[Federal Register: October 4, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 191)]
[Page 53686-53688]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Migratory Bird Permits; Notice of Intent To Prepare Two 
Management Plans and Environmental Assessments for Take of Wild 
Peregrine Falcons

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) was 
removed from the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) on 
August 25, 1999. The arctic peregrine falcon (F. p. tundrius) was 
removed from ESA protection in 1994. Due to their special status as 
recently delisted subspecies, we intend to develop two

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joint State/Federal management plans to govern take of wild peregrine 
falcons (F. peregrinus) in the United States. We will prepare 
Environmental Assessments (EAs) for public review as part of the 
process. One management plan will address take of peregrine falcon 
nestlings in the United States. The other will address take of immature 
peregrines that originate in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, and migrate 
through the contiguous United States. These management plans will be 
developed cooperatively by the Service and the States with input from 
the governments of Canada, Greenland, and Mexico. Once the plans are 
completed, the States will be responsible for managing the species 
within the framework of the plans. Our intent is that these management 
plans will apply only until the Service and the States agree that 
special management is no longer warranted. Comments on development of 
harvest strategies and management plans are solicited and will be 
considered in development of the plans and associated Environmental 

DATES: Written comments are requested by November 12, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Please submit written comments to the Chief, Office of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North 
Fairfax Drive, Room 634, Arlington, Virginia 22203 (fax: 703/358-2272).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George Allen, Office of Migratory Bird 
Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 703/358-1714.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Three subspecies of peregrine falcon are 
recognized in North America: the maritime, or Peale's peregrine (F. p. 
pealei); the tundra, or arctic peregrine; and the American peregrine. 
The Peale's peregrine is a year round resident of the coastal areas of 
western Canada and southern Alaska to the Aleutians. It was never 
listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA. The arctic peregrine 
breeds in the northern tundra regions from Alaska across Canada to 
Greenland. It was listed as endangered, but breeding populations in 
North America expanded considerably in recent decades, and the 
subspecies was delisted in 1994 (October 5, 1994; 59 FR 50796). The 
American peregrine subspecies breeds from the boreal forests of Alaska 
and Canada south through the western United States and northern Mexico. 
Numeric recovery goals for breeding pairs in southeastern Canada and 
the eastern United States have recently been met, and numbers now 
exceed recovery goals over most of its North American range. We 
delisted the American peregrine falcon, and removed the similarity of 
appearance provision for free-flying peregrines in the conterminous 
states, on August 25, 1999 (64 FR 46542). That action had the effect of 
eliminating the Endangered Species Act prohibitions against take of 
wild-caught peregrines for falconry, raptor propagation, scientific 
collecting, and other purposes permittable under the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act. However, except for scientific research, which will be 
considered on a case-by-case basis, and depredation permits issued for 
public safety reasons at airports, we have continued the prohibition on 
take of wild peregrines until we complete management plans to govern 
    Migrant juvenile peregrines were captured by falconers along the 
Atlantic coast barrier islands annually for many years prior to 1970, 
and migrants and nestlings were taken less regularly elsewhere in the 
United States. Falconers would like the use of wild peregrines to 
resume now that peregrines have met recovery goals. Although captive-
bred peregrines have been available for falconry since 1983, wild 
peregrines have not been available due to ESA restrictions, except in 
Alaska where a limited take of Peale's peregrines is allowed, and a 
limited take of arctic peregrines has been allowed since its delisting.
    Falconry is regulated under a joint State-Federal permitting system 
(50 CFR 21.28--21.29). Regulations provide for three progressive 
classes of falconry permits'apprentice, general, and master 
falconer'depending on the individual's level of experience. Apprentice 
falconers may possess only one raptor at a time and may take only 
certain species, which do not include peregrine falcons. General 
falconers may possess two raptors at a time and may take no more than 
two from the wild during any 12-month period. Master falconers may 
possess three raptors and take no more than two from the wild during 
any 12-month period. Federal and most State falconry regulations permit 
the removal from the wild of non-endangered raptors for falconry.
    In anticipation of high interest in take of wild peregrines for 
falconry following the delisting of the American peregrine, we have 
been working with the States to develop harvest criteria that will 
ensure that recovery achieved under the ESA is sustained and that 
further population growth is not impeded. We will develop, 
cooperatively with the States, two management plans. The first plan 
will deal with take of nestling (eyas) peregrines in the United States. 
The second plan will deal with take of juvenile migrant (passage) 
peregrines. Most migrant peregrines will originate in Canada, 
Greenland, or Alaska. The management plans will include (1) biological 
criteria for a harvest of peregrine falcons, (2) implementation 
criteria for the harvest, and (3) procedures for evaluating and 
adjusting harvest in an adaptive-management framework. The management 
plans will provide overall guidance for take of peregrines. Within the 
framework provided by each plan, the States will be responsible for 
decisions about harvest.
    To avoid compromising the restoration of peregrine populations in 
North America, our preliminary objectives for the combined plans are:
    (1) Protect from harvest to the extent possible, nestling and 
dispersing juvenile American peregrines from natal areas in eastern 
Canada and eastern United States.
    (2) Allow a conservative and sustainable level of take of migrant 
juvenile peregrines originating from the Alaskan and Canadian arctic 
and Greenland.
    (3) Allow a conservative and sustainable level of take of nestling 
peregrines from healthy populations in the western United States and 
    The Environmental Assessments will likely include several 
alternatives, such as various harvest levels from particular management 
groups. Possible harvest levels include no take, take of 5 percent or 
10 percent of annual production, or no restrictions on take beyond the 
existing falconry regulations (i.e., no management plan).
    Because take of nestlings is a United States issue, we expect to 
complete this plan ahead of the plan for migrants, which will require 
international coordination with Canada, Greenland, and Mexico. We hope 
to complete the plan and EA for nestlings by spring and for migrants by 
fall, 2000, respectively.
    The Service has a statutory obligation under the ESA to monitor the 
status of delisted species in cooperation with the States. The purpose 
of the ESA monitoring plan is to ensure that recovery is sustained. We 
intend to publish a draft ESA monitoring plan for the American 
peregrine falcon in the Federal Register in the near future. Take of 
American peregrines under the MBTA pursuant to the management plans 
that are the subject of this current notice will be considered during 
the ESA monitoring program. However, the management plans under MBTA, 
which will govern take of all North American subspecies of peregrine, 
and the monitoring plan for the American

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peregrine subspecies under ESA are otherwise unrelated.

    Dated: September 27, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-25734 Filed 10-1-99; 8:45 am]