[Federal Register: May 27, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 103)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 30277-30278]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH55

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Reclassification From Endangered to Threatened Status for the Mariana 
Fruit Bat from Guam, and Proposed Threatened Status for the Mariana 
Fruit Bat from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), provide notice of 
the reopening of the comment period on the proposed threatened status 
for the Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus) throughout its 
range, to allow peer reviewers and all interested parties to submit 
comments on the proposal. Comments already submitted on the March 26, 
1998, proposed rule need not be resubmitted as they will be fully 
considered in the final determination.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by June 
28, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials concerning the proposal should be 
sent to the Assistant Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and 
Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana 
Boulevard, Room 3-122, P.O. Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850. For further 
instructions on commenting, refer to the Public Comments Solicited 
section of this notice.

Supervisor, at the above address (telephone 808/792-9400; facsimile 



    On March 26, 1998, we published a proposed rule to reclassify the 
Mariana fruit bat from endangered to threatened on Guam and list the 
Mariana fruit bat as threatened in the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands (CNMI) (63 FR 14641).
    This subspecies of the Mariana fruit bat is found throughout the 
Mariana Archipelago, which includes both the United States Territory of 
Guam and the CNMI. In the CNMI, the Mariana fruit bat occurs primarily 
on private and Commonwealth lands, including inhabited and uninhabited 
islands. On Guam, it is known to roost primarily on Federal lands and 
to forage widely throughout the island. Currently, fewer than 100 
individual Mariana fruit bats remain on Guam and several thousand 
individuals are distributed among the islands of the CNMI. The Mariana 
fruit bat and its habitats have been impacted or are now threatened by 
one or more of the following: illegal hunting, predation by introduced 
predators such as brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis), rats, and feral 
cats; habitat loss to agriculture and development; habitat degradation 
or destruction by feral ungulates; disturbance from human activities; 
natural disasters or random environmental events such as hurricanes; 
fire; vandalism; and inconsistent enforcement of territorial and 
Federal laws and international conventions to protect this species. The 
best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the 
Mariana fruit bats in the CNMI and Guam represent one population, but 
also recognizes that the survival of these bats on Guam continues to be 
threatened by a variety of factors. However, when viewed in the context 
of representing a portion of the entire Mariana fruit bat population in 
the Mariana Islands, rather than as a distinct population as previously 
thought, reclassification from endangered to threatened is appropriate 
and biologically justified. Therefore, proposing to list the entire 
population of Pteropus mariannus mariannus as threatened throughout its 
range, including bats in both the CNMI and Guam, retains an appropriate 
level of protection for this bat on Guam while increasing the overall 
protection to the Mariana fruit bat throughout the Mariana Islands.
    In our March 26, 1998, proposed rule and associated notifications, 
we requested that all interested parties submit comments, data, or 
other information that might contribute to the development of a final 
rule. A 60-day comment period closed on May 26, 1998. On May 29, 1998, 
we reopened the public comment period until July 10, 1998. A legal 
notice containing this information also was published in the Marianas 
Variety on June 8, 1998. We held public hearings on June 24, 1998,

[[Page 30278]]

at the Pacific Garden Hotel on Saipan, and on June 25, 1998, at the 
Rota Resort on Rota. Pursuant to a settlement agreement approved by the 
United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on August 21, 
2002, the Service must make a final decision on this proposal by 
December 31, 2004 (Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, Civil No. 
99-00603 (D. Haw.)).

Public Comments Solicited

    We are reopening the comment period until the date specified in 
DATES section above. The reopening of the comment period gives 
additional time for all interested parties to consider the proposed 
rule's information and submit comments on the proposal. Comments from 
the public regarding the proposed rule are sought, especially 
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to the Mariana fruit bat;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of the Mariana fruit 
    (3) Additional information on the range, distribution, and 
population size of this species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the areas inhabited by the 
Mariana fruit bat and the possible impacts of these activities on this 
    You may hand deliver, send by mail, or transmit by facsimile 
written comments and information to the Assistant Field Supervisor (see 
ADDRESSES section above), facsimile 808/792-9580.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of the March 26, 1998, proposal to 
reclassify the Mariana fruit bat from endangered to threatened on Guam 
and to list this species as threatened in the CNMI, will be available 
for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at our 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office at the Honolulu address given 


    The primary author of this notice is Holly Freifeld (see ADDRESSES 
section above).


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

    Dated: May 19, 2004.
Marshall Jones,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-12043 Filed 5-26-04; 8:45 am]