Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 56 Species in California and Nevada
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the initiation of a 5-year review of 56 species under section 4(c)(2)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (Act). The purpose of a 5-year review is to ensure that the classification of a species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is accurate and based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. We are requesting submission of any such information that has become available since the original listing of each of these 56 species. Based on the results of these 5-year reviews, we will make the requisite findings under section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act.
Marine Mammals; Incidental Take During Specified Activities
The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes regulations that would authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walrus during year-round oil and gas industry (Industry) exploration, development, and production operations in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska. Industry operations for the covered period are similar to, and include all activities covered by the previous 16-month Beaufort Sea incidental take regulations that were effective from November 28, 2003, through March 28, 2005 (68 FR 66744; November 28, 2003). We are proposing that this rule be effective for 5 years from date of issuance. We propose a finding that the total expected takings of polar bear and Pacific walrus during oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities will have a negligible impact on these species and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of these species for subsistence use by Alaska Natives. We base this finding on the results of 12 years of data on the encounters and interactions between polar bears, Pacific walrus, and Industry; recent studies of potential effects of Industry on these species; and oil spill risk assessments using oil spill trajectory models, polar bear density models, potential and documented Industry impacts on these species, and models to determine the likelihood of impacts to polar bears should an accidental oil release occur. We are seeking public comments on this proposed rule.