[Federal Register: July 2, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 127)]
[Page 39590-39593]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-day Finding for 
a Petition to Delist the Mexican Bobcat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding for a petition to delist the Mexican bobcat (Lynx rufus 
escuinapae) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After 
reviewing the petition and available scientific and commercial 
information, we find that the petition presents substantial information 
indicating that listing may no longer be warranted. With the 
publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of the 
Mexican bobcat. In addition to requesting information on the status of 
the Mexican bobcat, we are requesting information on whether the 
subspecies designation is taxonomically valid. If not valid, we also 
request information on the status of

[[Page 39591]]

the listed entity within Mexico for the purpose of determining if the 
Mexican population constitutes a distinct population segment (DPS) or 
constitutes a significant portion of the range of the species. We will 
prepare and publish a 12-month finding.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on June 11, 
2003. To be considered in the 12-month finding for this petition, 
comments and information should be submitted to us by September 30, 

ADDRESSES: Submit information, comments, or questions concerning this 
petition finding to the Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Rm 750, Arlington, VA 
22203 (facsimile number 703-358-2276; E-mail address: 
ScientificAuthority@fws.gov). The petition, supporting information, and 
comments will be available for public inspection, by appointment, from 
8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen L. Anderson, Division of 
Scientific Authority (see ADDRESSES section) (telephone 703-358-1708; 
facsimile 703-358-2276).



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)), requires us to make a finding 
on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. This finding is to be based on all 
information available to us at the time the finding is made. To the 
maximum extent practicable, this finding is to be made within 90 days 
of the date the petition was received, and a notice of the finding is 
to be published promptly in the Federal Register. If the finding is 
that substantial information was presented, we are required to promptly 
commence a review of the status of the involved species. After 
completing the status review, we will issue an additional finding (the 
12-month finding) on whether delisting is, in fact, warranted.
    On July 8, 1996, we received a petition dated June 30, 1996, from 
the National Trappers Association, Inc., Bloomington, Illinois. The 
petition and cover letter clearly identified itself as such and 
contained the name, address, and signature of the petitioning 
organization's representative. Information relating to the taxonomy, 
the present population status and trends, and threats were included in 
the petition. The petition requested that we delist the Mexican bobcat 
under the Act, and noted that downlisting to threatened status would 
not be an appropriate alternative. In a letter dated November 4, 1996, 
we acknowledged receipt of the petition (Service, in litt., 1996). We 
stated that we would address the petition as soon as possible. Due to 
staffing and budget constraints, we have been unable to process this 
petition until now.
    The Mexican bobcat belongs to the mammalian family Felidae and has 
been reported to be a subspecies of Lynx rufus. The number of taxa 
described within Lynx rufus ranges from 11 to 14. Allen (1903) first 
described this subspecies from two immature male specimens found in 
Escuinapa, Mexico, on the basis of color and cranial differences. 
However, the validity of this subspecies is questionable. Samson (1979) 
conducted a multivariate statistical analysis of a variety of skull 
measurements and found cranial characteristics of L. r. escuinapae to 
be similar to those of L. r. californicus and L. r. texensis. Also, the 
range of escuinapae overlaps with the ranges of baileyi and texensis. 
However, McCord and Cardoza (1982) noted that statistical analysis of 
skull measurements only have meaning in large samples and are thus 
ineffective in the subspecific assignment of individual specimens. They 
also noted that the 11 to 14 subspecies of bobcats described to date 
comprise few realistically distinguishable taxa that have any real 
biological or conservation significance.
    The majority of bobcats are found in the United States, where they 
range through a wide variety of habitats, including boreal coniferous 
and mixed forests in the north, bottomland hardwood forest and coastal 
swamp in the southeast, and desert and scrubland in the southwest. Even 
within a local area, individual bobcats usually use a variety of 
habitats (Wilson and Ruff 1999). Only large, intensively cultivated 
areas appear to be unsuitable habitat. Southern Canada represents the 
northern limit of bobcat range, with deep snow a significant limiting 
factor. With the clearing of mature coniferous forests for agriculture, 
the bobcat has expanded its range northward over the past century 
(Rollings 1945, Banfield 1974). In Mexico, bobcats are found in dry 
scrubland and forest of pine (Pinus spp.) and oak (Quercus spp.), 
principally in the mountainous northern and central parts of the 
country, and not in the tropical south (Hall and Kelson 1959; Gonzalez 
and Leal 1984 and Woloszyn and Woloszyn 1982 cited by Nowell and 
Jackson 1996). Lynx rufus escuinapae is the southernmost race of bobcat 
found in Mexico.
    No population estimates are available for Lynx rufus escuinapae, 
but the Mexican Government has stated that this subspecies is 
widespread and numerous, is not specialized in its habitat 
requirements, and is highly ecologically adaptable (Graciela de la 
Garza Garcia, Direccion General de Conservacion Ecologia de los 
Recursos Naturalese, in litt. 1991).
    Little information is available on utilization of the species in 
Mexico, but local hunting and trapping for subsistence is possible. 
There is no indication of illegal trade and no reported potential trade 
threats (Govt. of U.S. 1992; Service, in litt. 1992).
    We listed the Mexican bobcat as an endangered species on June 14, 
1976 (41 FR 24064). This subspecies was listed under the Act due to its 
inclusion in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). By July 1, 1975, 
the Convention was ratified by enough nations to enter into force and 
at that time the countries participating in CITES agreed that the 
Mexican bobcat met the criteria for inclusion in Appendix I. Appendix I 
includes all species threatened with extinction and that are or may be 
affected by international trade. In 1992, during the 10-year review of 
species included in the CITES Appendices, we, with support from Mexico 
and other countries, proposed to transfer the Mexican bobcat to 
Appendix II, based on the bobcat's widespread and stable status in 
Mexico and questionable taxonomy. Our proposal was accepted and the 
transfer went into effect on November 6, 1992. It is not clear at this 
time why the Mexican bobcat was originally included in Appendix I.

Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment

    We must consider any species for listing under the Act if available 
information indicates such action may be warranted. ``Species'' is 
defined by the Act as including any subspecies of fish and wildlife or 
plants, and any distinct population segment of vertebrate fish or 
wildlife that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532 (16)). We, along 
with the National Marine Fisheries Service (National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration-Fisheries), developed the Policy Regarding 
the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments (DPS Policy) 
(61 FR 4722) to help us in determining what constitutes a distinct 
population segment (DPS). Under this policy, we use three elements to 

[[Page 39592]]

whether a population under consideration for listing may be recognized 
as a DPS: (1) Discreteness of the population 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.
    The DPS analysis is a stepwise analysis; significance is considered 
only when discreteness of the population has been determined, and the 
conservation status is considered only when both discreteness and 
significance of the population have been established. Discreteness 
refers to the isolation of a population from other members of the 
species and is based on two criteria: (1) Marked separation from other 
populations of the same taxon resulting from physical, physiological, 
ecological, or behavioral factors, including genetic discontinuity; or 
(2) populations delimited by international boundaries. If the 
population is determined to be discrete, we determine significance by 
assessing the distinct population segment's importance and/or 
contribution to the species throughout its range. Measures of 
significance may include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) 
Persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting 
unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the discrete 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon; (3) evidence that the discrete population segment represents 
the only surviving natural occurrence of the taxon that may be more 
abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historic 
range; and (4) evidence the discrete population segment differs 
markedly from other populations of the taxon in its genetic 
    If we determine that a population meets the discreteness and 
significance criteria for a distinct population segment, we evaluate 
the threats to determine if endangered or threatened status based on 
the Act's standards is warranted. Endangered means the species is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range. Threatened means the species is likely to become endangered 
within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range.
    In reviewing the taxonomic information on Mexican bobcat, it is 
unclear whether this subspecies is valid. If the subspecies designation 
is not valid, then we must evaluate the status of the listed entity in 
its range within Mexico and determine whether the listed entity meets 
the DPS policy, and if so, whether this population of bobcat should 
remain listed. Although the petition did not address this issue, we 
will consider this question during our status review.

Petition Finding

    We have reviewed the petition, the literature cited in the 
petition, and other literature and information available in our files. 
On the basis of the best scientific and commercial information, we find 
that the petition presents substantial information to indicate that the 
Mexican bobcat may warrant being delisted.
    With the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status 
review of the Mexican bobcat to determine whether delisting is 
warranted based on its status and taxonomy. If this subspecies is not 
taxonomically valid, we will also evaluate if the population of the 
listed entity in Mexico constitutes a DPS, and if so, whether or not we 
should retain the listing of this entity. If this population does not 
meet the DPS criteria, we will then evaluate whether or not the 
population of the listed entity is endangered or threatened in a 
significant portion of the species' (i.e., Lynx rufus) range.

Public Information Solicited

    When we make a finding that sufficient information exists to 
indicate that delisting of a species may be warranted, we are required 
to promptly commence a review of the status of the species. To ensure 
that the status review is complete and based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting information on 
the Mexican bobcat (Lynx rufus escuinapae) throughout the listed 
entity's range in Mexico. If we determine that the subspecies 
designation is not valid, then information on the status of the listed 
entity rangewide will, in particular, assist us in determining if the 
Mexican population meets the distinct vertebrate population segment 
criteria, or constitutes a significant portion of the range.
    We request any additional information, comments, and suggestions 
from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific community, 
industry, and any other interested parties concerning the status of 
this subspecies of the bobcat throughout its range in Mexico. We are 
seeking information regarding taxonomy, historic and current 
distribution, habitat use and habitat conditions, biology and ecology, 
ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies and its habitat, and 
threats to the subspecies and its habitat. We are particularly 
interested in recent information on the taxonomy of the bobcat, and 
specifically whether escuinapae is a valid subspecies or whether it 
should be considered part of other subspecies. We also request any 
additional information that will support the DPS analysis of the 
discreteness and significance, as defined in our DPS policy (see 
Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment section above), of this Mexican 
population relative to the species as a whole.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials 
concerning this finding to the Chief, Division of Scientific Authority 
(see ADDRESSES section). Our practice is to make comments, including 
names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review 
during regular office hours. Respondents may request that we withhold 
their identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your 
name or address, you must state this request prominently at the 
beginning of your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous 
comments. To the extent consistent with applicable law, we will make 
all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. 
Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

References Cited

    Allen, J.A. 1903. A New Deer and a New Lynx From the State of 
Sinaloa, Mexico. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull., 19:613-615.
    Banfield, A.W. 1974. The Mammals of Canada. Univ. Toronto Press, 
    Hall, E. R., and K. R. Kelson 1959. The Mammals of North America. 
The Ronald Press Company, New York.
    Government of the United States. 1992. Proposal to Transfer Felis 
rufa escuinapae from Appendix I to Appendix II. Proc. Conf. of the 
Parties to CITES 8, CITES Secretariat, Lausanne.
    Gonzalez, C.B., and C.G. Leal. 1984. [Forest Mammals of the Mexican 
Basin.] Programme on Man and the Biosphere (UNESCO) and Editorial 
Limusa. Mexico City (in Spanish).
    McCord, C.M., and J.E. Cardoza. 1982. Bobcat and Lynx. Pp 728-766 
in J.A. Chapman and G.A. Feldhamer, eds. Wild Mammals of North America: 
Biology, Management and Economics. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 

[[Page 39593]]

    Nowell, K., and P. Jackson. eds. 1996. Wild Cats: Status Survey and 
Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, 
    Rollings, C.T. 1945. Habits, Food and Parasites of the Bobcat in 
Minnesota. J. Wildl. Manage. 9:131-145.
    Samson, F.B. 1979. Multivariate Analysis of Cranial Characteristics 
Among Bobcats with a Preliminary Discussion of the Number of 
Subspecies. Bobcat Res. Conf. Natl. Wildl. Fed. Sci. Tech. Ser. 6:80-
    Wilson, D.E., and S. Ruff. eds. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North 
American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.
    Woloszyn, D., and B.W. Woloszyn. 1982. [The Mammals of Sierra de La 
Laguna Baja California Sur.] Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technologia, 
Mexico (in Spanish).


    The primary author of this document is Karen L. Anderson of the 
Division of Scientific Authority (see ADDRESSES above).


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

    Dated: June 11, 2003.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-16725 Filed 7-1-03; 8:45 am]