About the Document:
Title: Designating the Northern Rocky Mountain Population (NRM) of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment and Removing this Distinct Population Segment from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
Estimated Peer Review Timeline:
Draft document disseminated: February 8, 2007
Peer review initiated: February 2007
Peer review to be completed by: April 9, 2007 (or the close of the comment period)
Document to be finalized: Late 2007 or early 2008
About the Peer Review Process:
In accordance with our July 1, 1994 peer review policy (59 FR 34270), we intend to solicit independent scientific reviews of the information contained in our February 8, 2007 proposal to designate the NRM population of gray wolves as a DPS and remove this DPS from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (71 FR 6106). This review will occur concurrently with the public comment period for the proposed action. This review will also satisfy the peer review requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.
On January 15, 2006, solicitations were sent to State, Federal, and Tribal wildlife agencies seeking nominations of potential peer reviewers. We requested that these groups consider the following criteria for any potential nomination.
- Expertise: The reviewers should have knowledge, experience, and skills in one or more of the following areas: Gray wolf or similar species biology; conservation biology; small population dynamics and extinction risk analysis; disease; land development and use, predation, and other environmental pressures within the range of these species; land planning and management; modeling; and/or evaluation of biological plausibility.
- Independence: The reviewers should not be employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Academic and consulting scientists should have sufficient independence from the Service if the government supports their work.
- Objectivity: The reviewers should be recognized by his or her peers as being objective, open-minded, and thoughtful. In addition, the reviewer should be comfortable sharing his or her knowledge and perspectives and openly identifying his or her knowledge gaps.
- Advocacy: The reviewers should not be known or recognized for an affiliation with an advocacy position regarding the protection of this species under the Endangered Species Act.
- Conflict of Interest: The reviewers should not have any financial or other interest that could impair his or her objectivity or create an unfair competitive advantage. If an otherwise qualified reviewer has an unavoidable conflict of interest, the Service may publicly disclose the conflict.
Nominations were requested in January 2007. While expertise is the primary consideration, the Service will select peer reviewers (considering, but not limited to, these nominations) that add to a diversity of scientific perspectives relevant to the species. Under certain circumstances some conflict may be unavoidable in order to obtain the necessary expertise. If such a situation arises, we will disclose these real or perceived conflicts in the administrative record for the decision and the agency shall inform potential reviewers of this likely disclosure at the time they are recruited. We will send the necessary materials to seven qualified experts in February 2007. Responses will be requested by the end of the comment period.
The Service will provide each peer reviewer with information explaining his or her role and instructions for fulfilling that role, the proposed rule, a full list of citations noting whether the source has been peer reviewed, and all citations (or for some longer documents, the relevant pages of the document) in electronic format on a CD. The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the Service’s decision is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by recognized experts are incorporated into the final document. Peer reviewers will be asked not to provide advice on policy. Instead, the charge to the reviewers will be to review the science relevant to our decision and our use of said science, focusing their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties. Additionally, peer reviewers will be asked to consider the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts:
1. Is our description and analysis of the biology, habitat, population trends, historic and current distribution of the species accurate?
2. Does our document provide accurate and adequate review and analysis of the factors affecting the species?
3. Are our assumptions and definitions of suitable habitat logical and adequate?
4. Are there any significant oversights, omissions or inconsistencies in the proposed rule?
5. Are our conclusions logical and supported by the evidence we provide?
6. Did we include all necessary and pertinent literature to support our assumptions and conclusions?
Peer reviewers will provide individual, written responses to the Service. Peer reviews will volunteer their time, but will be provided with a subsistence stipend (with the exception of those that work for the Department of the Interior). Reviewers will be advised that their reviews, including their names and affiliations, will (1) be included in the official record for this review, and (2), once all the reviews are completed, they will be available to the public upon request. We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the peer reviewers in the record supporting our determination.
About Public Participation:
The peer review process will be initiated shortly. The public may comment on the approach of this peer review through the normal comment process associated with the proposed rule. Public comments are scheduled to be accepted until April 9, 2007. If you wish to comment, you may submit comments and materials concerning this proposal, identified by “RIN number 1018-AU53,” by any of the following methods:
1. Federal e-Rulemaking Portal--http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
3. Mail--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, Montana 59601.
4. Hand Delivery/Courier--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, Montana 59601.
The public also had 60-days to provide input on a very similar proposal following the publication our February 2, 2006 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (71 FR 6634).
For more information, contact Ed
Bangs, the Western Gray Wolf Recovery
at (406) 449 5225, extension 204.