail, and underside of the wings are red. Color 
on the upper side of the wing appears generally as bands of red, 
yellow, and blue, with varying amounts of green occurring between the 
yellow and blue band. Lower back, rump, and tail coverts (upper tail 
feathers) are blue. The species has large white, mostly bare facial 
patches on either side of its bill. The upper bill is a light, whitish 
color, whereas the lower bill is black. The sexes are similar, and 
immature birds are similar to adults, except immature birds have 
shorter tails (Collar 1997, p. 421; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 100; Forshaw 
1989, pp. 404, 406).

Taxonomy

    The scarlet macaw was first described in 1758, by Linnaeus (Collar 
1997, p. 421; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 99). In 1994, the subspecies Ara 
macao cyanoptera, was separated from the originally described taxon (or 
nominate form), A. m. macao (Wiedenfeld 1994, entire). Ara macao 
cyanoptera occurs from southern Mexico south to central Nicaragua. 
Birds from southern Nicaragua to northern Costa Rica represent a zone 
of intergradation between the two forms; the nominate form (A. m. 
macao) occurs from this zone southward through the South American range 
of the species (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 100-101). Ara macao cyanoptera is 
different from A. m. macao in size and wing color; A. m. cyanoptera is 
larger than A. m. macao, with significantly longer wing lengths; and 
the yellow wing coverts that are tipped in blue have no green band 
separating the yellow and blue as in A. m. macao.
    The subspecies classification described by Wiedenfeld (1994, 
entire) is used in the scientific community and the subspecies are 
recognized by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) as 
valid taxa (ITIS 2011, unpaginated). The subspecies classification is 
supported by genetic analyses (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.; Schmidt and 
Amato 2008, pp. 135-137).
    Schmidt (2013) represents the only spatial analysis of scarlet 
macaw genetic variation across the historical range of the species, and 
we consider this study to be the best available information on the 
range of the two subspecies. Therefore, the mainland Central America 
boundary between A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao is the central 
mountain range of Costa Rica, with A. m. cyanoptera found on the 
Caribbean (eastern) slope of the country and A. m. macao on the Pacific 
(western) slope. Additionally, scarlet macaws on Isla Coiba are likely 
to be the subspecies A. m. cyanoptera. Consequently, we consider 
scarlet macaws in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, the Caribbean 
slope of Costa Rica, and Isla Coiba in Panama to be A. m. cyanoptera. 
We consider birds on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica and southward 
through the remainder of the species' range in South America to be A. 
m. macao (see Figure 1, below).
    The data also show genetic differentiation between A. m. macao that 
occur on either side of the Andes in South America, indicating two 
populations: One consisting of birds west of the Andes in northwest 
Colombia, mainland Panama, and Pacific slope of Costa Rica; and the 
other population consisting of birds east and south of the Andes and 
throughout the species' South American range (Schmidt 2011, pers. 
comm.).

Range

    The range of the scarlet macaw is the broadest of all the macaw 
species (Ridgely 1981, p. 250). Extending from Mexico southward to 
central Bolivia and Brazil, it covers an estimated 7,030,975-10,200,000 
square kilometers (km\2\) (2,714,675-3,938,242 square miles (mi\2\)) 
(BirdLife International (BLI) 2018, unpaginated; Vale 2007, p. 112). 
The majority (83 percent) of the species' range lies within the Amazon 
Biome of South America (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; BLI 2011b, unpaginated; 
BLI 2011c, unpaginated).
    Historically, the range of the scarlet macaw included the southern 
portion of the Mexico state of Tamaulipas

[[Page 6285]]

southward through the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, and 
Campeche; all of Belize; the Pacific and Caribbean slopes of Guatemala, 
Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica; the Pacific slope of 
Panama and Costa Rica; the Magdalena Valley in Colombia; and that part 
of South America within Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, 
Guyana, French Guiana, and Bolivia and Brazil as far south as Santa 
Cruz and northern Mato Grosso, respectively (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 100-
101; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, p. 250; I[ntilde]igo-Elias 
2010, p. 8). Some authors report the native range of the species to 
include Trinidad and Tobago (BLI 2011d, unpaginated; Forshaw 1989, p. 
406). However, the historical record consists of only two questionable 
site records of the species in Trinidad and Tobago (Forshaw 1989, p. 
407; French 1973, p. 76). The species may occur in that country as a 
very occasional vagrant or an escapee from captivity (Forshaw 1989, p. 
407).
    The scarlet macaw's range in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central 
America) has been reduced and fragmented over the past several decades 
primarily as a result of habitat destruction and harvesting the species 
for the pet trade (Vaughan et al. 2003, pp. 2-3; Collar 1997, p. 421; 
Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150). It has been 
extirpated from almost all of its former range in Mexico, all of its 
former range in El Salvador, and much of its former range throughout 
Central America.
    Currently, in Mesoamerica, the A. m. cyanoptera occurs in the Maya 
Forest region of eastern Chiapas, in Mexico, western Pet[eacute]n, in 
northern Guatemala, and Chiquibil, in southwest Belize; in the 
Mosquitia region of eastern Honduras and Nicaragua; in the border 
region of southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica near the 
Rio San Juan (San Juan River); the A. m. macao occurs in Palo Verde in 
northwestern Costa Rica; Carara National Park and surrounding area, in 
west-central Costa Rica; the Osa Peninsula and surrounding area, Costa 
Rica; and in western border region of Panama and Costa Rica in the 
Chiriqu[iacute] province and on the southern end of the Azuero 
Peninsula and Isla Coiba, Panama. In South America, the A. m. macao 
occurs in small areas outside the Amazon west of the Andes in northwest 
Colombia and in parts of several northern Venezuelan states. Within the 
Amazon, the scarlet macaw still occurs over much of its historical 
range (see Figure 1, below).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR26FE19.015

Distribution and Abundance

    Using 1992 estimates from Honduras, and extrapolating from these 
estimates, the total number of scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica is 
approximately 5,000 birds, consisting of 4,000 A. m. cyanoptera 
(occurring from southern Mexico to Nicaragua and Isla Coiba, Panama), 
and 1,000 A. m. macao (northern DPS and occurring in Costa Rica and 
mainland Panama) (Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 102). More recently, the current 
population of A. m. cyanoptera was estimated to be fewer than 1,000 
birds (McNab 2009, p. 1). The known populations of scarlet macaw in 
their range countries are described below (see Table 1). All the

[[Page 6286]]

population estimates are of birds, except Mexico, in which breeding 
pairs were estimated.

         Table 1--Scarlet Macaw Populations Throughout Its Range
           [Estimates are individuals unless otherwise stated]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Population range country       Population name    Population estimates
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ara macao cyanoptera:
    Southeast Mexico........  upper Rio Uxpanapa    ~50; < 200 breeding
                               region; Usamacinto    pairs.
                               Watershed--Eastern
                               Chiapas, Mexico,
                               Lacand[oacute]n
                               Forest.
    Guatemala...............  Northern              150-250.
                               Pet[eacute]n.
    Belize..................  Chiquibul...........  60-219.
    Eastern Honduras,         Mosquitia Region....  Honduras: 1,000-
     Northeastern Nicaragua.                         1,500; Nicaragua:
                                                     <100-700.
    Southeast Nicaragua       Rio San Juan (San     possibly >200.
     Border and Northeast      Juan-La Selva/San
     Costa Rica.               Juan-El Castillo).
    Isla Coiba, Panama......  Isla Coiba..........  100-200.
                                                   ---------------------
        Total A. m.           ....................  2,000-3,000.
         cyanoptera.
Ara macao macao Northern
 DPS:
    Cerro Hoya National Park  Mainland Panama.....  <25.
    Costa Rica..............  Central Pacific       ~450.
                               Conservation Area
                               (ACOPAC).
    Costa Rica..............  Osa Conservation      800-1,200; up to
                               Area (ACOSA).         2,000.
    Northwest Colombia......  Northwest Colombia..  unknown.
                                                   ---------------------
        Total A. m. macao     ....................  1,000-2,000.
         Northern DPS.
                                                   ---------------------
            Total             ....................  3,000-5,000.
             Mesoamerica.
Ara macao macao Southern
 DPS:
    Amazon, south and east    Amazon..............  15,000-45,000.
     of the Andes Mountains
     (Colombia, Ecuador,
     Peru, Venezuela,
     Suriname, Guyana,
     French Guiana, and
     Bolivia and Brazil).
                                                   ---------------------
        Total Ara macao.....  ....................  ~20,000-50,000.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mesoamerica

Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize (Maya Forest) (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Described as previously abundant in Mexico (CONABIO 20l1, p. 2) and 
numbering in the many thousands (Patten et al. 2010, p. 30), the A. m. 
cyanoptera is now reported to occur in only two small populations in 
Mexico. One population occurs in the upper Rio Uxpanapa region near San 
Francisco La Paz in Oaxaca (Inigo-Elias 1996, pp. 16-17). Citing 
several sources, Inigo-Elias (2010, unpaginated) and McReynolds (2011, 
in litt., unpaginated) indicate that the upper Uxpanapa River 
population consists of possibly 50 scarlet macaws. It is possible that 
the species may occur seasonally in this area (Peterson et al. 2003, p. 
232). The second population that occurs in Mexico is along the southern 
Mexico and Guatemala border area of eastern Chiapas, and is discussed 
below.
    Within the tri-national region of southern Mexico, northern 
Guatemala, and Belize, the species occurs in three small populations or 
subpopulations: (1) In the Usamacinto watershed in eastern Chiapis, 
Mexico, located in the Lacandon forest that is within the Maya Forest, 
which is the largest remaining expanse of tropical rainforest in the 
Americas (The Nature Conservancy 2018, unpaginated), and includes the 
Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (approximately 3,000 km\2\ (1,158 
mi\2\), several smaller protected areas, and the municipality of Maques 
de Commillas (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural 
Organization (UNESCO) 2012a, unpaginated; McReynolds 2011, in litt.; 
Enriquez et al. 2009, p. 13; Castillo-Santiago et al. 2007, pp. 1215, 
1217; Inigo-Elias 1996, pp. 16-17, 23); (2) in the western Department 
of Pet[eacute]n in northern Guatemala, primarily in the Maya Biosphere 
Reserve (MBR) (Garcia et al. 2008, pp. 49-64; McNab 2009, p. 1); and 
(3) in southwest Belize, where it is known to breed only in the 
Chiquibul region, which includes Chiquibul National Park and other 
protected areas (Salas and Meerman 2008, p. 42).
    Based on field studies conducted from 1989 to 1993, it was 
estimated that probably fewer than 200 breeding pairs exist within 
Mexico's Usamacinto watershed (I[ntilde]igo-Elias 1996, pp. 96-97). In 
Guatemala, the population is estimated at 150 to 250 birds (McNab 2008, 
p. 7; Wildlife Conservation Society Guatemala 2005, in McReynolds 2011, 
in litt., unpaginated; McNab 2009, p. 1). Estimates from Belize vary 
from 60 to 219 individuals, but based on field observations in 2009, 
the current Belize population is estimated at 200 individuals 
(McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). However, the total population 
in the tri-national Maya region (Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize), based 
on habitat modeling and current threats, was estimated to be 399 
individuals--137 in Mexico, 159 in Guatemala, and 103 in Belize (Garcia 
et al. 2008, pp. 52-53).
    Populations in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize are described as not 
being completely isolated from one another. It is likely that the 
population in western Pet[eacute]n, Guatemala, and the population in 
southeastern Mexico are connected because there is continuous habitat 
and the birds from Guatemala, when they disperse in the non-breeding 
season, are known to go to the west of their breeding grounds 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt. p. 8). In a radio telemetry study, a 
fledgling radio-tagged in Guatemala flew 130 km (81 mi) to Mexico in 
one day (McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). In addition, studies 
provide evidence of gene flow between nest sites in Guatemala and 
Belize, and

[[Page 6287]]

high levels of genetic diversity in the tri-national region (Schmidt 
and Amato 2008, p. 137). However, the Belize population may be more 
isolated from the Guatemala and Mexico populations because the area 
between these populations is well covered by eBird observers and no 
scarlet macaws have been seen even though there is high-quality habitat 
(Brightsmith in litt. 2016, unpaginated).
Honduras (A. m. cyanoptera)
    The scarlet macaw was widespread in Honduras, occurring in the arid 
lowlands of the Pacific slope and the interior below 1,100 m (3,609 
ft), as well as in the Caribbean lowland rainforest (Monroe 1968, p. 
139). The scarlet macaw may have had a distribution over 60 percent of 
the national territory at the end of the 19th century (Monroe 1968, p. 
139; Portillo Reyes et al. 2010, p. 69). Currently, the scarlet macaw 
is restricted to the Mosquitia region, which is a region of extensive 
forest straddling the southeastern Honduras-northeastern Nicaragua 
border (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 101-102; Portillo Reyes 2005, p. 71). This 
region includes several thousand square kilometers in protected areas, 
such as the Pl[aacute]tano Biosphere Reserve (5,000 km\2\ (1,931 
mi\2\)) Reserva de la Biosfera Tawahka (Tawahka Biosphere Reservation) 
(2,500 km\2\ (965 mi\2\)), the Parque Nacional Patuca (Patuca National 
Park) (3,755 km2 (1,450 mi2)) in Honduras, and the Bosaw[aacute]s 
Biosphere Reserve (21,815 km\2\ (8,423 mi\2\)) in neighboring Nicaragua 
(UNESCO 2012b, unpaginated; UNESCO 2012c, unpaginated; Vallely et al. 
2010, p. 52).
    The total population of Honduras was estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 
birds in 1992, reportedly occurring in the Col[oacute]n area and 
provinces of Olancho and Gracias a Dios that are in the Mosquitia 
region of Honduras (Wiedenfeld 1994, pp. 101-102). An estimate of 
scarlet macaws in the Rus Rus area of the Honduran Mosquitia (Rus Rus 
is in the province of Gracias a Dios) was 1,000 to 1,500 birds 
(McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). However, this estimate was 
based on the assumption that all the chicks reported as poached by 
Portillo Reyes et al. (2004, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated) 
would fledge and assumed a 20 percent reproductive success rate. There 
are no population estimates for the R[iacute]o Patuca and R[iacute]o 
Pl[aacute]tano areas, though there have been flocks as large as eight 
counted on the R[iacute]o Pl[aacute]tano (Gallardo 2002, in McReynolds 
2011, in litt., unpaginated). The most recent information indicates 
that loss of habitat and demand for the pet trade pose a substantial 
threat for the species in this region (Portillo Reyes 2005, in Portillo 
Reyes et al. 2010, p. 6; Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 8).
Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Scarlet macaws in eastern Nicaragua along the Caribbean slope were 
estimated to be 1,500 to 2,500 birds in 1995 (Wiedenfeld 1995, in 
Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150). However, the species was not detected 
during either of two national surveys of parrots conducted in 1999 and 
2004 (Lezama et al. 2004, p. 102; McReynolds 2011, in litt., 
unpaginated). Some estimates predict up to 700 birds in this region of 
Nicaragua; groups of 30 to 40 scarlet macaws are frequently reported in 
the R[iacute]o Coco area (Lezama 2011, pers. comm., in McReynolds 2011, 
in litt., unpaginated), which forms the border with Honduras. Others 
consider the number in eastern Nicaragua to be fewer than 100 birds 
(Feria and de los Monteros 2007, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., 
unpaginated)). The only scarlet macaws on the Pacific slope of 
Nicaragua are confined to Cosig[uuml]ina Volc[aacute]n Nature Preserve, 
with approximately 20 to 50 birds (Bjork 2008, p. 15; Lezama 2011, 
pers. comm., in McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated).
Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao)
    Scarlet macaws (A. m. cyanoptera) occur in southeastern Nicaragua 
and northeastern Costa Rica on both sides of the border. This region 
consists of the El Castillo-San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor that 
is located on both sides of the R[iacute]o San Juan (San Juan River) 
(Monge et al. 2012, p. 6), which separates Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In 
2004, several groups of scarlet macaws were reported in the R[iacute]o 
San Carlos area close to the border with Nicaragua, in what is now 
designated as Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de 
Vida Silvestre mixto Maquenque), which also abuts the Indio Ma[iacute]z 
Biological Reserve in Nicaragua (Chassot and Monge-Arias 2004, pp. 12-
13; Chassot 2011, pers. comm.). Multiple scarlet macaws were observed 
flying from Nicaragua over the R[iacute]o San Juan into Costa Rica 
(Chassot and Monge-Arias 2004, pp. 12-13).
    Evidence of scarlet macaws in northeast Costa Rica obtained during 
several years of research on great green macaws (Ara ambiguus) 
indicates that scarlet macaws in this region are increasing (Chassot 
and Monge-Arias 2004, pp. 12-13; Brightsmith 2012, in litt., 
unpaginated). During the 2009 scarlet macaw breeding season, an 
intensive search for scarlet macaw nests was conducted on both sides of 
the R[iacute]o San Juan as part of a larger study to quantify and 
characterize nests of both scarlet and great green macaws (Monge et al. 
2012, entire). They found six scarlet macaw nests (five in Costa Rica, 
one in Nicaragua). The scarlet macaw has recently expanded its range 
southward to La Selva Biological Station, which is approximately 35-40 
km (15-18 miles) south of the R[iacute]o San Juan, and sightings of 
scarlet macaws have increased in the region (Brightsmith 2016, in 
litt., p. 5; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated). Scarlet macaws were 
absent from this station since it was established in the 1960s, but 
they have been observed breeding on adjacent land since the mid-2000s 
(Brightsmith 2012, in litt., unpaginated). Approximately 50 scarlet 
macaws occur in Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Costa 
Rica (Penard et al. 2008, in McReynolds 2011 in litt., unpaginated). 
There are no density estimates of scarlet macaws from this area, but 
based on the density reported for great green macaws (0.07 birds per 
km\2\) in an area of 3,000 km\2\ (1,158 mi\2\), there could be more 
than 200 scarlet macaws in northeastern Costa Rica (Brightsmith in 
litt. 2016, p. 6; Brightsmith 2012, in litt., unpaginated).
    Scarlet macaws were described as having previously occurred in 
tropical wet and dry forests throughout most of Costa Rica (Vaughan et 
al. 1991, abstract), while Ridgely (1981, p. 252) describes the species 
as having always occurred primarily on the Pacific slope of the 
country. Aside from the birds in northeastern Costa Rica, the scarlet 
macaw (A. m. macao) occurs in two viable populations on the Pacific 
slope: In the ACOPAC in the region of Carara National Park, which 
contains approximately 450 birds (Arias et al. 2008, in McReynolds 
2011, in litt.); and in Costa Rica's Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) in 
the region of Corcovado National Park and the Osa Peninsula, which 
contains between 800 and 1,200, but possibly up to 2,000 birds (Dear et 
al. 2005 and Guzman 2008, in McReynolds 2011, in litt.). However, based 
on plausible regional estimates, the population for the entire country 
is approximately 1,800 birds (McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated).
    By all indications, the scarlet macaw (A. m. macao) has been 
expanding from the traditional stronghold in and around Carara National 
Park (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 11). Since 2013, scarlet macaws in 
groups of up to 30, along with pairs during the height of the breeding 
season, were observed hundreds of times down the coast and 
approximately 70 km (43 mi) south of

[[Page 6288]]

the point where the census is usually conducted. In addition, scarlet 
macaws from the areas immediately to the northwest of Carara have been 
reported. Scarlet macaws may frequently pass through these areas but 
may not be present continuously or at high densities (Brightsmith 2016, 
in litt., p. 12). The nearest areas with repeated sightings of the 
species are Ensenada Lodge at 60 km (37 mi) north of the census 
location for Carara; 40 km (25 mi) from the small population of 14-25 
birds in Palo Verde (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 12; Dear et al. 
2010, p. 8); and 60 km (37 mi) from the core of the ACOPAC population. 
This site has 16 sightings, with 13 since 2012, and group sizes have 
been small (1 to 4). But it is unclear what the source of these birds 
may be; they could be escaped or released birds, or could be natural 
dispersers from either the Palo Verde or ACOPAC populations 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 14). Because there have been scattered 
sightings of scarlet macaws from Palo Verde National Park south to 
Carara National Park and throughout western Guanacaste, the birds near 
Palo Verde are no longer considered completely isolated (Brightsmith 
2016, in litt., p. 14). However, evidence to support successful 
expansion and establishment to the north is weak (Brightsmith 2016, in 
litt., p. 13).
    The ACOSA population is simultaneously expanding up the coast from 
the south, so sightings of scarlet macaws between the ACOPAC and ACOSA 
may represent individuals from either of the populations. In fact, 
birds were reported to occur in a 50-km (31-mi) area, which is the 
midpoint between the two populations (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 
11). Moreover, 85 percent of residents interviewed in 2005 believed 
scarlet macaws were more abundant than 5 years prior, suggesting this 
population may be increasing (Dear et al. 2010, p. 10). However, it is 
difficult to distinguish between expansion of the ACOPAC population to 
the south and the expansion of the ACOSA population to the north 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 11).
Panama (A. m. macao)
    The scarlet macaw was once described as almost extinct on the 
mainland of Panama, but abundant and occurring in substantial numbers 
on Isla Coiba, which once was a penal colony where settlement and most 
hunting was prohibited (Ridgely 1981, p. 253). More recent information 
on distribution and abundance in the country indicates that mainland 
Panama has very few scarlet macaws (McReynolds 2011, in litt., 
unpaginated). In 1998, there were sporadic sightings of scarlet macaws 
in the western border region of Panama and Costa Rica, in the area of 
the upper R[iacute]o Corotu (or R[iacute]o Bartolo Arriba) near Puerto 
Armuelles in the Chiriqu[iacute] province (Burica Press 2007, 
unpaginated; McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated). A few (fewer than 
10) scarlet macaws were observed in 2015, in northwestern Panama, near 
Querevalo and also in the Chiriqu[iacute] province (Brightsmith in 
litt. 2016, p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated), but it is 
uncertain if these birds were wild or escaped captively-raised birds 
dispersing south from a reintroduction program at Tiskita, Costa Rica 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17) (see ``Reintroduction of Scarlet 
Macaws,'' below). Additionally, there is a small, but unknown, number 
on the southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro 
Hoya National Park, Tonosi Forest Reserve, and farther to the east 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 17; Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated; 
Rodriguez and Hinojosa 2010, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., 
unpaginated). The current population of scarlet macaws in Panama is 
likely less than 200, with the vast majority of the population 
occurring on Isla Coiba (Keller and Schmitt 2008, in Brightsmith 2012, 
in litt. and McReynolds 2011, in litt., unpaginated).

South America (A. m. macao)

    Within South America, the scarlet macaw occurs primarily in the 
Amazon Biome, which overlaps eastern Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, 
Suriname, French Guyana, northeast Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern 
Bolivia, and most of Brazil (collectively referred to as the Amazon in 
this document) (BLI 2011a, unpaginated; I[ntilde]igo-Elias 2010, 
unpaginated; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Collar 1997, p. 421; 
Forshaw 1989, pp. 406-407). The Amazon comprises approximately 83 
percent of the species' entire range (BLI 2011c, unpaginated). The 
scarlet macaw is also reported to occur in relatively small areas 
outside the Amazon, including west of the Andes in northwest Colombia 
(Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200) and in parts of several northern 
Venezuelan states (Hilty 2003, p. 327).
    We are aware of little recent information on local (country, 
region) populations within South America. The only local population 
estimate we are aware of includes the Tambopata Province of Peru (Lloyd 
2004, p. 270). Using density estimates calculated from field counts in 
different forest types, and area of forest cover presented in Kratter 
(1995, in Lloyd 2004, p. 269), the Tambopata population was calculated 
to number from 4,734-24,332 individuals. The population of scarlet 
macaws in Peru is adjacent to large populations in adjacent Ecuador, 
Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia (Brightsmith 2009, in litt., 
unpaginated). Therefore, the total individuals could represent scarlet 
macaws from more than just Peru.
    The remaining information on the species' populations in South 
America is qualitative. In Colombia, the species is believed to occur 
west of the Andes in the Magdalena Valley and in gallery forest and 
partially cleared rainforest where large trees have been left (Hilty 
and Brown 1986, p. 200; Forshaw 1989, p. 407); their presence may be 
the result of seasonal movements for food resources (Juniper and Parr 
1998, p. 425). The species is also common east of the Andes and in the 
Orinoco and Amazon Basins in Colombia, but there are no current 
population estimates (Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200; I[ntilde]igo-Elias 
2010, unpaginated). In Venezuela, the species is becoming rare with 
patchy distribution in the states of Bol[iacute]var, Monagas, Apure, 
and Amazonas (I[ntilde]igo-Elias 2010, unpaginated; Meyer de Schauensee 
and Phelps, Jr. 1978, p. 99; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425); there are 
no current population estimates. The species has been described as 
occurring widely throughout the Amazon basin of Brazil, eastern 
Ecuador, and eastern Peru (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425). However, 
more recently it was described as uncommon, locally extirpated in 
areas, and declining in eastern Peru (Inigo-Elias 2010, unpaginated). 
Citing several published works from the 1970s and 1980s, scarlet macaws 
were described as locally extirpated from areas with a history of 
ornithological study in northeastern Ecuador and northeastern Bolivia 
(Forshaw 1989, p. 407), although it has also been described as 
occurring in northern and eastern Bolivia in Santa Cruz (Juniper and 
Parr 1998, p. 425). Other authors reported that in recent decades 
scarlet macaws have rapidly declined in the lowland Ecuadorian Amazon 
in Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, in Karubian et al. 2005, p. 
618). The scarlet macaw occurs widely in the Guianas, which includes 
Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana (Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425), 
although the species may be uncommon in the vicinity of settlements 
(Forshaw 1989, p. 407). In Suriname, scarlet macaws are common in the 
interior rainforest but seldom seen in the coastal area and are rare in 
the eastern part of the country (Spaans et al. 2018, unpaginated). 
Other sources indicate

[[Page 6289]]

that the species is found along tropical riparian evergreen forests in 
western and central Suriname (Haverschmidt and Mees 1994, in 
I[ntilde]igo-Elias 2010, unpaginated). In Brazil, the species is widely 
distributed throughout the Amazon, but there are no current population 
estimates (I[ntilde]igo-Elias 2010, unpaginated; Juniper and Parr 1998, 
p. 425).
    Overall, the scarlet macaw is generally considered common and 
widespread over much of its range in the Amazon (Hilty 2003, p. 327; 
Angehr et al. 2001, p. 161; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Collar 1997, 
p. 421; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Hilty and Brown 1986, p. 200; Ridgely 
1981, p. 251). Using the estimate of 20,000-50,000 birds for the total 
population, and the estimate of 5,000 birds in Mesoamerica, the South 
American population of the scarlet macaw can be very roughly estimated 
to be 15,000-45,000 birds.

Essential Needs of the Species

Habitat
    The scarlet macaw inhabits various habitat types throughout its 
range, including tropical humid evergreen forest, deciduous and humid 
forest, intact and partially cleared lowland rain forest, mixed pine 
and broad-leaved woodlands, open areas and edges with scattered stands 
of tall trees, gallery forest, mangroves, and savannas, with many of 
the areas that scarlet macaw inhabit near rivers (Juniper and Parr 
1998, p. 425; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101; Forshaw 1989, p. 407; Meyer de 
Schauensee and Phelps, Jr. 1978, p. 99). The species generally occurs 
from sea level to about 500 meters (m) (1,640 feet (ft)) elevation, but 
has been reported ranging up to 1,500 m (4,921 ft) in Central America 
(Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 425; Vaughan 1983, in Vaughan et al. 2006, 
p. 919).
    The scarlet macaw is considered somewhat tolerant of degraded or 
fragmented habitat (BLI 2011c, unpaginated; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; 
Brightsmith in litt. 2016, pp. 4-7). If not hunted or captured for the 
pet trade, they can survive in human-modified landscapes provided 
sufficient large trees remain for nesting and feeding requirements (BLI 
2011c, unpaginated; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, p. 251). 
Landscapes may include a combination of agricultural land, pastureland, 
timber harvesting areas, and remnant forest patches (Vaughn et al. 
2006, p. 920; Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 120; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 7); 
partially cleared forest where large trees have been left standing 
(Forshaw 89, p. 407); pastureland with scattered woodlots or remnant 
patches of rainforest (Vaughn et al. 2009, p. 396; Forshaw 89, p. 407); 
and areas of human settlement (towns) (Guittar et al. 2009, p. 390). 
However, the species occurs at lower densities in disturbed or 
secondary (recovering) forest habitat than in primary (undisturbed) 
forest (Cowen 2009, pp. 11-15; Karubian et al. 2005, pp. 622-623; Lloyd 
2004, pp. 269, 272).
Diet and Foraging
    Scarlet macaws, like most parrots, feed primarily in the canopy 
(Vaughan et al. 2006, p. 920; Renton 2006, p. 282; Lee 2010, p. 20) and 
display a wide dietary breadth. They have been reported to consume up 
to 52 plant species in the Amazon of Peru (Gilardi 1996, in Matuzak et 
al. 2008, p. 361) and up to 43 different plant species in Costa Rica 
(Vaughan et al. 2006, p. 920; Matuzak et al. 2008, p. 355). Fruits and 
seeds comprise the majority of a scarlet macaw's diet, but they also 
consume, to a lesser degree, fruit pulp, flowers, leaves, bark, lichen, 
and bromeliads (Lee 2010, pp. 153-160; Matuzak et al. 2008, p. 355; 
Renton 2006, p. 281; Vaughan et al. 2006, pp. 920, 924; Marineros and 
Vaughan 1995, pp. 451-452; Nycander et al. 1995, p. 424).
    Plant species consumed by scarlet macaws are both seasonal and 
available year round (Abramson et al. 1995, p. 24). Changes in local 
abundance patterns of parrots can be triggered by seasonal availability 
of food resources within habitat mosaics (Renton 2002, p. 17; Haugaasen 
and Peres 2007, p. 4179). Fluctuations in food abundance are likely to 
result in seasonal movements of scarlet macaws to areas with greater 
food availability (Karubian et al. 2005, p. 624; Haugaasen and Peres 
2007, pp. 4179-4180; Renton 2002, pp. 17-18; Juniper and Parr 1998, p. 
425). Additionally, in some areas of the scarlet macaw's range, they 
regularly visit claylicks (naturally forming wall of clay on a 
riverbank) where they consume soil or minerals; it is unclear whether 
this provides a nutritional or other benefit to the species such as 
counteracting toxins in food sources (Brightsmith et al. 2010, entire; 
Brightsmith 2004, pp. 136-137; Lee 2010, p. 141).
Nesting and Reproduction
    Reproductive biology of large parrots, including the scarlet macaw, 
is generally characterized by low rates of reproduction, small clutch 
sizes, low survival of nestlings and fledglings, late age to first 
reproduction, a large proportion of nonbreeding adults in any given 
year, and restrictive nesting requirements (Wright et al. 2001, p. 711; 
Collar 1997, pp. 296, 298; Munn 1992, pp. 53-56).
    Scarlet macaws are secondary cavity-nesting birds, meaning they do 
not create their own cavities but rely upon natural or abandoned 
cavities for nesting; their breeding success is dependent upon the 
availability and quality of nesting sites. They nest in both live and 
dead trees and in a variety of tree species, including, but not limited 
to, Ceiba pentandra (kapok tree), Schizolobium parahybum (Brazilian 
firetree), Vatairea lundellii (bitter angelim), Caryocar costaricense 
(no common name), Acacia glomerosa (white tamarind), Dipteryx micrantha 
(Brazilian teak), Iriartea deltoidea (stilt palm), and Erythrina spp. 
(coral tree) (Guittar et al. 2009, pp. 389-399; Renton and Brightsmith 
2009, pp. 3-4; Brightsmith 2005, p. 297; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 8; 
I[ntilde]igo-Elias 1996, p. 57; Marineros and Vaughan 1995, p. 456; 
Nycander et al. 1995, p. 431). Due to their large size, scarlet macaws 
require large cavities, which are usually found in older trees. The 
average height of scarlet macaw nests ranges from about 16 to 24 m 
(52.5 to 79 ft) above the ground (Guittar et al. 2009, pp. 389-391; 
Anleu et al. 2005, p. 44; Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 59; Marineros and Vaughn 
1995, p. 455). In addition to cavity size and height parameters, 
scarlet macaws appear to select nest sites with a clear understory or 
isolated from surrounding vegetation, possibly to reduce predation 
rates (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 93; Brightsmith 2005, p. 302). The species 
will also nest in previously used cavities (Renton and Brightsmith 
2009, pp. 4-5; Nycander et al. 1995, p. 428), and will readily 
investigate and nest in artificial (human-made) cavities when supplied 
(Brightsmith 2005, p. 297; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10; Nycander et al. 
1995, pp. 435-436).
    Scarlet macaws are frequently observed competing for nest cavities 
with other macaws, including other species and other scarlet macaw 
pairs (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, p. 5; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10; 
Inigo-Elias 1996, pp.79, 96; Nycander 1995, p. 428). Thus, intense 
competition for nest cavities suggests suitable nesting sites may be 
limited in some areas (Vaughan et al. 2003, pp. 10-12; Inigo-Elias 
1996, p. 92; Nycander et al. 1995, p. 428; Munn 1992, pp. 55-56).

Conservation Status

    The scarlet macaw has been included in Appendix I of CITES since 
1985 (United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation 
Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC) 2012, unpaginated). The species is

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currently classified as ``Least Concern'' by the IUCN. In 2011, BLI 
proposed reclassifying the scarlet macaw in the IUCN Red List of 
Threatened Species from ``Least Concern'' to ``Threatened,'' based on 
the area of Amazon habitat projected to be lost to deforestation by 
2050 (BLI 2011b, unpaginated; BLI 2011e, unpaginated). However, based 
on review and recommendations from regional experts, a current revision 
of the proposal recommends the species remain classified as ``Least 
Concern'' due to its level of tolerance of degraded and fragmented 
habitat (BLI 2011c, unpaginated) and the relatively good status of the 
species in the Amazon, which accounts for the majority of the species 
range and population.
    In Mesoamerica, the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (A. m. 
cyanoptera) is considered in danger of extinction in Mexico (Government 
of Mexico 2010a, p. 32), Belize (Biodiversity and Environmental 
Resource Data System of Belize 2012, unpaginated; Meerman 2005, p. 30), 
Costa Rica (Costa Rica Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion 2012, 
unpaginated), and Panama (Fundaci[oacute]n de Parques Nacionales y 
Medio Ambiente 2007, p. 125). This subspecies is also on Guatemala's 
Listado de Especies de Fauna Silvestre Amenazadas de Extinci[oacute]n 
(Lista Roja de Fauna) (list of species threatened with extinction (red 
list of fauna)) (Government of Guatemala 2001, p. 15), Honduras's 
Listado Oficial de Especies de Animales Silvestres de 
Preocupaci[oacute]n Especial en Honduras (Official List of Species of 
Wild Animals of Special Concern in Honduras) (Secretaria de Recursos 
Naturales y Ambiente. 2008, p. 62), and Nicaragua's list of species for 
which the season of use (e.g., for harvest or capture) is indefinitely 
closed (Nicaragua Ministerio del Ambiente y Los Recursos Naturales 
2010, entire).
    In South America, the subspecies A. m. macao is listed as 
vulnerable in Peru (Government of Peru 2004, p. 276855), but a more 
recent evaluation of the species categorizes it at the lower threat 
level of ``near threatened'' (Brightsmith 2009, in litt., unpaginated). 
The species is also categorized as ``near threatened'' in Ecuador 
(Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, in Karubian et al. 2005, p. 618) and as 
``near threatened'' on Venezuela's red list (Rodriguez and Rojas-Suarez 
2008, p. 50). We are unaware of the scarlet macaw having official 
conservation status in any other of the species' range countries (e.g., 
Colombia, the Guianas, Brazil, and Bolivia).

Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 
part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 
4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on (A) The present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or 
range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence.
    In considering what factors may constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual 
impacts to the species. If there is exposure to the factor, but no 
response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If 
there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may 
be a threat and we then attempt to determine if it may drive or 
contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the 
species warrants listing as an endangered or threatened species as 
those terms are defined by the Act. In 2016, we revised our proposal to 
list the northern subspecies of the scarlet macaw (Ara macao 
cyanoptera) as an endangered species under the Act, the northern DPS of 
the southern subspecies Ara macao macao as a threatened species under 
the Act, and the southern DPS of the southern subspecies Ara macao 
macao as threatened due to similarity of appearance under the Act (81 
FR 20302, April 7, 2016). Please see our analysis of those entities and 
the factors affecting their status below.

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    One of the two main threats to neotropical parrot species is loss 
of forest habitat (Snyder et al. 2000, p. 98). Deforestation, which 
includes clear-cutting forests to convert them to other land uses such 
as agriculture and cattle ranching, as well as forest degradation, 
which is the reduction in forest biomass such as through selective 
logging or fire, occurs throughout much of the scarlet macaw's range. 
The primary cause of forest loss is conversion to agriculture (crop and 
pasture), although other land uses such as infrastructure, logging, 
fires, oil and gas extraction, and mining also contribute significantly 
and to varying degrees in different areas of the species' range (Blaser 
et al. 2011, pp. 263, 290, 299, 310, 319, 334, 343-344, 354, 363-364, 
375, 393-394; Boucher et al. 2011, entire; Clark and Aide 2011, entire; 
FAO 2011a, pp. 17-18; May et al. 2011, pp. 7-13; Pacheco 2011, entire; 
Government of Costa Rica 2010, pp. 38-39; Belize Ministry of Natural 
Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 40-45; Armenteras and Morales 2009, 
pp. 133-145, 176-191; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Mosandl et al. 2008, pp. 
38-40; Nepstad et al. 2008, entire; Foley et al. 2007, pp. 26-27; 
Fearnside 2005, pp. 681-683).
    The construction of roads are an important driver of deforestation 
because they provide access to previously remote areas and allow 
further expansion of activities that result in additional areas of 
deforestation and degradation (Davidson et al. 2012, p. 323; Lambin and 
Meyfroidt 2011, pp. 3468-3469; May et al. 2011, pp. 6, 9-11; Foley 
2007, pp. 26-27; Soares-Filho et al. 2006, p. 520; Fearnside 2005, pp. 
681-683; Laurance et al. 2004, entire). Historically, large areas of 
forest have been removed throughout Mesoamerica, and the large tracts 
of forest that remain, such as the Maya and Lacandon Forests, the 
transnational forest in the Mosquitia region, and the major 
transnational forest on the Atlantic border of Costa Rica and Panama, 
have almost been cut off from each other by deforestation (Bray 2010, 
p. 93).
    Activities that lead to deforestation and forest degradation pose a 
threat to the scarlet macaw because they directly eliminate the 
species' tropical forest habitat by removing the trees that support the 
species' essential needs for nesting, roosting, and food (see Essential 
Needs of the Species, above). Removing large sections of forest habitat 
may fragment the landscape and reduce and isolate populations. As the 
size of the habitat is reduced, it is less likely to provide the 
essential resources for species that require large ranges--such as 
scarlet macaws--and small patches of habitat retain far fewer species 
and populations than large patches (Ibarra-Macias 2009, p. 6; Lees and 
Peres 2006, pp. 203-205). Scarlet macaws use partially cleared and 
cultivated landscapes if the landscape provides dietary requirements 
and maintains enough large trees. This species is dependent on larger, 
older trees that have large nesting cavities. However, scarlet macaws 
have a better chance of surviving in large tracts of forest where 
suitable cavities are more common than in open and small forest 
remnants (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 91). Selective

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logging can lead to forest degradation because this practice generally 
targets older and larger trees, thus decreasing suitable nesting sites, 
increasing competition, and causing the loss of current generations 
through an increase in infanticide and egg destruction (Lee 2010, pp. 
2, 12). Indirectly, clearing or degrading forests often provides people 
with easier access to previously inaccessible areas inhabited by 
scarlet macaws, which in turn increases the vulnerability of species to 
overexploitation by humans (Peres 2001, entire; Putz et al. 2000, pp. 
16, 23) (see Factor B discussion, below). Additionally, gaining access 
is also often followed by full deforestation and lands cleared for 
agricultural use (Kaimowitz and Angelsen 1998, in Putz et al. 2000, p. 
16).
    Below, we provide a summary of information on deforestation and 
forest degradation within the range countries of the A. m. cyanoptera 
and northern DPS of A. m. macao.
Mesoamerica
    Destruction of forest habitat is one of the main causes of the 
decline of the scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica (CONABIO 2011, p. 5; Lezama 
2011, pers. comm.; McGinley et al. 2009, p. 11; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 
50; Hansen and Florez 2008, pp. 48-50; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; 
Collar 1997, p. 421; Forshaw 1989, p. 406; Ridgely 1981, pp. 251-253). 
Habitat destruction is occurring rapidly in many areas within the range 
of the scarlet macaw in this region, including in Chiapas, Mexico; 
western Pet[eacute]n in Guatemala; eastern Olancho in Honduras; and 
eastern Nicaragua (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Hansen et al. 2013, entire). 
This region has deforestation rates that are among the highest rates in 
the world (Bray 2010, pp. 92-95; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; Carr et al. 
2006, pp. 10-11; FAO 2015, pp. 9-14); the remaining forest is 
fragmented and includes few large tracts of forest habitat (Bray 2010, 
pp. 92-93; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 101). 
Although deforestation rates have declined in Mesoamerica since 1990, 
they are still very high (FAO 2010a, pp. 232-233; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 
487; FAO 2015, pp. 9-14) and include the loss of significant amounts of 
primary forest (FAO 2010a, pp. 55, 259).
Mexico (A. m. cyanoptera)
    The main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Mexico 
are conversion of forest to pasture and agriculture, and uncontrolled 
logging (Government of Mexico 2010b, pp. 22-24; Jimenez-Ferrer et al. 
2008, pp. 195-196; Castillo-Santiago et al. 2007, p. 1217; Oglethorpe 
et al. 2007, p. 85). From 1990 to 2015, Mexico lost approximately 3.7 
million hectares (ha) (9.2 million acres (ac)) of total forest (FAO 
2015, p. 12) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below), and had one of the largest 
decreases in primary forests worldwide (FAO 2010a, pp. 56, 233), 
although the rate slowed toward the latter part of that period (FAO 
2015, p. 12).
    In southeastern Mexico, the area of land devoted to cattle ranching 
has increased dramatically due to the increase of regional meat prices 
and a decrease in the economy of staple crop cultivation (Jimenez-
Ferrer et al. 2008, pp. 195-196; Soberanes 2018, unpaginated). Most of 
Mexico's remaining scarlet macaws occur in the Lacandon Forest of the 
southeastern state of Chiapas. This state encourages cattle ranching 
through subsidies, and clearing of forest for pasture in the state is 
ongoing (Enriquez et al. 2009, pp. 48-49, 58). In fact, Chiapas had the 
second highest rate of deforestation of Mexico's 31 states, with forest 
losses averaging approximately 600 km\2\ (232 m\2\) per year (Masek et 
al. 2011, p. 10). Within the Lacandon Forest, cattle ranching is the 
most profitable activity, and it is extensive in the region (Jimenez-
Ferrer et al. 2008, pp. 195-196). Outside of protected areas in the 
Lacandon Forest, the deforestation risk is primarily categorized as 
high to very high; inside protected areas the risk of deforestation is 
categorized as low to very low (Secretar[iacute]a de Medio Ambiente y 
Recursos Naturales de M[eacute]xico--SEMARNAT 2011, unpaginated). Monte 
Azules Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the Lacandon 
Forest, and it has been relatively successful at conserving the 
resources within its boundaries (Castillo-Santiago et al. 2007, pp. 
1223-1224; Figueroa and Sanchez-Cordero 2008, p. 3231). However, 
according to Mexico's Federal Environmental Protection Agency 
(Procuradur[iacute]a Federal de Protecci[oacute]n al Ambiente 
(Profepa)) more than 60 percent of illegal logging in the country 
occurs in 32 priority forest regions, including the reserve (Enriquez 
et al. 2009, pp. 28, 57). While illegal logging has received more 
attention from Mexico's policy makers, efforts to address the problem 
have had limited success due to insufficient human and financial 
resources to enforce laws, and poorly designed control efforts (Blaser 
et al. 2010, p. 346; Enriquez et al. 2009, p. 57; Kaimowitz 2008, p. 
491) (see Factor D discussion, below). From 2001 to 2007, Profepa 
secured about 0.13 percent of the calculated total of timber illegally 
extracted in the country (CCMSS 2007, in Enriquez et al. 2009, p. 57).
    We are unaware of information on projected future rates of 
deforestation specifically in the Lacandon Forest region, but a loss of 
approximately 20,000 km\2\ (7,722 mi\2\) between 2000 and 2015 in the 
southeastern States (which include Chiapas) was projected, assuming the 
same rate of loss that occurred during the period 1987-2000 (Diaz-
Gallegos et al. 2010, p. 194). By 2030, forest area in Mexico as a 
whole is projected to decrease, with anywhere from about 10 to 60 
percent of mature forests lost, and up to 54 percent of regrowth 
forests lost (Commission for Environmental Cooperation 2010, pp. 45, 
75).
    Mexico implements several forest conservation measures and has made 
significant progress in conserving forest within its boundaries (Blaser 
et al. 2011, pp. 344-346; Center for International Forestry Research 
(CIFOR) 2010, pp. 34-36; Masek et al. 2011, p. 17; FAO 2010a, p. 233; 
Enriquez et al. 2009, pp. 4, 36-41). However, deforestation and forest 
degradation continue to be a threat to the subspecies in Mexico because 
the clearing of forest for agriculture, cattle ranching, and illegal 
logging is ongoing in Chiapas and projected to continue, and illegal 
logging is ongoing in the largest reserve in the Lacandon Forest in 
conjunction with the high risk of deforestation in protected areas 
outside of the forest.
Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera)
    The countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have the 
highest deforestation rate in Latin America (FAO 2010a, p. 232; FAO 
2015, pp. 9-14). Guatemala lost 483 km\2\ (186.5 mi\2\ or 1.2 percent), 
Honduras lost 1,418 km\2\ (547.5 mi\2\ or 2.3 percent), and Nicaragua 
lost, 560 km\2\ (216 mi\2\ or 1.5 percent) of total forest, per year 
between 1990 and 2015 (FAO 2015, pp. 9-14) (see Tables 2a and 2b, 
below). Belize has a lower deforestation rate of 100 km\2\ (39 mi\2\ or 
0.7 percent) per year (FAO 2015, pp. 9), but deforestation is 
increasing in the Chiquibul region, which is the only region scarlet 
macaws are known to nest in the country (Belize Ministry of Natural 
Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 44-45; Salas and Meerman 2008, pp. 
22, 42).
    The main causes of deforestation and forest degradation within the 
range of the scarlet macaw in these countries include clearing for 
agriculture and cattle ranching, illegal human settlements in protected 
areas, illegal logging, purposefully set fires, and in

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some areas, activities related to drug trafficking. Some or all of 
these activities are ongoing in areas occupied by the species, 
including in the MBR in Guatemala; R[iacute]o Pl[aacute]tano Biosphere 
in Honduras; Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua; and the Chiquibul 
region in Belize.
Guatemala (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Guatemala has lost approximately 1.2 million ha (3 million ac) of 
forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, p. 11). Approximately 38 
percent of Guatemala's remaining forest area is primary forest (FAO 
2015, p. 36). Deforestation is the dominant trend nationally, but rates 
of loss appear to be much higher in tropical over temperate areas. The 
most significant threat to the conservation of biodiversity and 
tropical forests is habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation from 
wildfires, agriculture and cattle ranching, mineral and petroleum 
development, and drug trafficking (Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 
3). Deforestation in the conifer forests of the highlands has existed 
for centuries, but today it mostly takes place in the Pet[eacute]n 
(Blaser et al. 2011, p. 310) where a population of A. m. cyanoptera 
occurs. Approximately 65 percent of the deforestation in Guatemala 
occurs in the Pet[eacute]n region, with most (approximately 60 percent) 
occurring outside protected areas (IARNA 2006, in Tolisana and Lopez-
Selva 2010, p. 22). Additionally, the Pet[eacute]n of Guatemala is one 
of the few areas in the entire region that is still undergoing 
intensive tropical colonization resulting in forest loss from 
agriculture and represents the most intense deforestation threats to 
the Maya Forest (Bray 2010, pp. 100-102). Colonization pressure in the 
MBR is strong in the western and central regions; the human population 
increased 20-fold since 1960 and was predicted to double from 2008 to 
2018 in the Pet[eacute]n (Bray et al. 2008, unpaginated).
    Habitat destruction is particularly severe in two protected areas, 
Laguna del Tigre National Park and Sierra del Lacand[oacute]n National 
Park; both of these areas were former strongholds of scarlet macaws 
(Garcia et al. 2008, p. 50). Furthermore, some parks that compose the 
MBR lost approximately 10 percent of forest cover between 1986 and 
2004, with forest loss thought to be accelerating (Bray 2010, p. 100). 
Between 1974 and 1997, the MBR lost 65 percent of its buffer zone, and 
areas near roads showed increasing deforestation pressures in 1995-1997 
(Hayes et al. 2002, p. 305; Bray et al. 2008, unpaginated).
    Considerable efforts have been made since the start of the 21st 
century to reorganize the control and management of forest resources in 
Guatemala (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 317). In the rainforests of the 
Pet[eacute]n, large community-run timber concessions allow local people 
to improve their livelihoods on the basis of forest resources. However, 
forest management is hindered by high rates of deforestation and forest 
degradation driven by agricultural expansion, mining, illegal logging, 
drug-trafficking, and other threats (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 317; 
Reynolds 2008, pp. 6-7).
Belize (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Belize has a lower deforestation rate (100 km\2\ (39 mi\2\, or 0.7 
percent)) per year than the other countries in Mesoamerica (FAO 2015, 
p. 9), but deforestation is increasing in the Chiquibul region, which 
is the only region scarlet macaws are known to nest in the country 
(Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 44-45; 
Salas and Meerman 2008, pp. 22, 42). Belize lost 250,000 ha (618,000 
ac) of total forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, pp. 9, 40).
    The Chiquibul National Park (CNP) is Belize's largest protected 
area, measuring approximately 161,874 ha (400,000 ac). It is located in 
the Cayo District and within a larger forest region known as the 
Chiquibul Forest, which abuts the Belize-Guatemala border and is 
contiguous to the Chiquibul-Monta[ntilde]as Mayas Biosphere Reserve 
that is located in the Department of Pet[eacute]n, Guatemala (Salas and 
Meerman 2008, p. 10). This region also includes the Chiquibul Forest 
Reserve and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. The most significant 
pressure on the CNP, the Chiquibul Forest, and biodiversity within this 
region includes deforestation from urban encroachment, agriculture 
expansion, wildfires, legal and illegal logging, illegal hunting, 
mining and oil exploration, and dam construction (Salas and Meerman 
2008, pp. 45-46; Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 
2010, p. 42).
    The border areas of Belize, including the Chiquibul Maya Mountain 
that contains the CNP, Chiquibul Forest Reserve, and Caracoal 
Archaeological Reserve, are vulnerable because insufficient enforcement 
resources are available, particularly for Guatemalans who are impacting 
forested areas on the Belize side of the border. Satellite imagery 
showed 113 ha (280 ac) in the CNP had been cleared as of 1987 by 
Guatemalans for agricultural use, this increased six-fold to 692 ha 
(1,710 ac) by 1994, and to approximately 3,126 ha (7,725 ac) by 2007 
(FCD 2007, in Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 
2010, p. 45). Additionally, more than 405 ha (1,000 ac) of freshly 
cultivated area was reported in the CNP and incursions into Belize by 
Guatemalan armed forces have also been observed (FCD 2007, in Belize 
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, p. 45). Unlike 
legal extraction, which can be regulated, illegal extraction and 
particularly illegal extraction by non-Belizean nationals continues to 
escalate, which poses a greater threat to forests than legal extraction 
(Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2010, pp. 42-45). 
Transboundary incursions, while temporary, can have a severe impact on 
the forest because of the increase in demand for land for housing and 
farms, as well as the introduction or reinforcement of unsustainable 
agricultural practices (Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and 
Environment 2010, p. 42).
Honduras (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Honduras lost approximately 3.5 million ha (8.7 million ac) of 
forest area over the past 25 years (FAO 2015, p. 11) and had the 
highest rate of deforestation in the Americas (see Tables 2a and 2b, 
below). The Honduran forest landscape is characterized by relative 
stability in temperate areas with localized areas of variability in 
forest cover but with continuing deforestation in tropical areas (Bray 
2010, p. 104), especially in the eastern tropical broadleaved forest 
(Blaser et al. 2011, p. 334; Humphries et al. 1998, p. 99; Hansen and 
Florez 2008, p. 12). The most dramatic losses have been in the forests 
of the Atlantic Coast, which declined by approximately 73 percent 
between 1962 and 1990, compared to only 30 percent loss for other 
broadleaf forests in the same period (Humphries 1998, p. 99).
    The high level of deforestation is due to illegal logging, 
infrastructure (e.g., roads), institutionalized forest sector 
corruption, production of biofuels, and expanding agricultural 
frontiers (although some of the latter may be regarded as socially 
desirable) (Richards et al. 2003, p. 282). In the past, deforestation 
was due to agro-industrial development, mainly for banana plantations. 
However, more recently demand for land by small-scale farmers is 
thought to be the major cause (ITTO 2006, in Blaser et al. 2011, p. 
334); often, such small-scale farmers ultimately sell the deforested 
land to larger farmers and agro-industrial owners (Blaser et al. 2011, 
p. 334). In addition, the country has a high dependence on wood as an 
energy

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source for poor households; thirty-eight percent of the population uses 
firewood for domestic purposes, which is considered a very high 
consumption rate (Government of Honduras 2009, unpaginated).
    The Mosquitia region has been characterized by relatively low 
population density and inaccessibility, and its indigenous inhabitants 
have maintained the forest cover for centuries. However, the Honduran 
Mosquitia appears to be under significant deforestation pressure and 
continues to suffer from colonization, agricultural expansion, and 
illegal logging, which has led to deforestation and degradation in this 
region and parts of the R[iacute]o Pl[aacute]tano Biosphere Reserve 
(Bray 2010, p. 102; Anderson and Devenish 2009, pp. 256-257; Hayes 
2007, pp. 733-734). Recent information indicates that loss of habitat 
and demand for the pet trade (see Factor B discussion, below) are 
significant threats in this region (Portillo Reyes 2005, in Portillo 
Reyes et al. 2010, p. 6; Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 8).
Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera)
    In terms of total forest loss, Nicaragua has lost more forest than 
all other Central American countries except Honduras. Nicaragua has 
lost approximately 1.4 million ha (3.5 million ac) of forest area over 
the past 25 years (FAO 2015, pp. 11, 41) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below).
    Much of the historic deforestation in Nicaragua was due to the 
expansion of cattle ranching and cotton farming until both industries 
declined in the 1980s, resulting in abandonment of much pasture land 
that left almost 1 million ha (2.5 million ac) in forest fallow (Bray 
2010, p. 106). More recently, forest loss and degradation in Nicaragua 
was due to the expansion of agricultural and grazing land, slash-and-
burn agricultural practices that create a mosaic of forest and 
cultivated patches across an increasing expanse of the landscape 
(Global Witness 2007, in McGinley 2009, p. 13). Illegal logging and 
institutionalized forest sector corruption have also led to forest loss 
and degradation (Richards et al. 2003, p. 282). Deforestation and 
forest degradation has also been attributed to forest fires, pests 
(e.g., pine bark beetle (Dendroctonus sp.)) and hurricanes, though to a 
much lesser degree than to anthropogenic factors (Rodr[iacute]guez 
Quiros 2005, in McGinley 2009, p. 13). Farmers often use fire to clear 
forest and scrubland in preparation for crops, and though these 
practices are typically intended to be limited to a specific area, they 
can spread to adjacent vegetation and lead to uncontrollable wildfires 
that result in forest and other biodiversity degradation and loss 
(McGinley 2009, p. 35).
    The Nicaraguan Mosquitia (on the Caribbean slope), which is one 
area where the scarlet macaw is known to occur in the country, is 
considered an important area of extensive lowland tropical forest that 
it is threatened by rapid deforestation due to colonization and the 
advancement of the agricultural frontier (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; 
McGinley 2009, p. 31; Bray 2010, p. 105). The bulk of Nicaragua's 
forests on the Caribbean slope are in indigenous territories that hold 
rights to own their own forests, but most lack formal titles and tenure 
conflicts are widespread (Kaimowitz 2008, p. 487; McGinley 2009, p. 
13). For example, Mosquitia residents contend that public management of 
protected areas fails to control agricultural expansion and violates 
indigenous ancestral rights to the land and its resources (Hayes 2007, 
p. 734). Illegal logging is a threat to forests in the Caribbean region 
and the Mosquitia (Bray 2010, p. 105). Illegal logging in broadleaf 
forests was estimated to be 30,000 to 50,000 m\3\/year (1.1 to 1.8 
million ft\3\/year), or approximately 50 percent of the total 
production (Richards et al. 2003, p. 284). However, with respect to the 
binational Mosquitia region, the pressures appear to be greater on the 
Honduran side, although areas outside the core of the Bosawas Biosphere 
Reserve area are also under pressure (Bray 2010, p. 106). The 
indigenous occupied core zones of Bosawas are showing virtually no 
deforestation, with one such area having 97 percent forest cover in 
2003 (Hayes 2007, p. 741). In contrast, the R[iacute]o Pl[aacute]tano 
Biosphere Reserve on the Honduran side of the Mosquitia is under great 
deforestation pressures because of failed efforts to centralize 
management in the government, while protection is much more effective 
in the Bosawas core area due to the decentralization of management in 
the hands of the indigenous inhabitants (Bray 2010, p. 106).
    Deforestation is ongoing in southeast Nicaragua and resulted in 
forest cover loss from 2000-2017 (Hansen et al. 2013, entire). 
Southeast Nicaragua includes the Indio Ma[iacute]z Biological Reserve 
(IMBR) and its buffer zone. The reserve is situated at the southeastern 
border of the country (Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 63) and is one 
of Nicaragua's best preserved forested areas (Ravnborg et al. 2006, p. 
2). However, the reserve is threatened by the growing human population 
in or around the reserve, a result of the continuous arrival of 
families from other parts of the country into the region in search of 
cheap land (Ravnborg 2010, pp. 12-13; Ravnborg et al. 2006, pp. 4-5). 
Between 1998 and 2005, the population increased more than 100 percent 
in the municipality of El Castillo, which is composed entirely of IMBR 
buffer zone and core area (Ravnborg 2010, p. 10). The expansion of 
African palm plantations, pasture lands, human settlements, and logging 
have contributed to an estimated 60 percent deforestation of the buffer 
zones surrounding IMBR and these activities are expanding in the 
reserve (Fundacion del Rio and IUCN 2011, pp. 7-8; Ravnborg 2010, pp. 
12-13; Nygren 2004, pp. 193-194; Ravnborg et al. 2006, p. 2). Forest 
conservation efforts in the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border region have 
resulted in lower deforestation rates within the San Juan-La Selva 
Biological Corridor, which includes the IMBR along with other protected 
areas (Chassot et al. 2010a, in Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 67), 
although both primary and regrowth forest within the corridor and 
within the larger border region continue to decrease due to timber 
extraction and agricultural expansion (Fagan et al. 2013, unpaginated; 
Chassot and Monge-Arias 2012, p. 63; Chassot and Monge-Arias 2011, p. 
1; Chassot et al. 2009, p. 9). Thus, despite the existence of protected 
areas, deforestation continues to occur and is a serious threat to 
biodiversity in this region (Fundacion del Rio 2012a, pp. 2-3; 
Fundacion del Rio 2012b, pp. 2-3; Fundacion del Rio and IUCN 2011, pp. 
34, 37, 73-74; Chassot et al. 2006, p. 84). According to eBird 
(Sullivan et al. 2009, unpaginated), many sightings of scarlet macaws 
exist in southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa Rica since the 
issuance of our proposed rules (77 FR 40222, July 6, 2012; 81 FR 20302, 
April 7, 2016), indicating that the species has continued to expand its 
range in this region. However, expansion of scarlet macaws in this 
region will likely be limited due to high rates of deforestation 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., pp. 4-8).
Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao Northern DPS)
    Costa Rica experienced some of the highest rates of deforestation 
in the world historically (Bray 2010, p. 107; Government of Costa Rica 
2010, p. 68), and as a result, the country's forest cover declined from 
67 percent in 1940, to 17-20 percent in 1983 (Bray 2010, p. 107). Much 
of this deforestation was driven by agriculture and cattle ranching; 
however, agriculture

[[Page 6294]]

expansion was not as prevalent as livestock expansion (Government of 
Costa Rica 2010, p. 38). Cattle ranching underwent a serious 
contraction after 1989 (Arroyo-Mora et al. 2005, p. 28). In 1993, only 
20 percent of original scarlet macaw habitat remained, all within 
protected areas (Marineros and Vaughan 1995, pp. 445-446). However, 
during the 1990s, Costa Rica implemented several forest conservation 
strategies, including new laws protecting forests and mechanisms of 
payment for ecosystem services (Bray 2010, pp. 107-109; Kaimowitz 2008, 
pp. 488-491; Pagiola 2008, entire; Sanchez-Azofeifa et al. 2003, 
entire).
    Costa Rica is the only country in Mesoamerica to experience a 
positive change in forest cover from 1990 to 2015 (FAO 2015, p. 10) 
(see Tables 2a and 2b, below). Total forest cover in 2005 was estimated 
to be 53 percent (Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 68), more than 
double the country's forest cover in the 1980s. Between 1990 and 2015, 
Costa Rica gained 192,000 ha (474,442 ac) of total forest area, with an 
annual rate of approximately 7,700 ha (19,000 ac or 0.3 percent) (FAO 
2015, p. 10).
    Even though Costa Rica has an increase in total forest over the 
past 25 years (1990-2015), some level of deforestation still occurs in 
parts of the country due to expansion of agriculture and livestock 
activities, and to illegal logging in private forests, national parks, 
and reserves (Government of Costa Rica 2011, p. 2; Government of Costa 
Rica 2010, pp. 10-11, 38, 52-54; Parks in Peril 2008, unpaginated). 
Fifty percent of forests in Costa Rica are found in individual rural 
private properties (Government of Costa Rica 2011, p. 1). The major 
driver of deforestation on private lands is the conversion of forest to 
livestock and agricultural uses. In many cases, land users generate a 
higher annual income with agriculture or livestock-raising than with 
forests. In protected areas, underfunding and lack of human resources 
allows the penetration of squatters and illegal loggers. Additionally, 
land tenure issues contribute to forest loss because indigenous 
communities have difficulties keeping nonindigenous farmers from 
encroaching onto their lands (Government of Costa Rica 2011, p. 1)
    National Parks on the Caribbean slope are experiencing higher 
deforestation on surrounding lands than those on the Pacific slopes, 
which is attributed to the intensification and expansion of 
agricultural cash crops such as banana and pineapple (Sanchez-Azofeifa 
et al. 2003, p. 129). However, Corcovado National Park, the largest 
protected area in ACOSA, is one of the protected areas in Costa Rica 
most affected by deforestation close to its boundaries (Sanchez-
Azofeifa et al. 2003, pp. 128-129). A comprehensive study of 
deforestation in Costa Rica's park system found that deforestation 
inside protected areas was negligible from 1987 to 1997, and that 1-km 
(0.62-mi) buffer zones around the protected areas had a net forest gain 
for the same period. However, a 1 percent annual deforestation rate was 
found in 10-km (6.2-mi) buffer zones, suggesting increased isolation of 
protected areas (Sanchez-Azofeifa et al. 2003, pp. 128-134). 
Additionally, in the ACOPAC population region, more deforestation is 
ongoing northwest of Carara than to the south (Brightsmith 2016, in 
litt., p. 12).
    The scarlet macaw occurs in northeastern Costa Rica, near Palo 
Verde and surrounding areas in northwest Costa Rica, and in the two 
main populations of the ACOPAC and ACOSA. Overall, Costa Rica is both 
losing and gaining forest cover throughout the country (Hansen et al. 
2013, entire; Brightsmith 2016, in litt. p. 1). However, the best 
available information indicates that the scarlet macaw population in 
Costa Rica appears to be increasing, and Costa Rica is the only country 
in Central America to experience a positive change in forest cover over 
the past 25 years (1990-2015). We conclude that deforestation or forest 
degradation in the current range of the scarlet macaw in Costa Rica is 
not occurring at a level that is causing a further decline in the 
species; however, this area is not enough to sustain the northern DPS 
of A. m. macao in the future in given the threats occurring in the 
remainder of the range.
Panama (A. m. macao Northern DPS)
    Deforestation in Panama is relatively low for the Mesoamerica 
region; the annual decrease from 1990-2015 was 169 km\2\ (65 mi\2\ or 
0.4 percent) (FAO 2015, p. 12) (see Tables 2a and 2b, below). Drivers 
of deforestation include urbanization, cattle ranching, agro-industrial 
development, unregulated shifting cultivation, open mining, poor 
logging practices, charcoal-making, and fire (ITTO 2005, in Blaser et 
al. 2011, p. 354). Deforestation in the country currently occurs 
primarily in the Darien, Colon, Ngabe Bugle, and Bocas del Toro 
provinces (Blaser et al. 2011, p. 354), which are outside the range in 
which scarlet macaw currently occurs in Panama. Illegal logging is 
widespread in the humid forests, even in protected areas (Blaser et al. 
2011, p. 361).
    Most of Panama's scarlet macaw population occurs on Isla Coiba, 
which was used by the government of Panama as a penal colony until 
2004, thus limiting human access and development on the island 
(Government of Panama 2005, p. 23; Steinitz et al. 2005, p. 26). 
Consequently, forests on the island remain largely intact. The 
Panamanian Tourism Authority has developed a master plan for 
sustainable tourism for Isla Coiba (2007-2020), which includes 
strategic guidelines for tourism management. Further details on these 
guidelines are not provided, but the plan does not include 
infrastructure or high-impact development (UNESCO 2011c, p. 60). 
Available information indicates that deforestation is not occurring on 
Isla Coiba (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 1; Hansen et al. 2013, 
entire), although some level of degradation on the island may occur by 
a herd of approximately 2,500 to 3,500 feral cattle (UNESCO 2011c, pp. 
23, 43; Suman et al. 2010, p. 25). However, the extent of the cattle's 
impact is unknown. The complete eradication of the cattle from Coiba 
National Park was classified as a priority issue (Suman et al. 2010, p. 
25), but we are not aware of information indicating that the removal of 
cattle has occurred. While cattle on Isla Coiba may be inhibiting the 
regrowth of former pasture to secondary forest, they are probably not 
having a significant impact on the larger forest trees on which scarlet 
macaws depend (Angehr 2012, in litt., unpaginated).
    On the mainland of Panama, in the area of the upper R[iacute]o 
Corot[uacute] near Puerto Armuelles and Quer[eacute]valo in the 
Chiriqu[iacute] province where there have been sporadic sightings of 
scarlet macaws, we are unaware of information indicating that 
deforestation and forest degradation are impacting scarlet macaws. We 
are also unaware of information indicating that deforestation is 
occurring near the small (but unknown) number of scarlet macaws on the 
southern end of the Azuero Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya 
National Park and in the forest reserves just to the east. Less than 15 
percent of the peninsula is covered by mature forest, but most of the 
remaining forest can be found in Cerro Hoya National Park and the 
Tronosa Forest Reserve to the east (Miller et al. 2015, p. 1).
    We are aware of little information on the magnitude and extent of 
deforestation and forest degradation on Panama's mainland and Isla 
Coiba, although the most recent information indicates that 
deforestation is not occurring on Isla Coiba or any areas where the 
scarlet macaw remains in

[[Page 6295]]

very small populations on the mainland. The World Heritage Centre and 
IUCN concluded that the main conservation concerns (i.e., cattle) on 
Isla Coiba remain poorly addressed (UNESCO 2011c, p. 61).
Summary Tables


                              Table 2a--Total Forest Area in Mesoamerica 1990-2015
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Forest area (1,000 ha)
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       1990            2000            2005            2010            2015
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Belize..........................           1,616           1,459           1,417           1,391           1,366
Costa Rica......................           2,564           2,376           2,491           2,605           2,756
Guatemala.......................           4,748           4,208           3,938           3,722           3,540
Honduras........................           8,136           6,392           5,792           5,192           4,592
Mexico..........................          69,760          67,856          67,083          66,498          66,040
Nicaragua.......................           4,514           3,814           3,464           3,114           3,114
Panama..........................           5,040           4,867           4,782           4,699           4,617
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                         Table 2b--Percent Change of Total Forest Area in Mesoamerica 1990-2015
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                            Annual change rate
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          1990-2000                 2000-2010                 2010-2015                 1990-2015
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  1,000 ha/yr    % change   1,000 ha/yr    % change   1,000 ha/yr    % change   1,000 ha/yr    % change
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Belize..........................................        -15.7         -1.0         -6.8         -0.5         -5.0         -0.4        -10.0         -0.7
Costa Rica......................................        -18.8         -0.8         22.9          0.9         30.2          1.1          7.7          0.3
Guatemala.......................................        -54.0         -1.2        -48.6         -1.2        -36.4         -1.0        -48.3         -1.2
Honduras........................................       -174.4         -2.4       -120.0         -2.1       -120.0         -2.4       -141.8         -2.3
Mexico..........................................       -190.4         -0.3       -135.8         -0.2        -91.6         -0.1       -148.8         -0.2
Nicaragua.......................................        -70.0         -1.7        -70.0         -2.0          0.0          0.0        -56.0         -1.5
Panama..........................................        -17.3         -0.3        -16.8         -0.4        -16.4         -0.4        -16.9         -0.4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

South America

Northwest Colombia (A. m. macao Northern DPS)
    Colombia has lost approximately 5.9 million ha (14.6 million ac) of 
forest over the past 25 years, with a steady rate of change over that 
time frame (FAO 2015, p. 10). In northwest Colombia, forest loss is due 
primarily to conversion of land to pasture and agriculture, but also 
mining, illicit crops, and logging (Ortega and Lagos 2011, pp. 85-86). 
Scarlet macaws in northwest Colombia are believed to be affected 
primarily by habitat loss, and to a lesser extent trade (Donegan 2013, 
in litt., unpaginated).
    The Magdalena and Caribbean regions of northwest Colombia have 
approximately 7 percent and 23 percent (respectively) of their land 
area in original vegetation, with the remainder converted primarily to 
grazing land (Etter et al. 2006, p. 376). The Magdalena region lost 40 
percent of its forest cover between 1970 and 1990, and an additional 15 
percent between 1990 and 1996 (Restrepo and Syvitski 2006, pp. 69, 72). 
Within the Caribbean region, Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Paramillo 
(460,000 ha (1,136,680 ac)), Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Colorados 
(Los Colorados Fauna and Flora Sanctuary) (1,000 ha (2,500 ac)), and 
Reserva Forestal de Montes de Maria (Montes Maria Forest Reserve) 
(7,460 ha (18,500 ac)) have lost 42, 71, and 70 percent of their 
forest, respectively, since they were created in the late 1970s and 
early 1980s (Millet et al. 2004, p. 454). The Caribbean region of 
northwest Colombia showed the highest projected rate of change of 
forest cover by the year 2030 of all regions evaluated (Gonz[aacute]les 
et al. 2011, p. 45).
    Deforestation is ongoing in northwest Colombia (Colombia Gold 
Letter 2012, pp. 1-2; Ortega and Lagos 2011, pp. 81-82). Few large 
tracts of forest remain within the range of the scarlet macaw in this 
region, for instance, in the areas of Serrania de San Lucas and PNN 
Paramillo, but these areas in northwest Colombia are also deforestation 
hotspots (Ortega and Lagos 2011, p. 82; Salaman et al. 2009, p. 21).

Summary of Factor A

    The destruction and modification of the scarlet macaw's habitat 
because of deforestation and forest degradation is a threat to the 
scarlet macaw throughout parts of its current range, although the 
magnitude of this impact varies across its range. Deforestation has 
fragmented habitat and continues to reduce and isolate areas that 
support populations of scarlet macaws. It directly eliminates the 
species' tropical forest habitat by removing the trees that support the 
species' nesting, roosting, and food requirements. Further, clearing or 
degradation of forests, including selective logging and the development 
of roads, provides additional opportunities for humans to expand into 
previously inaccessible areas, which in turn creates easier access and 
opportunity to exploit previously undisturbed areas. Subsequent 
encroachment is often followed by additional deforestation as lands are 
cleared for cattle ranching and agriculture. Although scarlet macaws 
are known to use partially cleared and cultivated landscapes, they are 
only able to do so if the landscape maintains enough large, older trees 
that provide the essential needs of the species.
    Deforestation rates in Mesoamerica, excluding Costa Rica, are the 
highest in Latin America due to expanding agriculture, cattle ranching, 
and selective and often illegal logging. Destruction of forest habitat 
is one of the main causes of the decline of scarlet macaw subspecies 
Ara macao cyanoptera. Throughout the range of the northern subspecies 
(A. m. cyanoptera) where most of the species' historical habitat has 
been eliminated, evidence indicates that deforestation is ongoing. We 
consider deforestation and forest degradation to be an immediate threat 
to

[[Page 6296]]

the subspecies because clearing of forest for agriculture, cattle 
ranching, and illegal logging that leads to the loss of scarlet macaw 
habitat are ongoing in Mexico in the Lacandon Forest and Chiapas, in 
the western Pet[eacute]n of Guatemala, and in the Chiquibul region of 
Belize. The Honduran Mosquitia appears to be under significant 
deforestation pressure and continues to suffer from rapid colonization, 
agricultural expansion, and illegal logging. Nicaragua lost more forest 
than all other Central American countries except Honduras. With respect 
to the binational Mosquitia region, pressure appears to be greater on 
the Honduran side, but Nicaragua suffers rapid deforestation due to 
colonization and illegal logging. The border region (R[iacute]o San 
Juan (San Juan River) of southeastern Nicaragua and northeastern Costa 
Rica has sections of contiguous forests; however, deforestation 
continues to occur and is a serious threat to biodiversity in this 
area.
    Throughout the range of the northern DPS of the southern subspecies 
(Ara macao macao) evidence indicates that Costa Rica is both losing and 
gaining forest cover throughout the country. Costa Rica experienced 
some of the highest rates of deforestation in the world historically. 
More recently, Costa Rica has an increase in total forest over the 25-
year period from 1990-2015 and is the only country in Central America 
to experience a positive change in forest cover. But some level of 
deforestation still occurs in parts of the country due to expansion of 
agriculture and livestock activities, and illegal logging in private 
forests and in national parks and reserves. The available information 
indicates that the scarlet macaw population in Costa Rica appears to be 
increasing, and we are unaware of any information indicating that 
deforestation or forest degradation in the current range of the scarlet 
macaw in Costa Rica is occurring at a level that is causing or likely 
to cause a further decline in the species.
    In Panama, we are aware of little information on the magnitude and 
extent of deforestation and forest degradation on the mainland, 
although the scarlet macaw was described as almost extinct from 
mainland Panama. Currently, deforestation is concentrated in provinces 
outside the range of where scarlet macaws occur in Panama. On Isla 
Coiba, where most of the population in Panama occurs, evidence 
indicates large-scale deforestation is not a threat to the species.
    Much of northwest Colombia has been deforested and it is expected 
to continue in the region. The Caribbean region of northwest Colombia 
showed the highest projected rate of change of forest cover of all 
regions evaluated. Forest loss in the region is due primarily to 
conversion of land to pasture and agriculture, mining, illicit crops, 
and logging. The number of scarlet macaws in northwest Colombia is 
unknown, but habitat loss has caused the decline of the species there, 
such that the species has been all but extirpated from large areas in 
the region. However, the region is reported to have large tracts of 
suitable forest habitat.
    The scarlet macaw subspecies (Ara macao cyanoptera and A. m. macao) 
in Mesoamerica are significantly impacted by deforestation in many 
countries in this region, which comprises less than 17 percent of the 
species' range. Because deforestation is ongoing and the populations of 
the scarlet macaw subspecies A. m. cyanoptera are small, we consider 
habitat destruction and modification to be a substantial threat to the 
northern subspecies A. m. cyanoptera throughout its range in Mexico, 
Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (Atlantic 
slope). But even though deforestation continues in parts of Costa Rica, 
we do not find that it is occurring at a level that is an immediate 
threat to A. m. macao on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, especially 
because the data indicate that the species is likely increasing within 
the two main populations on the Pacific Coast. Similarly, the data 
indicate that deforestation is not impacting the scarlet macaw in 
Panama where it currently occurs. Therefore, we do not consider 
deforestation to be as significant of a stressor to A. m. macao in 
Costa Rica and Panama. However, in Colombia, habitat loss has caused 
the decline of the species from large areas in the region, and many of 
the areas in northwest Colombia are deforestation hotspots, even though 
the region is reported to have large tracts of suitable forest habitat.

Factor B: Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Parrots and macaws have been captured and traded for centuries in 
the Neotropics (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 9; Guedes 2004, p. 279; 
Snyder et al. 2000, pp. 98-99). Because they are colorful, adapt to 
captivity, and can imitate language, they are captured for their 
feathers and used as pets (Guedes 2004, p. 279). The scarlet macaw is a 
popular pet species within its range countries, and the majority of 
birds sold as pets remain within country (Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; 
Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 102). Poaching of parrots from the wild is driven 
by demand from the pet industry and rural poverty where wild parrot 
populations exist. Capture for sale in local markets can provide a 
significant source of supplemental income in rural areas (Huson 2010, 
p. 58; Gonz[aacute]lez 2003, p. 438). Overall, capture for the pet 
trade, along with habitat loss as described above, are the main factors 
impacting the existence of scarlet macaws in the wild (I[ntilde]igo-
Elias in litt. 1997, in Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Guedes 2004, p. 
280).
    Because the scarlet macaw is a long-lived species with a low 
reproductive rate, low survival of chicks and fledglings, late age to 
first reproduction, and large proportions of nonbreeding adults, this 
species is particularly vulnerable to overexploitation from harvesting 
(Munn 1992, p. 57; Wright et al. 2001, p. 712). Capture of parrots 
decreases the population, inhibits future breeding by removing 
reproductive age adults, causes mortality of eggs or chicks, causes the 
loss of or damage to nesting sites, and can stop population growth and 
cause local extirpations if individuals are removed year after year 
(Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 14). When chicks are targeted, the 
effects on the population may be difficult to detect because scarlet 
macaws are long-lived and it would take time to show a decline (Wright 
2001, p. 717). When adults are targeted, the population is depleted 
more rapidly because reproductive individuals are removed from the 
population and the impact is immediate (Collar et al. 1992, p. 6).
Legal International Trade
    The United States and Europe were historically the main markets for 
wild birds in international trade (FAO 2011b, p. 3). Trade in parrots 
was particularly high in the 1980s, due to a huge demand from developed 
countries (Rosales et al. 2007, pp. 85, 94; Best et al. 1995, p. 234). 
However, in the years following the enactment of the WBCA in 1992 (16 
U.S.C. 4901 et seq.), poaching levels were lower than in prior years, 
suggesting that import bans in developed countries reduced poaching 
levels in exporting countries (Wright et al. 2001, pp. 715, 718). A 
massive reduction occurred in the number of wild-caught parrots 
imported to the United States, both from Central and South America and 
the rest of the world, following the enactment of the WBCA (Pain et al. 
2006, p. 327). The European Union, which was the largest market for 
wild birds following enactment of the WBCA, banned the import of wild 
birds in 2006 due to

[[Page 6297]]

disease concerns (FAO 2011b, p. 21), thus eliminating another market 
for wild birds and further reducing international trade.
    The scarlet macaw was initially listed in Appendix II of CITES 
(June 6, 1981), but effective January 8, 1985, was included in Appendix 
I. Species included in Appendix I are considered threatened with 
extinction, and international trade is permitted only under exceptional 
circumstances, which generally precludes commercial trade. Of the total 
live specimens reported in trade between 1985 and 2016, approximately 
95 percent of the total live, wild-sourced scarlet macaws that were in 
trade during 1985 to 2016 were exported from Suriname, which is one of 
only two countries in South America that still legally export 
significant quantities of wildlife (Duplaix 2001, p. ii) and the only 
scarlet macaw range country that entered a reservation to the Appendix 
I listing of the species. A reservation means that these countries are 
treated as a country not party to CITES with respect to the species 
concerned. However, if a country with a reservation to a listing in the 
CITES Appendices wishes to trade that species with a country that has 
not taken the same reservation, then that trade must follow the CITES 
permit requirements (CITES 2018, unpaginated). Wildlife exports 
generate significant income and jobs in Suriname, and the country has 
set an annual voluntary export quota of 100 live specimens per year 
since 1998. The quota includes a notation that Parties may not 
authorize import for primarily commercial purposes (CITES 2018, 
unpaginated). Suriname's wildlife export quotas are reported to be 
``realistic'' in that they are based on the belief that larger parrots 
cannot sustain large harvests (Duplaix 2001, pp. 10, 65, 68). Actual 
exports of CITES listed species are often lower than Suriname's allowed 
quotas (FAO 2010b, p. 42; Duplaix 2001, p. 10). However, in a number of 
recent years, Suriname has also reported exports in excess of its quota 
of 100 live specimens.
Poaching Within Mesoamerica
    The scarlet macaw is protected by domestic laws within all 
countries in Mesoamerica (see Factor D discussion, below). However, 
enforcement of wildlife laws in these countries is generally lacking 
because they often do not have the resources, personnel, or both to 
adequately enforce their laws (TRAFFIC NA 2009, p. 20; Valdez et al. 
2006, p. 276; Mauri 2002, entire). Additionally, low salaries and high 
unemployment in the region drives people to search for extra sources of 
income, and as a result, scarlet macaws are still captured throughout 
the region and traded illegally (TRAFFIC NA 2009, pp. 23-24). Due to 
the high mortality rate associated with capture and transport, the 
number of birds actually sold or exported for the pet trade represents 
only a portion of those removed from the wild. Cumulative mortality 
rates before parrots reach customers have been estimated to be as high 
as 77 percent; for nestlings, approximately 80 percent died before 
reaching a pet store (Inigo and Ramos 1991 and Enkerlin 2000, in Cantu-
Guzman et al. 2007, p. 60).
Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Poaching has occurred at significant levels in the Maya Forest 
region of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, and is one of the most 
important factors influencing population growth of the scarlet macaw in 
this region, indicating that even relatively low levels of poaching 
could result in population declines (Clum 2008, pp. 76-80).
    Poaching is a persistent problem and the second largest threat to 
scarlet macaws in Mexico after deforestation, although information on 
the extent of poaching in Mexico is largely unavailable (Inigo-Elias 
1996, p. 62; Boyd and McNab 2008, p. xiii). In many instances, poachers 
damage trees to reach the birds. During the 1993 breeding season, four 
nest trees from a total of 41 were cut down and another was burned 
(Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 62). Detained traffickers reported that parrot 
populations in Chiapas (the primary state in which the species occurs 
in Mexico) have decreased so much that trapping is now conducted in 
protected areas in Chiapas (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 14). Fewer 
than 50 scarlet macaws are captured annually in Mexico (Cantu-Guzman et 
al. 2007, p. 35).
    Much of the scarlet macaw population in Guatemala is currently 
protected through conservation efforts. Prior to the Wildlife 
Conservation Society (WCS) monitoring nests in 2002, poaching was a 
serious concern. Between 1992 and 2002, citing Proyecto Guacamaya of 
ProPeten data, 115 chicks were poached from the Laguna del Tigre area 
(Moya and Castillo Villeda 2002, in McReynolds 2016, in litt., 
unpaginated). However, since 2003, the severity of poaching has greatly 
decreased because of WCS's conservation efforts (Garcia et al. 2008, p. 
51). Although in areas where the WCS is not working and protection is 
lacking, which is up to 25 percent of the population in Guatemala, it 
is likely that these nests are poached (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. vi; 
Garcia et al. 2008, p. 51).
    In the Chiquibul Forest in Belize, poaching is a threat to scarlet 
macaws, but the situation has improved in recent years. In 2011, the 
poaching rate was 89 percent (Breaking Belize News 2017, unpaginated). 
Nests were being poached by guaceros and xateros, which are Guatemalans 
who illegally cross the border into Belize for economic reasons. Thus, 
with this high percentage of poached chicks, scarlet macaws essentially 
had no productivity (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). Of the nests 
monitored in 2013, approximately 30 percent of the failed nests were 
attributed to poaching; these nests contained 33 percent of the total 
hatchlings (The Guardian Belize 2014, unpaginated). Incidences of 
poaching were reduced to an average of 35 percent between 2012 and 2015 
(Breaking Belize News 2017, unpaginated). Over the past 5 years, the 
Scarlet Six team (see Conservation Measures, below) has reduced overall 
nest poaching from higher than 90 percent to less than 30 percent, and 
2017 is the second year in a row that no known nests were poached 
(Harbison 2017, unpaginated).
Honduras and Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Poaching of the scarlet macaw occurs in both Honduras and 
Nicaragua, although little quantitative information is available 
(TRAFFIC NA 2009, p. 5).
    In Honduras, the scarlet macaw population has decreased and is 
experiencing severe reproductive limits due to poaching (Lafeber 
Conservation and Wildlife 2011, unpaginated). Nest monitoring indicated 
5 of 6 nests active in February 2003 were poached by August (McReynolds 
2016, in litt., unpaginated). In 2003, an estimated 200 to 300 chicks 
were poached just in the Rus Rus area of the Honduran Mosquitia 
(Portillo Reyes et al. 2004, in McReynolds 2011, in litt., 
unpaginated). In a 2010-2011 survey of 20 nests previously used by 
parrots, 16 of which were scarlet macaws, 17 showed evidence of 
poaching including all the scarlet macaw nests (Lafeber Conservation 
and Wildlife 2011, unpaginated).
    In Nicaragua, capture of parrots for the pet trade is described as 
common (Herrera 2004, p. 1). Scarlet macaws are one of the three most 
preferred species in Nicaragua's parrot trade and are among the main 
CITES-species harvested for illegal trade in the country (McGinley et 
al. 2009, p. 16; Lezama 2008, abstract; Nicaragua Ministerio del 
Ambiente y Los Recursos Naturales

[[Page 6298]]

(MARENA) 2008, p. 25). Based on interviews with locals, Nicaraguan 
poachers bring chicks into Honduras from Nicaragua, where they more 
easily enter into trade (Portillo-Reyes et al. 2004, in McReynolds 
2016, in litt., unpaginated). Confiscations and prosecutions by 
government authorities occurred in 2009 in the Caribbean region of the 
county and in 2010 in Managua where a dozen scarlet macaws were for 
sale (McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). Parrot populations in 
Nicaragua have declined by as much as 60 percent since the mid-1990s, 
although the loss of habitat has also contributed to the decline 
(MARENA 2008, p. 51). Additionally, the small population in the 
Cosig[uuml]ina Nature Reserve on the Pacific Coast suffers from 
poaching of both chicks and adults (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x).
Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao)
    Historically, scarlet macaws in Costa Rica experienced heavy 
poaching pressure. Of 56 known nest cavities in the ACOPAC studied from 
1992 to 2000, 64 percent were considered at high risk and 23 percent 
were at medium risk (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 8; McReynolds 2016, in 
litt., unpaginated). In studies conducted in the 1990s in Carara 
National Park, which is the traditional stronghold of the ACOPAC 
population of scarlet macaws, 56 to 64 percent of evaluated nest sites 
showed signs of being poached with some nests poached yearly (Vaughan 
et al. 2003, pp. 6, 8; Snyder et al. 2000, p. 150; Marineros and 
Vaughan 1995, p. 460). However, anti-poaching efforts in ACOPAC during 
1995-1996 may have increased recruitment into the population (Vaughan 
et al. 2005, p. 127). From 2004 to 2009, most of the poached animals 
were paca (Cuniculus paca), but scarlet macaws were also poached and 
were among the top four species identified by park officials as most at 
risk of poaching, local extinction, or both (Huson 2010, pp. 19-20). 
Hunting is important in the communities for both subsistence and 
monetary gain; with low-income communities surrounding the park, the 
incentives to poach are great (Huson 2010, p. 66). A significant effort 
to control poaching in the Carara area is ongoing because poaching 
continues to be a serious problem (Vaughan 2005, pers. comm., in 
McReynolds 2016, in litt., unpaginated). However, the ACOPAC population 
of scarlet macaws was believed to be self-sustaining, even with heavy 
poaching pressure (Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 128).
    In 2005, in the ACOSA, approximately half (48 percent) of residents 
interviewed believed that scarlet macaws were still being poached in 
the ACOSA, although 85 percent of the interviewees believed numbers of 
scarlet macaws were increasing (Dear et al. 2010, pp. 10-13). Forty-
three percent of the interviewees mentioned that less poaching occurs 
now than before, and none said the activity had increased (Dear et al. 
2010, p. 13). Therefore, it is believed that poaching is ongoing but 
has decreased and the ACOSA population is increasing (Dear et al. 2010, 
p. 19). Based on interviews, it was estimated that 25 to 50 chicks are 
poached each year (Dear et al. 2005, p. 19). In 2006, 11 of 57 (19 
percent) potential nest cavities found in ACOSA were reported by local 
residents as recently poached, but the actual number of poached nests 
is likely greater (Guittar et al. 2009, pp. 390, 392).
Panama (A. m. macao)
    Little information is available on capture of scarlet macaws in 
Panama, although it was a factor leading to the virtual extirpation of 
this species from the country (McReynolds 2016, in litt. unpaginated). 
Trade in rare and endangered species is a constant threat in the 
country due to the high prices paid for these animals and their parts 
(Parker et al. 2004, p. II-6; Keller and Schmitt 2008, abstract). 
Additionally, poaching is a common occurrence in rural areas because 
wild game is a traditional source of protein for residents (Parker et 
al. 2004, p. II-6). Cerro Hoya National Park is located within Panama's 
most impoverished province, and thus the capture of scarlet macaws is a 
potential threat because campesinos (a Latin American Indian farmer or 
farm laborer) invade unoccupied lands and poaching for sustenance and 
monetary gain is common (Government of Panama 2005, p. 36). Moreover, 
despite a program to use captive scarlet macaw feathers to cut down on 
hunting of wild birds for their feathers, hunting still occurs and 
poaching of chicks for pets remains a problem at Cerro Hoya National 
Park (Rodriquez and Hinojosa 2010, in McReynolds 2016, in litt., 
unpaginated).
    While scarlet macaws may occasionally be illegally captured on Isla 
Coiba, we are not aware of any information that poaching is currently a 
threat to the species on the island. The scarlet macaw primarily occurs 
on the south end where poaching is a possibility. However, based on 
interviews with the owner of Bird Coiba (the bird guide service for the 
island), two rangers with many years of experience on the island, and a 
discussion with the superintendent of Isla Coiba National Park, 
poaching is not a known problem on the island (McReynolds 2016, in 
litt. unpaginated). The island has no permanent habitations except a 
police base and the ranger base; the island has no roads and very few 
maintained trails, which are all short; and access is by boats that are 
boarded and checked regularly (McReynolds 2016, in litt. p. 8).

Summary of Factor B

    Parrots and macaws have been captured and traded for centuries in 
the Neotropics. Despite regulation of international scarlet macaw trade 
through CITES, the WBCA, and similar stricter measures by the European 
Union, some level of international trade occurs with wild scarlet 
macaws. However, most scarlet macaws reported in trade are from non-
wild sources; were captive-bred; or were parts, feathers, or scientific 
specimens rather than live birds. Of the wild-sourced, live birds, the 
vast majority were exported from Suriname, which is reported to set 
realistic quotas. Therefore, international trade of scarlet macaws is 
not a current threat to the species.
    The scarlet macaw is a popular pet species within its range 
countries and overutilization as a result of poaching for the pet trade 
is a significant threat to the scarlet macaw in some areas of its 
current range. The scarlet macaw is susceptible to overharvest because 
it is a long-lived species with a low reproductive rate and it is slow 
to recover from harvesting pressures; thus, removal of individuals year 
after year can stop population growth and cause local extirpation. Most 
harvested birds likely remain within the species' range countries.
    The subspecies Ara macao cyanoptera occurs mainly in small 
populations; thus, poaching wild birds for the pet trade is detrimental 
to sustaining these populations. Evidence suggests poaching occurs at 
significant levels in the Maya Forest region, where even moderate 
levels of poaching could cause a decline in these already small 
populations. Many of the scarlet macaws nesting sites in Guatemala are 
currently protected through conservation efforts compared to nesting 
sites in Mexico; therefore, success rates in Mexico are almost 
certainly lower than in Guatemala, even though about 25 percent of 
Guatemala's population is unprotected. In Belize, nest poaching has 
been dramatically reduced over the past 5 years but continues. Although 
quantitative data from Honduras and Nicaragua are lacking, poaching is 
recognized as a significant threat to the scarlet macaws in these 
countries.

[[Page 6299]]

    The subspecies Ara macao macao in Costa Rica and Panama has 
experienced heavy poaching pressure historically. Efforts to control 
poaching are ongoing in Costa Rica, but it continues to be a 
substantial problem. Little information is available regarding poaching 
of scarlet macaws in Panama. It is one factor that led to the near 
extirpation of this species from mainland Panama and remains a concern 
at Cerro Hoya National Park. Poaching is not a threat on Isla Coiba.
    The scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica consists mostly of small 
populations, and it is reasonable to conclude that any level of 
poaching poses a significant threat to the species in this portion of 
its range, especially considering the susceptibility of scarlet macaws 
because of its reproductive traits. The available information indicates 
that poaching of Ara macao cyanoptera chicks and adults is a 
significant stressor throughout its range. Populations of A. m. macao 
in Costa Rica on the Pacific slope are likely increasing even with 
poaching pressure, indicating that poaching may not be a major threat 
in Costa Rica. However, poaching continues and remains a concern. 
Little information exists regarding poaching of scarlet macaws in 
Panama, but because poaching was one of the reasons for the species' 
almost extirpation on the mainland and the remaining populations are 
very small and susceptible to poaching, we consider poaching to be a 
stressor to scarlet macaws on mainland Panama. We are not aware of 
information regarding the level of poaching in northwest Colombia.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    In our proposed rule (77 FR 40237-40238; July 6, 2012), we 
concluded that disease and predation are not threats to the northern 
subspecies of scarlet macaw or the northern DPS of the southern 
subspecies. We received no additional information indicating otherwise.

Factor D: Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

Forest Conservation Regulations
    With the exception of Belize, all countries in the range of A. m. 
cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. macao have a national or 
subnational policy framework on forests and their management, although 
Belize has a variety of regulations that protect their natural 
resources. Of those countries with a policy framework, all but Colombia 
have specific national forest laws in support of these policies, but 
laws supporting national forest policy in Colombia are incorporated 
within other laws (FAO 2010a, pp. 302-303). All range countries except 
Belize also have National Forest programs that provide the framework to 
develop and implement their forest policies, although the status of 
Panama's program is unknown (for information on regulatory mechanisms 
pertaining to forest management in scarlet macaw range countries see: 
Pe[ntilde]a-Claros et al. 2011, entire; Espinosa et al. 2011, pp. 21-
26; FAO 2011c, p. 78; Government of Colombia 2011, pp. 89-91, 203-211; 
Guignier 2011, pp. 12-22; Larson and Petkova 2011, entire; May et al. 
2011, pp. 16-55; Stern and Kernan 2011, pp. 52-54, 88- 90; United 
Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from 
Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) 
2011, unpaginated; Belize Ministry of Natural Resources and Development 
2010, pp. 54, 57-58; Blaser et al. 2010, pp. 263- 267, 277-281, 291-
293, 300-302, 311- 312, 320-323, 334-337, 345-346, 365- 367, 376-377, 
394-396; CIFOR 2010, p. 45; FAO 2010a, pp. 150-158, 302-303; Government 
of Belize 2010, pp. 27-34; Sparovek 2010, pp. 6046-6047; Tolisano and 
Lopez-Selva 2010, pp. 24-28; Bauch et al. 2009, entire; McGinley et al. 
2009, pp. 18-30; Patriota 2009, pp. 612-615; Trevin and Nasi 2009, 
entire; Byers and Israel 2008, pp. 29-34; Torres-Lezama et al. 2008, 
entire; Hopkins 2007, pp. 398- 405; Playfair 2007, entire; Portilla and 
Eguren 2007, pp. 19-32; World Bank 2007, pp. 10-28, 71-76; Clark 2006, 
pp. 19-29; Grenand et al. 2006, pp. 49, 54- 56; Baal 2005, unpaginated; 
Parker et al. 2004, pp. III-1-III-8, Annex H, Annex I; Government of 
Belize 2003, entire; Bevilacqua et al. 2002, pp. 6-9; Mauri 2002, 
entire; Vreugdenhil et al. 2002, pp. 6-10).
    Habitat destruction or modification from deforestation and forest 
degradation occurs in most portions of the range of the A. m. 
cyanoptera. Many, if not all, of these countries have regulations aimed 
at conserving forested area, but for the most part they are not able to 
adequately enforce their regulations due to lack of financial, 
personnel, and technical resources; conflicts over land ownership, 
which can lead to illegal logging and expansion of agriculture and 
pasture; and lack of oversight or coordination with a governing body.
    In the northern DPS of the southern subspecies A. m. macao, Costa 
Rica is both losing and gaining forested land, but we are unaware of 
any information indicating that deforestation or forest degradation in 
the current range of the scarlet macaw in Costa Rica is occurring at a 
level that is causing a decline in the species. Forest area has 
increased over 25 years and the range of scarlet macaws on the Pacific 
slope of Costa Rica has increased. In Panama, although large-scale 
deforestation is not occurring where the small populations of scarlet 
macaws are currently known to exist, small-scale logging continues with 
little oversight and significantly contributes to ongoing forest 
degradation. In northwest Colombia, even though the region is reported 
to have large tracts of suitable forest, many of the areas in northwest 
Colombia are deforestation hotspots. Habitat loss has caused the 
decline of the species from large areas in the region, and existing 
regulations have not been sufficient to reverse the transformation of 
natural ecosystems. Major forest reserves have been degraded from their 
original condition. Therefore, the existing regulatory mechanisms 
addressing this threat in Panama and Colombia are not adequate to 
protect forested land that the species depends on.
Illegal Capture and Trade
    The scarlet macaw is protected under CITES, an international 
agreement among governments to ensure that the international trade of 
CITES-listed plant and animal species does not threaten species' 
survival in the wild. Under this treaty, CITES Parties (member 
countries or signatories) regulate the import, export, and re-export of 
specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant and animal 
species. Trade under CITES is authorized through a system of permits 
and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES Management 
Authority of each CITES Party (CITES 2018, unpaginated). All the 
countries within the range of the scarlet macaw are Parties to CITES. 
However, when the species was included in Appendix I in 1985, Suriname 
(along with three European countries: Austria, Switzerland, and 
Liechtenstein) entered a reservation to the listing (Austria withdrew 
its reservation in 1989) (UNEP-WCMC 2012, unpaginated). A reservation 
means that a country is treated as not a party to CITES with respect to 
the species concerned. However, if a country with a reservation to a 
listing in the CITES Appendices wishes to trade that species with a 
country that has not taken the same reservation, then that trade is 
subject to the CITES permit requirements since the non-reserving Party 
is bound by the CITES requirements (CITES 2018, unpaginated).
    The import of scarlet macaws into the United States is also 
regulated by the

[[Page 6300]]

WBCA, which was enacted on October 23, 1992. The purpose of the WBCA is 
to promote the conservation of exotic birds by ensuring that all 
imports of exotic birds to the United States are biologically 
sustainable and not detrimental to the species in the wild. The WBCA 
restricts the import of most CITES-listed live or dead exotic birds. 
Import of dead specimens is allowed for scientific purposes and museum 
specimens. Permits may be issued to allow import of listed birds for 
various purposes, such as scientific research, zoological breeding or 
display, or personal pets, when certain criteria are met. The Service 
may also approve cooperative breeding programs and subsequently issue 
import permits to allow the import of birds for use in such programs. 
The United States may also approve foreign sustainable use management 
plants under the WBCA. At this time, the scarlet macaw is not part of a 
Service-approved cooperative breeding program, and very few wild-caught 
birds have been recorded for importation.
    The Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42; 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378) was originally 
passed in 1900, and was the first Federal law protecting wildlife. 
Today, it provides civil and criminal penalties for the illegal trade 
of animals and plants. Under the Lacey Act, in part, it is unlawful to 
import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish 
or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold: (1) In violation of 
any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of 
any Indian tribal law; or (2) in interstate or foreign commerce, any 
fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of 
any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law. 
The Lacey Act covers all fish and wildlife and their parts or products, 
plants protected by CITES.
    Although illegal trapping for the pet trade occurred at high levels 
during the 1980s, international trade has decreased significantly as a 
result of tighter enforcement of CITES regulations, adoption of the 
WBCA, and similar stricter measures under European Union legislation, 
along with adoption of national legislation in range countries (Snyder 
et al. 2000, p. 99). Based on the best available data, we found no 
information indicating international trade is currently a threat to the 
scarlet macaw populations.
    The laws and regulations that govern capture and trade of scarlet 
macaw in the range countries are briefly discussed below.
Mexico (A. m. cyanoptera)
    The General Law of Wildlife for Mexico establishes that no bird 
specimen corresponding to the family Psittacidae or psittacid 
(including Ara macao cyanoptera), whose natural distribution is within 
the national territory, may be subject to extractive exploitation for 
subsistence or commercial purposes, especially species that are 
endemic, threatened, endangered, or protected by international treaties 
(Official Mexican Standard NOM-059-SEMARNAT-1994; Animal Legal and 
Historical Center 2018, unpaginated; Cantu-Guzman 2007, p. 45). Mexico 
considers the scarlet macaw to be in danger of extinction within the 
country (Government of Mexico 2010a, p. 32). The Secretariat may only 
grant authorizations for extractive use for conservation or scientific 
research purposes. Responsibility for implementation lies with Profepa, 
the agency of the Environment Ministry in charge of policing 
environmental laws (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 45). The most serious 
difficulty Profepa faces in the combat against illegal bird trade is 
the limited number of inspectors it has for the whole country (Profepa 
2002, in Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 45). Seizures by Profepa was 
estimated at approximately 2 percent of the annual illegal trade, which 
represents a very small portion of the number of parrots captured each 
year (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 49). Of the 65,000 parrots that were 
captured annually, data indicate as few as up to 50 scarlet macaws (or 
less than 0.1 percent of the total parrots) were captured annually in 
Mexico, even though some of these may be from Central American 
countries (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 35). From 1995 to 2005, 144 
scarlet macaws were seized by Profepa (Cantu-Guzman et al. 2007, p. 
52).
Guatemala (A. m. cyanoptera)
    National hunting legislation was first passed in Guatemala in 1970, 
with the mandates of this national policy reinforced in the legislation 
passed on protected areas in 1989. Hunting is widely used by most rural 
residents in Guatemala to supplement food and income needs, and is 
largely unregulated and inconsistently monitored (Tolisano and Lopez-
Selva 2010, p. 44).
    Most of the data on hunting has not been published or 
systematically organized to indicate the magnitude or intensity of 
local and national hunting pressures (CECON-PROBIOMA 2005, in Tolisano 
and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44). National and municipal agencies generally 
have insufficient human resources, have insufficient training, and lack 
the necessary equipment to effectively monitor or mitigate hunting 
impacts, and much of the monitoring that does occur is done on a 
relatively haphazard basis by different research institutions and 
nongovernmental organizations (Tolisano and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44).
    A similar situation to unregulated hunting exists for the capture 
and sale of live animals to supply the pet trade, research 
institutions, and zoological collections. Scarlet macaws are 
overexploited; nestlings are taken from their tree cavity nests prior 
to fledging and sold on the local market in the Pet[eacute]n (Tolisano 
and Lopez-Selva 2010, p. 44). Guatemalan authorities do a relatively 
good job of trying to control this traffic, but rumors that scarlet 
macaw chicks can fetch $300-$600 USD on the black market continue to 
fuel illegal trade within the country (Muccio 2009, p. 14).
Belize (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Belize's Wildlife Protection Act provides for the regulation of 
hunting and the commercial dealing in wildlife. It prohibits hunting of 
specific species, in closed areas, and of immature wildlife or females 
accompanied by their young. It is administered by the Forest Department 
of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (Government of 
Belize 2010, p. 29). This law prohibits hunting of the scarlet macaw 
and prohibits hunting wildlife in a forest reserve without a license 
(Wildlife Protection Act 2000, entire). Scarlet macaws have been 
poached by Guatemalans (guaceros and xateros) that illicitly cross the 
border into Belize for economic reasons. Most poaching is 
opportunistic. Past incidences of conflict between law enforcement and 
Guatemalan nationals have occurred (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). The 
Belize Defense Force cooperates with the Scarlet Six team to deter 
poaching scarlet macaw chicks (see Conservation Measures, below).
Honduras (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Three institutions are charged with biodiversity conservation in 
Honduras: The Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA); 
the Secretariat of Agriculture and Cattle Ranching (SAG); and the ICF 
who develops programs, regulations, or projects for biodiversity 
conservation with an emphasis on species in danger of extinction 
(Hansen and Florez 2008, p. 17). Internal legislation concerning 
biodiversity centered on a 1990

[[Page 6301]]

government decree prohibiting the capture and sale of wildlife within 
Honduras. However, it has been criticized for contributing to illegal 
trafficking of wildlife through neighboring countries, particularly 
through the sparsely populated border with Nicaragua (Anderson and 
Devenish 2009, p. 257). A National Biodiversity Strategy was published 
in 2000 (Anderson and Devenish 2009, p. 257). However, no specific 
legislation to manage biodiversity exists (World Bank 2007, p. 
12).Wildlife is sold openly in the streets, and families maintain 
scarlet macaws as pets (Hansen and Florez 2008, p. 22). Also, despite 
the R[iacute]o Pl[aacute]tano Biosphere Reserve's status, poaching 
occurs within its boundaries.
Nicaragua (A. m. cyanoptera)
    Historically, wildlife in Nicaragua has been used as food for poor 
rural and indigenous populations, for sport hunting, for medicinal and 
cultural use, and as pets (MARENA 2008, p. 22). Illegal capture and 
trade of wildlife species is also a source of income (McGinley et al. 
2009, p. 16). Despite the scarcity of records, laws to regulate 
wildlife trade in Nicaragua have existed since the late 19th century.
    MARENA is a key agency responsible for conservation of endangered 
species in Nicaragua. In 2008, 123 species were permanently banned from 
harvest or use, and another 61 species were partially banned; many of 
these banned species are also listed by the IUCN or by CITES. Hunting 
of the scarlet macaw is prohibited (Nicaraguan laws 559 and 641; FAOLEX 
2018, unpaginated). Nonetheless, these national species protection bans 
are rarely applied and enforced (McGinley et al. 2009, p. 22). The 
scarlet macaw is a principal species involved in illegal trade 
(McGinley et al. 2009 p. 16; MARENA 2008, p. 25). On the Caribbean 
coast, commercial harvesting occurs of species such as scarlet macaws, 
which is not currently subject to a harvesting quota and are sold on 
the local market (MARENA 2008, p. 25).
    Nicaragua's adoption of CITES has led to improvement in the 
management and regulation of domestic and international wildlife trade. 
Nonetheless, the existing legal framework is inadequate for the 
protection and sustainability of domestic wildlife trade (McGinley et 
al. 2009, p. 22). Furthermore, nonregulatory instruments, such as 
monitoring, research, education, and information, are poorly, if at 
all, used in the oversight of commercial wildlife trade in Nicaragua 
(McGinley et al. 2009, p. 22).
Costa Rica (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao)
    Costa Rica's Wildlife Conservation Law and its amendments prohibit 
the hunting, collection, and extraction of species, except in certain 
cases for subsistence by indigenous groups, scientific purposes, or 
species control (Costa Rican Embassy 2013, unpaginated; NOVA 2013, 
unpaginated; Tico Times 2017, unpaginated).
    The Biodiversity Law has the objective of conserving biodiversity 
and the sustainable use of the resources, as well as to distribute in 
an equitable manner the benefits and derived costs. The law includes 
the obligation of the state to avoid and prevent damage or destruction, 
present or future, to human, animal, or plant health, or to the 
integrity of the ecosystems, and to avoid any risk or danger which 
threatens the permanence of ecosystems (Hopkins 2007, p. 404).
    Costa Rica has protected its resources through an ambitious 
national parks and biological reserves system, but they are 
inadequately funded and insufficiently controlled (Government of Costa 
Rica 2010, p. 34). Poaching by local communities is a problem of great 
concern; hunting within national park boundaries is illegal, but such 
activities are difficult to monitor and enforce with limited funds and 
supervision (Huson 2010, p. 18; Government of Costa Rica 2010, p. 52). 
This limitation is reported in Carara National Park, in which park 
officials believe that they do not have enough enforcement staff to 
effectively control poaching (Huson 2010, p. 8).
Panama (A. m. macao)
    To protect and regulate the use of wildlife, flora and fauna, the 
Panamanian government has created numerous laws. The initial 
legislation protecting Panama's biological diversity was Law 23 (1967) 
on the protection and conservation of wildlife (Parker et al. 2004, p. 
III-2). Another important piece of legislation is Resolution DIR-002-80 
(1980) that identifies 82 species in danger of extinction and bans 
hunting, capturing, buying, selling, or exporting of all species 
included in this list (Parker et al. 2004, p. III-2). Scarlet macaw is 
one of these species. Other important regulatory mechanisms include 
Resolution DIR-003-80 (1980) that regulates wildlife in captivity and 
its importation and exportation, and the Wildlife Law 24 (1995), which 
establishes that wildlife is part of the natural heritage of Panama and 
provides for the protection, restoration, research, management and 
development of the country's genetic resources, including rare species 
(Parker et al. 2004, p. III-2; Blaser et al. 2011, p. 355).
    The Panamanian national police force is responsible for preventing 
all infractions of the law, such as hunting violations (Parker et al. 
2004, p. III-8). ANAM counts on police support, which is often more 
concerned about major crime, and routinely treats environmental 
infractions as minor nuisances. Local corregidores (i.e., local 
administrative officials) often have little knowledge of environmental 
laws and little impact on their enforcement, but these local officials 
are important links in the enforcement of environmental laws, and have 
influence on resident's behavior (Parker et al. 2004, p. V-10). 
Training officials adjacent to or within protected areas results in 
less illegal hunting and harvesting in protected areas (Parker et al. 
2004, pp. III-2, V-10). Nonetheless, sport and commercial hunting 
without regulation and subsistence hunting in the country continue.
Colombia (A. m. macao Northern DPS)
    Under Colombian wildlife legislation, all wildlife belongs to the 
State; although local communities (e.g., mayors, regional autonomous 
corporations, indigenous reserves) have the right to participate in 
decisions regarding resources under their jurisdictions and to enjoy a 
healthy environment (International Institute for Environment and 
Development 2018, unpaginated; Blaser et al. 2011, p. 297). Wildlife 
legislation stipulates a general ban on hunting, but subsistence 
hunting and fishing are allowed provided no ban is in place for a 
particular species. In 1994, illegal hunting was established as a crime 
in the penal code, which includes penalties for poaching and illicit 
use of renewable natural resources (Gomez et al. 2015, unpaginated). 
Trade of scarlet macaws taken from the wild is forbidden in Colombia, 
although regulations are not always followed and scarlet macaws are 
involved in illegal trade in the country (CITES 2001, p. 8). The 
Colombian National Army and National Police are cooperating with the 
Ministry of the Environment to protect the country's wildlife and 
combat illegal wildlife trafficking, much of that illegally acquired 
wildlife is intercepted near the northern Colombian coasts (Pedraza 
2015, unpaginated).
Summary of Illegal Capture and Trade
    Legal international trade is not a current threat because of 
international laws such as CITES, the WBCA, and similar stricter 
measures under European Union legislation that restrict the trade of 
wild scarlet macaws. All

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range countries have laws and policies that aim to prevent illegal 
capture and trade of scarlet macaws, although some hunting and capture 
continues. However, illegal capture for the domestic pet trade within 
most range countries occurs at a level that is likely to negatively 
impact the species throughout all of the range of subspecies A. m. 
cyanoptera, and in the range of the subspecies A. m. macao in Costa 
Rica and Panama. Because capture for the pet trade is ongoing and poses 
a threat to scarlet macaws in these regions, we conclude that the 
regulatory mechanisms addressing this threat in these regions are 
inadequate.

Summary of Factor D

    We found threats discussed under Factors A and B to be threats to 
the species throughout all of the range of subspecies A. m. cyanoptera, 
except on Isla Coiba, Panama; and in the range of the subspecies A. m. 
macao in Costa Rica (Factor B only), Panama, and Colombia west of the 
Andes (Factor A only). The existing regulatory mechanisms do not appear 
to be adequate to address threats, primarily because these countries 
lack resources to effectively enforce all their laws. Therefore, we 
conclude that the existing regulatory mechanisms are not adequate to 
protect subspecies A. m. cyanoptera throughout all of its range, and 
the northern DPS of A. m. macao from the threats of deforestation and 
overutilization.

Factor E: Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' 
Continued Existence

Small Population Size and Synergistic Effects of Threats
    Small, isolated populations place species at greater risk of local 
extirpation or extinction due to a variety of factors, including loss 
of genetic variability, demographic and environmental stochasticity, 
and natural catastrophes (Lande 1995, entire; Lehmkuhl and Ruggiero 
1991, p. 37; Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 25-33; Soul[eacute] and 
Simberloff 1986, pp. 28-32; Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Franklin 1980, 
entire). Stochastic events that put small populations at risk include, 
but are not limited to, variation in birth and death rates, 
fluctuations in gender ratio, inbreeding depression, and random 
environmental disturbances such as fire and climatic shifts (Blomqvist 
et al. 2010, entire; Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, p. 27; Shaffer 1981, 
p. 131).
    Overall levels of genetic variation in the scarlet macaw remain 
high, but a decrease in diversity was noted among birds from the 
Chiquibul Forest Reserve in Belize (Schmidt 2013, abstract). Gene flow 
occurs between nest sites in Guatemala and Belize, and levels of 
genetic diversity are high in the tri-national region (Schmidt and 
Amato 2008, p. 137), but the Belize population may be more isolated 
from the Guatemala and Mexico populations (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., 
p. 8). The isolation of populations and subsequent loss of genetic 
exchange would impact the population at different timescales. In the 
short term, populations may suffer the deleterious consequences of 
inbreeding; over the long term, the loss of genetic variability 
diminishes a species' capacity to adapt to changes in the environment 
(Blomqvist et al. 2010, entire; Reed and Frankham 2003, pp. 233-234; 
Nunney and Campbell 1993, pp. 236-237; Soul[eacute] and Simberloff 
1986, pp. 28-29; Franklin 1980, pp. 140-144).
    Negative impacts associated with small population size and 
vulnerability to random demographic fluctuations or natural 
catastrophes may be further magnified by synergistic interactions with 
other threats, such as those discussed in Factors A and B.
    Small populations that are declining can be especially vulnerable 
to habitat loss (O'Grady et al. 2004, pp. 513-514). As bird assemblages 
in forest habitat are reduced because the size of the habitat is 
reduced, smaller areas are less likely to provide the essential 
resources for species such as scarlet macaw that have large ranges. 
Thus, deforestation in combination with other negative impacts can have 
profound effects and potentially reduce a species' effective population 
(the proportion of the actual population that contributes to future 
generations) by orders of magnitude (Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, p. 
31). For example, an increase in habitat fragmentation can separate 
populations to the point where individuals can no longer disperse and 
breed among habitat patches, causing a shift in the demographic 
characteristics of a population and a reduction in genetic fitness 
(Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, p. 31). This risk is especially 
applicable for scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica, where the species was 
once wide-ranging but has lost a significant amount of its historical 
range due to habitat loss and degradation. Large forests areas have 
been removed throughout Mesoamerica and the large tracts of forest that 
remain, such as the Maya and Lacandon Forests, the transnational forest 
in the Mosquitia region, and the transnational forest on the border of 
Costa Rica and Panama, have almost been cut off from each other by 
deforestation (Bray 2010, p. 93). Scarlet macaws may use partially 
cleared and cultivated landscapes if the landscape provides dietary 
requirements and maintains enough large trees because this species is 
dependent on larger, older trees that have large nesting cavities. 
However, scarlet macaws have a better chance of surviving in large 
tracts of forest where suitable cavities are more common than in open 
and small forest remnants (Inigo-Elias 1996, p. 91).
    Commercial exploitation of scarlet macaw chicks may further 
contribute to inbreeding depression and loss of genetic diversity. 
However, other large, long-lived avian species have demonstrated 
significant retention of molecular diversity after marked declines, 
thus indicating that longevity of the species may act as an intrinsic 
buffer against the rapid loss of genetic variation (Schmidt 2013, pp. 
132-133). But the presence of high genetic variation in long-lived 
species may mask demographic instability introduced by habitat 
alteration and overexploitation, resulting in a sudden and marked loss 
of diversity (Schmidt 2013, p. 133). Systematic removal of scarlet 
macaw nestlings over extended periods of time has likely produced an 
unstable age distribution in the tri-national region (Mexico, 
Guatemala, and Belize), heavily skewed toward older individuals with 
low recruitment (Clum 2008, p. 79).
    Historically, the scarlet macaw in Mesoamerica existed in much 
higher numbers in more continuous habitat. Currently, the scarlet macaw 
occurs in relatively small and fragmented populations within 
Mesoamerica; most populations in this region are believed to contain 
approximately 100 to 700 individuals, with only two populations 
potentially containing more than 1,000 individuals. The total 
population size for scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica is likely no greater 
than 5,000 individuals. Overall, suitable habitat is becoming 
increasingly limited and is not likely to expand in the future. 
Therefore, the species' reproductive and life-history traits, combined 
with its limited and fragmented habitat, increases the species' 
vulnerability to deforestation and overutilization in the A. m. 
cyanoptera and northern DPS of A. m. macao subspecies due to the small 
size of the species' populations.
Competition for Nest Cavities
    Competition for suitable nest cavities limits reproductive success 
by limiting the available nesting sites and thus limiting the number of 
pairs that can breed, or by causing nest mortality as a result of 
agonistic interactions.

[[Page 6303]]

Intraspecific competition between different pairs of scarlet macaws, 
and competition with pairs of other macaw species, is reported to be 
intense in some areas (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, p. 5; Inigo-Elias 
1996, p. 96; Nycander 1995, p. 428).
    Competition for nesting sites occurs throughout the scarlet macaw's 
range. In Mexico, species including other psittacines (Amazona 
farinosa, Amazona autumnalis), toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus), and 
falconiforms (Herpetotheres cachinnans) breed synchronously with 
scarlet macaws and compete to use the same nest cavities (In[iacute]go-
Elias 1996, p. 61). In Costa Rica, quality nest sites appear to be in 
demand because at least four pairs of scarlet macaws were seen 
competing for the same nest cavity, which may be a limiting factor in 
the successful fledgling in the population (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 
10). Additional avian nest competitors include chestnut-mandibled 
toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii), barred forest falcon (Micrastur 
semitorquatus), and yellow-napped parrot (Amazona auropalliata) 
(Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10). At a remote site in southeastern Peru, 
approximately 70 percent of the nesting attempts involved competition 
over nests (Brightsmith 2010, unpaginated). Competition for nest sites 
with other macaws was found to be the primary cause of failure of nests 
with chicks. Scarlet macaws and red-and-green macaws (Ara chloropterus) 
frequently compete for nest cavities, which have been recorded 
annually. The smaller and less competitive scarlet macaws are at a 
disadvantage, perhaps contributing to their use of a wider range of 
cavity resources (Renton and Brightsmith 2009, p. 5).
    Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) are also 
reported to be a serious competitor with scarlet macaws for nest 
cavities (Garcia et al. 2008, p. 52; Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 13; Inigo-
Elias 1996, p. 61). Africanized honey bees are an exotic species 
originally introduced in Brazil in 1956 (Whitfield et al. 2006, p. 
644). They subsequently spread throughout South and Central America, 
displacing naturalized European honey bees (Apis mellifera), and 
arriving in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize around 1986 (Whitfield et al. 
2006, pp. 643-644; Clarke et al. 2002 and Rogel et al. 1991, in Berry 
et al. 2010, p. 486; Fierro et al. 1987, unpaginated). Africanized 
honey bees occur at higher densities and are more aggressive than 
naturalized European honey bees (Rogel 1991 and Clarke et al. 2002, in 
Berry et al. 2010, p. 486). Studies in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa 
Rica reported bees attacking nests with eggs and chicks and that the 
bees usurped nesting cavities, resulting in the failure of the scarlet 
macaw nest (In[iacute]go-Elias 1996, p. 61; Garcia et al. 2008, p. 52). 
Additionally, breeding pairs of scarlet macaws were attacked when they 
approached the nest cavity (In[iacute]go-Elias 1996, p. 61; Garcia et 
al. 2008, p. 52). Because these bees occur throughout the scarlet 
macaw's range in Central and South America and have demonstrated a 
negative effect on scarlet macaw nesting, we assume these bees are 
competitors for nest cavities throughout the scarlet macaw's range, but 
we are unaware of any other data or information regarding the magnitude 
of these impacts on scarlet macaw nesting success.
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate and the effects of any such change. 
Described in general terms, climate refers to the mean and variability 
of different types of weather conditions over a long period of time, 
which may be reported as decades, centuries, or thousands of years. The 
term ``climate change'' thus refers to a change in the mean or 
variability of one or more measures of climate (e.g., temperature, 
precipitation) that persists for an extended period, typically decades 
or longer, and whether the change is due to natural variability, human 
activity, or both (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 
2007, p. 78). Various types of changes in climate can have direct or 
indirect effects on species, and these may be positive or negative 
depending on the species and other relevant considerations, such as the 
effects of interactions with non-climate conditions (e.g., habitat 
fragmentation). We use our expert judgment to weigh information, 
including uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of the 
effects of climate change that are relevant to the scarlet macaw.
    Several studies project various changes in climate in Mesoamerica 
and the Amazon by the mid- to late century or sooner (Karmalkar et al. 
2011, entire; Kitoh et al. 2011, entire; Giorgi and Bi 2009, entire; 
Anderson et al. 2008, entire; Cook and Vizy 2008, entire; Li et al. 
2008, entire; Christensen et al. 2007, pp. 892-896). Although there are 
uncertainties in these models and variation in projections, the general 
trajectory under most scenarios is one of increased warming in 
Mesoamerica and the Amazon, and decreased precipitation in Mesoamerica 
and some areas of the Amazon. Several studies project changes in 
habitat in areas of the species' range, either from the effects of 
climate change or from the effects of climate change in combination 
with deforestation (Imbach et al. 2011, abstract; Marengo et al. 2011, 
entire; Asner et al. 2010, entire; Vergara and Scholz 2010, entire; 
Malhi et al. 2009, entire; Malhi et al. 2008, entire; Nepstad et al. 
2008, entire). However, high levels of uncertainty remain in projecting 
habitat changes within the species' range (see review by Davidson et 
al. 2012, entire), and there is no consensus on the type or extent of 
habitat changes that will occur. Therefore, because the scarlet macaw 
is tolerant of a relatively broad range of ecological conditions; 
occurs in a variety of habitat types including wet forest, dry forest, 
and savanna provided they contain suitable nest cavities and roosting 
sites; has a broad diet including nonnative species; and is known to 
inhabit patchworks of forest and human-modified landscapes, we assume 
the scarlet macaw is likely to adapt to some level of change in its 
environment provided its essential needs are met. Overall, we are 
unaware of any information indicating that the effects of climate 
change are now causing, or will in the future cause, declines in the 
scarlet macaw population.

Summary of Factor E

    Small population size and competition for next cavities may be 
threats to the scarlet macaw in some parts of its range in Mesoamerica 
and northwest Colombia. Populations have a high level of genetic 
diversity, but they remain vulnerable to stochastic demographic and 
environmental events because of their small populations. Competition 
for nest cavities may be a limiting factor and likely reduces 
reproductive success. The general consensus is that the scarlet macaw's 
range is going to become hotter and drier; however, the scarlet macaw 
is tolerant of a relatively broad range of ecological conditions. 
Because the species persists in small and mostly isolated populations, 
threats often operate synergistically, particularly when populations of 
a species are decreasing. Thus, the initial effects of one threat 
factor can exacerbate the effects of other threats (Gilpin and 
Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 25-26).
    Within the preceding review of the five factors, we have identified 
threat factors A and B that may have interrelated impacts on this 
species, particularly in Mesoamerica. The species' productivity in 
Mesoamerica may be reduced because of any of these threats, either 
singularly or in

[[Page 6304]]

combination. For example, deforestation reduces the amount of nesting 
cavities, which increases competition among pairs of scarlet macaws and 
other species for nesting sites. Deforestation and the infrastructure 
that may accompany it creates access to previously inaccessible areas, 
thereby opening up new areas of the species' range to the threat of 
poaching and further habitat loss. Therefore, because the populations 
of scarlet macaw are small and mostly isolated in Mesoamerica, and 
these small populations are subject to a combination of threats, we 
believe that small population size is a contributing stressor to 
scarlet macaws throughout Mesoamerica, including the entire range of 
subspecies A. m. cyanoptera and the range of A. m. macao in Costa Rica, 
Panama, and northwest Colombia.

Conservation Measures

Reintroduction of Scarlet Macaws
    Reintroduction efforts for the scarlet macaw have occurred 
throughout the range of A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of the 
southern subspecies A. m. macao. We briefly discussed some of the 
reintroduction efforts in our July 6, 2012, and April 7, 2016, proposed 
rules to list the scarlet macaw (77 FR 40222 and 81 FR 20302, 
respectively). However, based on public and peer reviewer comments we 
received, we are incorporating additional information regarding these 
conservation efforts and programs that reintroduce captive-bred and 
confiscated scarlet macaws back into the wild within their respective 
historical ranges. We received information on some of the release sites 
and reintroduction programs and describe many of them, although we may 
not have information on every reintroduction program occurring for 
scarlet macaws. Most, if not all, of the reintroduction sites are 
within, adjacent to, or at least within flight distance of currently 
existing populations.
    Because of the increasing number of reintroduction projects 
involving various species worldwide, the IUCN Species Survival 
Commission published guidelines for reintroductions to help ensure that 
reintroduction efforts achieve intended conservation benefits and do 
not cause adverse side effects of greater impact (IUCN/SSC 2013, 
entire; IUCN/SSC 1998, entire). Additionally, recommendations were made 
specific to parrot reintroductions based on a review of previous 
releases and reintroductions of psittacines worldwide (White et al. 
2012, entire). We considered these guidelines and recommendations when 
evaluating the effectiveness of the reintroduction programs to conserve 
scarlet macaw throughout its range in Mesoamerica.
Reintroduction of Ara macao cyanoptera
Mexico
    In 1993, Xcaret began a program of scarlet macaw reproduction in 
captivity, developing and using the best protocols for hand rearing, 
and establishing new procedures to facilitate parental rearing of the 
chicks without human intervention (Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 51). The 
aim is to rear captive-bred macaws that will adapt to the wild 
successfully and not require post-release supplemental feeding (Raigoza 
Figueras 2014, p. 48). The release program began in 2013. Xcaret 
supplies captive scarlet macaws for reintroduction at two sites in 
Mexico: (1) Palenque, Chiapas; and (2) Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz (Xcaret 
2014, unpaginated).
    The Palenque, Chiapas, release site is located in forested habitat 
of Aluxes Ecopark of Palenque, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation 
center that encompasses 44 ha (108 ac). This site is approximately 0.5 
km (0.3 mi) from Palenque National Park (Amaya et al. 2015, p. 457) and 
more than 100 km (62 mi) away from the nearest current wild population 
(Brightsmith in litt. 2016, p. 21). All scarlet macaws used for 
reintroduction were captive bred at Xcaret Ecopark.
    In the April 7, 2016, proposed rule (81 FR 20302), we identified 
the program in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, in which 96 scarlet macaws 
were released between April 2013 and June 2014, with a 91 percent 
survival rate as of May 2015, including nine nesting events and 
successful use of wild foods by released birds (Estrada 2014, p. 345). 
Results of the reintroduction program in Palenque, Chiapas, show that 
the dietary diversity and breadth of the reintroduced scarlet macaws 
closely approaches that of wild macaws; the reintroduced birds have the 
capacity to find and track wild food sources; they have very low 
mortality in the released population (9 percent); they have had nine 
successful nesting events, including seven in natural cavities 
(Estrada, unpublished, in Amaya et al. 2015, p. 471); and they have 
expanded their foraging and activity range outside of the release site 
(Amaya et al. 2015, pp. 466-471). This reintroduction appears 
successful at integrating captive-reared scarlet macaws into the wild 
and could be a model for reintroduction efforts throughout the range.
    During the years of 2008-2010, the status of parrot species in Los 
Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico, was assessed by obtaining data on abundance, 
habitat use, and date of pet trade. Only three species out of the nine 
species previously reported remain in this area (De Labra et al. 2010, 
p. 599). Scarlet macaw was not recorded, and there is a consensus of 
local and historical extinction of the Ara macao in this region 
(Schaldach and Escalante 1997 and Winker 1997, in De Labra et al. 2010, 
p. 607).
    Since that time, La Otra Opci[oacute]n is a 336-ac (136-ha) private 
ecological reserve and breeding center for endangered species in the 
Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve buffer zone has worked to reintroduce 
scarlet macaws in the Los Tuxtlas region. In 2014, scarlet macaws were 
reintroduced to this area after disappearing for 40 years, and to date, 
more than 100 scarlet macaws have been released (Raigosa et al 2016, in 
Defenders of Wildlife 2016, in litt., p. 4; Mexico Daily News 2017, 
unpaginated; Escalante 2016, unpaginated). Many captive-bred scarlet 
macaws remain in the wild with pairing observed and potential nesting 
(Mexico Daily News 2017, unpaginated; Escalante 2016, unpaginated). 
Thus, this reintroduction effort appears moderately successful 
integrating scarlet macaws into the wild population in Mexico.
    The reintroduction programs in Palenque and Los Tuxtlas were 
aligned with the IUCN guidelines and the recommendations made by White 
et al. 2012. After the first year of implementation in Palenque, the 
number of reintroduced and surviving macaws raises the number of extant 
macaws in the wild in Mexico by about 34 percent (Estrada 2014, p. 
360). Considering Palenque and Los Tuxtlas together, the population of 
scarlet macaws in Mexico has increased up to 82 percent in 3 years 
(Rodriguez 2016, unpaginated; Lopez 2018, unpaginated).
Guatemala
    The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) started working in 
Guatemala in 1992, with the mission of conserving the MBR as one of 
Mesoamerica's most important wildlife conservation areas. The MBR is 
the last stronghold for scarlet macaws in Guatemala and contains the 
most important nesting area for the species in the country. The WCS has 
worked to reduce poaching, protect nesting sites from deforestation, 
monitor nesting success and distribution, construct artificial nests, 
provide environmental education in local communities, and create a 
captive-release program (WCS 2016, pp. 6-16). In addition, they started 
a veterinarian evaluation program, supplementary

[[Page 6305]]

feeding, and management of wild chicks during nesting season (WCS 2018, 
unpaginated). In June 2016, WCS placed six rehabilitated chicks in safe 
scarlet macaw nests (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 9). With these 
interventions, they have increased the number of fledglings per nest 
(WCS 2018, unpaginated; WCS 2016, p. 11). WCS Guatemala is also working 
in collaboration to eradicate wildlife trafficking between Belize and 
Guatemala.
    The Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (Asociaci[oacute]n 
Rescate y Conservaci[oacute]n de Vida Silvestre (ARCAS)) is a 
rehabilitation and breeding-for-release center for Guatemalan wildlife 
that has been confiscated from the black market by the Guatemalan 
government. Since its establishment, the ARCAS Rescue Center has grown 
into one of the largest and most complex wildlife rehabilitation 
centers in the world and a leader in training programs for other 
wildlife rescue groups and veterinary students (Oakland Zoo 2018, 
unpaginated). In October 2015, in Pet[eacute]n, ARCAS released nine 
captive-bred scarlet macaws into the wild in Guatemala, which was the 
first time captive-bred scarlet macaws were released into the wild in 
Guatemala. At least 60 percent of the released birds survived more than 
10 months on their own, showing that they successfully adapted to the 
environment and were able to feed and fly on their own. This program 
for rehabilitation and release has generated quantifiable results that 
can be used to prove the viability of such a strategy in the 
reinforcement of the depleted scarlet macaw population of the Sierra 
del Lacand[oacute]n National Park, which is where the scarlet macaws 
were released and is one of the largest and best protected natural 
areas in the MBR (ARCAS 2016, pp. 5-6). In 2016, they planned to 
release 10 more scarlet macaws (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 10), but we do 
not have any information regarding the results of this release.
Belize
    In Belize, the protection of the scarlet macaw in the Chiquibul 
region is provided by numerous organizations, some of which have joined 
efforts to improve protection with the goal of increasing the chance of 
survival for this species (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute 2015, 
unpaginated). For example, the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team (Scarlet 
Six), Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), and the Belize 
Self-Defense Forces work together to reduce illegal gold mining; timber 
extraction; and poaching of animals, particularly scarlet macaw chicks.
    The FCD rangers patrol the Chiquibul Forest, collaborate with the 
Scarlet Six, and receive support from the Belize Defense Force. Their 
goal is to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the western 
Chiquibul-Maya Mountains (FCD 2016, p. 4). In addition to protecting 
scarlet macaws in the wild, the FCD also started a captive-rearing 
program modeled after successful programs in Mexico and Guatemala 
(Harbison 2017, unpaginated). If a nest cannot be effectively protected 
by the rangers while the chicks are growing, or if a nest produces a 
third chick that will not survive, FCD removes the chicks from the nest 
and brings them to the lab. All eight macaws in 2015's cohort 
successfully fledged, but it took until January 2016 before they left 
the area for good (Harbison 2017, unpaginated). The FCD also signed an 
agreement with WCS in Guatemala and Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. 
in July to coordinate research, management, and conservation efforts of 
scarlet macaws in the Maya Forest (FCD 2016, p. 13). In January 2016, 
FCD signed an extended agreement of cooperation with Asociaci[oacute]n 
Balam for the protection of the Chiquibul ecosystem for the period 
2016-2020. This agreement primarily seeks to jointly promote the 
protection of the Chiquibul Maya Mountains ecosystem and reduce 
conflict among communities located on the Belize and Guatemala 
adjacency zone (FCD 2016, p. 9).
Honduras
    In Honduras, scarlet macaws have been released into multiple sites. 
Releasing scarlet macaws at the Isla Zacate Grande biological station 
in Honduras began around 1996-1997 (Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 50; Boyd 
and McNab 2008, p. x). A private reserve released scarlet macaws on the 
island. This reintroduction effort started with four chicks; a few 
years later, they received and released another five scarlet macaws 
(adults and chicks) of unknown origin (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). 
About 20 scarlet macaws have been released at the site (Bjork 2008, pp. 
x, 17-18; Raigoza Figueras 2014, p. 50). Some of the reintroduced birds 
have ranged outside the release point to nearby communities and the 
adjacent island of Amapala, Honduras. Released birds have been observed 
around the Gulf of Fonseca, where Paso Pacifico is conducting a scarlet 
macaw conservation program on the Cosig[uuml]ina Peninsula, Nicaragua 
(see ``Nicaragua,'' below), which hosts a small wild population of 20 
to 50 birds (Paso Pacifico 2017, unpaginated; Boyd and McNab 2008, p. 
x). Isla Zacate Grande is approximately 35 km (22 mi) (overwater) from 
the Cosig[uuml]ina Peninsula, an overland flight distance within 
documented range for scarlet macaws (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x). 
Although no formal records are kept, nesting activity has been observed 
in artificial nests placed in natural hollows (Raigoza Figueras 2014, 
p. 50). However, as a model, there are concerns about the 
reintroduction at this site because disease testing was not performed; 
there was no documentation of the project; the birds have no fear of 
humans and continue to depend on regular supplemental food; and the 
birds appear to have been conditioned to nest in inappropriate 
situations (i.e., low to the ground), which makes them highly 
vulnerable to human and non-human predators alike. High security and 
long-term daily maintenance is required (Boyd and McNab 2008, p. x; 
Bjork 2008, pp. 17-18).
    A reintroduction of scarlet macaw at the Cop[aacute]n 
archaeological site (Parque Arqueol[oacute]gico Cop[aacute]n Ruinas) in 
Honduras began in 2011. The World Parrot Trust, the Macaw Mountain Bird 
Park and Nature Reserve, the Institute of Anthropology and History of 
Honduras and the Association Cop[aacute]n have organized a long-running 
program to return the scarlet macaw to the Parque Arqueol[oacute]gico 
Cop[aacute]n Ruinas, a national park (Raigoza Figueras 2014, pp. 50-
51). The Macaw Mountain scarlet macaw breeding program is releasing 
birds into the forests surrounding the Cop[aacute]n Ruins (Boyd 2016, 
in litt., p. 6). Most of the birds come from private donations of pet 
birds; others were confiscated by the Environment Office of the Public 
Ministry (Macaw Mountain 2017, unpaginated). In 2018, scarlet macaws 
released produced seven chicks (World Parrot Trust 2019, unpaginated). 
We are not aware of the release methods or if this program takes into 
account the IUCN guidelines and White et al. (2012) recommendations. 
However, this program has been judged a resounding success (Macaw 
Mountain 2019, unpaginated; Asociaci[oacute]n Copan 2017, unpaginated).
    A macaw conservation and local development program was started in 
the Mosquitia region of Honduras by the Lafeber Company, Dr. Kim 
Joyner, indigenous peoples of several villages, the Forestry Service of 
Honduras, Universidad Nacional Aut[oacute]noma Honduras, and the 
Universidad Nacional de Agricultura (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 7; Lafeber 
2018, unpaginated). This program started in 2010, and in 2011 through 
2012, confiscated scarlet

[[Page 6306]]

macaws were released at the village Mabita. Once these birds grew large 
enough to fly, they were released from their cages, slowly learning to 
fly around the village. Government officials have released more birds, 
for a total of 22, and approximately 16 regularly visit the village, 
coming in every morning to feed. The earliest birds released in Mabita 
(in 2011) have an active nest; they have produced two chicks, which 
demonstrates that the program can successfully raise birds to reproduce 
in the wild (Lafeber 2018, unpaginated). However, it is not ideal that 
the birds are so dependent on humans for food. We are not aware of the 
release methods or if this program takes into account the IUCN 
guidelines and White et al. (2012) recommendations.
Nicaragua
    Paso Pacifico works throughout Nicaragua, focusing on the natural 
ecosystems of Central America's Pacific slope (Boyd 2016, in litt., p. 
5). In 2015, they launched a scarlet macaw conservation program in the 
Cosig[uuml]ina Volcano area of northern Nicaragua (Paso Pacifico 2017, 
unpaginated). With financial support from the Loro Parque 
Fundaci[oacute]n, among others, community rangers protect and monitor 
the remaining scarlet macaws. Their objectives are to establish 
accurate baseline information about the population, focusing on 
demographics, nesting success, and habitat use in the reserve; to 
strengthen the ability of the Nicaraguan army to deter poachers; to 
involve and empower the local community to protect nesting scarlet 
macaws; and to increase awareness among Ministry of Environment 
officials and the Nicaraguan environmental community (Loro Parque 
Fundaci[oacute]n 2015, unpaginated). They have also been working 
closely with families from La Salvia, the village nearest to the 
scarlet macaw nesting area, through an educational program involving 
birdwatching and other field-based activities that highlight the 
significance of the scarlet macaw and the dry tropical forests at 
Cosig[uuml]ina (pasopacifico 2017, unpaginated). Two scarlet macaw 
chicks have safely fledged, which was the first successful macaw nest 
documented in this area in over 20 years (pasopacifico 2017, 
unpaginated).
Reintroduction of Ara macao macao
Costa Rica
    On the Nicoya Peninsula in northwestern Costa Rica, scarlet macaws 
are currently released at Punta Islita, Playa Tamboor, and Cur[uacute] 
National Wildlife Refuge, which are all within 50 km (31 mi) of each 
other. It is difficult to determine how these populations will fare 
over time because these populations are fairly isolated, but these 
three release sites could help repopulate the Nicoya Peninsula 
(Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 15). The Punta Islita release site is 
situated in the tropical moist forest of Costa Rica's North Pacific 
coast; wild scarlet macaws had been locally extinct in this area for 
decades. Between 2011 and 2018, 37 scarlet macaws were released at this 
site (Ara Project 2017, unpaginated). We have no data concerning the 
current status of the released birds. At Cur[uacute], scarlet macaws 
were released starting in January 1999. Ten of the 13 birds released 
were still alive after 4 years, and pairs have attempted to nest in 
natural tree cavities in two different years, but no chicks have been 
produced (Brightsmith et al. 2005, p. 468). At Playa Tambor, we do not 
have information on the number of scarlet macaws released into the wild 
or the success of the releases at this site.
    Within the scarlet macaw's range in southwestern Costa Rica, a few 
reintroduction programs exist around the Gulf (Golfo Dulce) and the Osa 
Peninsula. These include Santuario Silvestre de Osa (SSO), which 
releases birds close to Piedras Blancas National Park; Zoo Ave, which 
releases birds in the Golfito area; Amigos de las Aves, which releases 
offspring of confiscated birds in Alajuela, Punta Banco (Dear et al. 
2010, pp. 15-17; Forbes 2005, p. 97); and Tiskita Lodge and the Ara 
project, which releases birds in Tiskita Jungle Lodge's private reserve 
also in Punta Blanco (Ara Project 2018, unpaginated). These 
organizations receive and release birds confiscated from poachers from 
all parts of the country (Dear et al. 2010, p. 15). Seventy-seven 
scarlet macaws were released in 1997; as of 2002, almost 90 percent of 
the released birds were still alive (Dear et al. 2010, p. 16). 
Additionally, the range of birds released at Punta Banco has grown to 
reach 84 km\2\ (32 mi\2\) (Forbes 2005, in Dear et al. 2010, p. 17). 
The breeding center in Alajuela has since closed and moved to Tiskita 
(Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). Between 2002 and 2014, nine 
groups of birds were released in Tiskita, most of which are thriving 
and reproducing in the wild (Ara Project 2018, unpaginated; Tiskita 
Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). To date, the survival rate is close to 
90 percent, and at least five pairs have successfully fledged chicks in 
natural cavities since 2008. Over 75 scarlet macaws have been released 
into the wild at this site (Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). 
This reintroduction program has ceased because a viable population has 
been established that is large enough to potentially connect with 
populations in the ACOSA that are farther north along the coast 
(Tiskita Jungle Lodge 2018, unpaginated). Thus, releases could 
potentially aid in recolonization of the macaw population's original 
range, to the extent that the habitat within that range remains 
suitable.
    In total, the past and ongoing reintroduction efforts have added 
hundreds of scarlet macaws to the wild in Costa Rica. Additionally, 
most reintroduction projects conduct environmental education at a local 
level and attract additional media attention at the local and national 
level. As a result, each reintroduction project educates the public 
about the importance of scarlet macaws and of conservation and the 
environment in general (Brightsmith 2016, in litt., p. 22).
Impacts of Reintroducing Captive-Bred Scarlet Macaws Into the Wild
    Releases of captive scarlet macaws could increase the wild 
populations because many of the reintroduced captive-raised and 
confiscated birds are released adjacent to existing populations or at 
least within the range that scarlet macaws are known to disperse, and 
some of the release birds have adapted to surviving in the wild by 
finding mates and food and nesting resources similar to what wild 
scarlet macaws use. In addition, releases of scarlet macaws could 
potentially aid in recolonization of the population's original range in 
Mesoamerica, to the extent that the habitat within that range remains 
suitable and programs are available to protect scarlet macaws in the 
wild from poachers. Conversely, releases of captive scarlet macaws 
could potentially pose a threat to wild populations by exposing wild 
birds to diseases for which wild populations have no resistance, 
invoking behavioral changes in wild macaws that negatively affect their 
survival, or compromising the genetic integrity of wild populations 
(Dear et al. 2010, p. 20; Schmidt 2013, pp. 74-75; also see IUCN 2013, 
pp. 15-17). However, generally speaking, disease risks are small 
because the probable frequency of occurrence is low (see Factor C 
discussion in 77 FR 40237-40238; July 6, 2012).
Other Conservation Programs
    Conservation programs operate in some areas of the scarlet macaw's 
range but not throughout its entire range. Many partner organizations 
work together to implement these

[[Page 6307]]

conservation programs that study and aim to increase the viability of 
scarlet macaw populations in the wild. To the extent that we have 
information indicating the effects of these programs on the scarlet 
macaw's status, we included information in the Factors Affecting the 
Species, above. In addition, general conservation measures such as 
education, use of artificial nest boxes, and nest monitoring are 
discussed below. Because too many organizations exist to list them all 
here, we summarize the general actions taken. Organizations in certain 
regions where scarlet macaws persist conduct the following conservation 
efforts:
    (1) Implement education programs that promote the scarlet macaw, as 
well as sustainable forest management, because much of the territory in 
the scarlet macaw's range is held by local communities or indigenous 
people (Ara Project 2017, unpaginated; Vaughan et al. 1999, entire; WCS 
2010, entire; FAO 2010a, pp. 238-239, Blaser et al. 2011, pp. 312, 346; 
Marineros and Vaughan 1995, pp. 462-463);
    (2) Protect and monitor nests to reduce poaching, which has reduced 
overall nest poaching in Belize from higher than 90 percent to less 
than 30 percent, with 2017 the second year in a row that no known nests 
were poached, and has greatly decreased the severity of poaching in 
Guatemala (Harbison 2017, unpaginated; Garcia et al. 2008, p. xii);
    (3) Construct artificial nest boxes, which increases nesting sites 
and ultimately recruitment (Vaughan et al. 2003, p. 10; Brightsmith 
2000a, entire; Brightsmith 2000b, entire; Brightsmith 2005, p. 297; 
Nycander et al. 1995, pp. 435-436); and
    (4) Use local conservation organizations to coordinate conservation 
activities with stakeholders (Vaughan et al. 2005, p. 123; WCS 2008, 
entire).

Finding

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the implementing 
regulations in part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing 
species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Section 3 of the Act 
defines an ``endangered species'' as ``any species which is in danger 
of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,'' 
and a ``threatened species'' as ``any species which is likely to become 
an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.'' As required by the Act, we 
conducted a review of the status of the species and considered the five 
factors in assessing whether the scarlet macaw meets the definition of 
an endangered species or threatened species. We examined the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding factors 
affecting the status of the scarlet macaw. We reviewed the petition, 
information available in our files, information provided by peer review 
and public comments, and other available published and unpublished 
information.

Final Determination for the Northern Subspecies (Ara macao cyanoptera)

    The northern subspecies of scarlet macaw, Ara macao cyanoptera, 
exists in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, eastern Costa 
Rica, and Isla Coiba in Panama. Little quantitative data on historical 
populations are available, but evidence indicates that the range of 
this subspecies has been greatly reduced and the total current 
population of A. m. cyanoptera, based on available data (see Table 1), 
is estimated to be approximately 2,000 to 3,000 individuals.
    The primary threats we identified to A. m. cyanoptera are habitat 
loss due to activities that cause deforestation and forest degradation 
(Factor A), poaching for the pet trade and sustenance (Factor B), and 
small population size that works in combination with the other threats 
(Factor E). The existing regulatory mechanisms are not adequate to 
protect the species from these threats to the level that the species is 
not in danger of extinction (Factor D).
    Destruction of forest habitat is one of the main causes of the 
decline of A. m. cyanoptera. Deforestation rates in Mesoamerica, 
excluding Costa Rica, are the highest in Latin America due to expanding 
agriculture, cattle ranching, and selective and often illegal logging. 
Throughout the range of the subspecies where most of the species' 
historical habitat has been eliminated, deforestation is rapidly 
occurring, including in all the forested areas where scarlet macaws 
currently exist (except Isla Coiba, Panama). Activities that lead to 
deforestation and forest degradation directly eliminate the scarlet 
macaw's tropical forest habitat by removing the trees that support the 
species' essential needs for nesting, roosting, and food. Scarlet 
macaws are known to use partially cleared and cultivated landscapes, 
but they are only able to do so if the landscape maintains enough 
large, older trees that provide the essential needs of the species.
    Poaching, mainly for the pet trade but also for sustenance, is the 
other main cause of decline of A. m. cyanoptera. The scarlet macaw is a 
popular pet species within its range countries, and overutilization as 
a result of poaching is a significant threat to A. m. cyanoptera 
(except on Isla Coiba, Panama). The scarlet macaw is susceptible to 
overharvest because it is a long-lived species with a low reproductive 
rate and slow to recover from harvesting pressures. Thus, removal of 
individuals year after year can inhibit population growth and cause 
local extirpation. Evidence suggests poaching occurs at significant 
levels in the Maya Forest region, even with conservation measures such 
as monitoring and protecting nesting sites in Guatemala and Belize, and 
is a significant threat in Honduras and Nicaragua. Poaching is 
exacerbated by habitat removal because it increases access to 
previously inaccessible areas, thereby opening up new areas to 
poaching.
    Most if not all of the countries within the range of A. m. 
cyanoptera have regulations aimed at conserving forested lands, 
biodiversity, and prohibit poaching of scarlet macaws. However, these 
countries are not able to adequately enforce their regulations due to 
lack of resources, conflicts over land ownership that lead to illegal 
logging and expansion of agriculture and pasture, and lack of oversight 
or a governing body to enforce the regulations.
    Some range countries employ conservation measures such as 
protecting nesting sites from poachers and reintroducing captive-bred 
scarlet macaws into the wild. While these programs have had success 
protecting nests from poachers and slightly increasing the number of 
scarlet macaws in the wild in some populations (see Conservation 
Measures, above), many of the reintroduction programs do not have data 
to show long-term viability of reintroduced birds. Therefore, while 
conservation measures have had a positive impact on the populations of 
A. m. cyanoptera, these conservation actions occur in small sections of 
the range of the subspecies and the threats identified above are 
ongoing.
    Scarlet macaws in Mesoamerica maintain a high level of genetic 
diversity, but because of the few populations and the small numbers in 
each of the populations, and their virtual isolation from other 
populations due to deforestation, they remain vulnerable to extirpation 
and extinction. Fewer than 5,000 scarlet macaws remain in this 
relatively large geographic area.
    Because of the extent of the decline in the range and numbers of 
Ara macao cyanoptera due to ongoing habitat destruction and 
degradation, poaching,

[[Page 6308]]

the lack of enforcement of existing regulatory mechanisms addressing 
these threats, and the small population sizes that work in combination 
with the other threats, we find that these threats place A. m. 
cyanoptera in danger of extinction. Therefore, on the basis of the best 
scientific and commercial information available, we find that A. m. 
cyanoptera meets the definition of an ``endangered species'' in 
accordance with the definition in the Act.

Final Determination for the Northern DPS of Southern Subspecies (Ara 
macao macao)

    The range of Ara macao macao north and west of the Andes has been 
greatly reduced and fragmented. The scarlet macaw has been almost 
extirpated from mainland Panama and much of its former range in Costa 
Rica. Its remaining distribution is on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica, 
in the Chiriqu[iacute] province and at the southern end of the Azuero 
Peninsula of Veraguas, near Cerro Hoya National Park in Panama, and in 
northwest Colombia.
    Because information indicates that the ACOPAC and ACOSA populations 
in Costa Rica, which make up the bulk of the northern DPS of A. m. 
macao, may be stable and likely increasing and expanding their range on 
the Pacific slope of Costa Rica, it is reasonable to conclude that the 
northern DPS of A. m. macao is not currently in danger of extinction 
and does not meet the definition of an ``endangered species'' under the 
Act. A threatened species'' is ``any species which is likely to become 
an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.'' The Act does not define the phrase 
``foreseeable future,'' but we interpret it to describe the extent to 
which we can reasonably rely on the predictions about the future in 
making determinations about the future conservation status of the 
species. We conclude that it is reasonable to rely on the information 
contained in the studies discussed above under ``Factors Affecting the 
Species'' involving land-use trends and population sizes, as well as 
the information regarding enforcement of existing regulations and other 
factors that negatively influence the species, to make a determination 
about the future conservation status of the northern DPS of A. m. 
macao.
    Poaching continues and remains a concern for the future viability 
of the species for the foreseeable future. In Panama, poaching of 
scarlet macaws was one factor that led to the virtual extirpation of 
this species from the mainland, and poaching remains a concern at Cerro 
Hoya National Park, which is one of the only locations where a very 
small population of scarlet macaws exists on mainland Panama. 
Additionally, the best available information indicates that the 
population in northwest Colombia faces significant ongoing threats from 
deforestation within the foreseeable future. No current population 
estimates are available for northwest Colombia, and this region is 
reported to have large tracts of suitable forest habitat, but many 
areas in northwest Colombia are considered deforestation hotspots. 
Thus, although the two largest populations currently appear to be 
increasing, they both are small and their total range represents only a 
portion of the range of the northern DPS. Therefore, we find that the 
best available information indicates that current threats to scarlet 
macaws in northwest Colombia (deforestation); ongoing poaching of 
scarlet macaws in Costa Rica and mainland Panama; ongoing, small-scale, 
subsistence logging in Panama; inadequate enforcement of existing 
regulations; and the small population sizes of scarlet macaws in this 
region put this DPS in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. 
On the basis of the best scientific and commercial information 
available, we find that the northern DPS of A. m. macao meets the 
definition of a ``threatened species'' in accordance with the 
definition in the Act.

Similarity of Appearance

Final Determination for Southern DPS of Southern Subspecies (Ara macao 
macao)

    In our proposed rule we found that the southern DPS of the southern 
subspecies A. m. macao did not warrant listing as an endangered species 
or a threatened species based on its status. However, we determined 
that it is advisable to treat the southern DPS as a threatened species 
based on its similarity of appearance to the northern DPS of A. m. 
macao and subspecies crosses of A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao. 
Section 4(e) of the Act authorizes the treatment of a species, 
subspecies, or distinct population segment as endangered or threatened 
if: ``(A) [S]uch species so closely resembles in appearance, at the 
point in question, a species which has been listed pursuant to [section 
4 of the Act] that enforcement personnel would have substantial 
difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the listed and 
unlisted species; (B) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an 
additional threat to an endangered or threatened species; and (C) such 
treatment of an unlisted species will substantially facilitate the 
enforcement and further the policy of this [Act].'' All applicable 
prohibitions and exceptions for species treated as threatened under 
section 4(e) of the Act due to similarity of appearance to a threatened 
or endangered species will be set forth in a rule issued under section 
4(d) of the Act.
    Several factors make differentiating between scarlet macaw listable 
entities difficult. First, the scarlet macaw subspecies, Ara macao 
macao and Ara macao cyanoptera, primarily differ in the coloration of 
their wing coverts (a type of feather) and wing size. But these 
differences are not always apparent, especially in birds from the 
middle of the species' range (which may include crosses between A. m. 
cyanoptera and A. m. macao), sometimes making it difficult to visually 
differentiate between subspecies (Schmidt 2011, pers. comm.; Weidenfeld 
1994, pp. 99-100). According to information received from the Service's 
Forensics Laboratory, many scarlet macaw remains submitted for 
examination by Office of Law Enforcement special agents and wildlife 
inspectors do not consist of intact carcasses; rather, evidence is 
usually in the form of partial remains, detached feathers, and artwork 
incorporating their feathers. Therefore, identification of the 
subspecies or the geographic origin of these birds is difficult or 
improbable without genetic analysis, which would add considerable 
difficulties and cost for law enforcement.
    Second, we are not aware of any information indicating that 
distinguishing morphological differences between the northern and 
southern DPSs of A. m. macao would allow for visual identification of 
the origin of a bird of this subspecies. Lastly, aviculturists have 
bred the species without regard for taxa, resulting in crosses of the 
two subspecies (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) that maintain a 
combination of characteristics of either parent being present in trade 
(Wiedenfeld 1994, p. 103). As a result, the similarity of appearance 
between an unlisted southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses 
to the listed northern DPS of A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera may 
result in the ability to pass off a protected specimen as an unlisted 
DPS or unlisted subspecies cross and poses an additional threat to the 
northern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies A. m. cyanoptera. Therefore, 
we consider this difficulty in discerning an unlisted southern DPS and 
unlisted subspecies crosses from the listed northern DPS of A. m. macao 
and

[[Page 6309]]

subspecies A.m. cyanoptera as an additional threat to the listed 
entities.
    The close resemblance between the listed and the unlisted entities 
would make differentiating the listed scarlet macaws (the subspecies 
Ara macao cyanoptera and the northern DPS of the subspecies Ara macao 
macao) from those that are not listed (individuals of the southern DPS 
of A. m. macao and subspecies crossings (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. 
macao)) difficult for law enforcement to enforce. Therefore, we 
determine that treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies 
crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) under the 4(e) similarity of 
appearance provisions of the Act will substantially facilitate law 
enforcement actions to protect and conserve scarlet macaws. If the 
southern DPS of A. m. macao or subspecies crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and 
A. m. macao) were not listed, importers and exporters could 
inadvertently or purposefully misrepresent a specimen of A. m. 
cyanoptera or the northern DPS of A. m. macao as a specimen of the 
unlisted entity, creating a loophole in enforcing the Act's protections 
for listed species of scarlet macaw. Thus, the listing will facilitate 
Federal and State law-enforcement efforts to curtail unauthorized 
import and trade in A. m. cyanoptera or the northern DPS of A. m. 
macao.
    Extending the prohibitions of the Act to the similar entities 
through this listing of those entities due to similarity of appearance 
under section 4(e) of the Act and providing applicable prohibitions and 
exceptions in a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act will provide 
greater protection to A. m. cyanoptera and the northern DPS of A. m. 
macao. Although the 4(e) provisions of the Act do not contain criteria 
as to whether a species listed under the similarity of appearance 
provisions should be treated as endangered or threatened, we find that 
treating the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. 
cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as threatened is appropriate because the 
4(d) rule, for the reasons mentioned in our finding below, provides 
adequate protection for these entities. For these reasons, we are 
proposing to treat the southern DPS of A. m. macao and subspecies 
crosses (A. m. cyanoptera and A. m. macao) as threatened due to the 
similarity of appearance pursuant to section 4(e) of the Act.

4(d) Rule

    When a species is listed as endangered, certain actions are 
prohibited under section 9 of the Act and our regulations at 50 CFR 
17.21. These include, among others, prohibitions on take within the 
United States, within the territorial seas of the United States, or 
upon the high seas; import; export; and shipment in interstate or 
foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity. Exceptions to 
the prohibitions for endangered species may be granted in accordance 
with section 10 of the Act and our regulations at 50 CFR 17.22.
    The Act does not specify particular prohibitions and exceptions to 
those prohibitions for threatened species. Instead, under section 4(d) 
of the Act, the Secretary, as well as the Secretary of Commerce 
depending on the species, was given the discretion to issue such 
regulations as deemed necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of such species. The Secretary also has the discretion to 
prohibit by regulation with respect to any threatened species any act 
prohibited under section 9(a)(1) of the Act. For the scarlet macaw, the 
Service is exercising our discretion to issue a 4(d) rule. By adopting 
the existing parrot 4(d) rule for the scarlet macaw, we are 
incorporating all prohibitions and provisions of 50 CFR 17.31 and 
17.32. However, import and export of certain scarlet macaws into and 
from the United States and certain acts in interstate commerce are 
allowed without a permit under the Act, as explained below.
    The 4(d) rule will apply to the southern subspecies of scarlet 
macaw (Ara macao macao) and to crosses of the two scarlet macaw 
subspecies, A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera. We are including 
subspecies crosses in this rule because aviculturists have bred the 
species without regard to their taxa, resulting in crosses of the two 
subspecies being present in trade. All prohibitions of 50 CFR 17.31 
will apply to A. m. macao and subspecies crosses of A. m. macao and A. 
m. cyanoptera, except that import and export of certain A. m. macao and 
subspecies crosses into and from the United States and certain acts in 
interstate commerce will be allowed without a permit under the Act, as 
explained below. For activities otherwise prohibited under the 4(d) 
rule involving specimens of the southern DPS of the scarlet macaw and 
subspecies crosses, such activities will require authorization pursuant 
to the similarity-of-appearance permit regulations at 50 CFR 17.52. If 
an applicant is unable to meet the issuance criteria for a similarity-
of-appearance permit and demonstrate that the scarlet macaw in question 
is a subspecific cross or originated from the southern DPS, 
authorization for an otherwise prohibited activity would need to be 
obtained under the general permit provisions for threatened species 
found at 50 CFR 17.32. For activities otherwise prohibited under the 
4(d) rule involving specimen of the northern DPS of the scarlet macaw 
(A. m. macao), such activities would require authorization pursuant to 
the general permit provisions for threatened species found at 50 CFR 
17.32.

Import and Export

    The 4(d) rule will apply to all commercial and noncommercial 
international shipments of live and dead southern subspecies of scarlet 
macaws and subspecific crosses of A. m. macao and A. m. cyanoptera and 
their parts and products, including the import and export of personal 
pets and research samples. In most instances, the rule will adopt the 
existing conservation regulatory requirements of CITES and the WBCA as 
the appropriate regulatory provisions for the import and export of 
certain scarlet macaws. The import into the United States and export 
from the United States of birds taken from the wild after the date this 
species is listed under the Act; conducting an activity that could take 
or incidentally take scarlet macaws; and foreign commerce must meet the 
requirements of 50 CFR 17.31 and 17.32, including obtaining a permit 
under the Act. However, the 4(d) rule allows a person to import or 
export without a permit issued under that Act if the specimen either: 
(1) Was held in captivity prior to the date this species is listed 
under the Act; or (2) is a captive-bred specimen, provided the export 
is authorized under CITES and the import is authorized under CITES and 
the WBCA. If a specimen was taken from the wild and held in captivity 
prior to the date this species is listed under the Act, the importer or 
exporter must provide documentation to support that status, such as a 
copy of the original CITES permit indicating when the bird was removed 
from the wild or museum specimen reports. For captive-bred birds, the 
importer must provide either a valid CITES export/re-export document 
issued by a foreign Management Authority that indicates that the 
specimen was captive-bred by using a source code on the face of the 
permit of either ``C,'' ``D,'' or ``F.'' Exporters of captive-bred 
birds must provide a signed and dated statement from the breeder of the 
bird confirming its captive status, and documentation on the source of 
their breeding stock. The source codes of C, D, and F for CITES permits 
and certificates are as follows:

[[Page 6310]]

    (C) Animals bred in captivity in accordance with Resolution Conf. 
10.16 (Rev.), as well as parts and derivatives thereof, exported under 
the provisions of Article VII, paragraph 5 of the Convention.
    (D) Appendix-I animals bred in captivity for commercial purposes in 
operations included in the Secretariat's Register, in accordance with 
Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15), and Appendix-I plants artificially 
propagated for commercial purposes, as well as parts and derivatives 
thereof, exported under the provisions of Article VII, paragraph 4, of 
the Convention.
    (F) Animals born in captivity (F1 or subsequent generations) that 
do not fulfill the definition of ``bred in captivity'' in Resolution 
Conf. 10.16 (Rev.), as well as parts and derivatives thereof.
    The 4(d) rule's provisions regarding captive-bred birds apply to 
birds bred in the United States and abroad. The terms ``captive-bred'' 
and ``captivity''' used in the 4(d) rule are defined in the regulations 
at 50 CFR 17.3 and refer to wildlife produced in a controlled 
environment that is intensively manipulated by man from parents that 
mated or otherwise transferred gametes in captivity. Although the 4(d) 
rule requires a permit under the Act to ``take'' (including harm and 
harass) a scarlet macaw, our regulations at 50 CFR 17.3 establish that 
``take'' when applied to captive wildlife does not include generally 
accepted animal-husbandry practices; breeding procedures; or provisions 
of veterinary care for confining, tranquilizing, or anesthetizing, when 
such practices, procedures, or provisions are not likely to result in 
injury to the wildlife.
    We assessed the conservation needs of the scarlet macaw in light of 
the broad protections provided to the species under CITES and the WBCA. 
The scarlet macaw is included in Appendix I of CITES, a treaty that 
contributes to the conservation of the species by regulating 
international trade and ensuring that trade in Appendix-I species is 
not detrimental to the survival of the species. The purpose of the WBCA 
is to promote the conservation of exotic birds and to ensure that 
imports of exotic birds into the United States do not harm them. The 
best available data indicate that the current threat of trade of the 
scarlet macaw stems mainly from illegal trade that stays within the 
domestic markets of Central and South America. Thus, the general 
prohibitions on import and export contained in 50 CFR 17.31, which 
extend only within the jurisdiction of the United States, would not 
regulate such activities. Accordingly, we find that the import and 
export requirements of the 4(d) rule provide the necessary and 
advisable conservation measures for this species. This 4(d) rule 
streamlines the permitting process by deferring to existing laws that 
are protective of scarlet macaws in the course of import and export and 
not requiring permits under the Act for certain types of activities.

Interstate Commerce

    Under the 4(d) rule, a person may deliver, receive, carry, 
transport, or ship Ara macao macao and subspecies crosses (A. m. macao 
and A. m. cyanoptera) in interstate commerce in the course of a 
commercial activity, or sell or offer to sell in interstate commerce A. 
m. macao and subspecies crosses without a permit under the Act. At the 
same time, the prohibitions on take under 50 CFR 17.21, as presently 
extended to threatened species under 50 CFR 17.31, will apply under 
this 4(d) rule, and any interstate commerce activities that could 
incidentally take A. m. macao and subspecies crosses or otherwise 
prohibited acts in foreign commerce will require a permit under 50 CFR 
17.32.
    We have no information that suggests current interstate commerce 
activities are associated with threats to the scarlet macaw or would 
negatively affect any efforts aimed at the recovery of wild populations 
of the species. Therefore, we are not placing into effect any 
prohibitions on interstate commerce of scarlet macaw within the United 
States. Because the species will be otherwise protected in the course 
of interstate commercial activities under the take provisions and 
foreign commerce provisions contained in 50 CFR 17.31 as applied to 
this species, and international trade of this species is regulated 
under CITES, we find this 4(d) rule contains all the prohibitions and 
authorizations necessary and advisable for the conservation of the 
scarlet macaw.

Required Determinations

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

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

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Branch of 
Delisting and Foreign Species (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

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

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

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

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

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by adding entries for ``Macaw, scarlet'', 
``Macaw, scarlet [Northern DPS]'', ``Macaw, scarlet [Southern DPS]'', 
and ``Macaw, scarlet [Subspecies crosses]'' in alphabetical order under 
BIRDS to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, to read as 
follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 6311]]



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                              Listing citations
           Common name                Scientific name        Where listed         Status        and applicable
                                                                                                    rules
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
              BIRDS
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
Macaw, scarlet...................  Ara macao cyanoptera  Wherever found.....  E              84 FR [insert
                                                                                              Federal Register
                                                                                              page where the
                                                                                              document begins],
                                                                                              2/26/2019.
Macaw, scarlet [Northern DPS]....  Ara macao macao.....  Colombia (northwest  T              84 FR [insert
                                                          of the Andes),                      Federal Register
                                                          Costa Rica                          page where the
                                                          (Pacific slope),                    document begins],
                                                          Panama (mainland).                  2/26/2019; 50 CFR
                                                                                              17.41(c).\4d\
Macaw, scarlet [Southern DPS]....  Ara macao macao.....  Bolivia, Brazil,     T(S/A)         84 FR [insert
                                                          Colombia                            Federal Register
                                                          (southeast of the                   page where the
                                                          Andes), Ecuador,                    document begins],
                                                          French Guiana,                      2/26/2019; 50 CFR
                                                          Guyana, Peru,                       17.41(c).\4d\
                                                          Suriname,
                                                          Venezuela.
Macaw, scarlet [Subspecies         Ara macao macao X     Costa Rica,          T(S/A)         84 FR [insert
 crosses].                          Ara macao             Nicaragua                           Federal Register
                                    cyanoptera.           (Atlantic slope                     page where the
                                                          border region).                     document begins],
                                                                                              2/26/2019; 50 CFR
                                                                                              17.41(c).\4d\
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
3. Amend Sec.  17.41 by revising paragraphs (c) introductory text and 
(c)(2)(ii) introductory text and by adding paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(E) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  17.41  Special rules--birds.

* * * * *
    (c) The following species in the parrot family: Salmon-crested 
cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis), yellow-billed parrot (Amazona 
collaria), white cockatoo (Cacatua alba), hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus 
hyacinthinus), and scarlet macaw (Ara macao macao and scarlet macaw 
subspecies crosses (Ara macao macao and Ara macao cyanoptera)).
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Specimens held in captivity prior to certain dates: You must 
provide documentation to demonstrate that the specimen was held in 
captivity prior to the dates specified in paragraph (c)(2)(ii)(A), (B), 
(C), (D), or (E) of this section. Such documentation may include copies 
of receipts, accession or veterinary records, CITES documents, or 
wildlife declaration forms, which must be dated prior to the specified 
dates.
* * * * *
    (E) For scarlet macaws: March 28, 2019 (the date this species was 
listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)).
* * * * *

    Dated: February 4, 2019.
Margaret E. Everson,
Principal Deputy Director Exercising the Authority of the Director for 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-03165 Filed 2-25-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE P