[Federal Register: April 3, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 64)]
[Page 15825]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Emergency Exemption Issuance of Endangered Species 
Recovery Permit

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of emergency exemption issuance.


SUMMARY: The following applicant has been issued a scientific research 
permit to conduct certain activities with an endangered species 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (16 USC 1531 et seq.).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Linda Belluomini, Permits Biologist at 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Washington Department of Fish and 
Wildlife (WDFW) has been authorized via permit number TE-050644, by the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region, to increase, the area 
in which it surveys, captures, and handles individuals from the 
Columbia Basin distinct population segment of the pygmy rabbit 
(Brachylagus idahoensis; pygmy rabbit), and to maintain firebreaks 
located in their habitat in conjunction with research, a captive 
propagation program, and to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fire 
throughout the species range. We issued this permit for the purpose of 
enhancing the propagation and survival of the pygmy rabbit. The 30-day 
public comment period required by the Endangered Species Act (Act) was 
waived in accordance with section 10(c) of the Act upon a determination 
that an emergency affecting the health and life of specimens of pygmy 
rabbit exists, and that no reasonable alternative is available to the 
    The pygmy rabbit has undergone dramatic annual declines since 1998, 
and the entire wild portion of this population now consists of fewer 
than 50 individuals from just 1 known colony on State land in Douglas 
County, Washington. As part of a captive breeding program, initiated by 
the WDFW during the spring of 2001, an additional 14 individuals from 
this population are being held in captivity, including 5 offspring born 
at the holding facility. The capture of additional animals from the 
wild, throughout the species range, will help to ensure genetic 
diversity of the species by complementing the genetic profiles and 
potential breeding scenarios of those already in captivity. Any pygmy 
rabbits that are not considered essential to the captive breeding 
program will be left in the wild, and ongoing management to protect 
this portion of the population will continue.
    Pygmy rabbits may experience significant mortality due to increased 
susceptibility to wild fires if fire breaks located within their 
habitat are not properly maintained. These firebreaks need to be 
maintained before reproductive behavior is exhibited and especially 
prior to young of the year being born as early as mid-April.
    Delay in the WDFW's planned activities due to the 30-day public 
comment period could jeopardize the success of the captive breeding 
program and, ultimately, the long-term security of the pygmy rabbit.

    Dated: March 20, 2002.
Rowan W. Gould,
Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 02-8021 Filed 4-2-02; 8:45 am]