Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Findings for Three Species, 7079-7083 [2022-02545]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 26 / Tuesday, February 8, 2022 / Proposed Rules located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in portions of the species’ range in Arizona have not indicated substantial declines or extirpations. Habitat modeling indicates an estimated 49,222 square miles (127,484 square kilometers) of suitable Sonoran desert tortoise habitat occurs in Arizona and Sonora, with 24 percent of that considered high suitability. In Arizona, 29 percent of the species’ range is on publicly-owned lands managed specifically for the benefit of wildlife, including the Sonoran desert tortoise. Upon examining the current trends and a range of future scenarios, we expect that human development and climate change will have the greatest impact on the Sonoran desert tortoise’s viability due to its effects on habitat and survival rates. Urban expansion may result in the loss of Sonoran desert tortoise habitat, and adult survival rates have been shown to decrease in proximity to urban areas. Drought, a primary stressor shown to result in population crashes over abbreviated time frames, significantly reduces survival rates and may become more common and severe with climate change. The amount and distribution of habitat may also shift due to changes in precipitation and temperature patterns driven by climate change. In our species status assessment report, we modeled these effects to project Sonoran desert tortoise population trends into the future (USFWS 2021, pp. 59–71). Even with the projected effects of urban expansion and climate change, ample amounts of habitat capable of supporting Sonoran desert tortoises are expected to remain by the end of the century. Although declines in survival are anticipated near urban areas, we found these effects are not enough to significantly reduce viability of the species as a whole, and the affected areas only cover a relatively small portion of the species’ range (17 percent). Our modeling projects that future drought is expected to result in a negative growth rate by the end of century and likely declines in overall abundance. The magnitude of these declines varies depending on the assumptions of future environmental changes. However, our modeling indicates that the risk of quasiextinction by end of century is less than 1 percent regardless of the scenario. Due to high current estimated population sizes and a large area of suitable habitat, even with the projected declines, we anticipate the Sonoran desert tortoise will continue to occupy the majority of currently suitable habitat in sufficient numbers such that the species maintains viability. After evaluating the best VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:47 Feb 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 available scientific and commercial information on potential threats acting individually or in combination, we find that Sonoran desert tortoise populations are expected to maintain resiliency, redundancy, and representation in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of the species’ range. Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information regarding the past, present, and future threats to the species indicates that the Sonoran desert tortoise is not in danger of extinction nor likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range and does not meet the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species under the Act. Therefore, we find that listing the Sonoran desert tortoise as an endangered or threatened species under the Act is not warranted at this time. A detailed discussion of the basis for this finding can be found in the Sonoran desert tortoise species assessment form, which outlines in more detail the rationale for our decision, and the revised species status assessment report (USFWS 2021, entire), and other supporting documents (see ADDRESSES, above), which capture the scientific information upon which our decision was based. New Information We request that you submit any new information concerning the taxonomy of, biology of, ecology of, status of, or stressors to the Sonoran desert tortoise to the person listed above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, whenever it becomes available. New information will help us monitor this species and make appropriate decisions about its conservation and status. We encourage local agencies and stakeholders to continue cooperative monitoring and conservation efforts. References Cited A list of the references cited in this document is available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2021–0153 in the species assessment form, or upon request from the person listed above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Authors The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the Species Assessment Team, Ecological Services Program. Authority The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 7079 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2022–02422 Filed 2–7–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [FF09E21000 FXES1111090FEDR 223] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Findings for Three Species Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notification of petition findings and initiation of status reviews. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 90day findings on three petitions to add species to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petitions to list the thickleaf bladderpod (Physaria pachyphylla) and variable cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus variabilis) present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this document, we announce that we are initiating status reviews of these species to determine whether the petitioned actions are warranted. To ensure that the status reviews are comprehensive, we request scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the species and factors that may affect their status. Based on the status reviews, we will issue 12-month petition findings, which will address whether or not the petitioned actions are warranted, in accordance with the Act. We further find that the petition to recognize the Texas population of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) as a distinct population segment (DPS) and to list that DPS does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, we are not initiating a status review of the Texas ocelot population. DATES: These findings were made on February 8, 2022. As we commence our status reviews, we seek any new information concerning the status of, or SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08FEP1.SGM 08FEP1 7080 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 26 / Tuesday, February 8, 2022 / Proposed Rules threats to, the thick-leaf bladderpod or variable cuckoo bumble bee, or their habitats. Any information we receive during the course of our status reviews will be considered. ADDRESSES: Supporting documents: Summaries of the basis for the petition findings contained in this document are available on https:// www.regulations.gov under the appropriate docket number (see tables under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). In addition, this supporting information is available by contacting the appropriate person, as specified in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Status reviews: If you have new scientific or commercial data or other information concerning the status of, or threats to, the thick-leaf bladderpod or variable cuckoo bumble bee, or their habitats, please provide those data or information by one of the following methods: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the appropriate docket number (see Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). Then, click on the ‘‘Search’’ button. After finding the correct document, you may submit information by clicking on ‘‘Comment.’’ If your information will fit in the provided comment box, please use this feature of https://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our information review procedures. If you attach your information as a separate document, our preferred file format is Species common name Variable cuckoo bumble bee ................ Texas population of ocelot ................... Ben Conard, Deputy Project Leader, Montana Ecological Services Field Office, 406–758–6882, Ben_ Conard@fws.gov. Louise Clemency, Field Supervisor, Chicago Ecological Services Field Office, 312–485–9337, Louise_ Clemency@fws.gov. Hilary Swarts, Wildlife Biologist, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, 956–748–3607, Hilary_ Swarts@fws.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Background Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists or List) in 50 CFR part 17. Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on whether a petition to add a species to the List (i.e., ‘‘list’’ a species), remove a species from the List (i.e., ‘‘delist’’ a species), or change a listed species’ status from endangered to threatened or from threatened to endangered (i.e., ‘‘reclassify’’ a species) presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition and publish the finding promptly in the Federal Register. Our regulations establish that substantial scientific or commercial information with regard to a 90-day petition finding refers to credible scientific or commercial information in 15:47 Feb 07, 2022 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact person Thick-leaf bladderpod ........................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [Insert appropriate docket number; see Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION], U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. We request that you send information only by the methods described above. We will post all information we receive on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Information Submitted for a Status Review, below). Jkt 256001 support of the petition’s claims such that a reasonable person conducting an impartial scientific review would conclude that the action proposed in the petition may be warranted (50 CFR 424.14(h)(1)(i)). A species may be determined to be an endangered species or a threatened species because of one or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1)). The five factors are: (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range (Factor A); (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes (Factor B); (c) Disease or predation (Factor C); (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D); and (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence (Factor E). These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species’ continued existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative effects or may have positive effects. PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 We use the term ‘‘threat’’ to refer in general to actions or conditions that are known to, or are reasonably likely to, affect individuals of a species negatively. The term ‘‘threat’’ includes actions or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ‘‘threat’’ may encompass—either together or separately—the source of the action or condition, or the action or condition itself. However, the mere identification of any threat(s) may not be sufficient to compel a finding that the information in the petition is substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. The information presented in the petition must include evidence sufficient to suggest that these threats may be affecting the species to the point that the species may meet the definition of an endangered species or threatened species under the Act. If we find that a petition presents such information, our subsequent status review will evaluate all identified threats by considering the individual-, population-, and species-level effects and the expected response by the species. We will evaluate individual threats and their expected effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative E:\FR\FM\08FEP1.SGM 08FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 26 / Tuesday, February 8, 2022 / Proposed Rules effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that are expected to have positive effects on the species— such as any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts that may ameliorate threats. It is only after conducting this cumulative analysis of threats and the actions that may ameliorate them, and the expected effect on the species now and in the foreseeable future, that we can determine whether the species meets the definition of an endangered species or threatened species under the Act. If we find that a petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted, the Act requires that we promptly commence a review of the status of the species, and we will subsequently complete a status review in accordance with our prioritization methodology for 12-month findings (81 FR 49248; July 27, 2016). We note that designating critical habitat is not a petitionable action under the Act. Petitions to designate critical habitat (for species without existing critical habitat) are reviewed under the Administrative Procedure Act and are not addressed in this finding (see 50 7081 CFR 424.14(j)). To the maximum extent prudent and determinable, any proposed critical habitat will be addressed concurrently with a proposed rule to list a species, if applicable. Summaries of Petition Findings The petition findings contained in this document are listed in the tables below, and the basis for each finding, along with supporting information, is available on https:// www.regulations.gov under the appropriate docket number. TABLE 1—STATUS REVIEWS Common name Docket No. URL to Docket on https://www.regulations.gov Thick-leaf bladderpod ........................................ Variable cuckoo bumble bee ............................. FWS–R6–ES–2021–0117 ....... FWS–R3–ES–2021–0118 ....... https://www.regulations.gov/docket/FWS-R6-ES-2021-0117. https://www.regulations.gov/docket/FWS-R3-ES-2021-0118. TABLE 2—NOT-SUBSTANTIAL PETITION FINDING Common name Docket No. Texas population of ocelot ................................. FWS–R2–ES–2021–0119 ....... Evaluation of a Petition To List the Thick-Leaf Bladderpod Species and Range Thick-leaf bladderpod (Physaria pachyphylla); Montana and Wyoming. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Petition History On March 11, 2021, we received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, Montana Native Plant Society, and Pryors Coalition, requesting that the thick-leaf bladderpod be listed as an endangered species or a threatened species and critical habitat be designated for this species under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information for the petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(c). This finding addresses the petition. Evaluation of Information The petitioners state that a gypsum exploration project is proposed in the Pryor Foothills Research Natural Area (RNA)/Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) within the largest documented subpopulation of the thickleaf bladderpod. If the proposed exploration project occurs, these activities may result in unavoidable impacts to thick-leaf bladderpod populations through habitat loss and modification, invasive species introduction, and direct mortality, and upgrades to access roads in the project area will have potential impacts to VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:47 Feb 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 URL to Docket on https://www.regulations.gov https://www.regulations.gov/docket/FWS-R2-ES-2021-0119. thick-leaf bladderpod individuals and habitat. In 2015, the Pryor Foothills RNA/ACEC was recommended for withdrawal from all locatable mineral entry; however, the withdrawal has not occurred. If the proposed exploration finds marketable gypsum, then further gypsum mining is foreseeable. The proposed project is currently under review by the Bureau of Land Management. Finding We reviewed the petition, sources cited in the petition, and other readily available information. Based on our review of the petition and readily available information regarding gypsum mining exploration (Factor A), we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the thick-leaf bladderpod as an endangered or threatened species may be warranted. The petitioners also presented information suggesting off-road vehicle use may be a threat to the thick-leaf bladderpod. We will fully evaluate ORV use and other potential threats during our 12-month status review, pursuant to the Act’s requirement to review the best available scientific information when making that finding. The basis for our finding on this petition and other information regarding our review of the petition can be found as an appendix at https:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 FWS–R6–ES–2021–0117 under the Supporting Documents section. Evaluation of a Petition To List Variable Cuckoo Bumble Bee Species and Range Variable cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus variabilis); Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia; Canada (Ontario); and Mexico. Petition History On May 17, 2021, we received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity requesting that the variable cuckoo bumble bee be listed as an endangered species and critical habitat be designated for this species under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information for the petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(c). This finding addresses the petition. Evaluation of Information The petitioner provided credible information indicating potential threats to the variable cuckoo bumble bee E:\FR\FM\08FEP1.SGM 08FEP1 7082 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 26 / Tuesday, February 8, 2022 / Proposed Rules within multiple populations across its range due to the loss of the host species, the American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus), which supports the feeding and nesting of variable cuckoo bumble bees (Factor E). The petitioner also provided credible information that the existing regulatory mechanisms may be inadequate to address these potential threats (Factor D). Finding We reviewed the petition and sources cited in the petition. We considered the factors under section 4(a)(1) and assessed the effect that the threats identified within the factors—as may be ameliorated or exacerbated by any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts—may have on the species now and in the foreseeable future. Based on our review of the petition regarding the loss of the host species (Factor E), we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the variable cuckoo bumble bee as an endangered or threatened species may be warranted. The petitioner also presented information suggesting habitat destruction from agricultural intensification, livestock grazing, and pesticide use; pathogen spillover; loss of genetic diversity; and climate change may be threats to the variable cuckoo bumble bee. We will fully evaluate these potential threats during our 12-month status review, pursuant to the Act’s requirement to review the best scientific and commercial information available when making that finding. The basis for our finding on this petition and other information regarding our review of the petition can be found as an appendix at https:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2021–0118 under the Supporting Documents section. Evaluation of a Petition To List the Texas Population of Ocelot khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Species and Range Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis); Texas, Arizona, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela. Petition History Ocelots have been listed as an endangered species rangewide under the Act since 1972 (37 FR 6476; March 30, 1972), which includes where they are found in Arizona and Texas (47 FR VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:47 Feb 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 Evaluation of Information We evaluated information provided in the petition to determine if the petition identified an entity that may be eligible for listing as a DPS under the Service’s Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act (DPS policy) (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). Our evaluation concluded that the petition did not provide substantial information that the Texas population of ocelots may meet the significance criteria of our DPS policy. Therefore, we did not further evaluate whether the petition presents substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. petition. We find that the ecological setting in which Texas ocelots occur is not unique and, therefore, Texas ocelots do not persist in a unique ecological setting compared to the rest of the taxon. In addition, we find that the loss of the Texas ocelot populations would not represent a significant gap in the species’ range. Thus, after reviewing the information presented in the petition, we determined that the petition does not present substantial information indicating that the ocelot population in Texas may meet the significance element to be a Distinct Population Segment. Because the petition does not present substantial information indicating that the Texas ocelot population meets the standard of a DPS, we are not initiating a status review of this species in response to this petition. However, we ask that the public submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats to, this species or its habitat at any time (see appropriate contact under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above). The basis for our finding on this petition, and other information regarding our review of the petition, can be found as an appendix at https:// www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2021–0119 under the Supporting Documents section. Finding Based on our review of the petition and sources cited in the petition, we find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted for the ocelot. The petition from WildEarth Guardians requests designation of the ocelot populations in Texas as a DPS. Under the Service’s DPS policy, the elements for listing a DPS are that the population is both discrete and significant and meets the definition of an endangered species or threatened species (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). The petition presents substantial information that Texas ocelots may meet both elements of discreteness as defined by the DPS policy, due to (1) marked separation as evidenced by extensive development along the border and little to no genetic exchange between ocelots in Texas and Mexico and (2) differences in control of exploitation and regulatory mechanisms to protect the species between the United States and Mexico. However, the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information explicitly related to the significance of Texas ocelots relative to the taxon. Furthermore, information available in our files refutes the claims made in the Conclusion On the basis of our evaluation of the information presented in the petitions under sections 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we have determined that the petitions summarized above for the thick-leaf bladderpod and variable cuckoo bumble bee present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. We are, therefore, initiating status reviews of these species to determine whether the actions are warranted under the Act. At the conclusion of the status reviews, we will issue findings, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, as to whether the petitioned actions are not warranted, warranted, or warranted but precluded by pending proposals to determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened species. In addition, we have determined that the petition summarized above for the Texas population of ocelots does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned entity may qualify as a DPS. Therefore, it is not a listable entity under the Act. We are, therefore, not initiating a status review of this species in response to the petition. 31670; July 21, 1982). On March 30, 2021, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians dated February 2, 2021, requesting that the Texas population of ocelots be classified as a distinct population segment (DPS) and listed as an endangered species or a threatened species under the Act. The petition also requested designation of critical habitat for the Texas population of ocelots. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information for the petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(c). This finding addresses the petition. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\08FEP1.SGM 08FEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 26 / Tuesday, February 8, 2022 / Proposed Rules Authors Authority The primary authors of this document are staff members of the Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The authority for these actions is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2022–02545 Filed 2–7–22; 8:45 am] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 4333–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:47 Feb 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\08FEP1.SGM 08FEP1 7083

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 26 (Tuesday, February 8, 2022)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 7079-7083]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-02545]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FF09E21000 FXES1111090FEDR 223]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Findings 
for Three Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notification of petition findings and initiation of status 
reviews.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 90-
day findings on three petitions to add species to the Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find 
that the petitions to list the thick-leaf bladderpod (Physaria 
pachyphylla) and variable cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus variabilis) present 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned actions may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of 
this document, we announce that we are initiating status reviews of 
these species to determine whether the petitioned actions are 
warranted. To ensure that the status reviews are comprehensive, we 
request scientific and commercial data and other information regarding 
the species and factors that may affect their status. Based on the 
status reviews, we will issue 12-month petition findings, which will 
address whether or not the petitioned actions are warranted, in 
accordance with the Act. We further find that the petition to recognize 
the Texas population of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) as a distinct 
population segment (DPS) and to list that DPS does not present 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the 
petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, we are not initiating a 
status review of the Texas ocelot population.

DATES: These findings were made on February 8, 2022. As we commence our 
status reviews, we seek any new information concerning the status of, 
or

[[Page 7080]]

threats to, the thick-leaf bladderpod or variable cuckoo bumble bee, or 
their habitats. Any information we receive during the course of our 
status reviews will be considered.

ADDRESSES: 
    Supporting documents: Summaries of the basis for the petition 
findings contained in this document are available on https://www.regulations.gov under the appropriate docket number (see tables 
under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). In addition, this supporting 
information is available by contacting the appropriate person, as 
specified in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Status reviews: If you have new scientific or commercial data or 
other information concerning the status of, or threats to, the thick-
leaf bladderpod or variable cuckoo bumble bee, or their habitats, 
please provide those data or information by one of the following 
methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the appropriate docket 
number (see Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). Then, click on 
the ``Search'' button. After finding the correct document, you may 
submit information by clicking on ``Comment.'' If your information will 
fit in the provided comment box, please use this feature of https://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our information 
review procedures. If you attach your information as a separate 
document, our preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach 
multiple comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a 
spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: [Insert appropriate docket number; see Table 1 under 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION], U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 
5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send information only by the methods described 
above. We will post all information we receive on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see Information Submitted for a 
Status Review, below).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 

------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Species common name                     Contact person
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thick-leaf bladderpod........  Ben Conard, Deputy Project Leader,
                                Montana Ecological Services Field
                                Office, 406-758-6882,
                                [email protected].
Variable cuckoo bumble bee...  Louise Clemency, Field Supervisor,
                                Chicago Ecological Services Field
                                Office, 312-485-9337,
                                [email protected].
Texas population of ocelot...  Hilary Swarts, Wildlife Biologist, Laguna
                                Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, 956-
                                748-3607, [email protected].
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for adding species to, removing species 
from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists or List) in 50 CFR part 17. 
Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to add a species to the List (i.e., ``list'' a 
species), remove a species from the List (i.e., ``delist'' a species), 
or change a listed species' status from endangered to threatened or 
from threatened to endangered (i.e., ``reclassify'' a species) presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. To the maximum extent practicable, 
we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the 
petition and publish the finding promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our regulations establish that substantial scientific or commercial 
information with regard to a 90-day petition finding refers to credible 
scientific or commercial information in support of the petition's 
claims such that a reasonable person conducting an impartial scientific 
review would conclude that the action proposed in the petition may be 
warranted (50 CFR 424.14(h)(1)(i)).
    A species may be determined to be an endangered species or a 
threatened species because of one or more of the five factors described 
in section 4(a)(1) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1)). The five factors 
are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range (Factor A);
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes (Factor B);
    (c) Disease or predation (Factor C);
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D); 
and
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence (Factor E).
    These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused 
actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species' continued 
existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for 
those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as 
well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative 
effects or may have positive effects.
    We use the term ``threat'' to refer in general to actions or 
conditions that are known to, or are reasonably likely to, affect 
individuals of a species negatively. The term ``threat'' includes 
actions or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct 
impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration 
of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ``threat'' 
may encompass--either together or separately--the source of the action 
or condition, or the action or condition itself. However, the mere 
identification of any threat(s) may not be sufficient to compel a 
finding that the information in the petition is substantial information 
indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. The information 
presented in the petition must include evidence sufficient to suggest 
that these threats may be affecting the species to the point that the 
species may meet the definition of an endangered species or threatened 
species under the Act.
    If we find that a petition presents such information, our 
subsequent status review will evaluate all identified threats by 
considering the individual-, population-, and species-level effects and 
the expected response by the species. We will evaluate individual 
threats and their expected effects on the species, then analyze the 
cumulative effect of the threats on the species as a whole. We also 
consider the cumulative

[[Page 7081]]

effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that are 
expected to have positive effects on the species--such as any existing 
regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts that may ameliorate 
threats. It is only after conducting this cumulative analysis of 
threats and the actions that may ameliorate them, and the expected 
effect on the species now and in the foreseeable future, that we can 
determine whether the species meets the definition of an endangered 
species or threatened species under the Act.
    If we find that a petition presents substantial scientific or 
commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be 
warranted, the Act requires that we promptly commence a review of the 
status of the species, and we will subsequently complete a status 
review in accordance with our prioritization methodology for 12-month 
findings (81 FR 49248; July 27, 2016).
    We note that designating critical habitat is not a petitionable 
action under the Act. Petitions to designate critical habitat (for 
species without existing critical habitat) are reviewed under the 
Administrative Procedure Act and are not addressed in this finding (see 
50 CFR 424.14(j)). To the maximum extent prudent and determinable, any 
proposed critical habitat will be addressed concurrently with a 
proposed rule to list a species, if applicable.

Summaries of Petition Findings

    The petition findings contained in this document are listed in the 
tables below, and the basis for each finding, along with supporting 
information, is available on https://www.regulations.gov under the 
appropriate docket number.

                         Table 1--Status Reviews
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      URL to Docket on
          Common name               Docket No.            https://
                                                    www.regulations.gov
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thick-leaf bladderpod.........  FWS-R6-ES-2021-01  https://
                                 17.                www.regulations.gov/
                                                    docket/FWS-R6-ES-
                                                    2021-0117.
Variable cuckoo bumble bee....  FWS-R3-ES-2021-01  https://
                                 18.                www.regulations.gov/
                                                    docket/FWS-R3-ES-
                                                    2021-0118.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                Table 2--Not-Substantial Petition Finding
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      URL to Docket on
          Common name               Docket No.            https://
                                                    www.regulations.gov
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Texas population of ocelot....  FWS-R2-ES-2021-01  https://
                                 19.                www.regulations.gov/
                                                    docket/FWS-R2-ES-
                                                    2021-0119.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Evaluation of a Petition To List the Thick-Leaf Bladderpod

Species and Range
    Thick-leaf bladderpod (Physaria pachyphylla); Montana and Wyoming.
Petition History
    On March 11, 2021, we received a petition from the Center for 
Biological Diversity, Montana Native Plant Society, and Pryors 
Coalition, requesting that the thick-leaf bladderpod be listed as an 
endangered species or a threatened species and critical habitat be 
designated for this species under the Act. The petition clearly 
identified itself as such and included the requisite identification 
information for the petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(c). This 
finding addresses the petition.
Evaluation of Information
    The petitioners state that a gypsum exploration project is proposed 
in the Pryor Foothills Research Natural Area (RNA)/Area of Critical 
Environmental Concern (ACEC) within the largest documented 
subpopulation of the thick-leaf bladderpod. If the proposed exploration 
project occurs, these activities may result in unavoidable impacts to 
thick-leaf bladderpod populations through habitat loss and 
modification, invasive species introduction, and direct mortality, and 
upgrades to access roads in the project area will have potential 
impacts to thick-leaf bladderpod individuals and habitat. In 2015, the 
Pryor Foothills RNA/ACEC was recommended for withdrawal from all 
locatable mineral entry; however, the withdrawal has not occurred. If 
the proposed exploration finds marketable gypsum, then further gypsum 
mining is foreseeable. The proposed project is currently under review 
by the Bureau of Land Management.
Finding
    We reviewed the petition, sources cited in the petition, and other 
readily available information. Based on our review of the petition and 
readily available information regarding gypsum mining exploration 
(Factor A), we find that the petition presents substantial scientific 
or commercial information indicating that listing the thick-leaf 
bladderpod as an endangered or threatened species may be warranted. The 
petitioners also presented information suggesting off-road vehicle use 
may be a threat to the thick-leaf bladderpod. We will fully evaluate 
ORV use and other potential threats during our 12-month status review, 
pursuant to the Act's requirement to review the best available 
scientific information when making that finding.
    The basis for our finding on this petition and other information 
regarding our review of the petition can be found as an appendix at 
https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2021-0117 under 
the Supporting Documents section.

Evaluation of a Petition To List Variable Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Species and Range
    Variable cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus variabilis); Alabama, Arizona, 
Arkansas, California, Delaware, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, 
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, 
Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New 
Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, 
South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West 
Virginia; Canada (Ontario); and Mexico.
Petition History
    On May 17, 2021, we received a petition from the Center for 
Biological Diversity requesting that the variable cuckoo bumble bee be 
listed as an endangered species and critical habitat be designated for 
this species under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as 
such and included the requisite identification information for the 
petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(c). This finding addresses the 
petition.
Evaluation of Information
    The petitioner provided credible information indicating potential 
threats to the variable cuckoo bumble bee

[[Page 7082]]

within multiple populations across its range due to the loss of the 
host species, the American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus), which 
supports the feeding and nesting of variable cuckoo bumble bees (Factor 
E). The petitioner also provided credible information that the existing 
regulatory mechanisms may be inadequate to address these potential 
threats (Factor D).
Finding
    We reviewed the petition and sources cited in the petition. We 
considered the factors under section 4(a)(1) and assessed the effect 
that the threats identified within the factors--as may be ameliorated 
or exacerbated by any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation 
efforts--may have on the species now and in the foreseeable future. 
Based on our review of the petition regarding the loss of the host 
species (Factor E), we find that the petition presents substantial 
scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the 
variable cuckoo bumble bee as an endangered or threatened species may 
be warranted. The petitioner also presented information suggesting 
habitat destruction from agricultural intensification, livestock 
grazing, and pesticide use; pathogen spillover; loss of genetic 
diversity; and climate change may be threats to the variable cuckoo 
bumble bee. We will fully evaluate these potential threats during our 
12-month status review, pursuant to the Act's requirement to review the 
best scientific and commercial information available when making that 
finding.
    The basis for our finding on this petition and other information 
regarding our review of the petition can be found as an appendix at 
https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2021-0118 under 
the Supporting Documents section.

Evaluation of a Petition To List the Texas Population of Ocelot

Species and Range
    Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis); Texas, Arizona, Argentina, Belize, 
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French 
Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, 
Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Petition History
    Ocelots have been listed as an endangered species rangewide under 
the Act since 1972 (37 FR 6476; March 30, 1972), which includes where 
they are found in Arizona and Texas (47 FR 31670; July 21, 1982). On 
March 30, 2021, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians dated 
February 2, 2021, requesting that the Texas population of ocelots be 
classified as a distinct population segment (DPS) and listed as an 
endangered species or a threatened species under the Act. The petition 
also requested designation of critical habitat for the Texas population 
of ocelots. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included 
the requisite identification information for the petitioner, required 
at 50 CFR 424.14(c). This finding addresses the petition.
Evaluation of Information
    We evaluated information provided in the petition to determine if 
the petition identified an entity that may be eligible for listing as a 
DPS under the Service's Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct 
Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act (DPS 
policy) (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). Our evaluation concluded that 
the petition did not provide substantial information that the Texas 
population of ocelots may meet the significance criteria of our DPS 
policy. Therefore, we did not further evaluate whether the petition 
presents substantial information indicating that the petitioned action 
may be warranted.
Finding
    Based on our review of the petition and sources cited in the 
petition, we find that the petition does not present substantial 
scientific or commercial information indicating the petitioned action 
may be warranted for the ocelot. The petition from WildEarth Guardians 
requests designation of the ocelot populations in Texas as a DPS. Under 
the Service's DPS policy, the elements for listing a DPS are that the 
population is both discrete and significant and meets the definition of 
an endangered species or threatened species (61 FR 4722; February 7, 
1996). The petition presents substantial information that Texas ocelots 
may meet both elements of discreteness as defined by the DPS policy, 
due to (1) marked separation as evidenced by extensive development 
along the border and little to no genetic exchange between ocelots in 
Texas and Mexico and (2) differences in control of exploitation and 
regulatory mechanisms to protect the species between the United States 
and Mexico. However, the petition does not present substantial 
scientific or commercial information explicitly related to the 
significance of Texas ocelots relative to the taxon. Furthermore, 
information available in our files refutes the claims made in the 
petition. We find that the ecological setting in which Texas ocelots 
occur is not unique and, therefore, Texas ocelots do not persist in a 
unique ecological setting compared to the rest of the taxon. In 
addition, we find that the loss of the Texas ocelot populations would 
not represent a significant gap in the species' range. Thus, after 
reviewing the information presented in the petition, we determined that 
the petition does not present substantial information indicating that 
the ocelot population in Texas may meet the significance element to be 
a Distinct Population Segment.
    Because the petition does not present substantial information 
indicating that the Texas ocelot population meets the standard of a 
DPS, we are not initiating a status review of this species in response 
to this petition. However, we ask that the public submit to us any new 
information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats 
to, this species or its habitat at any time (see appropriate contact 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above).
    The basis for our finding on this petition, and other information 
regarding our review of the petition, can be found as an appendix at 
https://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2021-0119 under 
the Supporting Documents section.

Conclusion

    On the basis of our evaluation of the information presented in the 
petitions under sections 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we have determined that 
the petitions summarized above for the thick-leaf bladderpod and 
variable cuckoo bumble bee present substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. We 
are, therefore, initiating status reviews of these species to determine 
whether the actions are warranted under the Act. At the conclusion of 
the status reviews, we will issue findings, in accordance with section 
4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, as to whether the petitioned actions are not 
warranted, warranted, or warranted but precluded by pending proposals 
to determine whether any species is an endangered species or a 
threatened species. In addition, we have determined that the petition 
summarized above for the Texas population of ocelots does not present 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned entity may qualify as a DPS. Therefore, it is not a listable 
entity under the Act. We are, therefore, not initiating a status review 
of this species in response to the petition.

[[Page 7083]]

Authors

    The primary authors of this document are staff members of the 
Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Authority

    The authority for these actions is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Martha Williams,
Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the 
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2022-02545 Filed 2-7-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P