[Federal Register: February 7, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 26)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 5780]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 5780]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1080-A117

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of the 
Comment Period and Announcement of a Public Meeting for the Proposed 
Rule To List the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit as Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed Rule; notice of reopening of comment period and 
announcement of public meeting.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), provide 
notice of the reopening of the comment period for the proposed rule to 
list the Columbia Basin distinct population segment of the pygmy rabbit 
(Brachylagus idahoensis) as endangered. The comment period is reopened 
to accommodate requests by State resource agencies and private 
interests for additional time to provide input. We have also scheduled 
a public meeting during the reopened comment period to discuss the 
information we have available for this proposed action, and to 
facilitate submission of additional information and comments from all 
interested parties.

DATES: The original comment period for the proposed rule was scheduled 
to close January 29, 2002. With this reopening notification, written 
comments may now be submitted until February 28, 2002. The public 
meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12, 

ADDRESSES: Written comments, data, reports, map products, and other 
information concerning the proposed rule should be sent by mail or 
hand-delivered to the Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper 
Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office, 11103 East Montgomery Drive, 
Spokane, Washington 99206. The public meeting will be held in the 
auditorium of the Douglas County Public Utility District Office, 1151 
Valley Mall Parkway, East Wenatchee, Washington 98802. Additional 
information and written comments may also be hand delivered at the 
public meetings.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Warren at the Upper Columbia 
Fish and Wildlife Office (address listed above; telephone 509/891-6839; 
facsimile 509/891-6748).



    Historically, the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit occurred in dense, 
shrub steppe habitats in five central Washington counties. Currently, 
this population segment consists of a single known wild colony, 
totaling fewer than 25 individuals in Douglas County, Washington, and 
an additional 17 individuals that are being held in captivity. The 
Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is imminently threatened by its extremely 
small population size and restricted distribution, coupled with the 
risks from catastrophic environmental events, habitat impacts, disease, 
predation, and loss of genetic heterogeneity.
    Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), we published an emergency rule to list the 
Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit as endangered on November 30, 2001 (66 FR 
59734). The emergency rule provides immediate Federal protection to 
this distinct population segment for a period of 240 days. We also 
published a proposed rule on November 30, 2001, to list the Columbia 
Basin pygmy rabbit as endangered under our normal listing procedures 
(66 FR 59769).
    For further information regarding background biological 
information, previous Federal actions, factors affecting the species, 
and conservation measures available to the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, 
please refer to our emergency and proposed rules published in the 
Federal Register on November 30, 2001.

Public Comments Solicited

    With this notification, we solicit additional information and 
comments that may assist us in making a final decision on the proposed 
rule to list the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit as endangered. We intend 
that any final listing action resulting from our proposal will be as 
accurate and effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments and 
additional information from the general public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other 
interested party concerning this proposed rule. Comments are 
particularly sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data regarding 
any threat (or lack thereof) to the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit;
    (2) Information regarding the range, distribution, and population 
size of this distinct population segment, including the locations of 
any additional colonies of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit;
    (3) Information (e.g., maps, data, unpublished reports) and 
justification regarding why any habitat should or should not be 
determined to be critical habitat for the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit 
as provided by section 4 of the Act;
    (4) Current or planned activities that could potentially impact the 
Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit.
    In making any final decision on the proposed action, we will take 
into consideration the comments and any additional information we 
receive, and such communications may lead to a final regulation that 
differs from the proposal.


    The primary author of this notice is Chris Warren of the Upper 
Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).


    The authority of this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: January 18, 2002.
David J. Wesley,
Acting Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 02-2924 Filed 2-6-02; 8:45 am]