Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region
PEER REVIEW

About the Document:

Title:  Proposed Revision of Special Regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area Nonessential experimental Populations of Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Estimated Peer Review Timeline:

Draft doucment published :  July 6, 2007

Peer review initiated: July 6, 2007

Peer review to be completed by:  August 6, 2007 (or the close of the comment period)

Document Finalized:  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 July 6, 2007 proposal (72 FR 36942) to revise the special regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area nonessential experimental populations of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (50 CFR 17.84).  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

We are seeking independent peer review to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which we will base our decision.  Peer review will help ensure that such information is the best scientific and commercial information available.  We will incorporate the reviews by recognized experts into the final decision document. 

On May 16, 2007, we requested State, Federal, and Tribal wildlife agency staff for their suggestions for potential peer reviewers.  We requested that these groups consider the following criteria.

  • Expertise:  The reviewers should have knowledge, experience, and skills in one or more of the following areas: Gray wolf impacts to ungulate populations, wolf/domestic animal conflicts, and potential effects to wolf populations and recovery from associated control.
  • 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.

On June 6, 2007, we requested State, Federal, and Tribal agencies to nominate peer reviewers from the compiled list of their suggestions.  While expertise is the primary consideration, the Service will select peer reviewers (considering, but not limited to, these nominations) who add to a diversity of scientific perspectives relevant to the species.  Under certain circumstances some conflict may be unavoidable when obtaining the necessary expertise.  If such a situation arises, we will disclose these real or perceived conflicts in the administrative record for the decision and we will inform potential reviewers of this likely disclosure at the time they are recruited. 

We will send the necessary materials to ten qualified experts on July 6, 2007 and request responses be submitted by the end of the comment period.  We will provide each peer reviewer with information explaining his or her role and instructions for fulfilling that role, the proposed rule, and a full list of citations.  Any peer reviewer can receive a copy of those citations in an electronic format on a CD by providing their postal mailing address. 

Peer reviewers will be asked not to provide advice on policy.  Instead, the reviewers will be charged to review the soundness of the science relevant to our decision.  They will also be asked to identify and characterize any scientific uncertainties.  Additionally, peer reviewers will be asked to consider the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts:

  1. Have we accurately characterized the potential impact of predation on wild ungulates, livestock, and domestic animals by wolves of the nonessential experimental populations in the northern Rocky Mountains?

  2. Have we adequately considered effectiveness of wolf control and its effects to a recovered wolf population?

  3. Are our assumptions logical and adequate regarding the numerical safety margin for conservation of a recovered wolf population in light of potential additional take?

  4. Are there any significant oversights, omissions or inconsistencies in the proposed revision of the special 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 reviewers will volunteer their time.  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.  Because this peer review will run concurrently with public review of the proposed rule, peer reviewers will not be provided public comments.

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 August 6, 2007.  If you wish to comment, you may submit comments and materials concerning this proposal, identified by “RIN number 1018-AV39,” by any of the following methods:

1.    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:  http://www.regulations.gov.  Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

2.    E-mail:  WolfRuleChange@fws.gov.  Include “RIN number 1018-AV39” in the subject line of the message.

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.

From March 9, 2004, the public also had 60 days to provide input on the proposal for the current Regulations for Nonessential Experimental Populations of the Western Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf, which is the special rule we are now proposing to modify.

Contact:

For more information, contact Ed Bangs, the Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, at (406) 449 5225, extension 204.

Last updated: May 18, 2011