[Federal Register: April 23, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 78)]
[Page 20020-20021]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of the Recovery Plan for the Alaska-Breeding 
Population of the Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability of the final recovery plan for the threatened Alaska-
breeding population of the Steller's eider (Polysticta stelleri). The 
threatened Alaska-breeding population of Steller's eiders occurs in 
disjunct coastal and marine areas in northern and western Alaska. 
Although formerly locally common in portions of western and northern 
Alaska, they have nearly disappeared from western Alaska, and only 
hundreds or low thousands exist in northern Alaska. Causes of the 
decline are poorly understood. Recovery tasks include reduction of 
exposure to lead shot and other forms of human-caused mortality, 
acquisition of information on population parameters and ecology, re-
establishment of the western Alaska subpopulation, and development of 
partnerships for recovery efforts.

ADDRESSES: Copies of this recovery plan are available by request from 
the Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Office, 101 12th Ave., Box 19, Rm 110, 
Fairbanks, AK 99701 (telephone 907/456-0203; facsimile 907/456-0208) or 
from Fish and Wildlife Service, 5430 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 110, 
Bethesda, Maryland 20814, (301/429-6403 or 1-800-582-3421). The fee for 
the plan varies depending on the number of pages of the plan. This 
recovery plan will be made available on the World Wide Web at http://endangered.fws.gov/RECOVERY/RECPLANS/Index.htm

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ted Swem, Endangered Species Branch 
Chief, at the above Fairbanks address.



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To guide 
recovery, the Service is working to prepare recovery plans for most 
listed species native to the United States. Recovery plans describe 
actions considered necessary for conservation of species, establish 
criteria for downlisting or delisting, and estimate time and cost for 
implementing the recovery measures needed.
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as amended in 1988, 
requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and 
comment be provided during recovery plan development. Information 
presented during the public comment period has been considered in the 
preparation of this final recovery plan. We will forward substantive 
comments regarding recovery plan implementation to appropriate Federal 
or other entities so that they can take these comments into account 
during the course of implementing recovery actions.
    Three breeding populations of Steller's eiders are recognized: two 
in Arctic Russia and one in Alaska. Neither Russian population is 
listed as threatened or endangered. The Alaska-breeding population is 
the only population listed as threatened or endangered, and this 
recovery plan pertains exclusively to the conservation of this 
    The Alaska-breeding population was listed as threatened under the 
Act on June 11, 1997 (62 FR 31748). The decision to list the Alaska-
breeding population of Steller's eiders as threatened was based on a 
substantial decrease in the species' nesting range in Alaska and the 
resulting increased vulnerability of the remaining breeding population 
to extirpation. When the Alaska-breeding population of the Steller's 
eider was listed as threatened, the factor or factors causing the 
decline were unknown. Factors identified as potential causes of decline 
included predation, hunting, ingestion of spent lead shot in wetlands, 
and changes in the marine environment that could

[[Page 20021]]

affect Steller's eider food or other resources. Since listing, other 
potential threats have been identified, but the causes of decline and 
obstacles to recovery remain poorly understood. Accordingly, a 
significant number of early recovery tasks will involve research to 
identify threats and evaluate their impacts.
    The objective of this plan is to establish a framework for the 
recovery of the Steller's eider so that protection by the Act is no 
longer necessary. Interim objectives are: (1) To prevent further 
declines of the Alaska-breeding population (including both the northern 
and western Alaska subpopulations); (2) to protect Alaska-breeding 
Steller's eiders and their habitats; (3) to identify and alleviate 
causes of decline and/or obstacles to recovery; and (4) to determine 
size, trends, and distribution of the northern and western Alaska-
breeding subpopulations. The recovery plan provides criteria and 
threshold population levels for delisting and reclassification (i.e., 
from threatened to endangered).

    Authority: The authority for this action is Section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: March 31, 2003.
David B. Allen,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 03-9893 Filed 4-22-03; 8:45 am]