[Federal Register: September 8, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 173)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 48743-48757]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE04

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Reclassification of Certain Vicuna Populations From Endangered to 
Threatened and a Proposed Special Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes to 
reclassify vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) populations of Argentina, Bolivia, 
Chile and Peru from endangered to threatened under the U.S. Endangered 
Species Act (Act or ESA). The recently re-introduced population of 
Ecuador, treated as a distinct population segment under the Act in 
accordance with the Service's Policy on Distinct Vertebrate Population 
Segments (61 FR 4722), will remain listed as endangered. The Service 
also proposes to establish a special rule (under Section 4(d) of the 
Act) allowing the importation into the United States of wool and legal 
vicuna products produced with wool from vicuna populations listed both 
as threatened under the Act and in Appendix II of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora 
(CITES), except that the Appendix II semi-captive populations of 
Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and San Juan Provinces in Argentina 
are specifically excluded from the special rule until such time as 
their conservation benefit for wild vicuna populations has been 
demonstrated adequately. It is proposed that importation into the 
United States of wool and legal vicuna products made from wool that 
originated from threatened and approved Appendix II populations will 
require valid CITES export permits from the country of origin and also 
the country of re-export, when applicable. Should the conservation or 
management status of threatened vicuna populations change in one or 
more range countries, the potential would remain to repeal the special 
rule or reclassify the population as endangered, should that become 
necessary for the conservation of the vicuna. The Service invites 
information and comments on this proposed rule. The analysis of the 
information and comments received could lead to a final decision that 
would differ substantially from this proposal.

DATES: Comments must be received by December 7, 1999. Public hearing 
requests must be received by October 25, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Comments and relevant information concerning this proposal 
should be sent to the Chief, Office of Scientific Authority; mail stop: 
Arlington Square, room 750, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Washington, 
DC 20240, or via E-mail to: r9osa@fws.gov. Comments and materials 
received will be available for public inspection by appointment, from 8 
a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, in Room 750, 4401 North Fairfax 
Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Susan S. Lieberman, Chief, Office 
of Scientific Authority, at the above address, or by phone (703-358-
1708), fax (703-358-2276), or E-mail (r9osa@fws.gov).



    The vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) was listed as endangered under the 
U.S. Endangered Species Act on June 2, 1970. Among other things, the 
effect of that listing was the prohibition of U.S. interstate or 
international commerce in vicuna products. All populations of the 
vicuna were included in Appendix I of the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on July 1, 
1975 (the date of entry into force of the CITES Convention), which 
thereby prohibited all primarily commercial, international trade in 
vicuna products. Certain populations of vicuna in Chile and Peru were 
subsequently transferred to CITES Appendix II at the sixth meeting of 
the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP6) in 1987. The remaining 
vicuna populations in Peru were transferred to Appendix II in 1994 at 
CITES COP9, and certain populations in Argentina and Bolivia were 
transferred to Appendix II in 1997 at CITES COP10. These transfers to 
Appendix II, reflecting improved conservation status for specified 
vicuna populations, allow the international trade under carefully 
controlled conditions, of products manufactured from vicuna wool. This 
international trade, however, is still excluded from the United States, 
because of the species' listing under the Endangered Species Act. The 
United States supported the CITES transfers of the populations to 
Appendix II, based on the information received at the aforementioned 
meetings of the Conference of the Parties, where the CITES Parties 
voted to adopt the proposed transfers to Appendix II. The information 
in the relevant CITES listing proposals is available on request from 
the Office of Scientific Authority (see ADDRESSES Section).
    We received a petition on October 5, 1995, from the President of 
the International Vicuna Consortium, requesting that the vicuna be 
removed from the U.S. list of endangered and threatened wildlife, or 
reclassified with a special rule that would allow for a commercial 
trade that would benefit the conservation of the species. The 
petitioners cited the following as reasons for the requested ACTION: 
(1) Improved management of vicuna populations, (2) improved enforcement 
and trade controls, and (3) recognition that regulated commerce could 
be beneficial to both rural communities that share landscapes with 
vicunas and the vicunas themselves. The petitioners provided limited 
supportive documentation.
    Our 90-day finding on whether the petition presents substantial 
scientific data is subsumed within this proposed rule, which finds 
that: (1) Reclassification of the vicuna from endangered to threatened 
is warranted for all range countries except Ecuador; and (2) that a 
special rule (also referred to as a 4(d) rule) is warranted for all 
Appendix II populations, with the exception of the Appendix II semi-
captive populations of Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and San Juan 

[[Page 48744]]

in Argentina, which are specifically excluded until such time as their 
conservation benefit for wild vicuna has been demonstrated adequately.
    We base this finding and the proposed rule on information provided 
in the submissions of the petitioner, other documents including those 
submitted in support of the aforementioned CITES listing proposals, and 
the Service's status review for the vicuna, which included interviews 
with knowledgeable personnel from the vicuna range states, responses to 
questions asked of each range country, and a 1997 on-site assessment of 
vicuna populations and management in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru 
by a contractor working for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 
(Dr. Henry L. Short, Amherst, Massachusetts). All personal 
communications and responses to questions asked of range countries 
cited in the text were received by Dr. Short, unless otherwise noted 
(see References Cited Section). The Service contracted with the 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 1997 to evaluate the 
conservation and management status of vicuna populations, and to make 
recommendations about the species' status, through a fact-finding 
mission to vicuna range countries.
    The vicuna produces a wool that is of very fine texture (about 12 
microns in diameter) that can be woven into luxury garments. Raw wool 
from vicuna has been legally auctioned at $500 per kg ($200 per lb) and 
an average vicuna fleece provides about 0.2 kg (0.5 lbs) of fiber. 
Individual vicuna in the high Andean plateaus of South America thus 
have a fleece that is worth many times that of a sheep and several 
times that of other species in the family Camelidae, such as alpacas 
and llamas. This high value, in a resource-poor area, can represent 
both a threat to the species and an opportunity if the species is 
managed sustainably. The threat comes from illegal hunting if 
protection and incentives for management are poor; the opportunity 
exists if proceeds from the sale of vicuna wool from live-shorn animals 
are substantially used to enhance the status of native people in the 
Andean uplands and to encourage them to conserve and protect vicuna.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4(a)(1) of the Act and regulations implementing the listing 
provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for 
adding species to, changing the status of any listed species, or 
deleting species from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife. A 
species shall be listed or reclassified if the Secretary determines, on 
the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available after 
conducting a review of the species' status, that the species is 
endangered or threatened because of any one or a combination of the 
following factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or human-made 
factors affecting its continued existence.
    We base this proposed rule on an assessment of the five listing 
factors within the Act. The assessment considers the present biological 
status of the vicuna within the range countries of Argentina, Bolivia, 
Chile and Peru. No assessment of the status of the species is made for 
the small population that has recently been reintroduced into Ecuador. 
That is a protected population, that will not be exploited in the 
foreseeable future. We do not propose to change that population's 
endangered classification under the Act.
    Some scientists recognize two subspecies of vicuna--V. v. mensalis 
in the northern portion of the range and V. v. vicugna to the south. 
These are putative subspecies in that they have been described on the 
basis of slight differences in size and color, and the lack of a 
prominent chest fringe in V. v. vicugna (Canedi and Pasini 1996), 
rather than on distinct, measured genetic differences between the two. 
Because the distribution of the vicuna is more or less continuous from 
north to south within its range, it is possible that these two 
subspecies simply represent the endpoints of a continuum of physical 
and genetic variation within the species from north to south. As a 
consequence, it would be very difficult to draw a definite boundary 
between the two subspecies for purposes of management or listing under 
the Act. Therefore, the subspecies are not differentiated in this rule 
and the term vicuna, used herein, refers to populations of both 
putative subspecies throughout their total range.

(A) The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    Approximately 190,000 vicuna are estimated to occur at varying 
densities on approximately 20,500,000 ha of Andean highlands extending 
in a rather narrow strip from central Peru through Bolivia, and into 
northwest Argentina (between 8-30 degrees South latitude). The 
historical range of the vicuna may have been twice the present 
distributional area. A small, disjunct, recently-reintroduced 
population also occurs in Ecuador.
    Vicuna habitats occur in both the Altoandina and Puna Ecoregions. 
The Altoandina Ecoregion comprises high Andean foothills, escarpments 
and outcroppings and the Puna Ecoregion represents areas of high plains 
or tablelands between mountain ranges. The habitats vary climatically 
on both attitudinal and latitudinal scales but are generally arid and 
cold, resulting in limited vegetation cover. The habitat of the vicuna 
in the high Andean plateau region varies from 3,200 to 4,800 m above 
sea level. This highland habitat has been somewhat degraded by humans 
and their domesticated livestock, but still represents an extensive 
habitat for vicuna. The low average density of 1 vicuna per 103 ha 
reflects the limited carrying capacity of the high Andean habitats as 
well as the fact that many vicuna habitats are understocked. National 
Reserves, National Parks, Protected Areas, or Provincial Reserves where 
vicuna are protected are scattered throughout vicuna habitat in each of 
the four countries considered in this proposed rule.
    Vicuna distribution in Argentina includes portions of the 
northwestern provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, and San 
Juan. Vicuna habitats in the Puna and Altoandina Ecoregions of 
Argentina cover a surface area of about 10,000,000 ha (Canedi 1997, 
pers. comm.). The area of available habitat has been reduced since the 
arrival of Europeans in South America, because the species is no longer 
present in the Patagonian regions of Argentina.
    Vicuna habitat in Argentina is bounded to the west by the volcanic 
chain of the Andean Cordillera in Chile, in the east by the eastern 
Cordillera and the Sierra Pampeanas mountains, in the north by 
contiguous vicuna habitat in Bolivia, and in the south, vicuna habitat 
extends into the Province of San Juan. The general area is 
characterized by blocks of uplifted mountains surrounding extensive 
valleys featuring alkaline or saline flats and a rolling topography. 
Aridity is a common and constant feature of the Puna. Many water 
courses are temporary but there are occasional areas of damp ground 
where surface water and green vegetation in the form of rushes, grasses 
and a variety of succulent plants occur. Much of the thin vegetation 
cover over most of the Puna consists of grasses and xerophilous half-
shrubs (Comision Regional de la Vicuna, 1994).

[[Page 48745]]

Temperatures are cold and frost can occur each day of the year. The 
carrying capacity of the humid Puna may be as much as two vicuna per ha 
but in the drier Puna habitats the carrying capacity may only be one 
vicuna per 30 ha.
    The Provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, and San Juan 
have created reserves and other protected areas for vicuna. In Jujuy 
Province, Los Pozuelos Reserve was created in 1980 and consists of 
308,000 ha. About 15,000 ha of this Reserve have been incorporated into 
the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program as a natural area of international 
significance. The vicuna population in the Reserve in 1997 was 
estimated to be 2,750 (CITES 1997a). The Olaroz-Cauchari Flora and 
Wildlife Reserve was created in 1981 to enhance vicuna populations and 
consists of 543,300 ha. The vicuna population in the Reserve in 1994 
was estimated to be 6,500 and growing (CITES 1997a). Other areas where 
vicuna are protected in Jujuy Province include Vilama (97,000 ha), 
Santa Victoria (54,600 ha), Palca de Aparzo (55,800 ha), Caballo Muerte 
(18,500 ha), Casa Colorado (31,000 ha), Abra de Zenta (69,000 ha) and 
Serranias del Chani (158,900 ha) (CITES 1997a; V. Lichtschein, 
Management Authority of Argentina, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, Office 
of Scientific Authority (OSA), 1999). These areas are not listed in the 
WCMC Protected Areas Database, so we are unclear as to their actual 
protective status (i.e., whether they are national, provincial, local 
or private protected areas). The high altitude experimental station 
(Campo Experimental de Altura or CEA) is located at Abra Pampa in Jujuy 
Province. This experimental station of 3,000 ha is dedicated to the 
development of appropriate management procedures to enhance fiber 
production of vicuna, assure the survival of the species, and to 
enhance the economic well-being of certain Puna ranchers. The human 
population is very low throughout the Reserves and protected areas of 
the Province.
    In Salta Province, the Los Andes Wildlife Reserve of 1,440,000 ha 
was created in 1980. The rigorous climate restricts the human 
population to very low densities. Agriculture does not exist in this 
area and the ranching of cattle, sheep, goats and llamas is 
rudimentary. Although the carrying capacity for vicuna in the Reserve 
is estimated to be one individual per 30 ha, a partial census in 1993 
counted only 2,000 vicuna (CITES 1997a). In Catamarca Province, the 
Laguna Blanca Wildlife Reserve was created in 1979 and enlarged in 1982 
to 973,270 ha at which time it became recognized by the UNESCO Man and 
Biosphere program as a natural area of international significance. The 
human population is very sparse and scattered in the general area of 
the Reserve. The 1993 vicuna population in Laguna Blanca Reserve was 
estimated to be 3,505 (CITES 1997a). In La Rioja Province, the Laguna 
Brava Reserve for Vicunas and the Protection of Ecosystems was created 
in 1980 and consists of 405,000 ha. Human habitations do not exist in 
the Reserve, which is contiguous with the San Guillermo Faunal Reserve 
in San Juan Province. The 1996 vicuna population in the Reserve was 
estimated to be 2,187 (CITES 1997a). San Guillermo Faunal Reserve was 
created in 1972 and consists of 880,260 ha. In 1982 it became part of 
the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program as a natural area of international 
significance. This was the first Provincial Reserve dedicated primarily 
to the protection of the vicuna. This area is devoid of human and 
domestic animal populations. Although the area has a carrying capacity 
estimated to be one vicuna per 7 ha of habitat, the 1992 vicuna 
population in the Reserve was estimated to be only 7,100 (CITES 1997a).
    We have virtually no quantitative information on the extent or 
condition of vicuna habitats outside protected areas in Argentina. 
Anecdotal information suggests that overgrazing by domestic livestock 
(leading to soil compaction and desertification) and direct competition 
for forage with domestic livestock may be important factors limiting 
the growth of vicuna populations outside protected areas (CITES 1997a). 
Other information indicates that some competition with domestic 
herbivores occurs in the arid Puna where precipitation is <300 mm per 
year but that competition is not as much of a problem in the humid Puna 
where precipitation may exceed 500 mm per year. A program to combat 
desertification has apparently been initiated in Jujuy Province (CITES 
    The limited quantitative information presently available to us 
indicates that vicuna populations throughout Argentina are not 
endangered by the present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of habitat or range. However, they remain threatened by 
this factor (especially overgrazing and direct competition with 
domestic livestock) throughout Argentina. Through this proposed rule, 
we seek additional, quantitative information on the status of vicuna 
habitats throughout Argentina. We especially seek detailed information 
on land use restrictions (for example, prohibitions on the grazing of 
domestic livestock) and protective measures (for example, antipoaching 
efforts) within protected areas, and on efforts to manage habitat 
outside protected areas (including programs to combat desertification 
and to reduce competition with domestic livestock).
    Vicuna occur in western and southwestern Bolivia in the Departments 
of La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, and Cochabamba (CITES 1997b). They have also 
been reported from the Department of Tarija, but the reports have not 
been confirmed (CITES 1997b). It has been suggested (DNCB 1997, pers. 
comm.) that vicuna may once have ranged over 13,000,000 to 16,700,000 
ha in the Puna and high plateau region of the Bolivian Andes, before 
colonization by the Spaniards.
    The Bolivian government has established Vicuna Conservation Units 
(VCU) for administrative and management purposes (CNVB 1996). Eight 
VCUs were originally established by the Instituto Nacional de Fomento 
Lanero (INFOL 1985); a ninth unit was subsequently added as a result of 
the National Vicuna Census of 1996 (CNVB 1996). These nine VCUs 
encompass all of the vicuna's geographic range within Bolivia. The 
National Vicuna Census of 1996 recorded vicuna populations in 76 
``registered census areas'' totaling 3,428,356 ha within the nine VCUs. 
These registered census areas are distributed throughout the Bolivian 
highlands at an elevation range between 3,600 and 4,800 m. Thirty of 
these registered census areas did not have any vicuna in the previous 
national census (1986), indicating a significant increase in the 
vicuna's distribution within Bolivia over a 10-year period. Sixty-nine 
percent of the vicuna counted in 1996 (23,393 of 33,844) occurred in 
the Conservation Units of Lipez-Chichas, Mauri-Desaguadero and Ulla 
    Vicuna are found in a number of protected areas in Bolivia. Within 
the National System of Protected Areas (Sistema Nacional de Areas 
Protegidas, or SNAP), vicuna occur in the Ulla Ulla National Fauna 
Reserve (150,000), the Eduardo Avaroa National Andean Fauna Reserve 
(714,000 ha), and Cerro Sajama National Park (100,230 ha) (information 
from WCMC Protected Areas Database 1999). Other protected areas with 
vicuna are the Huancaroma Vicuna Reserve (140,429 ha), Huancaroma 
Wildlife Refuge (11,000 ha), Llica National Park (97,500 ha), Yura 
National Fauna Reserve (96,853 ha), Altamachi Vicuna Reserve (100,000 
ha), and the Incakasani-Altamachi Andean Fauna Reserve (23,000 ha)

[[Page 48746]]

(information from WCMC Protected Areas Database 1999).
    The area where vicuna are presently found in Bolivia is expanding, 
but will likely never equal the former distribution range because of 
habitat changes caused by overgrazing by sheep and other domestic 
livestock, and human-caused developments such as roads and cities. 
Vicuna generally occur on communal property lands in Bolivia. In the 
northern highlands vicuna share habitats mainly with alpacas, in the 
central highlands with cattle, sheep, llamas, alpacas and agriculture, 
and in the southern highlands with llamas (CITES 1997b). Overgrazing, 
especially by sheep, has reduced range carrying capacity in many areas.
    The limited quantitative information presently available to us 
indicates that vicuna populations throughout Bolivia are not endangered 
by the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of habitat or range. However, overgrazing by domestic livestock and 
direct competition for forage with domestic livestock are still 
considered to threaten vicuna populations throughout Bolivia. Through 
this proposed rule, we are seeking additional, quantitative information 
on the status of vicuna habitats throughout Bolivia. We especially seek 
detailed information on land use restrictions (for example, 
prohibitions on the grazing of domestic livestock) and actual 
protective measures (for example, antipoaching efforts) within 
protected areas, on the status of development of Vicuna Management 
Plans and Soil Use Plans in the three pilot areas of the National 
Vicuna Conservation Program (Lipez-Chichas, Mauri Desauadero, and Ulla 
Ulla), and on current efforts to manage habitat on lands which are not 
within either the three aforementioned conservation units or 
officially-designated protected areas. We also seek more information on 
the National Program for the Fight Against Desertification and Drought.
    The vicuna occurs in extreme northeastern Chile in the Regions of 
Tarapaca, Antofagasta, and Atacama. Over 96 percent of the vicuna 
(19,169 of 19,848) in Chile are found within the Caquena Management 
Zone, Lauca National Park, and the Vicuna National Reserve within this 
Province (Galaz 1997, pers. comm.). These areas have typical vicuna 
habitats and limited human populations.
    Most vicuna in Chile are found within protected areas. These 
include the aforementioned Caquena Management Zone (90,146 ha), Lauca 
National Park (137,883 ha) and the Vicuna National Reserve (209,131 ha) 
within Parinacota Province. A few vicuna also occur in Salar de Surire 
Natural Monument in Parinacota Province (11,298 ha), and Isluga Volcano 
National Park in Iquique Province, Tarapaca Region (174,744 ha).
    Information presently available to the Service indicates that 
vicuna populations in Chile are probably not endangered by the present 
or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or 
range. This is because the overwhelming majority of vicuna in Chile 
occur in protected areas where there is some measure of control over 
domestic livestock grazing. However, overgrazing by domestic livestock 
and direct competition for forage with domestic livestock may still 
threaten vicuna populations in Chile. Through this proposed rule, we 
seek additional, quantitative information on the status of vicuna 
habitats throughout Chile. We especially seek detailed information on 
land use restrictions (for example, prohibitions on the grazing of 
domestic livestock) and protective measures (for example, antipoaching 
efforts) within protected areas, and on effort to manage habitat 
outside protected areas (including programs to combat desertification 
and to reduce competition with domestic livestock).
    Vicuna in Peru in 1997 were estimated to occur on about 6,361,000 
ha throughout the 15,000,000 to 17,000,000 ha of suitable habitat in 
the Peruvian high plains. Factors that could impact future areas of 
vicuna habitat include increased urbanization, successful 
reintroductions of vicuna into present areas of suitable but unoccupied 
habitat, and the replacement of domestic livestock by vicuna. Vicuna 
are better adapted to the rigorous climate and ecological conditions of 
the Puna, than are many species of domestic livestock. Overgrazing by 
domestic livestock remains the greatest threat to habitat conditions in 
the Puna.
    Vicuna occur in 782,186 ha of Peruvian protected areas, including 
Huascaran National Park (340,000 ha), Pampa Galeras National Reserve 
(75,250 ha) and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve (366,936 
ha) (Hoces R. 1997, pers. comm.).
    Information presently available to the Service indicates that 
vicuna populations in Peru are not endangered by the present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or 
range. This assessment is based on the overall size of Peru's vicuna 
population, plus the large number of community-based management 
programs there. Overgrazing by domestic livestock and direct 
competition for forage with domestic livestock may still threaten 
certain vicuna populations in Peru. Through this proposed rule, we are 
seeking additional, quantitative information on the status of vicuna 
habitats throughout Peru. We especially seek detailed information on 
land use restrictions (for example, prohibitions on the grazing of 
domestic livestock) and protective measures (for example, antipoaching 
efforts) within protected areas, and on efforts to manage habitat 
outside protected areas (including programs to combat desertification 
and to reduce competition with domestic livestock).

(B) Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Vicuna wool was valued by the Incas and estimates suggest there may 
have been 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 vicunas in the region during the Incan 
period. Although utilized by the Incas, there is no evidence that the 
species was exploited at unsustainable levels. After destruction of the 
Inca Empire by Europeans, vicunas were slaughtered in large numbers for 
both their meat and wool. In the 1950's populations may still have 
totaled 400,000, but hunting pressures and livestock competition may 
have reduced the total population to about 6,000 individuals by 1965 
(Nowak 1991). Other authors suggest somewhat different numbers but 
similar trends.
    Vicuna numbers in individual range countries have apparently 
fluctuated as political and economic stability has fluctuated. For 
example, vicuna numbers in Peru were low in 1965, gradually built to 
high levels in 1990, were significantly reduced by illegal hunting 
during the 1992-94 period of civil unrest, and have since recovered to 
1990 levels. The major breakthroughs in the potential management of 
vicuna in Peru were new laws transferring the custodianship of vicuna 
to campesinos (peasants) and campesino communities, giving the 
campesinos the responsibility to protect vicunas, the implementation of 
protective measures, the determination that it was not necessary to 
kill vicuna in order to obtain wool from their hides, and the 
development of management techniques to herd, capture and shear living 
vicuna (Wheeler and Hoces R. 1997). The key factor has been allowing 
the benefits of vicuna management and utilization to accrue 
collectively to campesino communities (rather than to middlemen

[[Page 48747]]

or other individuals) (Wheeler and Hoces R. 1997).
    The vicuna remains a potentially easily exploited resource. It has 
great economic value and is a highly visible, diurnal occupant of open 
landscape. Some poaching for skins or subsistence hunting for meat 
probably still occurs, as does killing of vicunas because of perceived 
competition with domestic livestock. This appears to be a source of 
mortality that could potentially seriously impact vicuna numbers, as it 
has done in the past.
Vicuna Population Status: Argentina
    The vicuna population of Argentina is currently estimated to be 
approximately 32,000 individuals and increasing, based on censuses 
completed in various protected areas between 1992 and 1996 (CITES 
1997a). Data appear to be most complete for Jujuy Province, where the 
Olaroz-Cauchari Reserve has been surveyed regularly since 1973-74, and 
estimates are available for a number of other areas where vicuna are 
protected (CITES 1997a). The population of Jujuy Province was estimated 
to be approximately 18,000 individuals in 1997 (CITES 1997a). A 
population survey was recently completed in Salta Province (V. 
Lichtschein, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, OSA, 1999), but the results 
are not yet available to us. Data from other provinces are somewhat 
dated and incomplete (CITES 1997a).
    As previously mentioned, the vicuna population of Argentina is 
believed to be increasing. Data from the Olaroz-Cauchari Reserve (where 
numbers increased from about 330 individuals in 1973 to 6,500 in 1995) 
Laguna Brava Reserve, and Laguna Blanca Reserve all show substantial 
population increases over the past 10 to 20 years (CITES 1997a). 
Possible causes for the population increases are the newly developed 
support for vicuna by the campesino communities of the Puna, the 
creation of protected areas and the control of illegal hunting 
activities (Canedi 1997, pers. comm.). It is anticipated that some 
transplanting will occur from certain areas if populations grow to 
exceed carrying capacity.
Vicuna Utilization: Argentina
    Poaching does not appear to be a major problem at present (V. 
Lichtschein, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, OSA, 1999; E. Hoffman, 
journalist, pers comm. with K. Johnson, OSA, 1999). Sport hunting of 
vicuna is not permitted in Argentina and no permits have been issued 
for the capture of wild vicuna for scientific or educational purposes.
    The vicuna utilization scheme in Argentina consists of a developing 
effort to sustainably use wild populations in Jujuy Province, and an 
effort to develop semi-captive populations in the provinces of 
Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and San Juan. This model has been 
developed to be relevant to the conditions of the Argentine Puna where 
lands are owned by individual ranchers, human populations are very 
sparse and vast areas of potential habitat with limited vicuna 
populations exist (CITES 1997a).
    Experimental efforts to develop management programs under semi-
captive conditions are conducted at the National Institute of 
Agriculture and Cattle Technology (INTA) at their High Altitude 
Experiment Station (CEA) at Abra Pampa. Studies have emphasized 
efficient fences to contain vicuna, the determination of the carrying 
capacity of different range types, and the capturing and shearing of 
vicuna and wool processing procedures.
    The experimental results have direct applications because a limited 
number of vicuna ranching operations have been established in Jujuy and 
Salta Provinces. These ranch operations have used vicuna donated from 
the Abra Pampa semi-captive herd and donated fencing materials. Vicuna 
family units are placed into a fenced area. Individual ranchers who 
have been trained in vicuna management have the responsibility to 
protect and provide for the vicuna. Young vicuna, produced under these 
semi-captive conditions, are either used as replacement stock or are 
returned to CEA as compensation for the initial vicuna donation. The 
semi-captive herds are sheared at two year intervals using the 
techniques developed at CEA. At the time of shearing, representatives 
of INTA, the Department of Renewable Natural Resources, the Gendarmes 
(military police), a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and the wool buyer 
are present to observe and/or supervise the operation. The wool buyer 
in 1997 was an Argentine wool processing company that donated the 
fencing materials. The wool purchase is used to retire the debt on the 
fencing materials and to provide immediate payment to the individual 
rancher. The wool, at the time of shearing, is weighed, bagged, marked, 
sealed, recorded and stored in a sealed warehouse until all commercial 
authorizations have been completed.
    The production of vicuna wool under semi-captive conditions 
benefits the individual campesino rancher and is a program growing in 
popularity. It is claimed that this program enhances the status of 
vicuna because the ranchers support the program and support the 
presence of non-captive vicuna in the provinces, and it has enhanced 
the gendarme-rancher relationship which has improved protective 
measures for vicuna. However, we continue to have concerns over the 
appropriateness and effectiveness of this approach as a conservation 
tool for wild populations of vicuna. The captive population at Abra 
Pampa has been developed from a limited number of founder animals (16 
females and 6 males). As such, there is concern over the genetic 
fitness of animals in this population. There is also concern about 
possible genetic and disease consequences if vicuna from the Abra Pampa 
population are translocated to different provinces and subsequently 
escape to mingle with the wild population. We are concerned that semi-
captive populations may be established in the most favorable vicuna 
habitat areas, thus potentially depriving wild vicuna populations of 
important resources such as water or forage. Finally, we have no 
information showing a demonstrable link between establishment of semi-
captive vicuna populations and improved conservation status of wild 
populations (for example, a demonstrable reduction in poaching of wild 
vicuna in areas with semi-captive populations, or a demonstrable 
improvement in habitat conditions as a result of decreased domestic 
livestock numbers in areas with semi-captive populations). The Appendix 
II semi-captive populations of Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and 
San Juan Provinces are specifically excluded from the proposed special 
rule until their conservation benefit for wild vicuna is demonstrated 
adequately. With this proposed rule, we seek substantive information 
demonstrating the conservation value (for wild vicuna) of semi-captive 
vicuna populations.
    The vicuna is not considered to be endangered by previous or 
current overutilization in Argentina. It is, however, considered to be 
threatened by overutilization throughout Argentina, and will continue 
to be threatened until appropriate conservation mechanisms are fully 
implemented and the populations fully recover, based on successful 
conservation and management. Through this proposed rule, we seek 
additional information on the status of wild vicuna populations 
throughout Argentina.
Vicuna Population Status: Bolivia
    Vicuna populations in Bolivia were recorded as 33,844 in the 
country-wide census of 1996 and current populations are estimated at 
about 35,500 (DNCB 1997, pers. comm.). The population is

[[Page 48748]]

generally thought to be increasing, and perhaps has reached carrying 
capacity in a few areas. Population data determined by direct and total 
counts of individuals on selected habitat areas are best for the three 
experimental pilot areas--Ulla Ulla, Mauri-Desaguadero and Lipez 
Chichas whose populations were transferred to CITES Appendix II in 
1997. Periodic censuses have occurred over a 30-year period for Ulla 
Ulla, and over a 15-year period for the other two pilot areas. The 
growth in the total vicuna population has been both in density within 
well-known habitat areas and in the number of habitat areas with 
vicuna. It is believed that the principal reason for the growth in the 
general vicuna population is the protection provided by the campesino 
communities, especially those that have government supported game 
Vicuna Utilization: Bolivia
    Some campesino communities are hostile to vicunas because of crop 
depredation or perceived competition with domestic livestock and the 
fact that no economic benefits are presently realized from vicuna. This 
may result in the killing of vicuna, although we have no substantive 
information which directly supports this conclusion. The granting of 
custodianship to the local communities and the delegation of monitoring 
to the provincial governments is expected to provide the mechanism to 
address this issue.
    Poaching of vicuna is known to occur in Bolivia (CITES 1997b), and 
may be at a level that is of concern. One individual was recently 
arrested outside La Paz with 324 vicuna skins in his possession (E. 
Hoffman, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, OSA, 1999). Vicuna products, 
including rugs made from many skins, can be seen for sale in the San 
Francisco Plaza in La Paz (E. Hoffman, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, 
OSA, 1999). Local traditional authorities use vicuna ponchos, scarves 
and blankets, especially at traditional celebrations (CITES 1997b). The 
wool used in these products comes from animals killed illegally (CITES 
1997b). Tour operators in remote areas claim to encounter skinned 
vicuna carcasses on a regular basis (E. Hoffman, pers. comm. with K. 
Johnson, OSA, 1999).
    Vicuna are not captured in Bolivia for educational or scientific 
purposes. There is no intent to have commercial meat operations as the 
only authorized commerce will be in wool and wool products from live-
shorn vicunas from wild populations. At present, there is no trade in 
wool as Bolivia has a zero quota under CITES.
    Bolivia, as well as the other signatory countries to the Conveno 
para la Conservacion y Manejo de la Vicuna (Convention for the 
Conservation and Management of the Vicuna, or the Vicuna Convention), 
has agreed not to export fertile specimens of vicuna. The sole 
exception has been a 1993 export of 100 vicunas to the Republic of 
Ecuador to aid in their vicuna recovery efforts. This was accomplished 
within the multilateral frameworks of both the Vicuna Convention and 
the CITES Convention.
    Bolivia's National Program for the Conservation of Vicuna is in 
very early stages of implementation. Bolivia is developing pilot 
programs for harvesting and marketing wool from live-shorn vicuna that 
borrow significantly on the successful management program in Peru. The 
initial step of the National Vicuna Conservation Program was to 
transfer three substantial vicuna populations in areas where campesino 
interest and commitments were high (Ulla Ulla, Mauri-Desaguadero, Lipez 
Chichas) from CITES Appendix I to II, so that pilot management and 
shearing programs could be perfected prior to expanding the management 
programs to other vicuna habitats. The second step has been the 
development of an agreement between the Programma Quinua Potosi 
(PROQUIPO) and the DNCB to operate the Pilot Center of Sud Lipez to 
actually develop and demonstrate those management and shearing programs 
to enable the sustainable use of the vicuna through live shearing to be 
realized eventually.
    Vicuna population trends throughout Bolivia are encouraging, and 
populations appear to have recovered to the extent that they are no 
longer endangered by previous and current overutilization. We consider 
that the vicuna is threatened by overutilization throughout Bolivia, 
and will continue to be threatened until appropriate conservation 
mechanisms are fully implemented and the populations fully recover, 
based on successful conservation and management. Through this proposed 
rule, we seek additional information on the status of wild vicuna 
populations throughout Bolivia. We especially seek information on the 
magnitude of poaching.
Vicuna Population Status: Chile
    Over 96 percent of the vicuna (19,200 of 19,850) in Chile occur in 
Parinacota Province in the extreme northeastern portion of the country. 
The populations in the Caquena Management Zone (3,700 vicuna on 101,380 
ha) and in the National Vicuna Reserve (8,050 vicuna on 288,970 ha) in 
this Province were transferred to CITES Appendix II in 1987, and would 
be the only populations utilized commercially should a program to 
capture and shear live vicuna be instigated (Galaz 1997, pers. comm.). 
The adjacent population in Lauca National Park (7,410 vicuna on 153,380 
ha) was retained on Appendix I to provide further control over vicuna 
in this protected natural area. The vicuna population in Parinacota 
Province is believed to be at or near carrying capacity in typical 
vicuna habitat. The remaining four percent of Chile's vicunas occur 
elsewhere in the upper Andean tablelands in northeastern Chile. About 
650 vicuna are believed to occur in small scattered groups over about 
215,000 ha elsewhere in the Tarapaca Region and in the neighboring 
Antofagasta and Atacama Regions.
Vicuna Utilization: Chile
    The hunting, capture and sale of vicuna and vicuna products is 
unlawful in Chile and, at present, there is no national or 
international trade in vicuna fiber, no exports of living vicuna and no 
known illegal trade in vicuna products. Poaching is not considered to 
be a problem in Chile (E. Hoffman, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, OSA, 
1999). In summary, protected areas have been established in locations 
with a high density of vicunas, a conservation and management plan has 
been developed for vicuna, legal provisions have been developed to 
protect the species and adequate protection is being provided for the 
species, especially in Lauca National Park and the National Vicuna 
    The vicuna is not considered to be endangered by previous or 
current overutilization in Chile. However, as a vicuna wool industry 
could potentially be approved in Chile, overutilization is still 
considered to threaten the Chilean population until such time as 
control mechanisms for harvest and commercialization are demonstrated 
to be adequate.
Vicuna Population Status: Peru
    The 1997 census in Peru estimated a population of 103,650 vicuna on 
6,361,000 ha of habitat (Hoces R. 1997, pers. comm.) in the high Andean 
tablelands of the departments of Ancash, Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, 
Cajamarca, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Junin, La Libertad, Lima, 
Moquegua, Pasco, Puno and Tacna. Vicuna populations have been 
increasing since 1994. This is believed to be due to the increased 
efforts to control vicuna poaching and

[[Page 48749]]

the development of a vicuna wool utilization program. Several campesino 
communities now participate in the protection, management and 
utilization of vicuna in cooperation with the National Council of South 
American Camelids (CONACS) and the National Institute of Natural 
Resources (INRENA), which is the designated CITES Management Authority 
for Peru.
Vicuna Utilization: Peru
    As mentioned previously, vicuna numbers in Peru have fluctuated 
greatly in recent years as a result of political and economic 
instability. Vicuna numbers were low in 1965, gradually built to high 
levels in 1990, were significantly reduced by illegal hunting during 
the 1992-94 period of civil unrest, and have since recovered to 1990 
    At present, legislation in Peru permits the taking of vicuna if 
properly authorized and technically supported. Some culling of vicunas 
(about 1,000 per year) did occur from 1977 to 1983 but no quotas have 
been declared and little if any legal take has occurred since that 
date. Any take for scientific studies is rare and, when authorized, is 
tightly controlled. There is no legal utilization of vicuna for meat or 
    Commercialization of vicuna wool products will likely not result in 
overutilization of vicuna because of the system of controls that exist 
in monitoring wool collections, governmental supervision by CONACS and 
INRENA, and the involvement of local campesino communities. CONACS and 
INRENA have the responsibility to protect and monitor vicunas within 
protected areas such as Huascaran National Park, Pampa Galeras National 
Reserve and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve. The 
protection and monitoring of vicunas in the rural communities is a 
major responsibility of participating campesino communities in 
coordination with CONACS and INRENA.
    CONACS has developed techniques, at Pampa Galeras, for capturing 
and harvesting wool from living wild vicuna. Capture methods are based 
on the traditional ``chaku, a surround technique used by the Incas to 
capture and shear vicunas (Wheeler and Hoces R. 1997). CONACS has 
taught and supervised campesino communities in this technique and other 
aspects of vicuna management. At Pampa Galeras and in other areas of 
the Peruvian Puna, vicunas occur on communal lands and campesinos 
represent an abundant and important work force.
    The process used to capture and shear vicunas was observed in 
August 1997 by Dr. Short (on behalf of the National Fish and Wildlife 
Foundation). Vicunas to be shorn were slowly herded across a wide 
habitat area and ``pushed'' into a V-shaped funnel trap. The vicuna 
were eventually crowded into a corral where they were sorted by hand to 
identify adults with adequate fleeces; this is a consideration because 
it takes about 18 months to grow a fleece that will yield shorn fibers 
that are 2 cm (0.78 in) long. All animals were ear-tagged, identified, 
weighed and cursorily examined for general condition. Each animal to be 
clipped was restrained and the fleece along the back and flanks was 
removed in a single mass, using electric clippers. That portion of the 
fleece was placed in a plastic bag. The shoulder, rump and leg wool was 
then clipped and placed in a separate bag. Both bags of wool from an 
individual animal were tagged, sealed, weighed and recorded at the 
field location immediately after clipping was completed. Belly and 
chest hair were left intact on the animal in the belief that it would 
subsequently insulate the animal when it was resting on cold ground. 
The capture, handling, clipping and the securing of the vicuna fleece 
was accomplished by campesinos under the supervision of personnel from 
CONACS and the Sociedad Nacional de la Vicuna (SNV). Upon the 
completion of the clipping effort the shorn animal was released. 
Clipping took about two minutes per animal. No significant injuries 
were observed from the capture, handling or clipping of the live wild 
vicunas under these observed conditions.
    Cleaning of guard hairs and dirt from vicuna fleeces is usually 
accomplished by women from the campesino communities. Such cleaning 
takes about 2-3 woman-days per 250-gram (9 ounce) fleece. Up to 100 
women from the Lucanas campesino community near Pampa Galeras may be 
employed during the time period required to process an annual harvest 
of up to 2,000 fleeces. Careful weights are kept as fleeces are 
unsealed, cleaned, re-bagged and resealed prior to auction. A single 
auction supervised by CONACS serves all campesino communities producing 
vicuna wool.
    Vicuna management essentially provides full-time employment for 
many members of the Lucanas community--building fences, obtaining and 
cleaning fleeces, providing protection to vicuna and providing 
instruction to other communities wishing to establish a vicuna 
industry. It was reported that as part of the arrangement between the 
Lucanas community and the government, 500 vicunas are used to restock 
vicuna habitats in neighboring communities, in exchange for both a 
hydro-electric project and other economic assistance.
    The Pampa Galeras experience is the model for other campesino 
communities in Peru and will likely be the model for similar efforts in 
Bolivia. Campesino communities in both countries benefit by having some 
initial funds to develop a vicuna management infrastructure--either 
from the national government, as in Peru, or the European Community in 
aid to Bolivia.
    Efforts are apparently underway in Peru to develop ranching of 
vicuna (i.e., fencing of natural areas to produce semi-captive 
populations) (Wheeler and Hoces R. 1997). Although translocation of 
animals does not appear to be involved in this case, we still have many 
of the same concerns as previously expressed for the semi-captive 
populations in Argentina. We reiterate our desire to receive 
substantive information demonstrating the conservation value (for wild 
vicuna) of semi-captive vicuna populations.
    The vicuna is not considered to be endangered by previous or 
current overutilization in Peru. It is, however, considered to be 
threatened by overutilization, and will continue to be threatened until 
appropriate conservation mechanisms are fully implemented and the 
populations fully recover, based on successful conservation and 

(C) Disease or Predation

    Vicunas, like most mammals, suffer from a variety of endo-and ecto-
parasites. Mange caused by parasitic mites can result in skin lesions 
and loss of hair, especially in those populations that coexist with 
domestic livestock, especially during drought conditions. Drought 
conditions or extremely degraded ranges adversely impact vicuna by 
causing movements to new habitats with the possible dissolution of some 
family groups and reductions in reproductive rates and successes, and 
perhaps increased mortalities. Major predators on vicuna include the 
puma (Felis concolor), the Andean fox or zorro (Dusicyon culpaeus) and 
perhaps the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), which may kill newborn and 
very sick animals.
    Vicuna populations in the four range countries are not believed to 
be endangered from the impacts of disease or predation, in part because 
the numbers of individuals within each population are considered to be 
increasing. Likewise the vicuna populations are not likely to be 
threatened by these factors if the benefits from the commercialization 
of vicuna wool products are used to

[[Page 48750]]

enhance the standard of living in campesino communities, with 
concomitant effective protection and enforcement. We remain concerned 
about the potential for disease transmission from animals that are 
translocated for the development of semi-captive populations or for 
release to the wild to supplement wild populations, and seek additional 
information on this issue.

(D) The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The regulatory mechanisms in place vary significantly among the 
four range countries. Those in Peru are very substantive and involve 
the establishment of new governmental agencies, new mechanisms to 
enhance inter-community coordination, enhanced vicuna management 
procedures and a regulated and active vicuna wool industry that 
currently returns economic benefits to campesino communities. Argentina 
has also developed regulatory mechanisms to allow the development of a 
vicuna wool industry that currently benefits a small number of local 
ranchers. Bolivia is currently developing mechanisms to develop a wool 
industry and is building on many of the procedures that are apparently 
successful in Peru. Chile has no current plans for developing a wool 
industry but has conceptualized how such an industry might be 
successfully managed.
Regulatory Mechanisms: Argentina
    In Argentina, the First Interprovincial Technical Conference on the 
Conservation of the Vicuna met in 1972 and agreed to develop methods to 
capture, transport and recolonize vicuna habitats and develop a plan 
for the management, shearing and the manufacture of handicrafts from 
vicuna fiber. Additional meetings integrated the provincial vicuna 
programs, established a national program, and established the ``Vicuna 
Regional Commission'' as a mechanism to attain national coordination on 
the vicuna management program (Comision Regional de la Vicuna, 1994). 
Argentina ratified the CITES Convention in 1981. In 1988 Argentina 
signed the Vicuna Convention and has since carried out its programs 
within the context of this agreement. Argentine National Law for the 
Conservation of Wildlife 22.421 and its Regulatory Decree No. 691, 
provides for vicuna protection. The Constitution of Argentina, reformed 
in 1994, assures the rights of the provinces over their respective 
natural resources, assures the rights of indigenous people to use these 
natural resources in traditional ways, and embraces the conservation of 
biological diversity and the sustainable development of natural 
    Several laws and decrees within the various Provinces list the 
vicuna as a protected species, establish protected areas for the 
species, prohibit hunting, and prohibit commercialization, 
transportation, or manufacturing of parts or products from hunted 
animals, regardless of origin. Laws and decrees also allow the 
installation of captive breeding operations and the commercialization 
and industrialization of products from captive-bred animals (Canedi 
1997, pers. comm.).
    The Departments of Renewable Natural Resources for Jujuy, Salta, 
Catamarca and La Rioja Provinces have signed agreements with the 
Secretariat of Natural Resources and Human Environment and the National 
Gendarmes, a Federal Law Enforcement group, to enforce provisions of 
Provincial and National laws that prohibit illegal hunting and 
smuggling. The Gendarmes conduct extensive patrols in rural areas and 
on the borders, and have officers at the ports, airports and borders. 
They are capable of conducting inspections and investigations involving 
the illegal trafficking of vicuna wool. They also have an environmental 
division which meets with campesinos and tries to promote the vicuna 
program. Although both the Department of Renewable Natural Resources 
and the Gendarmes may not have adequate resources at their disposal, 
they are thought to be working effectively with the campesino 
communities of the Puna as evinced in the increase of vicuna 
populations of the Puna (Canedi 1997, pers. comm).
    The only legal wool at the present time is that obtained from the 
shearing of live vicuna at the officially authorized semi-captive 
population facilities. We understand that a registry of authorized 
semi-captive populations is maintained by the national Direccion de 
Fauna y Flora Silvestres (V. Lichtschein, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, 
OSA, 1999). Wool from shorn fleeces is bagged, tagged, weighed, sealed, 
recorded, and the government agency that supervised the shearing is 
identified on the bag. Wool from officially authorized breeders 
(ranchers) can be directly auctioned for direct export, or the ranchers 
(if artisans) can retain the wool, and make and sell cloth. Either the 
wool buyer or the rancher-artisan would need a transport permit and 
that transport permit would need to be presented when the CITES export 
permit is requested. Fabric or products manufactured by rancher-
artisans will need to be marked with the official seals or stamps. Such 
fabrics or products, expected to be limited in numbers, can only be 
sold to licensed outlets recognized and approved by the government. The 
check on whether fabrics or products are made from legal vicuna wool is 
determined by comparing weights of fleeces harvested under supervised 
shearing operations, the weight of raw wool that is retained by the 
authorized rancher-artisan and the weights of woolen products produced 
by that artisan. At present it is not clear to us which government 
agency supervises shearing, which approves licensed outlets for vicuna 
products, and which conducts checks of producers to ensure that only 
legal wool is used in artesanal products. There is apparently no 
national legislation that covers all aspects relating to the trade in 
vicuna or the administrative aspects relating to this trade (CITES 
    Wild populations of vicuna in the Province of Jujuy and semi-
captive populations of vicuna in the Provinces of Jujuy, Salta, 
Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan were transferred from CITES Appendix I 
to Appendix II at CITES COP10, effective September 18, 1997. Exports 
are limited to wool shorn from live animals, cloth and articles made 
from that cloth, luxury handicrafts and knitted articles. The reverse 
side of cloth and cloth products must bear the logo adopted by 
countries signatory to the Vicuna Convention and the words ``VICUNA-
ARGENTINA-ARTESANIA.'' All specimens not meeting the above conditions 
are subject to the prohibition against primarily commercial trade. 
Articles bought by a foreign tourist at a government authorized store 
will be exportable as personal accompanying baggage only after a CITES 
export permit has been obtained. The only apparent control of artisan 
goods sold to residents of Argentina and later resold to foreign 
tourists is the requirement that the tourist have a CITES export permit 
upon his/her return to his/her country of origin. This is a requirement 
for importation of any personal effects or personal accompanying 
baggage by U.S. residents, under the conditions of the special rule 
accompanying this petition finding. If the wool from an authorized 
captive breeder is sold at auction, the buyer, presumably a wool 
processing company, would get a permit from the Provincial Natural 
Resources Department which the buyer would present to the National 
Secretary for Natural Resources and Human Environment to obtain the 
required CITES permit for export.
    The National Police (Gendarmes) are expected to aid provincial 
authorities in the control of poaching, illegal trade and

[[Page 48751]]

transport of unauthorized products within the country and the routine 
inspection of products of legal origin to certify their origin. 
Collaboration will also be provided by the National Aeronautical Police 
at the country's airports to intensify inspections of commercial 
products and passengers.
    The vicuna does not appear to be endangered by inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms in Argentina. The species, however, is considered 
to be threatened by this factor because many of the regulatory 
mechanisms are in early stages of implementation, and we are still 
unclear about several aspects related to the control of trade in raw 
vicuna wool and artesanal products. The vicuna will remain threatened 
by this factor until appropriate conservation mechanisms are fully 
implemented and the populations fully recover. Through this proposed 
rule, we seek detailed information on the control of trade in vicuna 
wool and wool products in Argentina, and on the status of national 
legislation to control trade.
Regulatory Mechanisms: Bolivia
    Bolivia's National Program for the Conservation of Vicuna is in 
very early stages of implementation. Bolivia is developing pilot 
programs for harvesting and marketing wool from live-shorn vicuna that 
borrow significantly on the successful management program in Peru. The 
Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Environment is the 
organization responsible for planning and coordinating the conservation 
of natural resources with the major plans for national development. The 
DNCB (Direccion Nacional de Conservacion de la Biodiversidad Unidad de 
Vida Silvestre) is located within this Ministry and is the technical 
body whose objective is the conservation and sustainable use of 
biological resources. The wildlife unit with responsibilities for 
executing the National Vicuna Conservation Program is located within 
the DNCB.
    Several laws and decrees are relevant to vicuna management in 
Bolivia. Bolivia and Peru signed the Treaty of La Paz in 1969 to 
provide a measure of international protection for vicuna and this 
treaty was a precursor to what is presently known as the Vicuna 
Convention. Bolivia has also been a signatory to CITES since 1979. The 
Agrarian Reform Act of 1953 enabled some rural communities to have 
private lands and other rural communities to have unfenced communal 
lands which are advantageous to free-roaming vicunas. Law 1654 
decentralized executive power to regional departments. Law 1715, passed 
in 1996, created the National Institute for Agrarian Reform and 
promoted the sustainable use of land, the promotion of practices 
favoring conservation and the protection of biodiversity, and the 
concept that lands where conservation is practiced would not be subject 
to expropriation. Other laws legalized traditional social 
organizations, authorized rights for using renewable natural resources 
and authorized the establishment of the Secretariat for Sustainable 
Development in each Bolivian Department to enhance vicuna management at 
regional levels.
    Supreme Decree 24529 passed in March 1997, authorized regulations 
for the protection and management of vicunas in Bolivia. The Decree 
grants custodianship of vicuna populations to the rural communities and 
gives the rural communities the exclusive rights to use vicuna fibers, 
subject to the listed regulations (DNCB 1997, pers. comm.). Regulations 
promulgated under this Decree will affect all activities dealing with 
the management, protection, capture, shearing and the commercialization 
of vicuna products (as described in subsequent paragraphs). The 
regulations are similar to existing legislation in the other countries 
that also signed the Vicuna Convention. At present, we are unclear if 
these regulations have been approved and fully implemented, although we 
were previously told that the DNCB had begun implementation of 
regulations by holding workshops in campesino communities to explain 
the regulations, by publishing print media guides describing the 
regulations and by helping campesino communities begin their compliance 
with the regulations (DNCB 1997, pers. comm.). We were also told that 
the DNCB had begun coordinating with the National Police and military 
to help curb illegal activities dealing with vicuna and their products. 
The National Program for Vicuna Conservation emphasizes the management 
of wild free-ranging populations of vicuna and emphasizes a desire to 
improve habitat quality.
    Any vicuna wool presently in commerce in Bolivia is considered 
illegal wool. Under the regulations, all existing vicuna wool products 
including those in the domestic market are to be inventoried and 
registered and all new products or wool fibers will also be registered. 
Any non-registered vicuna products will in the future be considered 
illegal. The only wool that will be allowed for commercial purposes 
will be that obtained from live-shorn vicuna that have been captured 
according to regulations. Only raw wool for the manufacture of cloth 
will be exported. Bolivia does not have a textile industry with the 
capability to manufacture vicuna wool cloth (DNCB 1997, pers. comm.).
    Under the regulations, the harvesting of vicuna wool will only be 
allowed in organized campesino communities which (1) have the rights to 
capture and shear vicuna and utilize vicuna wool and (2) have delegated 
authority to work with government authorities in the management and 
conservation of the vicuna. These campesino communities are the only 
legal benefactors of the sale of vicuna wool. The National Vicuna 
Conservation Program will be carried out in these communities and will 
contain habitat and vicuna management plans and vicuna census and 
distribution data. This information will be basic to decisions to 
conduct vicuna drives, and in the conduct of capture and shearing 
operations. Monitoring information will be provided by game guards and 
recommendations for management actions will be produced in the 
campesino communities. Government authorities will be present when 
vicuna capturing and shearing occurs. The authorities will register the 
number of vicuna captured, the number shorn, the weights of fleeces, 
etc., and supervise the bagging, weighing, marking and sealing of 
vicuna wool. This information is provided to the CITES authorities for 
reference purposes and information later provided in support of export 
permit applications must correspond to the on-site records. The 
Netherlands government has provided financial support to underwrite 
initial efforts to implement the National Vicuna Conservation Program.
    The initial effort of the National Vicuna Conservation Program will 
be at the Pilot Center of Sud Lipez and its objective will be to 
demonstrate the potential worth of the vicuna. The pilot project will 
include the capture and shearing of live vicunas and the manufacture of 
fabric and eventually the sale of vicuna fiber for the manufacture of 
textiles to demonstrate the potential economic benefit to campesino 
communities. The vicuna populations of the Conservation Units of Mauri-
Desaguadero, Ulla Ulla and Lipez Chichas were transferred from CITES 
Appendix I to Appendix II at COP10, effective September 18, 1997. A 
zero annual export quota presently exists. Future exports will be 
limited to wool shorn from live animals and to cloth and articles made 
from such cloth, including luxury handicrafts and knitted articles. The 
reverse side of cloth and cloth products must bear the

[[Page 48752]]

logo adopted by countries signatory to the Vicuna Convention and the 
words ``VICUNA-BOLIVIA-ARTESANIA.'' All specimens not meeting any of 
the above conditions will be deemed to be subject to the prohibition 
against primarily-commercial trade.
    The regulations also establish the System for the Protection of the 
Vicuna (SVV) which provides for the development of an inter-community 
network for the management and protection of the species. These persons 
will have direct control over activities such as wool sales, and will 
also have responsibilities for determining status and trends in vicuna 
populations. The SVV will be composed of game guards who will be 
responsible for the protection and control of vicuna in each 
conservation unit, made up of local vicuna protection officers and Park 
Rangers who are the enforcement officers within protected areas such as 
National Parks. Protection and control efforts will also be supported 
by special units of the National Police. The military will also assist 
in patrols, inspections and the seizures of illegal products. Customs 
will assist in the control of the export and import of wool at the 
ports of entry, border posts and airports to assure that CITES 
requirements are fulfilled. The Secretariat for Natural Resources and 
the Environment (SNRNMA) will regulate and coordinate the activities 
and participants within the SVV.
    The vicuna does not appear to be endangered by inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms in Bolivia. The species, however, should be 
considered threatened by this factor because many of the regulatory 
mechanisms are in early stages of implementation, and we are still 

unclear about the status of proposed regulations dealing with the 
management, protection, capture and shearing of vicuna, and the 
commercialization of vicuna products. The vicuna will remain threatened 
by this factor until appropriate conservation mechanisms are fully 
implemented and the populations fully recover. Through this proposed 
rule, the Service seeks information on the status of proposed 
regulations and the implementation of other regulatory mechanisms, such 
as SVV, within Bolivia.
Regulatory Mechanisms: Chile
    The existing regulatory mechanisms in Chile are presently dedicated 
to the protection of vicuna. Chile has not yet authorized the capture 
of vicunas to develop a vicuna wool industry and the only exports of 
raw wool have been to obtain analyses of the wool's physical 
properties. It is illegal to possess vicuna parts and products so no 
mechanisms have been developed for registering or identifying raw wool, 
or for establishing warehouses for storing wool (SAG 1997, pers. 
    Law No. 4.601 passed in 1929, modified by law No. 19.473 passed in 
1996, indefinitely closed the hunting season for vicuna throughout the 
Republic of Chile. The hunting, capturing and selling of vicuna (and 
vicuna parts) is outlawed. Persons possessing, transporting or involved 
in commercial operations with vicuna products need to prove their 
actions are authorized by these laws. The Servicio Agricola y Ganadero 
(SAG) of the Ministry of Agriculture is the CITES Management Authority, 
and has a Department for the Protection of Renewable Natural Resources 
and a Wildlife Division. Authorized customs officers (uniformed 
police), accredited officials from SAG, and representatives of the 
National Forest Corporation provide protection to vicunas within the 
National System of Protected Wild Areas.
    Preliminary plans, should a vicuna wool industry become authorized, 
indicate that the responsible party would need to provide an 
application to SAG indicating, among other things, the likely number of 
animals to be captured and sheared, the expected yield of the wool 
harvest, the logistics of the capture and shearing operation, where and 
how the wool would be stored and its eventual destination. SAG, should 
they approve the application, would oversee the capture process, 
register the quantity of harvested wool, and seal the warehouse where 
the wool is stored. SAG would also provide the necessary export 
permits, after determining that the quantities for export correspond to 
quantities authorized and actually harvested. Preliminary plans also 
suggest that a mechanism would be established to deal with the 
production and sale of luxury handicrafts and knitted articles. That 
organization would be responsible for receiving the wool, registering 
and offering the wool products for sale, for recording the sale of 
registered craft items and providing an accounting of the sale of 
registered craft items (SAG 1997, pers. comm.).
    Chile has succeeded in having certain vicuna populations in the 
Paranicota Province, Region of Tarapaca (specifically, the populations 
in the Caquena Management Zone and the Vicuna National Reserve) 
transferred from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II in 1987 (at COP6). Any 
future export of vicuna products would be limited to wool sheared from 
live animals in Appendix II populations and to cloth and items made 
from that cloth including luxury handicrafts, and knitted articles. The 
reverse side of cloth and cloth products would need to bear the logo 
adopted by countries signatory to the Vicuna Convention and the words 
``VICUNA-CHILE-ARTESANIA.'' All specimens not meeting any of the above 
conditions would be deemed to be subject to the prohibition against 
primarily-commercial trade.
    The vicuna is not considered to be endangered by inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms in Chile. However, as a vicuna wool industry 
could potentially be approved in Chile, the vicuna remains threatened 
by this factor until such time as regulatory mechanisms for harvest and 
commercialization are demonstrated to be adequate.
Regulatory Mechanisms: Peru
    A complex regulatory mechanism exists for Peru and it controls 
commerce in vicuna wool products. The infrastructure promoting vicuna 
management includes the National Council of South American Camelids 
(CONACS) which is a public decentralized organization of the Ministry 
of Agriculture in charge of the promotion, standardization, and control 
of activities with the South American camelids. CONACS has offices in 
Lima and throughout the vicuna range, and is the proprietor of the 
trademarks ``VICUNA-PERU'' and ``VICUNA-PERU-ARTESANIA.'' The Institute 
of Natural Resources (INRENA) is also a public decentralized 
organization of the Ministry of Agriculture, and is in control of all 
renewable natural resources in Peru, and is the CITES Management 
Authority for Peru. The National Society of the Vicuna (SNV) is a 
private organization which represents the 660 campesino communities and 
coordinates vicuna management within and between campesino communities 
(``Communal Committees of the Vicuna'') and with CONACS at both 
regional and national levels (Hoces R. 1997, pers comm.).
    Several national laws protect vicuna and regulate its management. 
Law 26496 is especially important as it promotes protection and 
provides penalties for the illegal hunting of vicuna, gives the 
custodianship of vicuna herds that occupy campesino community lands to 
those campesino communities and allows the campesinos to be responsible 
for the conservation, management and the utilization of the species. 
The law also establishes the Official Registry of the Vicuna which 
provides a record keeping process that

[[Page 48753]]

controls and tracks volumes of wool from the time of vicuna shearing in 
the field to the time that fiber is sold as cloth or merchandise on the 
international market. Other laws recognize the Vicuna Convention and 
the CITES Convention.
    Pertinent laws are implemented through the 660 ``Communal 
Committees of the Vicuna'' which form the basis for the National System 
of Conservation. There is a system of park rangers shared by groups of 
communities and these park rangers can access the National Ecological 
Police and Peruvian Army units to help control the illegal killing of 
vicuna. CONACS and INRENA authorize and control management activities, 
including vicuna capture; since 1996 they manage a limited captive 
breeding program where enclosures of approximately 1,000 ha (``Modules 
of Sustainable Use''), each with about 250 vicuna, are developed or are 
to be developed within individual campesino communities.
    The shearing, collecting, processing and commercialization of 
vicuna wool from wild vicunas or from groups contained within the 
permanent enclosures, is controlled by CONACS and INRENA. The 
processing and commercialization of the wool is done by a single 
company that obtained that right through a competitive bidding process 
at a supervised auction. A cooperative agreement exists between the SNV 
and the company winning the competitive bid, apparently to ensure that 
campesino communities will be correctly represented in the distribution 
of monies from the sale of vicuna wool and wool products. There is an 
authorized season for shearing and the act of shearing is supervised by 
personnel representing CONACS, SNV and INRENA. Pertinent information is 
gathered at the time of shearing and a report describing the shearing 
operation (numbers of animals, wool weights per animal, etc.) signed by 
representative of the Communal Committee and CONACS, becomes part of 
the record at the Official Registry of the Vicuna. A second source of 
legal wool is from vicuna that die from natural causes or are found or 
obtained by campesinos or park rangers, or from skins that are seized 
in successful anti-poaching operations. Such specimens, to become 
legal, must be declared to SNV and CONACS and entered into the vicuna 
registry. Legal wool is gathered and stored in private warehouses 
belonging to the campesino communities, registered in the vicuna 
registry, and is under the control of CONACS. Illegal wool is prevented 
from entering commerce because it is not registered with the vicuna 
registry, and consequently not included in the wool stores represented 
in the single legal auction. The vicuna registry records weights of 
wool sheared or collected, carded or cleaned, and these weights are 
used by CONACS and SNV throughout the processing and commercialization 
process to indicate whether final products likely only contain legal 
wool. The CITES Management Authority controls commerce by requiring 
records of wool weights and opinions from CONACS before any products 
(fiber, cloth or articles) can be legally either imported or exported 
from Peru.
    The processing of vicuna fiber and the commercialization of vicuna 
products involves a joint venture ``Association in Participation'' 
between SNV and the consortium that won the auction for vicuna wool. 
The SNV provides the wool to the consortium which includes a Peruvian 
company that fabricates cloth from the vicuna fibers, which is then 
sent to an Italian manufacturing plant where luxury clothing items are 
produced. A second Italian firm then handles the promotion and 
marketing of the finished vicuna products (Hoces R. 1997, pers. comm.). 
CONACS supervises production to guarantee that all articles will 
contain 100 percent vicuna wool. This process is designed to maximize 
the financial returns from the vicuna fibers; the profits from the 
final sales are distributed, under the supervision of CONACS and 
INRENA, to the campesino participants. Raw vicuna wool currently sells 
for $500/kg of fiber and additionally a percentage of the final sale 
price on the completed product goes to the campesino communities.
    The vicuna populations of Pampa Galeras National Reserve and 
Nuclear Zone, Pedregal, Oscconta and Sawacocha (Province of Lucanas), 
Sais Picotani (Province of Azangaro), Sais Tupac Amaru (Province of 
Junin), and Salinas Aguada Blanca National Reserve (Provinces of 
Arequipa and Cailloma) were transferred from CITES Appendix I to 
Appendix II in 1987 (at COP6). All remaining Peruvian vicuna 
populations were transferred to Appendix II in 1994 (COP9), effective 
February 16, 1995. All exports are limited to cloth fabricated from the 
3,294 kg (7,260 lbs) of stored wool present in November 1994 or from 
the wool stores obtained from the recent authorized shearing of live 
animals or from dead animals listed in the vicuna registry, and items 
made from that cloth and to certain luxury handicrafts and knitted 
articles produced in Peru. The reverse side of cloth and cloth products 
must bear the logo adopted by countries signatory to the Vicuna 
Convention and the words ``VICUNA-PERU-ARTESANIA.'' This trademark will 
also occur on all luxury artisan products and knitted articles of 
vicuna wool. Peru also plans to add to the produced articles, a seal or 
identification tag with codes indicating the origin of the product, the 
assigned trademark or label and the CITES permit number. All specimens 
not meeting any of the above conditions will be subject to the 
prohibition against primarily commercial trade.
    The vicuna is not considered to be endangered by inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms in Peru. The species is, however, considered to 
be threatened by this factor, and will continue to be threatened until 
appropriate conservation mechanisms are fully implemented and the 
populations fully recover.

E. Other Natural or Human-Made Factors Affecting Its Continued 

    The great potential threat to the vicuna is that pelts can be 
easily obtained from poached animals and that the wool industry may 
actually prefer the longer fibers that can be obtained by soaking and 
pulling hairs from pelts, rather than the clipped hairs from legal 
fleeces (Canedi 1997, pers. comm). The vulnerability of the vicuna to 
political instability is well documented. For example, vicuna 
populations in Peru were estimated at about 60,000 in 1980 and 1981 but 
were overexploited and in 1982 populations were reduced to about 
25,000. A slow recovery was observed until 1988 when populations were 
again estimated at about 60,000. Vicuna populations were again reduced 
to low levels from 1989 to 1993 when vicuna wool from poached animals 
was used to help finance guerilla activities in some countries.
    The vicuna represents one of the most significant economic 
resources available in many Andean highlands that have limited human 
populations with limited economic resources at their disposal. 
Indigenous people fully realize that a poached vicuna can be used once 
but that the managed, live-sheared vicuna can be used repeatedly 
(Wheeler and Hoces R. 1997). Assigning the responsibility of vicuna 
management to campesino ranchers and/or campesino communities and 
granting those people the opportunity to legally realize economic gains 
from their management and protection efforts represents a significant 
bio-political decision. It is also significant that governments in four 
range countries have cooperated in the development of a vicuna wool 
industry and that scarce resources have been

[[Page 48754]]

devoted to the management of this species. Vicuna management, as 
described herein, is one of the better examples of the economic gains 
to be realized from the sustainable use of a biological resource.

Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment

    The definition of ``species'' in section 3(16) of the Act includes 
``any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or 
wildlife which interbreeds when mature.'' Distinct vertebrate 
population segments for purposes of listing under the Act are defined 
in the Service's February 7, 1996, Policy Regarding the Recognition of 
Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments (61 FR 4722). For a population 
to be listed under the Act as a distinct vertebrate population segment, 
three elements are considered: (1) The discreteness of the population 
segment in relation to the remainder of the species to which it 
belongs; (2) the significance of the population segment to the species 
to which it belongs; and (3) the population segment's conservation 
status in relation to the Act's standards for listing (i.e., is the 
population segment, when treated as if it were a species, endangered or 
threatened?). International borders may be used to delineate discrete 
population segments where there are significant differences in: (1) The 
control of exploitation; (2) management of habitat; (3) conservation 
status; or (4) regulatory mechanisms on each side of the border (61 FR 
4722). Discrete population segments can also be defined by marked 
physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral separation from 
other populations of the same taxon.
    We recognize the vicuna population of Ecuador as a distinct 
vertebrate population segment for purposes of listing under the ESA. 
The vicuna population of Ecuador is geographically isolated and 
separate from other vicuna in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. 
Historically, the vicuna was eliminated from Ecuador. A small, disjunct 
population has been recently reintroduced to Ecuador. The population 
was established from 100 animals exported from Bolivia in 1993. This 
was accomplished within the multilateral frameworks of both the Conveno 
para la Conservacion y Manejo de la Vicuna (Convention for the 
Conservation and Management of the Vicuna, or the Vicuna Convention) 
and the CITES Convention. It should be noted that Ecuador is also a 
Party to the Vicuna Convention. Ecuador's population remains listed in 
CITES Appendix I, and there is no plan to commercially utilize the 
species in the near future. Furthermore, the Parties to the Vicuna 
Convention view this as a separate population, worthy of special 
recovery efforts. Although the countries of the region that are Parties 
to the Vicuna Convention view this as an ``experimental'' population, 
that should not be seen in the domestic U.S. context of experimental 
populations under the Act, where criteria and definitions differ. For 
these reasons, the Ecuadoran population of vicuna satisfies the 
discreteness and significance criteria of the DVPS Policy, and, 
therefore, merits treatment as a distinct population segment under the 
    In contrast to the rather strict requirements for listing entities 
(species, subspecies, or distinct vertebrate population segments) under 
the ESA, CITES has retained a degree of flexibility in the listing 
process through the use of annotations. There is no specific 
requirement that populations be delimited by national borders or marked 
biological differences. CITES Article I defines a species as ``any 
species, subspecies, or geographically separate population thereof'', 
and different populations of a species can be listed in different CITES 
Appendices. Thus, it has been possible to transfer sub-national 
populations of vicuna in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile from Appendix I 
to Appendix II. This accounts for the lack of perfect symmetry between 
populations proposed for threatened status and those currently listed 
in Appendix II of CITES.

Summary of Findings

    The Service finds that the vicuna is a highly vulnerable species 
whose populations are generally increasing over a large area of very 
specific habitat--the high Andean tablelands of Argentina, Bolivia, 
Chile and Peru. The current status of the vicuna and its future 
potential seems directly attributable to recent bio-political decisions 
made in the range countries to turn over the custodianship of the 
species to the native people sharing these landscapes. Laws, decrees 
and infrastructures have been or are being developed to help the 
campesinos manage and protect the species. In return the campesinos are 
or are likely to receive critical financial benefits from that 
management that will benefit both individuals and their communities. 
The management and protection accorded to the vicunas, by campesinos in 
cooperation with governmental entities, provides the best opportunity 
for the vicuna to survive as a species and as a very important part of 
the Puna and Altoandina ecosystems.
    Specifically, we find that the vicuna is threatened by the (1) 
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its 
habitat or range, (2) previous or current overutilization, and (3) the 
possibility of inadequately controlled illegal harvest pressures 
including poaching, in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. A 
reclassification of the vicuna from endangered to threatened under the 
Act will, with the attendant special rule, allow carefully regulated 
commerce of vicuna products into the United States. Funds generated by 
opening the United States market will help provide the resources 
necessary to further manage the species.
    In response to the petition submitted by the International Vicuna 
Consortium, we find that: (1) Reclassification of the vicuna from 
endangered to threatened is warranted for all range countries except 
Ecuador; and (2) that a special rule is warranted for all Appendix II 
populations, with the exception of the Appendix II semi-captive 
populations of Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and San Juan 
Provinces in Argentina, which are specifically excluded until such time 
as their conservation benefit for wild vicuna is demonstrated 
adequately. The present publication provides a 12-month finding on that 
petition and includes a proposed special rule.

Description of the Proposed Special Rule

    The intent of the proposed special rule is to enhance the 
conservation of the vicuna through support for properly designed and 
implemented programs for vicuna conservation throughout their native 
range. The proposed special rule is intended to support the 
conservation efforts of the four range states of Argentina, Bolivia, 
Chile, and Peru, by acknowledging and deferring to certain of their 
management programs that allow utilization of vicuna wool from wild, 
live-sheared animals, with benefits accruing to indigenous communities.
    The proposed special rule clarifies that only properly identified 
vicuna products can be imported into the United States. The vicuna 
products that can be imported are only those items of either raw 
(unprocessed) vicuna wool or cloth, or items made from that wool, 
including luxury handicrafts and knitted articles, that are properly 
identified, and have accompanying valid, legal CITES Appendix II export 
permits or re-export certificates. Under the proposed special rule, an 
endangered or threatened species permit for individual shipments would 
not be required under 50 CFR part 17. To be

[[Page 48755]]

imported, vicuna products must originate in populations that are listed 
both as threatened under the Act and in Appendix II of CITES, with the 
exception that Appendix II semi-captive populations in Catamarca, 
Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and San Juan Provinces in Argentina are 
excluded from the proposed special rule until such time as their 
conservation benefit for wild vicuna populations is demonstrated 
adequately. If adequate information is presented during the public 
comment period, these populations may be included under the final 
special rule.
    We are aware that there have been poaching and illegal trade 
problems with this highly valuable species in the past, and any loss of 
control would seriously undermine the conservation programs of these 
countries, thereby potentially jeopardizing vicuna populations. 
Therefore, we propose not to allow the import of vicuna products from 
threatened and approved Appendix II populations if the countries of 
origin or the countries of manufacture or re-export have been 
determined by the CITES Conference of the Parties or the CITES Standing 
Committee to be not effectively implementing the Convention. 
Specifically, the proposed special rule would prohibit importation from 
countries of export or re-export that have either failed to designate a 
Management Authority or Scientific Authority, or have been identified 
by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, the Convention's 
Standing Committee or in a Notification from the Secretariat as a 
country from which Parties should not accept CITES permits.
    Commerce with the United States in vicuna products, if the proposed 
special rule is adopted as final at the conclusion of the regulatory 
process, will only be allowed with countries that have both designated 
CITES Management and Scientific Authorities, and that are not subject 
to a Schedule III Notice of Information for all wildlife or all CITES-
listed species. In the case where vicuna products are exported to a 
second country, for manufacturing purposes, and the finished products 
are re-exported to the United States, then neither the country of 
origin nor the country of re-export can be subject to Schedule III 
Notice of Information based on the criteria described in the special 
rule if imports are to be allowed. The U.S. Management Authority will 
provide on request the list of those countries subject to a Schedule 
III Notice of Information to those manufacturers in the country of re-
export and to importers so that they may be advised of restrictions on 
vicuna products. At present, no countries are subject to a Schedule III 
Notice of Information for all wildlife or all CITES-listed species.
    For vicuna and vicuna products, there is no personal effects 
exemption in the proposed special rule. That is, items purchased by 
travelers overseas or personal items owned by people moving to the 
United States will require appropriate CITES export documents (permits 
or re-export certificates) to be imported legally into the United 
States. This is based on analysis of the annotation for the vicuna in 
the official CITES Secretariat list of the CITES Appendices, and 
dialogue with the CITES Secretariat in Geneva. The vicuna annotations 
in the CITES Appendices are unique, and require that only certain 
products be exported from the range countries, under very strict 
conditions. For Peru, for example, the only products that can be 
exported (even non-commercially) are those manufactured from the 
stockpile held at the time of the ninth meeting of the Conference of 
the Parties, in November 1994, and they all require CITES Appendix II 
export permits. In Argentina, for example, articles bought by a foreign 
tourist at a government authorized store can be exported as personal 
accompanying baggage only after a CITES export permit has been 
obtained. In countries of re-export as well, very strict controls are 
required. The items manufactured from vicuna wool are very expensive 
luxury articles, and illegal trade poses a serious risk to the species 
and the conservation programs of the range states. Furthermore, all 
range countries require CITES permits for export of vicuna products, 
and do not recognize any personal effects exemption. It would be 
inappropriate and unfair to require export documents from range 
countries but not from countries of manufacture (re-export). Therefore, 
in this proposal, tourist souvenirs or other personal items require a 
CITES export document from the country of export or re-export in order 
to be legally imported into the United States.
    All products must comply with all product annotations as described 
in the CITES Secretariat's official annotated list of the CITES 
Appendices. If those product annotations change at a future meeting of 
the Conference of the Parties (COP) to CITES, the Service will have to 
re-evaluate its 4(d) finding. The criteria for determining if a vicuna 
product is properly identified are drawn from the CITES Appendices, and 
the product annotations for vicuna contained therein. For cloth and 
cloth products, the only products that can be imported are those where 
the reverse side of cloth and cloth products bear the logo adopted by 
countries signatory to the Conveno para la Conservacion y Manejo de la 
Vicuna (Vicuna Convention), and the words ``VICUNA--(Country of 
Origin)--ARTESANIA'' (country of origin is the name of the original 
exporting country where the vicuna wool in the products originated, 
either Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, or Peru). For finished vicuna 
products (including luxury handicrafts and knitted articles) and any 
bulk shipments of raw wool, the product or shipment must have a seal or 
identification tag with codes describing the origin of the vicuna 
product, the trademark or label (``VICUNA--(Country of Origin)--
ARTESANIA'') and the CITES export permit number. This proposed special 
rule, and these criteria for properly identified vicuna products, are 
derived from the CITES Appendices themselves. The product annotations 
were proposed by the range countries and adopted by the CITES 
Conference of the Parties. Therefore, we are proposing to align U.S. 
importation practices with those approved by the CITES Parties, in 
order to facilitate effective conservation of the vicuna in range 
countries. In our judgment the protective regulations set out in the 
proposed rule contain all of the measures that are necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the vicuna in Argentina, 
Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any action resulting from this proposal be as 
effective as possible. Therefore, we are soliciting any comments or 
suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the 
scientific community, the trade industry, or any other interested party 
concerning any aspect of this proposal. We are particularly seeking 
comments concerning biological or commercial trade impacts on any 
vicuna population, or other relevant data concerning any threat (or 
lack thereof) to the wild populations of vicuna in South America.
    Final action on the proposed reclassification of the vicuna, and 
the promulgation of the special rule will take into consideration the 
comments and any additional information we receive. Such communications 
may lead to adoption of final regulations that differ from those in the 
proposed rule.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that Environmental Assessments and Environmental 
Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of

[[Page 48756]]

1969, need not be prepared in connection with regulations adopted 
pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended. A notice outlining our reasons for this determination was 
published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This rule does not contain any new information collection 
requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The existing 
OMB information collection control number is 1018-0012. An Agency may 
not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a 
collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB 
control number. This rule does not alter that information collection 

Required Determinations

    We invite comments on the anticipated direct and indirect costs and 
benefits or cost savings associated with this proposed special rule, 
for vicuna. In particular, we are interested in obtaining information 
on any significant economic impact of the proposed special rule on 
small public and private entities. Once we have reviewed the available 
information, we will determine whether we need to prepare an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis for the special rule. We will make any 
such analysis or determination available for public review. Then, we 
will revise, as appropriate, and incorporate the information in the 
final rule preamble and in the record of compliance (ROC) certifying 
that the special rule complies with the various applicable statutory, 
Executive Order, and Departmental Manual requirements. Under the 
criteria in Executive Order 12866, the proposed special rule is not a 
significant regulatory action subject to review by the Office of 
Management and Budget.

References Cited

All personal communications mentioned below were received by Dr. Henry 
L. Short, Amherst, Massachusetts, a contractor working for the National 
Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Canedi, A. A. 1997. pers. comm. Argentina responses to questions. 
August 25, 1997.
Canedi, A. A. and P. S. Pasini. 1996. Repoblamiento y bioecologia de la 
vicuna silvestre en la Provincia de Jujuy, Argentina. pp. 7-24 in 
Animal Genetic Resources Information. United Nations Environment 
Programme. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 
CITES. 1997a. Proposal: Transfer of the vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) 
population in the province of Jujuy (21 47'S-24 38'S; 64 80'W-67 19'W) 
from Appendix I to Appendix II and of the populations in semi-captivity 
in the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, and San Juan, 
with the sole purpose of permitting international trade in wool fibre 
from live vicuna, in cloth and manufactured products, under the 
trademark ``VICUNA-ARGENTINA.'' Republic of Argentina.
CITES. 1997b. Proposal: Transfer of the populations (Vicugna vicugna) 
of the Conservation Units: Mauri-Desaguadero (17 30'S-18 30'S and 68 
30'W-69 30'W), Ulla Ulla (14 45'S-15 25''S and 69 00'W-69 20'W) and 
Lipez-Chichas (21 30'S-23 00'S and 66 20'W-68 10''W) from CITES 
Appendix I to Appendix II for the sole purpose of allowing 
international trade of fabrics made with fiber from the shearing of 
live animals under the trademark ``VICUNA-BOLIVIA.'' Republic of 
CNVB. 1996. Censo Nacional de la Vicuna en Bolivia: Gestion 1996. 
Direccion Nacional de Conservacion de la Biodiversidad.
Comision Regional de la Vicuna. 1994. Acciones de las Provincias 
Argentinas para su Conservacion y Uso Sustentable. Republica Argentina, 
Salta. 25pp.
DNCB (Direccion Nacional de Conservacion de la Biodiversidad, Unidad de 
Vida Silvestre). 1997. pers. comm. Bolivia responses to questions. 
August 1997.
Galaz, J. 1997. pers. comm. August 1997.
Hoces, R.D. 1997. pers. comm. Peru responses to questions. September 
INFOL. 1985. Memoria VI Reunion Ordinaria de la Comision Tecnico 
Administradora del Convenio para la Conservacion de la Vicuna. La Paz, 
Nowak, R. N. 1991. Vicuna. pp. 1353-1357 in Walker's Mammals of the 
World. Fifth edition. Volume II. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 
Baltimore and London.
SAG (Servicio Agricola y Ganadero). 1997. pers. comm. Chile responses 
to questions. August 22, 1997.
Wheeler, J.C., and D. Hoces R. 1997. Community participation, 
sustainable use, and vicuna conservation in Peru. Mountain Research and 
Development 17(3): 283-287.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulations Promulgation

    Accordingly, the Service hereby proposes to amend part 17, 
subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
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. Section 17.11(h) is amended by revising the entry for the 
vicuna, under ``Mammals'', on the list of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife to read as follows:

Sec. 17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened

                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *
Vicuna...........................  Vicugna vicugna.....  Argentina, Bolivia,  Entire, except       T                   3, ____           NA    17.40 (k)
                                                          Chile, Ecuador,      Ecuador.
    Do                             ......do              ......do             Ecuador............  E                   3, ____           NA           NA

                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *

[[Page 48757]]

    3. Paragraph (k) is added to Sec. 17.40 and reads as follows:

Sec. 17.40  Special rules--mammals.

* * * * *
    (k) Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna)--(1) Prohibitions. All provisions of 
Sec. 17.31 (a) and (b) and Sec. 17.32 of this part shall apply to 
vicuna and vicuna products from both populations listed in Appendix I 
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild 
Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Appendix II semi-captive populations of 
Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, and San Juan Provinces in Argentina. 
Except as provided in paragraph (k)(2) of this section, it is unlawful 
for any person to commit, attempt to commit, solicit to commit, or 
cause to be committed any acts described in paragraphs (k)(1)(i)-(ii) 
of this section with vicuna from all other populations listed in 
Appendix II of CITES:
    (i) Import, export, and re-export.
    (ii) Sell or offer for sale, deliver, receive, carry, transport, or 
ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial 
    (2) Exceptions. The import, export, or re-export of, or interstate 
or foreign commerce in vicuna products, consisting of either raw wool 
or items and cloth made, or partially made, from vicuna wool, may be 
allowed without a threatened species permit issued pursuant to 50 CFR 
17.32 when the provisions in parts 13, 14, and 23 and the applicable 
paragraphs set out below have been met:
    (i) The vicuna product must comply with all CITES product 
annotations as given in the CITES Secretariat's official list of the 
CITES Appendices and found at 50 CFR 23.23, and be identified as 
    (A) Cloth and cloth products: The reverse side of cloth and cloth 
products must bear the logo adopted by countries signatory to the 
``Conveno para la Conservacion y Manejo de la Vicuna'', and the words 
``VICUNA-(Country of Origin)-ARTESANIA'', where country of origin is 
the name of the original exporting country where the vicuna wool in the 
products originated.
    (B) Finished vicuna products (including luxury handicrafts and 
knitted articles) and any bulk shipments of raw wool: The product or 
shipment must have a seal or identification tag with codes describing 
the origin of the vicuna product, the trademark or label (``VICUNA-
(Country of Origin)-ARTESANIA'') and the CITES export permit number, 
where country of origin is the name of the original exporting country 
where the vicuna wool in the products originated.
    (ii) The accompanying CITES permit or certificate must contain the 
following information:
    (A) The country of origin, its export permit number, and date of 
    (B) If re-export, the country of re-export, its certificate number, 
and date of issuance.
    (C) If applicable, the country of last re-export, its certificate 
number, and date of issuance.
    (iii) At the time of import, for each shipment covered by this 
exception, the country of origin and each country of re-export involved 
in the trade of a particular shipment must not be subject to a Schedule 
III Notice of Information pertaining to all wildlife or to all CITES-
listed wildlife that may prohibit or restrict imports. A listing of all 
countries that are subject to such a Schedule III Notice of Information 
will be available by writing: The Office of Management Authority, ARLSQ 
Room 700, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Arlington, Virginia, 22203.
    (3) Notice of Information. Except in rare cases involving 
extenuating circumstances that do not adversely affect the conservation 
of the species, the Service will issue a Schedule III Notice of 
Information that identifies a restriction on trade in specimens of 
vicuna addressed in this paragraph (k) if any of the following criteria 
are met:
    (i) The country is listed in a Notification to the Parties by the 
CITES Secretariat as lacking both designated Management and Scientific 
Authorities that issue CITES documents or their equivalent.
    (ii) The country is identified in any action adopted by the 
Conference of the Parties to the Convention, the Convention's Standing 
Committee, or in a Notification issued by the CITES Secretariat, 
whereby Parties are asked to not accept shipments of specimens of any 
CITES-listed species from the country in question.

    Dated: August 23, 1999.
Donald J. Barry,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 99-23333 Filed 9-7-99; 8:45 am]