Federal Register Final Rule
Reinstatement of Protections for the Gray Wolf in the Western Great Lakes in Compliance with Settlement Agreement and Court Order
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
[Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2009–0063]
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing this final rule to comply with a court order that has the effect of reinstating the regulatory protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the western Great Lakes. This rule corrects the gray wolf listing in our regulations which will reinstate the listing of gray wolves in all of Wisconsin and Michigan, the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota, the northern half of Iowa, the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana, and the northwestern portion of Ohio as endangered, and reinstate the listing of wolves in Minnesota as threatened. This rule also reinstates the former designated critical habitat for gray wolves in Minnesota and Michigan and special regulations for gray wolves in Minnesota.
DATES: This action is effective September 16, 2009.
ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. It will also be available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111. Call 612-713-5350 to make arrangements.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on wolves in the western Great Lakes, contact Laura Ragan, Regional Listing Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at our Fort Snelling, Minnesota, Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) or telephone 612-713-5350. Individuals who are hearing-impaired or speech-impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8337 for TTY assistance.
Information about the life history of the gray wolf and previous Federal actions can be found in our February 8, 2007 (72 FR 6052), final rule for the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (WGL DPS) of the gray wolf.
On June 15, 2009, five parties filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (Department) and the Service, challenging the Service’s April 2, 2009 (74 FR 15070), final rule for the WGL DPS. On July 1, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signed a stipulated settlement agreement and order (Humane Society of the United States v. Salazar, 1:09-CV-1092-PLF (D.D.C.)). In the settlement, the Service agrees to withdraw the 2009 final rule and, if we republish another rule, to open a minimum 60-day public comment period.
This rulemaking is necessary to comply with the July 1, 2009, settlement agreement and order. Therefore, under these circumstances, the Director has determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are impractical and unnecessary. The Director has further determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d), that the agency has good cause to make this rule effective upon publication.
Effects of the Rule
As of the filing of the respective court orders, any and all gray wolves in the western Great Lakes, except in Minnesota, are listed as an endangered species under the ESA. Any and all wolves in Minnesota are listed as a threatened species under the ESA. The reinstated regulations found at 50 CFR 17.95 designate critical habitat for gray wolves in Minnesota and Michigan, and the reinstated special regulations in 50 CFR 17.40(d) govern the regulation of gray wolves in Minnesota. The provisions of these regulations are the same as those in the regulations that were removed per our February 8, 2007, final delisting rule (72 FR 6052).
This means that wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, are hereby listed as endangered (50 CFR 17.11(h)). Wolves in Minnesota are listed as threatened (50 CFR 17.11(h)).
This rule will not affect the status of the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes under State laws or suspend any other legal protections provided by State law. This rule will not affect the gray wolf’s Appendix II status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Additionally, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, we are able to grant available funds to the States for management actions promoting the protection of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes.
List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.
Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the CFR, as set forth below:
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531–1544; 16 U.S.C. 4201–4245; Pub. L. 99–625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.
2. Amend § 17.11 by revising the entry in the table at paragraph (h) for “Wolf, gray” as follows: (see Table in PDF Version of the Final Rule).