[Federal Register: September 21, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 182)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 56367-56373]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI14

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To 
Remove the Tinian Monarch From the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq), we, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, remove the Tinian monarch (Monarcha takatsukasae) 
from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This 
determination is based on thorough review of all available information, 
which indicates that this species has increased in number or is stable, 
and that the primary listing factor, loss of habitat, has been 
    The Tinian monarch (monarch) is a forest bird endemic to the island 
of Tinian in the Mariana archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. The 
monarch was listed as endangered on June 2, 1970 (35 FR 8491), because 
its population was thought to be critically low due to the destruction 
of native forests by pre-World War II (WW II) agricultural practices, 
and by military activities during WWII. We conducted forest bird 
surveys on Tinian in 1982, which resulted in a population estimate of 
39,338 monarchs. Based on the results of this survey, the monarch was 
downlisted to threatened on April 6, 1987 (52 FR 10890). A study of 
monarch breeding biology in 1994 and 1995 resulted in a population 
estimate of approximately 52,904 birds. In 1996, a replication of the 
1982 surveys yielded a population estimate of 55,721 birds. The 1996 
survey also found a significant increase in forest density since 1982, 
indicating an improvement in monarch habitat quality. This final rule 
removes the Tinian monarch from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife, thereby removing all protections provided by the 

DATES: This rule is effective September 21, 2004.

ADDRESSES: The administrative file for this rule is available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric VanderWert, Pacific Islands Fish 
and Wildlife Office, at the above address (telephone 808/792-9400; 
facsimile 808/792-9581).



    Tinian is a small [101 square kilometers (38 square miles)] island 
in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and is 
located three islands to the north of Guam. The human population of 
Tinian was estimated at 3,540 during a census in 2000. The majority of 
residents live in the island's only town of San Jose at the 
southwestern edge of the island. The northern 71 percent of the island 
is leased to the U.S. Department of Defense (USDOD) for defense 
purposes. The remaining 29 percent of the island is divided between 
leased public property (67 percent), privately owned property (26 
percent), and other public property (7 percent) (Deborah Fleming, CNMI 
Division of Public Lands, pers. comm. 1999). Approximately 10 percent 
of the island is devoted to agriculture, while another 30 to 50 percent 
is used for cattle grazing (Engbring et al. 1986; Belt-Collins 1994).
    The monarch, or Chuchurican Tinian in Chamorro, was described by 
Takatsukasa and Yamashina (1931). It is a small (15 centimeters [6 
inches]) forest bird in the monarch flycatcher family (Monarchidae), 
and has light rufous underparts, olive-brown upperparts, dark brown 
wings and tail, white wing bars, and a white rump and undertail coverts 
(Baker 1951). The monarch currently is found only on the island of 
Tinian, but examination of museum specimens by Peters (1996) suggested 
a now extirpated population may have occurred on the island of Saipan, 
just north of Tinian. The monarch also was reported from the tiny 
island of Agiguan just south of Tinian in the early 1950's, but some 
authorities discount this report as an error (Engbring et al. 1986).
    Heavy disturbance of Tinian's native forests began in the 18th 
century when the Spaniards used Tinian as a supply island for Guam, and 
maintained large herds of cattle and other ungulates on the island 
(Fosberg 1960). In 1926, a Japanese company leased the entire island 
and cleared additional forested lands for sugarcane production (Belt-
Collins 1994). During WW II, the sugarcane plantations and most 
remaining native vegetation were destroyed by military campaigns and 
military construction (Baker 1946). After the war, the USDOD may have 
seeded the island with tangantangan (Leucaena leucocephala), a rapidly 
growing tree that is not native to the Marianas, to slow erosion (U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 1995; 1996). Currently, the 
vegetation on Tinian is highly disturbed, with tangantangan thickets 
being the most abundant habitat type (Fosberg 1960; Engbring et al. 
1986; Falanruw et al. 1989). Engbring et al. (1986) estimated that 38 
percent of Tinian was dominated by tangantangan, while Falanruw et al. 
(1989) estimated that 54 percent of the island was covered in secondary 
vegetation, which included tangantangan thickets. Only 5 to 7 percent 
of the island is estimated to support native forest, which is 
restricted to steep limestone escarpments (Engbring et al. 1986; 
Falanruw et al. 1989).
    The monarch inhabits a variety of forest types on Tinian, including 
native limestone forest dominated by figs (Ficus species [spp.]) 
Elaeocarpus joga, Mammea odorata, Guamia mariannae, Cynometra 
ramiflora, Aglaia mariannensis, Premna obtusifolia, Pisonia grandis, 
Ochrosia mariannensis, Neisosperma oppositifolia, Intsia bijuga, 
Melanolepis multiglandulosa, Eugenia spp., Pandanus spp., Artocarpus 
spp., and Hernandia spp.; secondary vegetation consisting primarily of 
the non-natives Acacia confusa, Albizia lebbeck, Casuarina 
equisetifolia, Cocos nucifera, and Delonix regia, with some native 
species mixed in; and nearly pure stands of introduced tangantangan 
(Engbring et al. 1986; USFWS 1996).
    The monarch was listed as endangered in 1970 (35 FR 8491) under the 
authority of the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (16 U.S.C. 
668cc). The monarch's status remained as endangered under the Act. The 
decision to list the monarch as

[[Page 56368]]

endangered was based on a report by Gleize (1945) of 40 to 50 monarchs 
on Tinian after WW II (52 FR 10890), but it is not clear if this report 
represented the number of birds seen, or an estimate of the total 
population on the entire island. Pratt et al. (1979) suggested that 
this estimate represented only the number of birds Gleize observed in a 
specific, small part of the island. Downs (1946) reported that monarchs 
were restricted in distribution to distinct locations on the island, 
while Marshall (1949) considered the monarch to be abundant. In the 
late 1970's, Pratt et al. (1979) estimated monarchs to number in the 
tens of thousands and to prefer tangantangan thickets. In May 1982, we 
conducted forest bird surveys of the Mariana islands, during which the 
monarch was found to be the second most abundant bird species on 
Tinian, with a population estimated at 39,338 birds and distributed 
throughout the island in all forest types (Engbring et al. 1986). 
Engbring et al. (1986) recommended reassessment of the monarch's 
endangered status, which led to the reclassification of the monarch 
from endangered to threatened in 1987 (52 FR 10890).
    We conducted a life history study of the monarch in 1994 and 1995 
(USFWS 1996). This study showed that monarchs forage and nest in native 
limestone forest, secondary forest, and tangantangan forest, but found 
some evidence indicating native limestone forest may be higher quality 
habitat for monarchs than secondary and tangantangan forests. Monarch 
home ranges were four to five times smaller in native limestone forest 
[1,221 square meters (1,460 square yards)] than in secondary forest 
[5,126 square meters (5,608 square yards)] and tangantangan forests 
[6,385 square meters (7,636 square yards)], and population densities 
were higher in native limestone forest [30.7 birds per hectare (12.4 
birds per acre)] than in secondary forest [7.7 birds per hectare (3.1 
birds per acre)] or tangantangan forest [6.0 birds per hectare (2.4 
birds per acre)]. Native tree species may have been preferred for 
nesting, and nesting success may have been higher in native limestone 
forest than in secondary and tangantangan forests, but additional 
information is required to confirm these patterns. Based on the results 
of that study, the island wide monarch population was estimated to be 
approximately 52,904 birds, and a recommendation was made to reassess 
the threatened status of the monarch (USFWS 1996).
    We conducted a second survey of the avifauna on Tinian in August 
and September 1996. The 1996 survey estimated the monarch population at 
55,721 birds (Lusk et al. 2000), which was significantly higher than 
the estimate of 39,338 birds found by Engbring et al. (1986). The 1996 
survey also found that vegetation density had increased significantly 
in all forest types since 1982, which may have been related to a 
decrease in grazing pressure (Lusk et al. 2000). Lusk et al. (2000) 
hypothesized that the increase in the monarch's population was related 
to increases in density of vegetation in both native and introduced 
forest habitats.

Previous Federal Actions

    The monarch was listed as endangered in 1970 (35 FR 8491) under the 
authority of the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (16 U.S.C. 
668cc). The monarch's status remained as endangered under the Act. The 
primary reasons for listing the monarch were presumed small population 
size (52 FR 10890) and the removal or destruction of forest by 
agricultural practices and military activities before and during WW II 
(50 FR 45632). However, no actual surveys of the monarch's status had 
been conducted at the time of listing. Subsequently, in 1982, we 
conducted a survey on Tinian and found an apparent increase both in 
monarch numbers and extent of suitable forest habitat since estimates 
made in the 1940s (Engbring et al. 1986). On November 1, 1985, we 
published in the Federal Register a proposed rule to delist the monarch 
(50 FR 45632). Comments received on the 1985 proposed delisting rule 
were mainly concerned with two potential threats that may impact the 
species: (1) The accidental introduction of a psyllid insect that was 
defoliating one of the major shrub components of monarch habitat; and, 
(2) the possibility of brown tree snakes becoming established on 
Tinian. Therefore, based on the information in the comments received, 
we instead chose to downlist the monarch, and a final rule 
reclassifying the monarch from endangered to threatened was published 
in the Federal Register on April 6, 1987 (52 FR 10890). In that final 
rule we also determined that it was not prudent to designate critical 
habitat for the monarch at that time. There is no recovery plan 
specifying delisting criteria for the monarch.
    We received a petition dated February 3, 1997, from the National 
Wilderness Institute (NWI) to delist the monarch pursuant to the Act. 
We also received a similar petition dated December 6, 1997, from Juan 
C. Tenorio & Associates, Inc. (Tenorio). As explained in our 1996 
Petition Management Guidance (Service 1996), subsequent petitions are 
treated separately only when they are greater in scope or broaden the 
area of review of the first petition. The Tenorio petition provided no 
additional or new information than what was already provided in the NWI 
petition and will, therefore, be treated as a comment on the first 
petition received.
    On February 22, 1999, we published in the Federal Register a notice 
of petition finding and a proposed rule to remove the monarch from the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (64 FR 8533). That 
proposal was based primarily on information from recent population 
surveys and demographic research, which showed increases in monarch 
numbers and habitat quality. The proposed rule addressed the 
information provided in the petitions and, therefore, constituted the 
12-month finding for both the NWI and Tenorio petitions.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the proposed rule published on February 22, 1999 (64 FR 8533), 
we requested interested parties to submit comments or factual reports 
or information relevant to delisting the monarch. We contacted Federal 
and Commonwealth government agencies, scientific organizations, and 
other interested parties and requested their comments. We published 
newspaper notices in the Marianas Variety (Saipan, CNMI) and the 
Pacific Daily News (Guam), inviting general public comment. No public 
hearings were requested and none were held. The public comment period 
closed on April 23, 1999.
    Also, in accordance with our July 1, 1994, Interagency Cooperative 
Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities (59 FR 
34270), we solicited peer review of the proposed rule from three 
appropriate and independent experts on the taxonomy, population, 
ecology, and conservation of the monarch. We received one response, and 
the reviewer supported the delisting proposal.
    We received two letters of comment during the comment period, one 
of which was from a scientific peer reviewer. Both letters supported 
delisting the monarch, but they also raised four issues regarding the 
proposed delisting. These issues and our responses to them are 
presented below. Although CNMI government agencies were contacted, they 
did not comment directly on the proposed rule. However, we know that 
CNMI concurs with our decision to delist the monarch

[[Page 56369]]

because, in 2002, the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature 
adopted a Joint House Resolution requesting that the Service finalize 
the proposed rule to delist the Tinian monarch.
    Issue 1: One letter expressed concern that, although the decision 
to delist the monarch is biologically sound and appropriate, the 
decision was based on a single report on the life history of the 
monarch that has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific 
    Our Response: The delisting decision is based on two life history 
studies, both of which are described in the proposed rule and are 
considered in our five-factor analysis. Since publication of the 
proposed rule, the results of one study have been published in the 
peer-reviewed scientific journal Micronesica, which is published by the 
University of Guam (Lusk et al. 2000). This study was an island wide 
survey of forest birds and evaluation of forest density on Tinian, and 
produced a population estimate of 55,721 monarchs. The second study, to 
which the comment letter referred, was our unpublished report that 
investigated habitat use and nesting biology of the monarch, and which 
provided a population estimate as a secondary finding (USFWS 1996).
    Issue 2: The surveys in 1982 and 1996 were conducted during 
different seasons, and the apparent increase in monarch numbers could 
have been caused by this difference in survey methods.
    Our Response: It is possible that differences in the timing of 
surveys affected the resulting population estimates, and that the 
increase in monarch numbers may not be as large as it appeared. 
However, all evidence indicates that since 1982 the monarch population 
has been at least stable, if not increasing, and that the population is 
relatively large. After consideration of the possible error introduced 
by the difference in survey methods, we maintain that the decision to 
delist the monarch is biologically sound.
    Issue 3: Accidental introduction of the brown tree snake (Boiga 
irregularis) to Tinian is a continual potential threat to the monarch, 
and if an incipient population of brown tree snakes is discovered on 
Tinian, then the monarch and all other birds on Tinian would again be 
in clear danger of extinction.
    Our Response: We fully agree that establishment of the brown tree 
snake on Tinian would threaten the monarch and other species on Tinian. 
The brown tree snake climbs exceptionally well and forages 
opportunistically on a wide variety of vertebrates, including birds and 
their eggs, reptiles, and mammals (Rodda et al. 1999a). On Guam, 
predation by the brown tree snake decimated the avifauna, causing the 
local extirpation or complete extinction of 10 of the 13 native forest 
bird species on the island (Savidge 1987; Conry 1988; Rodda et al. 
1999a). It has few competitors and no known predators in the Marianas, 
and can reach population densities of up to 80 to 120 snakes per 
hectare (32 to 48 snakes per acre) (Rodda et al. 1999b). Declines in 
bird populations on Guam occurred extremely rapidly once the brown tree 
snake became established (Savidge 1987, Wiles et al. 2003).
    While there have been reports of possible brown tree snakes on 
Tinian, the brown tree snake is not known to be established on Tinian, 
and the monarch is not known to be affected by brown tree snake 
predation. Nevertheless, we recognize that effective methods for 
interdiction, monitoring, and control of incipient populations of brown 
tree snakes must be implemented on all islands in the Marianas, 
including Tinian. Moreover, implementation of brown tree snake 
interdiction is not dependent on the listing status of the Tinian 
    On Tinian, where there are no native snakes, there have been at 
least seven reports of snakes some of which probably were brown tree 
snakes (Hawley 2002; Haldre Rogers pers. comm. 2003). Brown tree snakes 
potentially could reach Tinian from Guam, where the snake is 
established, or from Saipan, which is now thought to have an incipient 
population of brown tree snakes (Hawley 2002). Several measures have 
been taken on Guam, Saipan, and Tinian in an attempt to decrease the 
possibility of brown tree snakes spreading among the Mariana Islands. 
The U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), 
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Department of Agriculture 
Wildlife Services (USDA), the Service, the Government of Guam, the 
CNMI, and the State of Hawaii are working together regionally to 
control brown tree snakes, particularly around transport centers (OIA 
1999). The OIA and DOD have and continue to actively fund research into 
methods of controlling snakes on Guam, in part to reduce the threat of 
introduction to other Pacific islands (OIA 1999). Both the CNMI 
Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and Guam Department of Aquatic and 
Wildlife Resources conduct brown tree snake public awareness 
educational campaigns consisting of school presentations, news 
releases, workshops, and poster/pamphlet distribution (Perry et al. 
1996), and the CNMI maintains a snake reporting hotline (28-SNAKE; N. 
Hawley, pers. comm. 2003). In 1996, the CNMI became a signatory of the 
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the governments of Hawaii, Guam, 
and the CNMI, and individual Federal Government agencies concerned with 
brown tree snake eradication and control (USDOI et al. 1993; USDOI et 
al. 1996). This MOA commits the CNMI to a proactive brown tree snake 
program and allows the CNMI to apply for funding from the allotment of 
money appropriated by the U.S. Congress each year for brown tree snake 
control (OIA 1999).
    On Guam, high-risk cargo leaving by air and sea currently undergoes 
inspection for brown tree snakes by dog teams from USDA Wildlife 
Services, under contract from the DOD and OIA. Inspections on Guam are 
as effective as possible using existing techniques; however, 
inspections are voluntary, compliance by shippers with quarantine 
procedures is variable, and USDA Wildlife Services has no regulatory 
authority to require inspections.
    All construction companies operating in the CNMI must have a snake 
control plan, and the Governor of the CNMI signed a directive for the 
Ports Authority and related agencies to work with the CNMI DFW to 
develop effective snake interdiction strategies (OIA 1999). The CNMI 
also conducts training for its DFW and Quarantine personnel with the 
U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Discipline and USDA 
Wildlife Services on Guam at least two to three times per year (Vogt 
    On Saipan, the CNMI Quarantine Division operates a sniffer dog 
program that consists of two handlers and two dogs that check incoming 
cargo for brown tree snakes. The efficacy of these inspections needs 
verification, however, and the level of staffing is inadequate for the 
volume of goods shipped via air and sea. Outgoing cargo on Saipan 
currently does not undergo any inspection for brown tree snakes. 
Construction was completed recently on a brown tree snake barrier and 
quarantine area designed to facilitate inspection of high-risk cargo at 
the commercial port on Saipan (N. Hawley, pers. comm. 2004). The 3000-
square-meter (32,400-square-foot) area within the barrier will be 
monitored for brown tree snakes with dogs and traps. Although the 
efficacy of this barrier has not yet been tested, it was designed and 
is expected to enhance brown tree snake interdiction.
    On Tinian, a dog and handler have been used to inspect incoming 
cargo, but as on Saipan, the efficacy of these

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inspections has not been verified. In June of 2004, the Service 
obligated funds to construct a brown tree snake barrier and quarantine 
yard at the commercial port on Tinian. We expect the barrier will be 
completed in 12 to 18 months. This barrier will be similar to the 
barrier on Saipan, and will facilitate inspection of high-risk cargo 
and is expected to enhance brown tree snake interdiction.
    In 2004, section 101 of the Sikes Improvement Act of 1997 (Sikes 
Act, 16 U.S.C. 670a) was amended by adding subsection (g), sometimes 
termed the ``invasives pilot project for Guam,'' which states that the 
Secretary of Defense shall, to the maximum extent practicable and 
conducive to military readiness, incorporate in Integrated Natural 
Resource Management Plans (INRMP) for military installations on Guam 
the management, control, and eradication of invasive species that are 
not native to the ecosystem of the military installation, and the 
introduction of which may cause harm to military readiness, the 
environment, or human health and safety, and that the Secretary of 
Defense shall carry out this subsection in consultation with the 
Secretary of the Interior. Although this amendment does not apply to 
the INRMP for military training in the CNMI, commitment by the military 
on Guam to incorporate brown tree snake management, control, and 
eradication measures will benefit islands in the CNMI. The Navy (M. 
Kaku., in litt., 2004) has also reaffirmed their commitment to 
continuing brown tree snake interdiction in the CNMI in general, and 
Tinian specifically; ``Military cargo originating on Guam undergoes 
brown tree snake inspection prior to loading and again when off-loaded 
on Tinian. During the past decade of DoD and USDA WS cooperation in 
brown tree snake control and interdiction, there has been no reported 
brown tree snakes found in military cargo shipped from Guam to the 
CNMI. Our existing control and interdiction efforts are working to 
significantly reduce the probability of the accidental introduction of 
the brown tree snake in military cargo from Guam to CNMI.''
    Therefore, based on all of the brown tree snake interdiction and 
control efforts described above, we believe that current evidence does 
not suggest the Tinian monarch is threatened or endangered with 
extinction due to predation by the brown tree snake.
    Issue 4: The relative inaccessibility of the remaining native 
limestone forest on Tinian does not protect it from the effects of 
nearby agricultural or golf course development.
    Our Response: Although future development in areas containing the 
remaining limestone forest cannot be completely ruled out, we consider 
it very unlikely. The remaining limestone forest on Tinian is intact, 
and was not cleared before or during WWII because of its 
inaccessibility. The expense of developing the steep, rugged area 
containing limestone forest for agricultural or resort purposes, while 
perhaps not absolutely prohibitive, remains a substantial 
discouragement to development.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and regulations promulgated to implement the 
listing provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 424) set forth the 
procedures for listing, reclassifying, or removing species from listed 
status. We may determine a species to be an endangered or threatened 
species because of one or more of the five factors described in section 
4(a)(1) of the Act; we must consider these same five factors in 
delisting species. We may delist a species according to Sec.  424.11(d) 
if the best available scientific and commercial data indicate that the 
species is neither endangered nor threatened for the following reasons: 
(1) The species is extinct; (2) The species has recovered and is no 
longer endangered or threatened; and/or (3) The original scientific 
data used at the time the species was classified were in error.
    After a thorough review of all available information, we have 
determined that none of the five factors addressed in section 4(a)(1) 
of the Act is currently affecting the monarch, such that the species is 
no longer endangered (in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range) or threatened (likely to become 
endangered in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range). These factors, and their application to the 
monarch, are as follows:
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range. At the time of listing, the 
numbers of the monarch were thought to be critically low due to the 
destruction of native forests by pre-WWII agricultural practices and 
war-time military activities (50 FR 45632). Since the classification of 
the monarch as endangered in 1970, surveys and studies in 1982, 1994 
and 1995, and 1996 have shown the abundance and distribution of the 
monarch to be stable or increasing (Engbring et al. 1986; USFWS 1996; 
Lusk et al. 2000). These surveys also indicate that the amount of 
forest habitat on Tinian has increased substantially since WWII 
(Engbring et al. 1986; USFWS 1996; Lusk et al. 2000), and that forest 
density increased from 1982 to 1996 (Lusk et al. 2000). The monarch 
currently inhabits approximately 62 percent of the land area on Tinian, 
of which approximately 93 percent is secondary and tangantangan 
vegetation and 7 percent is native limestone forest (Engbring et al. 
1986; USFWS 1996; Lusk et al. 2000). Although native limestone forest 
may provide higher quality habitat for the monarch, secondary 
vegetation and tangantangan thickets also provide useful breeding and 
foraging habitat (Engbring et al. 1986; USFWS 1996; Lusk et al. 2000). 
The range and habitat quality of the monarch thus have increased since 
WWII, and have remained stable or possibly increased since the species 
was reclassified as threatened in 1987. Monitoring and evaluation of 
land use and development on Tinian will be part of the post-delisting 
monitoring program for this species.
    Tinian has a total surface area of approximately 10,172 hectares 
(25,135 acres) (Falanruw et al. 1989). In 1983, the U.S. Navy entered 
into a 50-year lease agreement with the CNMI for 6,211 contiguous 
hectares (15,347 acres) of land in northern Tinian, or 71 percent of 
the island, for training and defense purposes, with an option to renew 
the lease for another 50 years (CNMI et al. 1983; CNMI and USA 1994, 
USDOD 2003). The land leased to the Navy encompasses roughly 75 percent 
of the current monarch habitat on the island, but contains only about 
30 percent of the total remaining native limestone forest, and 
therefore supports about 70 percent of the total monarch population.
    Approximately one-half of the lands under Navy lease are designated 
as Exclusive Military Use Area (DOD 1998). Activities in the Exclusive 
Military Use Area, which were outlined in the June 1998 Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement for Military Training in the Marianas 
(DOD 1998) and the Pre-final Integrated Natural Resource Management 
Plan for the CNMI (DOD 2003), include large-scale maneuvers such as 
Tandem Thrust, which involve U.S. Navy, Marines, Army, and Air Force 
units; strategic airlifting and dropping of personnel using fixed-wing 
aircraft; night vision, close quarter battle, and rapid runway repair 
training; amphibious beach assault; and urban environment and hostage 
rescue training. Large-scale activities will occur a maximum of three 
times per year, for

[[Page 56371]]

up to three weeks each time. Training for individuals may occur daily, 
weekly, or monthly. Other land uses in the Exclusive Military Use Area 
include construction of a small logistics-support base camp and 
security gates, and operation of the Voice of America radio relay 
station. These activities may involve clearing of forest in limited 
areas, but in a letter to our Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office 
dated January 28, 2004, the U.S. Navy stated it ``has no foreseeable 
need to adversely modify habitat on Tinian, in fact the natural forest 
habitat is essential to the types of non-intrusive military training'' 
conducted on Tinian. In addition, parts of the Exclusive Military Use 
Area, generally those containing native limestone forest, are 
designated as ``no wildlife disturbance,'' and land uses within the 
military lease area are subject to agreements protecting endangered 
species, wetlands, cultural and historical resources, and human health 
(USDOD 2003). We issued a biological opinion on military training in 
the Marianas that specified reasonable and prudent measures for 
minimizing the incidental take of listed species, including the monarch 
(USFWS 1999). These measures included avoiding troop movements within 
monarch nesting habitat during the peak nesting months, and limiting 
troop movements through monarch habitat at night to minimize nest 
    Navy-leased lands outside the Exclusive Military Use Area, known as 
the Lease Back Area, are used primarily for agriculture and grazing 
(Belt-Collins 1994, USDOD 2003). Land use within the Lease Back Area is 
restricted for security reasons, and the permitted uses are unlikely to 
change. Continued use of the Lease Back Area for agriculture and 
grazing is not likely to significantly affect the monarch population. 
Some agricultural development may occur in this area, which may involve 
some clearing, but is not expected to occur on a large scale because 
water is limited and there is no irrigation system. The number of 
cattle grazing on the island has declined by approximately 60 percent 
over the last two decades, and this reduced grazing pressure appears to 
have led to an increase in forest density (Lusk et al. 2000). Other 
uses in the Lease Back Area could include construction of small 
permanent structures, most likely in the form of houses built close to 
agricultural or grazing areas.
    The Sikes Act requires each military installation that includes 
land and water suitable for the conservation and management of natural 
resources to complete an INRMP, which integrates implementation of the 
military mission of the installation with stewardship of the natural 
resources found there. Each INRMP provides an assessment of the 
ecological needs on the installation, including needs to provide for 
the conservation of listed species, a statement of goals and 
priorities, a detailed description of management actions to provide for 
these ecological needs, and a monitoring and adaptive management plan. 
The INRMP for military training in the Marianas includes several 
projects designed to increase the amount of forest on Tinian and that 
will enhance and monitor habitat suitable for the Tinian monarch (DOD 
2003, p. 106). These projects include: (1) reforestation on military 
leased lands using native tree species; (2) planting native forest 
understory species to improve habitat for threatened and endangered 
species and enhance biodiversity; (3) a vegetation survey that will 
map, describe, and verify the vegetation communities on military leased 
lands; and (4) establishment of long-term natural resource monitoring 
plots on military leased lands.
    On September 23, 1999, the CNMI and the U.S. Navy entered into an 
agreement to preserve 379 hectares of land (936 acres) south of the 
Exclusive Military Use Area as a conservation area for the protection 
of endangered and threatened wildlife, particularly the Tinian monarch 
(USA and CNMI 1999). This was in accordance with the Environmental 
Assessment and Biological Assessment for Airport Improvements at Tinian 
International Airport (Tenorio and Associates 1998b). The agreement 
will be in effect for the maximum time period allowable (50 years) 
under section 803 of the Covenant to establish a Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of 
America (Pub. L. 94-241; 90 Stat. 263), with the option of the U.S. 
Government to renew this lease for all or part of the property in the 
CNMI for an additional term of 50 years, if so desired, at the end of 
the first term.
    Delisting the monarch could result in non-adherence by the Navy to 
our biological opinion's reasonable and prudent measures designed to 
minimize impacts of training on the monarch. However, due to the 
monarch's relative abundance and its wide distribution on the island, 
these actions are not expected to have a significant effect on the 
monarch population. Moreover, other measures designed to protect 
natural resources on Navy lands, including the ``no wildlife 
disturbance'' areas, the 1994 Airport Mitigation Area, and projects in 
the INRMP designed to enhance and monitor forest habitat, are not 
dependent on the status of the monarch. Land uses on Navy leased land 
thus are not expected to change significantly in the foreseeable 
    Portions of the remaining forest in privately owned areas on Tinian 
may be developed in the future for agriculture, commercial purposes, 
and housing for a growing human population. A 400-room hotel-casino was 
recently completed on Tinian and two more are in the planning stages; a 
total of five are permitted for the island (Tenorio and Associates 
1998a). However, even if additional development occurs, it is unlikely 
that forest clearing will approach the level that occurred before and 
during WWII, which resulted in the clearing of approximately 95 percent 
of Tinian's native forest, because approximately 71 percent of the 
remaining land on Tinian is covered by Navy lease until 2033. In 
addition, data from Engbring et al. (1986) and Lusk et al. (2000) 
indicates that the amount and density of forest on Tinian has recently 
    In addition, when we proposed the species for delisting in 1985, it 
was thought that the accidental introduction of a psyllid insect might 
be a threat to the monarch's habitat. It is now known that this psyllid 
has not had a negative impact, and it is no longer thought to be a 
threat to the monarch's habitat.
    Therefore, the best available evidence does not suggest that the 
Tinian monarch is threatened or endangered with extinction due to 
habitat destruction.
    B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes. The monarch is a small song bird and is not known 
to be threatened by or sought for commercial, recreational, scientific, 
or educational purposes. Vandalism is not considered a threat to the 
species. Therefore, current evidence does not suggest that the Tinian 
monarch is threatened or endangered with extinction due to 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes.
    C. Disease or predation. Neither disease nor predation is known to 
affect the monarch. The monarch likely experiences some predation from 
both native and alien species, but not to an extent that currently 
causes it to be threatened with extinction. The monarch has been stable 
or perhaps has increased in number over the past two decades, 
indicating predators are not having a serious negative impact on the 
monarch population. Predators known to occur on Tinian that may prey on 
monarch adults or nests include alien

[[Page 56372]]

species such as the Asian house rat (Rattus tanezumi), Polynesian rat 
(R. exulans), feral cat (Felis cattus), and monitor lizard (Varanus 
indicus), and native species such as the collared kingfisher (Halcyon 
chloris) and Micronesian starling (Aplonis opaca). As discussed above 
under our response to Issue 3, the brown tree snake is not known to be 
established on Tinian and we believe that the risk from this potential 
threat has been significantly reduced by the current interdiction 
efforts. Therefore, current evidence does not suggest that the Tinian 
monarch is threatened or endangered with extinction due to disease or 
    D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. The monarch is 
included on the CNMI's list of threatened and endangered species, 
although no local regulations have been promulgated to specifically 
protect species on this list. The monarch will also continue to receive 
legal protection under CNMI Public Law 2-51, which states that it is 
illegal to kill, capture, or harass wildlife including forest birds 
(except doves, which can be hunted with a license), waterfowl, 
shorebirds, seabirds, and marine mammals, and their eggs or offspring. 
There are few, if any, enforcement problems involving the monarch 
because it is not harvested for commercial, recreational, or other 
    Perhaps more important than regulations specifically protecting the 
monarch are laws that protect the overall integrity of the island 
ecosystem, such as quarantine laws. Quarantine regulations have been 
promulgated and are enforced by the CNMI government at airports and 
ports of entry. The USDOD is self-regulatory and enforces its own 
quarantine regulations. The INRMP for military training in the CNMI, as 
described above, provides for the protection and management of natural 
resources on military lands, not limited to listed species.
    CNMI laws that protect the environment and provide indirect benefit 
to the monarch include the Coastal Resource Management Act (Public Law 
3-47), which was enacted February 11, 1983. This law established the 
Coastal Resources Management Office, Coastal Advisory Council, and the 
Appeals Board to encourage land-use master planning, develop zoning and 
building code legislation, and promote the wise development of coastal 
resources. The CNMI Environmental Protection Act (Pub. L. 2-23) of 
October 8, 1982, established the Division of Environmental Quality, in 
part to maintain optimal levels of air, land, and water quality to 
protect and preserve the public health and general welfare. The Soil 
and Water Conservation Act (Pub. L. 4-44) of May 1, 1985, created the 
Soil and Water Conservation Program within the Department of Natural 
Resources to promote soil and water conservation by preventing erosion. 
Finally, the Fish, Game, and Endangered Species Act (Pub. L. 2-51) of 
October 19, 1981, established the CNMI DFW to provide for the 
conservation of fish, game, and endangered species of plants and 
    Because all of the CNMI regulations will be in place regardless of 
the monarch's Federal listing status, especially the quarantine 
regulations, and they will therefore protect the species after it is 
delisted, we believe current evidence does not suggest that the Tinian 
monarch is threatened or endangered with extinction due to the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.
    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence. Species like the monarch that are endemic to single small 
islands are inherently more vulnerable to extinction than widespread 
species because of the higher risks posed to a single population by 
random demographic fluctuations and localized catastrophes such as 
typhoons and disease outbreaks. However, the monarch evolved in an 
environment where typhoons are a natural occurrence, and its population 
has persisted on Tinian despite periodic habitat loss and alteration by 
typhoons. When considered on their own, the natural processes 
associated with the habitat alteration caused by typhoons do not affect 
the monarch to such a degree that it is threatened or endangered with 
extinction in the foreseeable future. These natural processes can 
exacerbate the threat from other anthropogenic factors, such as habitat 
loss or predation, which decrease the distribution or abundance of a 
species. Currently, the monarch is relatively numerous and widespread 
in suitable habitat on much of the island. Although the monarch can be 
considered vulnerable to extinction because it is found on only one 
small island that regularly experiences typhoons, the persistence of 
the species on that island throughout its evolutionary history 
indicates that typhoons and limited distribution alone do not suggest 
that the Tinian monarch is threatened or endangered with extinction due 
to other natural or manmade factors.
    In summary, analysis of the five factors described in section 
4(a)(1) of the Act shows that the species no longer meets the 
definition of threatened or endangered. Surveys in 1982 and 1996 
indicate the number of monarchs has at least remained stable and 
possibly increased substantially since it was downlisted in 1987. The 
quantity of forest habitat available to the monarch has increased since 
WWII, and the quality of forest habitat has improved since 1982. The 
psyllid insect that was once thought to be a potential threat to 
monarch habitat in 1987 is now known not to be a threat. Neither 
predation nor disease is known to be affecting the monarch. The monarch 
is found on only one small island that regularly experiences typhoons, 
but it evolved and has persisted on the island under those conditions. 
The monarch's risk of extinction does not meet the definition of 
threatened or endangered. We are, therefore, removing the monarch from 
the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; thus, removing 
threatened status for the monarch.
    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(d), we have determined that this 
rule relieves an existing restriction and good cause exists to make the 
effective date of this rule immediate. Delay in implementation of this 
delisting could cost government agencies staff time and monies on 
conducting formal section 7 consultation on actions that may affect a 
species no longer in need of protection under the Act. Relieving the 
existing restriction associated with this listed species will enable 
Federal agencies to minimize any further delays in project planning and 
implementation for actions that may affect the monarch.

Effects of the Rule

    This final rule revises Sec.  17.11(h) to remove the Tinian monarch 
from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The 
prohibitions and conservation measures provided by the Act, 
particularly sections 7 and 9, no longer apply to this species. Federal 
agencies will no longer be required to consult with us under section 7 
of the Act in the event that activities they authorize, fund, or carry 
out may affect the monarch. There is no critical habitat designated for 
this species.
    The monarch is protected by the CNMI Government (Pub. L. 2-51; 2 
CMC 5108). Removal of the monarch from the Federal List of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife does not alter or supersede its protection by 
the CNMI Government.

Post-Delisting Monitoring

    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act, added in the 1988 reauthorization, 
requires us to implement a system, in cooperation with the States, to 
monitor for not less than 5 years the status of all species that

[[Page 56373]]

have recovered and been removed from the Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR 17.11 and 17.12). The purpose of 
this post-delisting monitoring (PDM) is to verify that a species 
delisted, due to recovery, remains secure from risk of extinction after 
it no longer has the protections of the Act. We are to make prompt use 
of the emergency listing authorities under section 4(b)(7) of the Act 
to prevent a significant risk to the well-being of any recovered 
species. Section 4(g) of the Act explicitly requires cooperation with 
the States in development and implementation of PDM programs, but we 
remain responsible for compliance with section 4(g) and, therefore, 
must remain actively engaged in all phases of PDM. We also will seek 
active participation of other entities that are expected to assume 
responsibilities for the species' conservation, post-delisting.
    We intend to monitor the status of the monarch, in cooperation with 
the CNMI, through periodic surveys of the distribution and abundance of 
the monarch, monitoring of development and land clearing on Tinian, 
assessment of impacts of military training on the USDOD-leased lands, 
and monitoring of the potential introduction of brown tree snakes to 
the island. We are developing a PDM plan for the monarch, and once 
completed, we will publish in the Federal Register a notice of 
availability of the proposed PDM plan soliciting public comments and 

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR 1320, 
which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.), require that interested members of the public and 
affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on agency information 
collection and recordkeeping activities (5 CFR 1320.8(d)). The OMB 
regulations at 5 CFR 1320.3(c) define a collection of information as 
the obtaining of information by or for an agency by means of identical 
questions posed to, or identical reporting, recordkeeping, or 
disclosure requirements imposed on, 10 or more persons. Furthermore, 5 
CFR 1320.3(c)(4) specifies that ``ten or more persons'' refers to the 
persons to whom a collection of information is addressed by the agency 
within any 12-month period.
    This rule does not include any collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The 
information needed to monitor the status of the Tinian monarch will be 
collected primarily by the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the 
U.S. Navy, and the Service. We do not anticipate a need to request data 
or other information from the public to satisfy monitoring information 
needs. If it becomes necessary to collect information from 10 or more 
individuals, groups, or organizations per year, we will first obtain 
information collection approval from OMB.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that preparation of an Environmental Assessment 
or Environmental Impact Statement, as defined under the authority of 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, is not necessary when 
issuing regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. We 
published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the 
Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).


    The primary authors of this final rule are Eric A. VanderWerf, 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (see ADDRESSES section), and Michael Lusk, formerly with the 
Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

For the reasons set out in the preamble, we hereby amend part 17, 
subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
as set forth below:


1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.

Sec.  17.11  [Amended]

2. Section 17.11(h) is amended by removing the entry for ``Monarch, 
Tinian (old world flycatcher)'' under ``BIRDS'' from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

    Dated: August 20, 2004.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-20700 Filed 9-20-04; 8:45 am]