Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi, 20967-20970 [2020-07715]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules G. Regulatory Reform Analysis Under E.O. 13771 FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION Executive Order 13771, entitled ‘‘Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,’’ was issued on January 30, 2017 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) and requires that the costs associated with significant new regulations ‘‘shall, to the extent permitted by law, be offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations.’’ It has been determined that this proposed rule is an action that primarily results in transfers and does not impose more than de minimis costs as described above and thus is not a regulatory or deregulatory action for the purposes of Executive Order 13771. 47 CFR Parts 1, 2, 18 H. Conclusion We estimate that aggregate payments to hospices in FY 2021 will increase by $580 million, or 2.6 percent, compared to payments in FY 2020. We estimate that in FY 2021, hospices in urban areas will experience, on average, 2.6 percent increase in estimated payments compared to FY 2020. While hospices in rural areas will experience, on average, 2.8 percent increase in estimated payments compared to FY 2020. Hospices providing services in the Middle Atlantic region would experience the largest estimated increases in payments of 3.0 percent. Hospices serving patients in areas in the New England and Outlying regions would experience, on average, the lowest estimated increase of 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively in FY 2021 payments. In accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 12866, this regulation was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. Dated: March 24, 2020. Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dated: April 9, 2020. Alex M. Azar II, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2020–07959 Filed 4–10–20; 4:15 pm] jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 4120–01–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 [ET Docket No. 19–226; FCC 19–126; FRS 16643] Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields; Correction Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Proposed rule; correction. AGENCY: The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) is correcting a date that appeared in the Federal Register on April 6, 2020. In this document, the Commission seeks comment on expanding the range of frequencies for which its radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits apply; on applying localized exposure limits above 6 GHz in parallel to the localized exposure limits already established below 6 GHz; on specifying the conditions and methods for averaging the RF exposure, in both time and area, during evaluation for compliance with the RF exposure limits in the rules; on addressing new RF exposure issues raised by wireless power transfer (WPT) devices; and on the definition of a WPT device. DATES: Comments are due on or before May 15, 2020, and reply comments are due on or before June 15, 2020. ADDRESSES: Interested parties may submit comments and replies, identified by ET Docket No. 19–226, by any of the following methods: • Federal Communications Commission’s website: http:// fja_llfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. • People with Disabilities: Contact the Commission to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202–418–0530 or TTY: 202– 418–0432. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Martin Doczkat, email: martin.doczkat@ fcc.gov of the Office of Engineering and Technology Electromagnetic SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 20967 Compatibility Division; the Commission’s RF Safety Program, rfsafety@fcc.gov; or call the Office of Engineering and Technology at (202) 418–2470. For information regarding the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) information collection requirements contained in this document, contact Nicole Ongele, Office of Managing Director, at (202) 418–2991 or Nicole.Ongele@fcc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In FR Doc. 20–06966, appearing on page 19117 in the Federal Register on April 6, 2020, the following correction is made: ■ 1. On page 19117, in the first column, in DATES, the instruction ‘‘reply comments are due on or before June 1, 2020.’’ is corrected to read ‘‘reply comments are due on or before June 15, 2020.’’ Dated: April 6, 2020. Federal Communications Commission. Cecilia Sigmund, Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 2020–07866 Filed 4–14–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2020–0007; FXES111302WOLF0–201–FF02ENEH00] RIN 1018–BE52 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi); Environmental Impact Statement Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplement to an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will prepare a draft environmental impact statement supplement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), in conjunction with a proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The revised rule and environmental impact statement supplement are being developed in response to a court-ordered remand by the District Court of Arizona of our 2015 SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1 20968 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS final rule to revise the nonessential experimental population designation and management of Mexican wolves in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area in Arizona and New Mexico. DATES: We will accept public comments received or postmarked on or before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 15, 2020. We may not consider any comments we receive after the closing date in the final decision. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2020–0007, which is the docket number for this notice of intent. (2) By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2– ES–2020–0007; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/PERMA (JAO/1N), 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Information Requested section below for more information.). To increase our efficiency in downloading comments, groups providing mass submissions should submit their comments in an Excel file. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marty Tuegel, 505–248–6651; or the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113 or by telephone 505–761–4704; or by facsimile 505–761–2542. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. Additional information can be found on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program’s website at https:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ mexicanwolf/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Previous Federal Actions We established a nonessential experimental population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998 (63 FR 1752, January 12, 1998) pursuant to section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act). We published a final rule to revise the designation and management of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 nonessential experimental population in 2015 (80 FR 2512, January 16, 2015) (2015 final rule). We analyzed the effects of our proposed revision in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Revision to the Regulations for the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) (EIS). We opened a public comment period and announced public meetings for the draft environmental impact statement on July 25, 2014 (79 FR 43358), and announced the availability of our EIS and draft Record of Decision in the Federal Register on November 25, 2014 (79 FR 70154). The EIS and other documents are available at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0056 under Supporting Documents. Background The Service previously opened a public scoping period on August 5, 2013, to seek public input on the scope, issues, and alternatives under consideration in the Service’s revision of the 1998 Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population designation (78 FR 47268). At that time, the Service was seeking to improve the conservation and management of the experimental population as designated in 1998, and requested input from the public on potential changes to the geographic boundaries of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as the management provisions associated with it. In the 2015 final rule, the Service revised the designation and management of the MWEPA from its original 1998 designation by: (1) Establishing a population objective for the experimental population of 300 to 325 wolves within the MWEPA; (2) Expanding the area in which initial releases of Mexican wolves from captivity and translocations could occur; (3) Extending the southern boundary of the MWEPA in Arizona and New Mexico to the United States–Mexico international border; (4) Discontinuing the use of the ‘‘Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area’’ designation within the MWEPA, including its divisions of primary and secondary recovery zones; (5) Establishing three management zones within the MWEPA defined as ‘‘Zone 1,’’ ‘‘Zone 2,’’ and ‘‘Zone 3,’’ each with specific provisions for Mexican wolf occupancy, initial releases, and translocations; (6) Adopting a phased management approach for up to 12 years to minimize or avoid impacts to wild ungulate populations in western Arizona; PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 (7) Authorizing removal of Mexican wolves identified as coming from the experimental population that disperse to establish territories outside of the MWEPA in a revised section 10(a)(1)(A) research and recovery permit; (8) Providing revised and additional provisions for take of Mexican wolves under certain circumstances to protect livestock and non-feral dogs, or as needed to manage wild ungulate populations (particularly elk and deer); and (9) Providing for the development of management actions on tribal trust land or on private land in management Zones 1 and 2. On March 31, 2018, the District Court of Arizona remanded the 2015 final rule to the Service based on the Court’s finding that the 2015 final rule failed to further the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf and that the essentiality determination was arbitrary and capricious (Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, No. 4:15– cv–00019–JGZ (D. Ariz.) (March 31, 2018, Order)). The Service is under a court-ordered deadline to address the remanded issues in a new revised rule by May 1, 2021. The 2015 final rule remains in place until we finalize the new revised rule. In the interim between the 2015 final rule and the March 31, 2018, Order, the Service finalized the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, First Revision (2017). The revised recovery plan, which updates the original 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, provides objective and measurable recovery criteria for the Mexican wolf, as well as management actions and time and cost estimates to achieve recovery, pursuant to section 4(f) of the Act. The recovery criteria focus on achieving specific population sizes, growth rate trends, and genetic diversity in the MWEPA and a second population in Mexico, as well as ensuring regulatory mechanisms are in place for both populations to address human-caused mortality of Mexican wolves. The recovery plan serves as our roadmap for the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. It is available at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2017–0036 under Supporting Documents. Information Requested We are currently seeking comments or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning specific provisions of the 2015 final rule identified by the District Court of Arizona in the March 31, 2018, Order. We will revise the 2015 final rule only E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules to the extent necessary to address the Court’s ruling; no additional provisions of the rule are subject to revision. To the extent possible, and as described below, we will address the remanded issues by aligning the new revised rule with the revised recovery plan, which provides an overarching strategy for the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. We will analyze any new proposed rule revisions in a supplemental EIS to the 2014 EIS. Due to the focus of the remand, we are seeking input from the public only on a narrow range of topics, as follows: (1) We will make a new essentiality determination for the experimental population of Mexican wolves in the MWEPA under section 10(j) of the Act. We are interested in feedback from the public and our partners on the benefits or potential impacts to the Mexican wolf or the public and our partners of an ‘‘essential’’ versus ‘‘nonessential’’ designation. (2) We intend to align the population objective and release recommendations in the new revised rule with the recovery criteria in the revised recovery plan for the MWEPA to ensure the new revised rule supports the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. We are interested in feedback from the public and our partners on any information or data available since we finalized the revised recovery plan in 2017 pertinent to establishing a population objective or release recommendations for the MWEPA. We are also interested in any other considerations related to the relationship between the population objective and release recommendations for the MWEPA and the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. (3) We intend to ensure the new revised rule supports population-level genetic health for the Mexican wolf in the MWEPA as a key component of the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. We will ensure our management provisions facilitate our ability to achieve the genetic recovery criterion for the MWEPA, which serves as our long-term conservation and recovery target. The genetic criterion in the revised recovery plan for the MWEPA states that we will release a sufficient number of captive Mexican wolves to result in 22 released Mexican wolves surviving to breeding age in the MWEPA (USFWS 2017a, pp. 18–19). As explained in the revised recovery plan (USFWS 2017a, pp. 9, 13) and the supporting Biological Report for the Mexican Wolf (USFWS 2017b, pp. 27– 29, 33–34, and 36–38), the genetic criterion ensures that the threat of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:50 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 continuing or accelerated loss of genetic diversity of Mexican wolves in the wild is adequately alleviated. Both of these documents are available online at http:// www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2017–0036 under Supporting Documents. In the 2015 final rule, we expanded several allowable forms of take of Mexican wolves from the 1998 rule after analyzing their effects in the 2014 EIS and determining a significant beneficial effect for the Mexican wolf (USFWS 2014, pg. ES–18). In the District Court of Arizona’s March 31, 2018, Order, the judge stated that, after the Service identified loss of genetic diversity as a primary threat to the Mexican wolf, ‘‘. . . the expanded take provisions lack protections for the loss of genetic diversity (Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, No. 4:15–cv–00019–JGZ (D. Ariz.), pg. 29).’’ In response to the ruling, we will assess the effects of three of the expanded take provisions on the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf, in particular as they relate to our ability to achieve the genetic criterion in the revised recovery plan. The take provisions we will evaluate include: Take on non-Federal lands in conjunction with a removal action (50 CFR 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(C)); take on Federal land (§ 17.84(k)(7)(v)(A)); and take in response to unacceptable impacts to a wild ungulate herd (§ 17.84(k)(7)(vi)). Lethal control will remain an allowable form of take under these three provisions. For clarity, we are not assessing or considering modification to the allowable take of Mexican wolves by livestock guarding dogs on Federal or non-Federal land as specified in the 2015 final rule (§ 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(B) and § 17.84(k)(7)(v)(B), respectively), or take, including killing, on non-Federal land by a domestic animal owner or that person’s agent of any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal (§ 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(A)). Finally, take in defense of human life as specified in the 2015 final rule (§ 17.84(k)(7)(i)) would remain an allowable form of take, including the potential for lethal take of a Mexican wolf. We are interested in feedback from the public and our partners on the impact of take on non-Federal lands in conjunction with a removal action (50 CFR 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(C)), take on Federal land (§ 17.84(k)(7)(v)(A)), and take in response to unacceptable impacts to a wild ungulate herd on the genetic health of the experimental population in the MWEPA in the context of long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. We are also interested in PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 20969 feedback on the social or economic benefits or impacts of modifying any of these three allowable forms of take of Mexican wolves to the public or our partners, as well as other recommendations to protect the genetic health of the experimental population in the MWEPA and achieve the genetic recovery criterion. (4) We intend to produce a draft and final supplemental EIS to the 2014 EIS that includes updated data, information, and analyses pertinent to any of the revisions under consideration in the new revised rule. Specifically, we intend to modify the Purpose and Need of the 2014 EIS only as necessary to explain the role of the MWEPA in the recovery of the Mexican wolf, based on the revised recovery plan. We intend to evaluate and revise specific features of two alternatives from the 2014 EIS, as follows: In Alternative One (Proposed Action and Preferred Alternative), we will revise the population objective and release recommendations, and may revise any of the three forms of allowable take discussed above. In Alternative Two, we may revise any of the three forms of allowable take discussed above, consistent with revisions made in Alternative One. We do not intend to revise any of the components of Alternatives Three or Four from the 2014 EIS, and we do not intend to consider any new alternatives in the supplemental EIS that were not included in the 2014 EIS. As necessary and based on information availability, we will provide updated data in the supplemental EIS at the relevant State or county level for Arizona and New Mexico to analyze the environmental consequences (i.e., effects or impacts) of our revisions on the land use, biological resources, economic activity, health and human safety, and environmental justice in the project area. Updated data may include: • Changes in land use such as significant shifts in land ownership, management, or special use; • Human population census data, including information on low-income populations, racial minorities, and Indian tribes; • The number of permitted and authorized Animal Unit Months in National Forests (An Animal Unit Month, or AUM, is a measure of the amount of forage required to sustain one cow, either dry or with calf at side up to 6 months of age, for 1 month); • An inventory of cattle and calves, including the number of cattle and calf operations, cattle sales (including calves), and herd sizes; • Sheep and lamb inventory; E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1 20970 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 73 / Wednesday, April 15, 2020 / Proposed Rules • Big game hunting data, including the number of license holders and applicants, days spent hunting and average hunter financial expenditures, and total number of hunters, harvest, and success ratio for elk and deer; • Incidences of human–wolf encounters; and • Parasite or disease events related to Mexican wolves. Therefore, we are requesting any new information from the public or our partners available since the publication of the 2014 EIS and 2015 final rule (80 FR 2487, January 16, 2015) related to these topics that is not readily available on Federal, State, tribal, or county websites. Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the items under consideration, without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered. Similarly, issues raised that are outside of the scope of items under consideration will not be considered in making a determination. Please consider the following when preparing your comments: • Be as succinct as possible. • Organize comments beginning with general comments and then move on to specific issues. • Be specific. Comments supported by logic, rationale, and citations are more useful than opinions. • State suggestions and recommendations clearly with an expectation of what you would like the Service to do. • If you provide alternate interpretations of science from the revised recovery plan or other cited Service document, please support your analysis with appropriate citations. • If possible, coordinate your comments with other like-minded individuals and organizations. This can strengthen the comment and help us understand the depth of concern. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS We will post information pertinent to NEPA planning on our Mexican Wolf Recovery Program website, http:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ mexicanwolf/NEPA. The references cited in this notice are also available at that website. Authors The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior Regions 7 and 8. 17:48 Apr 14, 2020 Jkt 250001 Written comments we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Amy Lueders, Regional Director. [FR Doc. 2020–07715 Filed 4–14–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 200409–0107] RIN 0648–BJ67 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region; Abbreviated Framework Amendment 3 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: References and Availability of Documents for Review VerDate Sep<11>2014 Public Availability of Comments NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Abbreviated Framework Amendment 3 (Abbreviated Framework 3) to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council). If implemented, Abbreviated SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Framework 3 and this proposed rule would revise the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) and recreational annual catch target (ACT) for blueline tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. The purpose of this proposed rule is to ensure that ACLs for South Atlantic blueline tilefish are based on the best scientific information available, to achieve and maintain optimum yield (OY), and to prevent overfishing while minimizing to the extent practicable, adverse social and economic effects. DATES: Written comments must be received by May 15, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2020–0039’’ by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Go to https:// www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAANMFS-2020-0039, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit all written comments to Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office (SERO), 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. • Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Electronic copies of Abbreviated Framework 3, which includes a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office website at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ abbreviated-framework-amendment-3blueline-tilefish. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Vara, NMFS SERO, telephone: 727–824–5305, email: mary.vara@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic region is managed under the FMP and includes blueline tilefish, E:\FR\FM\15APP1.SGM 15APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 73 (Wednesday, April 15, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 20967-20970]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-07715]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2020-0007; FXES111302WOLF0-201-FF02ENEH00]
RIN 1018-BE52


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revision to the 
Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus 
baileyi); Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplement to an environmental 
impact statement.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will prepare a draft 
environmental impact statement supplement pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), in conjunction 
with a proposed rule to revise the existing nonessential experimental 
population designation of the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) under 
section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The 
revised rule and environmental impact statement supplement are being 
developed in response to a court-ordered remand by the District Court 
of Arizona of our 2015

[[Page 20968]]

final rule to revise the nonessential experimental population 
designation and management of Mexican wolves in the Mexican Wolf 
Experimental Population Area in Arizona and New Mexico.

DATES: We will accept public comments received or postmarked on or 
before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 15, 2020. We may not consider 
any comments we receive after the closing date in the final decision.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to 
Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2020-0007, which is the docket number for this 
notice of intent.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: 
Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2020-0007; U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/PERMA (JAO/1N), 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls 
Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Information Requested section below for more information.). 
To increase our efficiency in downloading comments, groups providing 
mass submissions should submit their comments in an Excel file.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marty Tuegel, 505-248-6651; or the 
Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road NE, 
Albuquerque, NM 87113 or by telephone 505-761-4704; or by facsimile 
505-761-2542. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD), call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Additional 
information can be found on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program's website 
at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Previous Federal Actions

    We established a nonessential experimental population of Mexican 
wolves in Arizona and New Mexico in 1998 (63 FR 1752, January 12, 1998) 
pursuant to section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act). We published a final rule to 
revise the designation and management of the nonessential experimental 
population in 2015 (80 FR 2512, January 16, 2015) (2015 final rule). We 
analyzed the effects of our proposed revision in the Environmental 
Impact Statement for the Proposed Revision to the Regulations for the 
Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus 
baileyi) (EIS). We opened a public comment period and announced public 
meetings for the draft environmental impact statement on July 25, 2014 
(79 FR 43358), and announced the availability of our EIS and draft 
Record of Decision in the Federal Register on November 25, 2014 (79 FR 
70154). The EIS and other documents are available at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0056 under Supporting 
Documents.

Background

    The Service previously opened a public scoping period on August 5, 
2013, to seek public input on the scope, issues, and alternatives under 
consideration in the Service's revision of the 1998 Mexican wolf 
nonessential experimental population designation (78 FR 47268). At that 
time, the Service was seeking to improve the conservation and 
management of the experimental population as designated in 1998, and 
requested input from the public on potential changes to the geographic 
boundaries of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in 
Arizona and New Mexico, as well as the management provisions associated 
with it. In the 2015 final rule, the Service revised the designation 
and management of the MWEPA from its original 1998 designation by:
    (1) Establishing a population objective for the experimental 
population of 300 to 325 wolves within the MWEPA;
    (2) Expanding the area in which initial releases of Mexican wolves 
from captivity and translocations could occur;
    (3) Extending the southern boundary of the MWEPA in Arizona and New 
Mexico to the United States-Mexico international border;
    (4) Discontinuing the use of the ``Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area'' 
designation within the MWEPA, including its divisions of primary and 
secondary recovery zones;
    (5) Establishing three management zones within the MWEPA defined as 
``Zone 1,'' ``Zone 2,'' and ``Zone 3,'' each with specific provisions 
for Mexican wolf occupancy, initial releases, and translocations;
    (6) Adopting a phased management approach for up to 12 years to 
minimize or avoid impacts to wild ungulate populations in western 
Arizona;
    (7) Authorizing removal of Mexican wolves identified as coming from 
the experimental population that disperse to establish territories 
outside of the MWEPA in a revised section 10(a)(1)(A) research and 
recovery permit;
    (8) Providing revised and additional provisions for take of Mexican 
wolves under certain circumstances to protect livestock and non-feral 
dogs, or as needed to manage wild ungulate populations (particularly 
elk and deer); and
    (9) Providing for the development of management actions on tribal 
trust land or on private land in management Zones 1 and 2.
    On March 31, 2018, the District Court of Arizona remanded the 2015 
final rule to the Service based on the Court's finding that the 2015 
final rule failed to further the long-term conservation and recovery of 
the Mexican wolf and that the essentiality determination was arbitrary 
and capricious (Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, No. 4:15-cv-
00019-JGZ (D. Ariz.) (March 31, 2018, Order)). The Service is under a 
court-ordered deadline to address the remanded issues in a new revised 
rule by May 1, 2021. The 2015 final rule remains in place until we 
finalize the new revised rule.
    In the interim between the 2015 final rule and the March 31, 2018, 
Order, the Service finalized the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, First 
Revision (2017). The revised recovery plan, which updates the original 
1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, provides objective and measurable 
recovery criteria for the Mexican wolf, as well as management actions 
and time and cost estimates to achieve recovery, pursuant to section 
4(f) of the Act. The recovery criteria focus on achieving specific 
population sizes, growth rate trends, and genetic diversity in the 
MWEPA and a second population in Mexico, as well as ensuring regulatory 
mechanisms are in place for both populations to address human-caused 
mortality of Mexican wolves. The recovery plan serves as our roadmap 
for the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. It is 
available at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2017-
0036 under Supporting Documents.

Information Requested

    We are currently seeking comments or suggestions from the public, 
governmental agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or 
any other interested parties concerning specific provisions of the 2015 
final rule identified by the District Court of Arizona in the March 31, 
2018, Order. We will revise the 2015 final rule only

[[Page 20969]]

to the extent necessary to address the Court's ruling; no additional 
provisions of the rule are subject to revision. To the extent possible, 
and as described below, we will address the remanded issues by aligning 
the new revised rule with the revised recovery plan, which provides an 
overarching strategy for the long-term conservation and recovery of the 
Mexican wolf. We will analyze any new proposed rule revisions in a 
supplemental EIS to the 2014 EIS.
    Due to the focus of the remand, we are seeking input from the 
public only on a narrow range of topics, as follows:
    (1) We will make a new essentiality determination for the 
experimental population of Mexican wolves in the MWEPA under section 
10(j) of the Act. We are interested in feedback from the public and our 
partners on the benefits or potential impacts to the Mexican wolf or 
the public and our partners of an ``essential'' versus ``nonessential'' 
designation.
    (2) We intend to align the population objective and release 
recommendations in the new revised rule with the recovery criteria in 
the revised recovery plan for the MWEPA to ensure the new revised rule 
supports the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf. 
We are interested in feedback from the public and our partners on any 
information or data available since we finalized the revised recovery 
plan in 2017 pertinent to establishing a population objective or 
release recommendations for the MWEPA. We are also interested in any 
other considerations related to the relationship between the population 
objective and release recommendations for the MWEPA and the long-term 
conservation and recovery of the Mexican wolf.
    (3) We intend to ensure the new revised rule supports population-
level genetic health for the Mexican wolf in the MWEPA as a key 
component of the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican 
wolf. We will ensure our management provisions facilitate our ability 
to achieve the genetic recovery criterion for the MWEPA, which serves 
as our long-term conservation and recovery target. The genetic 
criterion in the revised recovery plan for the MWEPA states that we 
will release a sufficient number of captive Mexican wolves to result in 
22 released Mexican wolves surviving to breeding age in the MWEPA 
(USFWS 2017a, pp. 18-19). As explained in the revised recovery plan 
(USFWS 2017a, pp. 9, 13) and the supporting Biological Report for the 
Mexican Wolf (USFWS 2017b, pp. 27-29, 33-34, and 36-38), the genetic 
criterion ensures that the threat of continuing or accelerated loss of 
genetic diversity of Mexican wolves in the wild is adequately 
alleviated. Both of these documents are available online at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2017-0036 under Supporting 
Documents.
    In the 2015 final rule, we expanded several allowable forms of take 
of Mexican wolves from the 1998 rule after analyzing their effects in 
the 2014 EIS and determining a significant beneficial effect for the 
Mexican wolf (USFWS 2014, pg. ES-18). In the District Court of 
Arizona's March 31, 2018, Order, the judge stated that, after the 
Service identified loss of genetic diversity as a primary threat to the 
Mexican wolf, ``. . . the expanded take provisions lack protections for 
the loss of genetic diversity (Center for Biological Diversity v. 
Jewell, No. 4:15-cv-00019-JGZ (D. Ariz.), pg. 29).'' In response to the 
ruling, we will assess the effects of three of the expanded take 
provisions on the long-term conservation and recovery of the Mexican 
wolf, in particular as they relate to our ability to achieve the 
genetic criterion in the revised recovery plan. The take provisions we 
will evaluate include: Take on non-Federal lands in conjunction with a 
removal action (50 CFR 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(C)); take on Federal land (Sec.  
17.84(k)(7)(v)(A)); and take in response to unacceptable impacts to a 
wild ungulate herd (Sec.  17.84(k)(7)(vi)). Lethal control will remain 
an allowable form of take under these three provisions.
    For clarity, we are not assessing or considering modification to 
the allowable take of Mexican wolves by livestock guarding dogs on 
Federal or non-Federal land as specified in the 2015 final rule (Sec.  
17.84(k)(7)(iv)(B) and Sec.  17.84(k)(7)(v)(B), respectively), or take, 
including killing, on non-Federal land by a domestic animal owner or 
that person's agent of any Mexican wolf that is in the act of biting, 
killing, or wounding a domestic animal (Sec.  17.84(k)(7)(iv)(A)). 
Finally, take in defense of human life as specified in the 2015 final 
rule (Sec.  17.84(k)(7)(i)) would remain an allowable form of take, 
including the potential for lethal take of a Mexican wolf.
    We are interested in feedback from the public and our partners on 
the impact of take on non-Federal lands in conjunction with a removal 
action (50 CFR 17.84(k)(7)(iv)(C)), take on Federal land (Sec.  
17.84(k)(7)(v)(A)), and take in response to unacceptable impacts to a 
wild ungulate herd on the genetic health of the experimental population 
in the MWEPA in the context of long-term conservation and recovery of 
the Mexican wolf. We are also interested in feedback on the social or 
economic benefits or impacts of modifying any of these three allowable 
forms of take of Mexican wolves to the public or our partners, as well 
as other recommendations to protect the genetic health of the 
experimental population in the MWEPA and achieve the genetic recovery 
criterion.
    (4) We intend to produce a draft and final supplemental EIS to the 
2014 EIS that includes updated data, information, and analyses 
pertinent to any of the revisions under consideration in the new 
revised rule. Specifically, we intend to modify the Purpose and Need of 
the 2014 EIS only as necessary to explain the role of the MWEPA in the 
recovery of the Mexican wolf, based on the revised recovery plan. We 
intend to evaluate and revise specific features of two alternatives 
from the 2014 EIS, as follows: In Alternative One (Proposed Action and 
Preferred Alternative), we will revise the population objective and 
release recommendations, and may revise any of the three forms of 
allowable take discussed above. In Alternative Two, we may revise any 
of the three forms of allowable take discussed above, consistent with 
revisions made in Alternative One. We do not intend to revise any of 
the components of Alternatives Three or Four from the 2014 EIS, and we 
do not intend to consider any new alternatives in the supplemental EIS 
that were not included in the 2014 EIS.
    As necessary and based on information availability, we will provide 
updated data in the supplemental EIS at the relevant State or county 
level for Arizona and New Mexico to analyze the environmental 
consequences (i.e., effects or impacts) of our revisions on the land 
use, biological resources, economic activity, health and human safety, 
and environmental justice in the project area. Updated data may 
include:
     Changes in land use such as significant shifts in land 
ownership, management, or special use;
     Human population census data, including information on 
low-income populations, racial minorities, and Indian tribes;
     The number of permitted and authorized Animal Unit Months 
in National Forests (An Animal Unit Month, or AUM, is a measure of the 
amount of forage required to sustain one cow, either dry or with calf 
at side up to 6 months of age, for 1 month);
     An inventory of cattle and calves, including the number of 
cattle and calf operations, cattle sales (including calves), and herd 
sizes;
     Sheep and lamb inventory;

[[Page 20970]]

     Big game hunting data, including the number of license 
holders and applicants, days spent hunting and average hunter financial 
expenditures, and total number of hunters, harvest, and success ratio 
for elk and deer;
     Incidences of human-wolf encounters; and
     Parasite or disease events related to Mexican wolves.
Therefore, we are requesting any new information from the public or our 
partners available since the publication of the 2014 EIS and 2015 final 
rule (80 FR 2487, January 16, 2015) related to these topics that is not 
readily available on Federal, State, tribal, or county websites.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the items under consideration, without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered. 
Similarly, issues raised that are outside of the scope of items under 
consideration will not be considered in making a determination. Please 
consider the following when preparing your comments:
     Be as succinct as possible.
     Organize comments beginning with general comments and then 
move on to specific issues.
     Be specific. Comments supported by logic, rationale, and 
citations are more useful than opinions.
     State suggestions and recommendations clearly with an 
expectation of what you would like the Service to do.
     If you provide alternate interpretations of science from 
the revised recovery plan or other cited Service document, please 
support your analysis with appropriate citations.
     If possible, coordinate your comments with other like-
minded individuals and organizations. This can strengthen the comment 
and help us understand the depth of concern.

References and Availability of Documents for Review

    We will post information pertinent to NEPA planning on our Mexican 
Wolf Recovery Program website, http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/NEPA. The references cited in this notice are also 
available at that website.

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the 
Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior 
Regions 7 and 8.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, phone 
number, email address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--including 
your personal identifying information--may be made publicly available 
at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold 
your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their 
entirety.

Authority

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

Amy Lueders,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2020-07715 Filed 4-14-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P