[Federal Register: December 16, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 241)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 74700-74712]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 23

RIN 1018-AF69

Inclusion of Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macroclemys 
[=Macrochelys] temminckii) and All Species of Map Turtle (Graptemys 
spp.) in Appendix III to the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are listing the 
alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys [=Macrochelys] temminckii) and 
all species of map turtle (Graptemys spp.) in Appendix III of the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna 
and Flora (Convention, or CITES). Appendix III of CITES includes 
species that a CITES Party identifies as being subject to regulation 
within its jurisdiction for the purpose of preventing or restricting 
exploitation, and as needing the cooperation of other Parties in the 
control of trade. International trade in alligator snapping turtles is 
largely focused on pet markets and meat for human consumption. Map 
turtles are popular in the pet trade and may also be sold for human 
consumption. Map and alligator snapping turtles are protected to 
varying degrees by State laws within the United States. Listing these 
native turtles in Appendix III is necessary to allow us to adequately 
monitor international trade in the taxa; to determine whether exports 
are occurring legally, with respect to State law; and to determine 
whether further measures under CITES or other laws are required to 
conserve these species. Appendix-III listings will lend additional 
support to State wildlife agencies in their efforts to regulate and 
manage these species, improve data gathering to increase our knowledge 
of trade in these species, and strengthen State and Federal wildlife 
enforcement activities to prevent poaching and illegal trade. 
Furthermore, listing alligator snapping turtles and all species of map 
turtles in Appendix III enlists the assistance of other Parties in our 
efforts to monitor and control trade in these species.

DATES: This listing will become effective June 14, 2006.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain information about permits for international 
trade in these species by contacting Mr. Tim Van Norman, Chief, Branch 
of Permits--International, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 700, Arlington, 
Virginia 22203; telephone: 703-358-2104, or 800-358-2104; fax: 703-358-
2281; e-mail: ManagementAuthority@fws.gov; Web site: http://international.fws.gov

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division 
of Scientific Authority; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. 
Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, Virginia 22203; telephone: 703-358-
1708; fax: 703-358-2276; e-mail: ScientificAuthority@fws.gov.



    This listing was proposed in the Federal Register of January 26, 
2000 (65 FR 4217). Since that time, with the assistance of the 
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA), we 
have conducted extensive discussions with the range States for 
alligator snapping turtle and map turtles, and have reviewed and 
considered all public comments received on the proposed rule. Our final 
decision reflects consideration of the information and opinions we have 

Alligator Snapping Turtle

    The alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys [=Macrochelys] 
temminckii), the largest freshwater turtle in North America, is a 
member of the Family Chelydridae, Order Testudinata, Class Reptilia. 
This North American family includes two monotypic genera. The second 
genus is Chelydra, represented by the common snapping turtle (Chelydra 
serpentina). The nomenclatural history of the alligator snapping turtle 
is complex and continues to evolve. The species was first described in 
1789 as Testudo planitia, but was placed in the genus Macrochelys by 
Gray in 1855. Although subsequent authors referred to the genus as 
Macrochelys, Smith (1955 in Ernst and Barbour 1972) refuted this 
placement and believed the alligator snapping turtle should be included 
in the genus Macroclemys. Lovich (1993)

[[Page 74701]]

supported this approach. In 1995, Webb demonstrated that the genus 
Macrochelys has precedence over Macroclemys, and the Society for the 
Study of Amphibians and Reptiles adopted this revision in 2000 (Reed et 
al. 2002). However, for the purpose of this listing, we have decided to 
use Macroclemys as the primary genus name because most States and 
individuals know the species as Macroclemys and continue to use this 
    The alligator snapping turtle inhabits freshwater river systems and 
associated fluvial habitats such as lakes, canals, oxbows, swamps, 
ponds, and bayous throughout the Mississippi River Valley. It also 
occurs in the rivers and associated habitats of several drainage basins 
that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, from the Suwanee River, Florida, in 
the east to the western limits of the species' range in eastern Texas. 
The current distribution of M. temminckii includes the following 
States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, 
Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, 
Tennessee, and Texas (Ernst and Barbour 1972).
    Current research indicates significant range-wide genetic 
divergence of populations of the species among river drainages. Three 
genetically distinct subpopulations have been identified: the greater 
Mississippi River watershed, the Gulf Coastal rivers east of the 
Mississippi River, and the Suwanee River drainage system (Roman et al. 
1999). Extirpation of any local population in one of the three drainage 
basins may lead to loss of genetic variability and vigor, the increased 
vulnerability of remaining populations to disease and predation, 
difficulties in obtaining appropriate founder stock for possible use in 
future recovery efforts, if needed, and loss of the species' unique 
function and role in the ecosystem.
    Alligator snapping turtles are protected in some form by the 
majority of States within the species' distribution. However, levels of 
protection and conservation measures are not consistent from State to 
State. Regulatory programs for the alligator snapping turtle may 
include: prohibitions against take from the wild for both commercial 
and personal purposes; restrictions that ban only commercial harvest 
from the wild; regulations that prohibit possession, purchase, sale, 
transport, or export; inclusion on several State lists of endangered 
and threatened wildlife; and regulated commercial captive production 
    The alligator snapping turtle is believed to be significantly 
reduced in abundance throughout a substantial portion of its northern 
range (Roman et al. 1999). Previously, the species was considered for 
candidate status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The World Conservation Union (IUCN) classifies the alligator 
snapping turtle as Vulnerable; according to IUCN criteria, this species 
will likely become Endangered in the future if the factors leading to 
its decline continue (IUCN 2000).
    The alligator snapping turtle is declining throughout its range as 
a consequence of several known factors. Two of the leading factors 
contributing to loss of the species' native habitat are commercial and 
agricultural development of former bottomland hardwood forest and 
associated freshwater streams, as well as river and bankside 
modifications that alter or eliminate crucial nesting sites (Reed et 
al. 2002). Another major threat is over-collection of live adult 
turtles from the wild for human consumption and for export of live 
animals destined for the pet trade (Figure 1). Alligator snapping 
turtle hatchlings are sold in the domestic and international pet trade, 
whereas adult specimens are harvested for local human consumption and 
for use in the specialty meat trade within the United States. Based on 
the rapid rise in exports of alligator snapping turtles (Figure 1), we 
believe that a portion of the exports may be for the meat trade. 
Harvest and trade of mature, breeding adults can rapidly become 
unsustainable because of the alligator snapping turtle's life history 
and reproductive strategy. Intense collection over several decades has 
severely depleted many local populations and/or altered their 
demographic structure (Roman et al. 1999). Other threats to the 
alligator snapping turtle include water pollution that often results in 
the reduction of key prey species and bioaccumulation of industrial and 
agricultural toxins (Reed et al. 2002).
    The alligator snapping turtle cannot sustain significant collection 
from the wild because of its life history traits (Galbraith et al. 
1997). The species does not reach sexual maturity until 11-13 years of 
age in the wild, and a typical mature female only produces one clutch 
of eggs per year. A single clutch may comprise 8-52 eggs (Ernst and 
Barbour 1989). The alligator snapping turtle is characterized by low 
survivorship in early life stages, and delayed maturation, but 
surviving individuals may live many decades once they reach maturity. 
Therefore, the population dynamics of this species are extremely 
sensitive to the harvest of adult females. An adult female harvest rate 
of less than 2 percent per year is considered unsustainable, and 
harvest of this magnitude or greater will result in significant local 
population declines (Reed et al. 2002).
    As noted above, harvest controls for the species vary by State 
agencies. Commercial harvest and trade are prohibited in most range 
States, although individual turtles may be taken from the wild for 
personal use in many States. The State of Louisiana now prohibits 
commercial harvest of alligator snapping turtles and limits 
recreational take to one turtle per day per licensed fisher under 
recent changes in state harvest regulations (Louisiana Department of 
Wildlife and Fisheries 2004). In addition, Louisiana closely regulates 
all captive breeding of alligator snapping turtles for domestic and 
international trade. The State of Mississippi permits trade in farm-
reared alligator snapping turtles. Hatchling alligator snapping turtles 
offered for sale in the pet trade are often advertised as ``captive-
bred.'' During the comment period, the State of Louisiana confirmed 
that many of the animals in trade are indeed captive-bred in the State. 
Louisiana turtle farms operate under strict statutes that require 
sanitary conditions, including testing for Salmonella prior to export 
(James H. Jenkins, Jr., Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and 
Fisheries, in litt. to the Service 2000).
    We formerly believed that many exported hatchlings were derived 
from wild-collected eggs; however, recent information indicates that 
this practice is not as common as previously supposed (James H. 
Jenkins, Jr., Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and 
Fisheries, in litt. to the Service 2000). Prices for alligator snapping 
turtles vary greatly based on size, market demand, age, coloration, 
origin (wild-caught versus captive-bred), and condition. TRAFFIC-North 
America, the wildlife trade monitoring network, notes that most live 
adult alligator snapping turtles are exported to Japan and Hong Kong 
(Simon Habel, Director, TRAFFIC-North America, in litt. to the Service 

[[Page 74702]]


    Data collected by the Service's Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) 
indicate that the volume of trade in alligator snapping turtles has 
increased substantially in the past decade, from 290 specimens in 1989 
to 23,780 specimens in 2000 (Figure 1). These data were obtained from 
OLE's database containing Declaration Forms 3-177, a declaration that 
must be filed by individuals and commercial businesses upon 
international importation or exportation of wildlife, including parts 
and products. We believe these data are minimum figures, because not 
all shipments that were exported were declared or recorded to the 
species level, particularly in the earlier years of the decade, and the 
data do not include illegal trade.
    The declared origin of exported alligator snapping turtles began to 
shift during the late 1990s (Figure 2). In 1996, the majority of 
alligator snapping turtles presented for export were declared as having 
been harvested from the wild. As the turtle-farming industry has 
increased, so too have exports of farm-raised turtles, although 
dependence on wild-caught turtles has not

[[Page 74703]]

decreased, possibly due to increased demand for the species and the 
resulting increased volume of trade. By 2000, the number of farm-raised 
alligator snapping turtles exported was nearly equal to the number of 
wild-caught specimens exported. The number of exported alligator 
snapping turtles of unknown origin decreased. However, as evident in 
Figure 2, the volume of trade in the species increased substantially 
over the years 1996-2000.
    During our review of the OLE declaration data, we discovered that 
the largest number of alligator snapping turtles was exported from 
wildlife ports in the State of California. More than 25,000 animals 
were shipped from California between 1996 and 2000. However, most if 
not all alligator snapping turtles exported from California originated 
from other States, since California is not a range State; therefore, 
these data do not reflect the true origin of all exported alligator 
snapping turtles. The other major exporting States, reflected by 
declaration data, were Arkansas, with shipments of more than 14,000 
alligator snapping turtles; Missouri, with more than 6,000 specimens 
exported; and Louisiana, with total exports of just over 5,000 animals.

Map Turtles

    There are 12 species of North American map turtles: the common map 
turtle (Graptemys geographica), Barbour's map turtle (G. barbouri), 
Alabama map turtle (G. pulchra), Escambia map turtle (G. ernsti), 
Pascagoula map turtle (G. gibbonsi), Cagle's map turtle (G. caglei), 
false map turtle (G. pseudogeographica), Ouachita map turtle (G. 
ouachitensis), Texas map turtle (G. versa), ringed map turtle (G. 
oculifera), yellow-blotched map turtle (G. flavimaculata), and black-
knobbed map turtle (G. nigrinoda). Map turtles are subject to legal 
protection in one or more States where they occur, although State 
regulations for harvest, possession, and trade vary. In addition, the 
ringed map turtle and the yellow-blotched map turtle are Federally 
listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Cagle's 
map turtle is a Candidate species under the Endangered Species 
Candidate Conservation Program. Collection, possession, and trade in 
certain Graptemys species are prohibited in the States that include 
them in their endangered and threatened species lists. States that 
prohibit take, possession, and/or sale of map turtles include: Indiana, 
Kansas, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Some States 
allow harvest and trade of wild map turtles with specific provisions. 
Alabama allows trade in G. geographica and G. pseudographica, but 
protects G. pulchra, G. barbouri, G. ernsti, and G. nigrinoda from all 
commercial activity. Map turtles are not native to Colorado; however, 
sales are legal, provided specimens are greater than 4 inches in 
carapace length. Wild-caught specimens in Illinois may be taken by dip 
nets, hand, or hook and line, provided the collector possesses a valid 
State fishing license. Map turtles may be sold in licensed pet stores 
in Illinois, provided the dealer can document that the turtles were 
legally obtained. Minnesota does not allow take, possession, transport, 
or purchase of any turtle species without a State turtle seller's 
license. There are currently no controls on the sale of map turtles in 
Ohio. Wisconsin requires a valid State license and limits possession to 
five specimens of each map turtle species.
    Trade in Graptemys species increased substantially from 1989 to 
2000 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement 2000). 
In 1989, fewer than 600 map turtles were exported from the United 
States. The volume of trade rapidly increased during the 1990s; by the 
year 2000, more than 200,000 map turtles were exported (U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement 2000). The rise in demand 
for map turtles is primarily the result of the increasing popularity of 
reptiles for the international pet trade. Supply has kept pace with 
demand through the expansion of large-scale international commercial 
trade in many turtle species. Map turtles are produced in the United 
States by farms that specialize in propagating captive-bred hatchlings 
specifically for commercial trade, but turtles are also entering trade 
through collection from the wild. The closure of many countries to 
imports of the popular red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) 
because of invasive concerns may have led to a surge in demand for map 
turtles, and particularly for farm-raised hatchlings. Based on OLE's 
declaration data, it appears that the majority of shipments depart from 
the United States between the months of August and October.
Common Map Turtle
    The common map turtle (Graptemys geographica) was first described 
by Le Sueur in 1817 (Ernst and Barbour 1989). The species occurs in the 
St. Lawrence River drainage, extending from southern Quebec, Canada, to 
Lake Ontario, and into northwest Vermont (Ernst and Barbour 1989). It 
also occurs in the southern portion of Ontario. The species is widely 
distributed in the Midwestern United States. G. geographica occurs in 
the Great Lakes region of lower Michigan, Wisconsin, and southeastern 
Minnesota. The species occurs west of the Appalachian Mountains, from 
Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee west to Iowa, Kansas, and northeastern 
Oklahoma and south to Arkansas, Alabama (above the fall line), and 
northwest Georgia. Common map turtles are also found within suitable 
habitat in the Susquehanna River drainage of Pennsylvania and Maryland, 
and in the Delaware River system of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, 
although the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Delaware River populations are 
not contiguous with one another or with the larger occupied range of 
the species. Finally, an additional geographically isolated population 
exists within the Hudson River area of New York, which contains one of 
the world's most biologically diverse ecosystems based on numbers of 
species present. The common map turtle is the only species of map 
turtle that inhabits watersheds discharging into the Atlantic Ocean. In 
the past, substantial populations inhabited most waterways that 
harbored sufficient mollusk populations (Ernst and Barbour 1989). 
Common map turtles typically inhabit large rivers and lakes that offer 
plentiful basking sites (Ernst et al. 1994). Habitat preferences, 
measured by capture frequency, have been studied in the Susquehanna 
River system flowing through Pennsylvania. Preferred sites were found 
to be those that contained deep, slow-moving currents, stream riffles, 
and shallow bankside areas. Large common map turtles were typically 
captured in rivers and streams with deep, slow-moving currents, whereas 
smaller turtles were collected more often than expected in slow-moving, 
less turbulent shallows. Pluto and Bellis (1986) found that large adult 
common map turtles generally avoid areas of emergent vegetation and 
congregate in areas that can accommodate numerous downed tree limbs and 
branches that can be used as basking sites.
    Wild common map turtles may live longer than 20 years (Ernst et al. 
1994). The species generally does not acclimate well to captive 
conditions; however, one adult specimen survived more than 18 years in 
Chicago's Brookfield Zoo (Snider and Bowler 1992). Preferred prey items 
include freshwater snails, clams, insects (particularly immature 
stages), crayfish, water mites, fish, and aquatic vegetation (Ernst and 
Barbour 1989).
    Similar to those of other turtle species, the eggs and hatchlings 
of G. geographica are preyed upon by a wide

[[Page 74704]]

variety of vertebrate species, including rice rats (Oryzomys palustris; 
Goodpaster and Hoffmeister 1952). Adult female common map turtles are 
most vulnerable to predation when they leave the water to lay their 
eggs on shore.
    Population declines in portions of the species' range can be 
directly attributed to human activities. Water pollution and over-
harvest have resulted in the decline or elimination of this map 
turtle's preferred mollusk prey base. Expanding waterfront development 
has increased encroachment on, and the destruction of, traditional 
nesting sites. Mortalities of adult map turtles are common during the 
nesting season, particularly when females cross roads to reach nesting 
Barbour's Map Turtle
    Barbour's map turtle (Graptemys barbouri) was first described by 
Carr and Marchand in 1942 (Ernst and Barbour 1989). This species is 
closely related to G. pulchra, G. ernsti, and G. gibbonsi (discussed 
below). It shares characteristics of these species, including large 
mature female size, extreme sexual size dimorphism, morphological 
differences between the sexes, the presence of prominent vertebral 
spines, and a diploid chromosome number of 52 (Lovich and McCoy 1992).
    This species' range is restricted to large tributaries of the 
Apalachicola River, including the Chipola, Chattahoochee, and Flint 
Rivers in eastern Alabama, western Georgia, and western Florida; three 
discontinuous populations are known to exist (Ernst et al. 1994). 
Barbour's map turtles prefer clear streams with a limestone substrate, 
and large rivers that support abundant basking sites in the form of 
snags, fallen trees, and limbs (Ernst and Barbour 1972). Large 
Barbour's map turtles, particularly females, feed primarily on 
freshwater mollusks, including snails and select clam species (Cagle 
1952). The longest-lived captive-held G. barbouri survived more than 31 
years in the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. (Snider and 
Bowler 1992).
    Similar to those of other turtle species, the eggs and hatchlings 
of Barbour's map turtle are preyed upon by many vertebrate predators. 
This species has occasionally been harvested for human consumption. For 
example, Newman (1970) reported the collection of 50 Barbour's map 
turtles from a 1-mile section of the Chipola River by three individuals 
in a single afternoon, thus providing us with a small measure of 
species abundance in a localized area during past decades. Such 
anecdotal information may serve as a baseline for determining changes 
in species composition or declines in abundance when compared to 
current stock-assessment data. Several authors note that G. barbouri 
populations are in decline as the result of water pollution and over-
collecting for the pet trade (Ernst et al. 1994), whereas others cite 
river channelization, dredging, and pollution that affect both turtles 
and their molluscan prey base, combined with excessive collection for 
the pet trade (Buhlmann and Gibbons, in Benz and Collins, ed. 1997).
Alabama Map Turtle
    The Alabama map turtle (Graptemys pulchra), Escambia map turtle (G. 
ernsti), and Pascagoula map turtle (G. gibbonsi) were first described 
as G. pulchra by Baur in 1893 (Ernst and Barbour 1989). Lovich and 
McCoy (1992) examined morphological variation in the G. pulchra species 
complex in three separate drainage basins and determined that each 
drainage basin supports a separate and distinct species. Populations of 
the species from the Escambia-Conecuh River system and the Pascagoula 
and Pearl river systems represent distinct species, G. ernsti and G. 
gibbonsi, respectively (NatureServe 2003), whereas the Alabama map 
turtle, G. pulchra, inhabits the Mobile Bay drainage basin. MtDNA 
studies have verified differences among these taxa (Lamb et al. 1994).
    The range of G. pulchra is restricted to those rivers in Alabama 
and Georgia that flow into Alabama's Mobile Bay (Ernst et al. 1994). 
Individuals have been collected in the Alabama, Cahaba, Tombigbee, 
Coosa, and Black Warrior Rivers; however, the species has not been 
detected in the Tallapoosa River above the fall line in Alabama (Mount 
1975). The Alabama map turtle likely inhabits the Tombigbee River 
system in the State of Mississippi, because the range of G. nigrinoda 
generally overlaps that of G. pulchra, and G. nigrinoda has been 
collected within this system. However, the presence of G. pulchra has 
not been verified (Shoop 1967; NatureServe 2003).
    The Alabama map turtle inhabits large, swiftly flowing creeks and 
rivers that can accommodate plentiful basking sites comprised of fallen 
trees, limbs, and brush. In rocky Piedmont habitats, males are often 
found in shallow stream reaches, but females appear to favor deep pools 
and impoundments (Ernst et al. 1994).
    The introduced Asian mussel Corbicula sp. is believed to have 
become an important food source for G. pulchra; female Alabama map 
turtles are particularly partial to this prey item (Marion 1986; Ernst 
et al. 1994). Longevity records are based on captive-held specimens, 
which have survived in captivity more than 15 years (Snider and Bowler 
    The eggs and hatchlings of the Alabama map turtle, consistent with 
those of other turtle species, are preyed upon by a wide variety of 
vertebrate species. Water pollution adversely affects the species' 
molluscan prey base; in addition, waterway modification projects and 
associated habitat degradation are all considered factors in the 
decline of G. pulchra populations (Ernst et al. 1994).
Escambia Map Turtle
    The Escambia map turtle (Graptemys ernsti) was first described in 
1992 by Lovich and McCoy. This species was formerly considered a 
variant of G. pulchra. However, Lovich and McCoy demonstrated that map 
turtles that were previously considered to be G. pulchra actually 
comprise three distinct species, as previously noted.
    The species' range is limited to rivers in Alabama and Florida that 
flow into Pensacola Bay, Florida (Lovich and McCoy 1992). These 
drainage systems include the Yellow, Escambia, Conecuh, and Shoal 
Rivers. The Escambia map turtle prefers large, rapidly flowing streams 
and rivers with sand or gravel substrates (NatureServe 2003). Similar 
to those of most turtle species, favored basking sites include 
streamside locations with profuse snags, fallen trees, limbs, and other 
brush. The species is absent from streams that lack freshwater mollusks 
(Buhlman and Gibbons 1997).
    The diet of G. ernsti is varied and opportunistic. Female Escambia 
map turtles prefer mollusks, including gastropods and the introduced 
Asian Corbicula mussel, but also consume native mussels, aquatic 
snails, and occasional crayfish. The prey base for this species is 
largely molluscan; however, G. ernsti (particularly adult males and 
juveniles) are opportunistic feeders, and insects and small fish are 
often included in the species' diet.
    Nest predation by an array of vertebrate species can exceed 90 
percent in a given year (NatureServe 2003). Fish crows (Corvus 
ossifragus) prey on map turtle nests by day. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) 
feed on eggs nocturnally, and also prey on nesting females (Shealy 
1976). Humans have the greatest impact on the continued survival of 
this species. Collection of adults, which are slow to mature, and eggs, 
which are also

[[Page 74705]]

vulnerable to extremely high rates of nest predation by other 
vertebrate species, decreases the survival potential of wild 
populations. Incidences of hunters using basking Escambia map turtles 
for target practice have also been documented (Shealy 1976; NatureServe 
2003). The species, similar to other aquatic species, is believed to be 
threatened by water pollution, including heavy metal contamination, and 
river channelization (Florida Natural Areas Investigation, unpub., as 
cited in Bulmann and Gibbons 1997).
Pascagoula Map Turtle
    The Pascagoula map turtle (Graptemys gibbonsi) was formerly 
considered a variant of G. pulchra. Lovich and McCoy determined that G. 
gibbonsi was a separate, distinct species in 1992. This species is 
found in the deep, swift main channels and associated tributaries of 
the Pascagoula and Pearl Rivers, including the Chickasawhay, Leaf, and 
Bouge Chitto rivers in Mississippi and Louisiana (Ernst et al. 1994). 
Sand or gravel substrates and an abundance of basking sites consisting 
of fallen logs and brush are considered ideal habitat for the 
Pascagoula map turtle. Similar to other map turtles, the Pascagoula map 
turtle eats insects, snails, and clams (Ernst et al. 1994).
    Raccoons and other vertebrate predators prey on the eggs and 
hatchlings of G. gibbonsi, as they do those of other turtle species. 
Habitat destruction, however, is considered the greatest threat to the 
survival of the species (NatureServe 2003). Sections of the species' 
range, including the Pearl River and portions of the Pascagoula River, 
have been degraded by channelization for navigation and inflows of 
industrial pollutants. The decline of Pearl River populations was 
documented in 1989 by Dundee and Rossman (as cited in Buhlmann and 
Gibbons 1997). In 1986, an extended section of Mississippi's Leaf 
River, downstream from a pulp-processing plant, was found to be devoid 
of G. gibbonsi, although it was previously known to occur there. In 
contrast, upstream waters contained healthy map turtle populations 
(Ernst et al. 1994).
Cagle's Map Turtle
    The Cagle's map turtle (Graptemys caglei) was first classified by 
Haynes and McKown in 1974. G. caglei is morphologically intermediate 
between G. versa and G. pseudogeographica kohnii (Haynes and McKown 
1974). Bertl and Killebrew (1983) concluded that G. ouachitensis, G. p. 
psuedographica, and G. p. kohnii are its closest biogeographical 
relatives. Cagle's map turtle was designated as a Candidate Species 
under the Service's Endangered Species Candidate Conservation Program 
in 1993 (58 FR 5701).
    This species' range formerly encompassed the watersheds of the 
Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers of south-central Texas (Dixon 1987; 
Conant and Collins 1991). Historical population status and abundance 
data are not available. Vermersch (1992) found that the Cagle's map 
turtle was considered the dominant turtle species in certain sections 
of the Guadalupe River watershed; however, the species is probably 
extirpated from the San Antonio River drainage system. Recent mark-
recapture studies estimate that no more than 400 individuals remain in 
the upper Guadalupe river system. Downstream estimates based on 10 
years of data collection indicate abundance levels of 1,354-2,184 
individuals. Below Canyon Dam, a large population of some 11,300 
individuals inhabits the middle Guadalupe River and lower San Marco 
River (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program 
    Cagle's map turtle habitat in the Guadalupe River drainage consists 
of streams with a moderate flow and a limestone or mud substrate. These 
streams include reaches containing numerous pools of varying depths. 
The Cagle's map turtle also resides in sluggish waters behind stream 
impoundments that vary in depth from 1 to 3 meters (Vermersch 1992).
    This species prefers a diet of fallen bark, algae, grass, insects, 
and aquatic snails (Ernst and Barbour 1989). Longevity records for the 
species have been compiled from captive-held individuals and indicate 
that an adult male G. caglei survived more than 14 years in captivity 
(Snider and Bowler 1992).
    The primary threat to Cagle's map turtle is loss and degradation of 
riverine habitat resulting from construction of dams and reservoirs 
(Killebrew 1991 in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species 
Program 2002). Recently described as a Texas endemic, the species is of 
interest to collectors and is vulnerable to over-collecting for the pet 
trade, zoos, museums, and scientific research (Killebrew 1991 in U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program 2002). Even 
modest levels of collecting would severely impact populations, reducing 
numbers to unsustainable levels (Warwick et al. 1990). The naturally 
limited distribution of Cagle's map turtle makes the species more 
vulnerable to extinction than other wider-ranging species. Location and 
suitability of nesting sites may be affected by alteration of a single 
river system and, consequently, affect hatch rates and sex ratios 
(Wibbels et al. 1991).
False Map Turtle
    The false map turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica) was first 
identified by Gray in 1831 (Ernst and Barbour 1989). G. 
pseudogeographica inhabits large tributaries of the Missouri and 
Mississippi rivers that flow within the States of Illinois, Indiana, 
Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (Ernst and 
Barbour 1989). The species' southern range may extend as far as 
southwest Alabama, southern and western Mississippi, Louisiana, and 
eastern Texas. Cagle (1953) originally described G. ouachitensis 
ouachitensis and G. o. sabinensis as subspecies of G. 
pseudogeographica. However, studies by Vogt (1993) demonstrated that G. 
ouachitensis and G. pseudogeographica are separate species. 
Differentiation of these species is based largely on differing head 
stripe patterns. However, Ewert (1979) and Vogt (1980) noted that 
contrasting head patterns may be the result of different incubation 
temperatures, and a single clutch may exhibit variations among clutch 
mates. Recent molecular studies, however, confirm the arrangement of G. 
pseudogeographica, with subspecific forms G. p. pseudogeographica and 
G. p. kohnii (Lamb et al. 1994).
    Two subspecies of the false map turtle are currently recognized 
(Vogt 1993), as discussed above. G. p. pseudogeographica, the false map 
turtle first noted by Gray in 1831 (Ernst and Barbour 1989), occurs 
from Ohio through Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the 
Dakotas, and continues south to western Kentucky, Tennessee, and 
Missouri. G. p. kohnii, the Mississippi map turtle described by Baur in 
1890 (Ernst and Barbour 1989), differs morphologically from the 
nominate race. This species is found in the Mississippi River 
watershed, from west Tennessee, central Missouri, and possibly 
southeast Nebraska, and extends south to eastern Texas, Louisiana, and 
southern and western Mississippi. Although most of the subspecies' 
range lies west of the Mississippi River, there is an unsubstantiated 
record of an individual G. p. kohnii from the vicinity of Mobile, 
Alabama (Mount 1975). Specimens of G. p. kohnii recently discovered in 
the Pearl River, Mississippi, are believed to have been captive-held 
individuals that were later released. McCoy and Vogt

[[Page 74706]]

(1992), however, suggested these individuals may have been introduced 
into the Pearl River during the Mississippi River floods of 1979.
    Although G. pseudogeographica primarily lives in large rivers and 
associated backwaters, the species is also found in lakes, ponds, 
sloughs, bayous, oxbows, and occasionally freshwater marshes (Ernst and 
Barbour 1989). Habitats containing abundant aquatic vegetation, 
adequate basking sites, and slow-moving currents are preferred by the 
false map turtle, although Ernst and Barbour (1989) noted the species 
occasionally inhabits the swiftly flowing main channel of the 
Mississippi River. Throughout the northern portion of the species' 
range, the false map turtle is considered an opportunistic omnivore due 
to overlapping ranges and habitat shared with other Graptemys species 
that consume similar prey items (Ernst et al. 1994). The false map 
turtle consumes most available plant and animal materials in the 
species' northern range (Ernst and Barbour 1989). G. geographica and G. 
ouachitensis are absent in the southern portion of G. 
pseudogeographica's range, where the false map turtle feeds primarily 
on mollusks due to the lack of competitors (Ernst et al. 1994). 
Juvenile and male G. p. kohnii are considered omnivorous, whereas adult 
females prefer a diet largely composed of mollusks.
    Predators of false map turtle nests and eggs include the red fox 
(Vulpes vulpes), raccoon, and river otter (Lontra canadensis) (Ernst et 
al. 1994). Destruction of new nests often occurs within the first 24 
hours after laying; over 90 percent of newly laid nests may be 
vulnerable to predation (Ernst et al. 1994). Emerging hatchlings are 
subject to a wide range of avian predators (Vogt 1980). Largemouth bass 
(Micropterus salmoides), catfish (Ictalurus spp.), pickerel (Esox 
spp.), and other game fish are potential predators of hatchlings after 
they reach water bodies (Thompson 1985). Human-related mortality of 
adult false map turtles is often attributed to drowning in gill nets, 
shooting, and set lines for commercial fishing (Vogt 1980).
    Commercial fishermen noted that the species was abundant at least 
25 years earlier in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but had become 
uncommon. The subspecies G. p. kohnii is known to be declining in 
Missouri (Ernst et al. 1994; NatureServe 2003). Threats to survival 
include destruction of nesting habitat and nests, agricultural 
practices, and pollution. In Missouri and South Dakota, numbers are 
decreasing, possibly due to several factors including water pollution, 
river channelization, impoundments, reduction of suitable nesting 
sites, siltation, and unlawful shooting (Ernst et al. 1994; CITES 
Proposal 1996).
    Anderson (1965) asserted that the increasing amount of pollutants 
discharged throughout the Mississippi River drainage basin had 
virtually eradicated turtles for many miles below St. Louis.
Ouachita Map Turtle
    The Ouachita map turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis) inhabits a range 
extending from Texas, Louisiana, and western and northern Alabama in 
the south, through eastern Iowa and Kansas, and the States of Illinois, 
Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin (Ernst and 
Barbour 1989). Additionally, in an area more than 200 km west of the 
normal range of the species, disjunct populations of Ouachita map 
turtles have been found in Mitchell and Pawnee Counties, Kansas 
(Taggart 1992). Another separate, distinct population also exists in 
south-central Ohio (Ernst et al. 1994).
    The two subspecies of G. ouachitensis were initially believed to be 
subspecies of G. pseudogeographica (Cagle 1953); however, Vogt (1980, 
1993) demonstrated that the northern subspecies, G. o. ouachitensis, 
was taxonomically distinct from G. pseudogeographica. The range of G. 
o. ouachitensis extends from the Ouachita River system in Louisiana 
west to Oklahoma, and north through the States of Illinois, Indiana, 
Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The range of the Sabine 
map turtle, G. o. sabinensis, is restricted to Texas and Louisiana's 
Sabine River system (Vogt 1993, 1995; Ernst et al. 1994).
    Primarily a riverine species, the Ouachita map turtle inhabits 
freshwater streams characterized by swift currents, sand and silt 
substrates, and plentiful submerged aquatic vegetation (Ewert 1979; 
Vogt 1980). However, similar to other map turtle species, this species 
also resides in man-made impoundments, such as farm ponds, and natural 
stream features, such as lakes, oxbows, and river-bottom wetlands 
(Ernst and Barbour 1989). Comparable to other map turtle species, G. 
ouachitensis is considered omnivorous, although the species' diet is 
believed to be somewhat restricted due to the narrow crushing surfaces 
of its jaws (Ernst et al. 1994). Very little information is currently 
available regarding the ecology and behavior of the species throughout 
the southern portion of its range.
    Threats to the species include bycatch and tangling in nets of 
commercial fisheries, human consumption (NatureServe 2003), and 
collection for the pet trade (Dundee and Rossman 1989). Human activity 
and intrusion may interfere with nesting and normal basking behavior.
Texas Map Turtle
    The Texas map turtle (Graptemys versa) was first described by 
Stejneger in 1925 (Ernst and Barbour 1989). G. versa's range is 
restricted to a small section of the Edwards Plateau region in central 
Texas, which occurs within the Colorado River drainage basin (Dixon 
1987). Although limited life-history information is available for this 
endemic species, the restricted range of the species likely increases 
its value for collectors, zoos, museums, and scientific researchers.
Ringed Map Turtle
    Distribution of the ringed map turtle (Graptemys oculifera) is 
restricted to a small range within the Pearl River system of 
Mississippi and Louisiana (Ernst and Barbour 1989). The habitat 
preferred by this species includes rapidly flowing rivers with a clay 
or sand substrate and plentiful basking sites (Ernst et al. 1994). The 
ringed map turtle basks on logs, brush, and other woody debris, but 
will quickly disappear when disturbed. G. oculifera favors a diet of 
insects and mollusks that are easily consumed with the animal's strong, 
scissor-like jaws (Ernst and Barbour 1989).
    G. oculifera population declines were confirmed during the 1980s, 
leading to Federal protection in 1986, when the species was listed as 
threatened under the Act (51 FR 45907). The decline of the ringed map 
turtle is attributed primarily to habitat modification, such as stream 
channelization for flood control and navigational purposes. Within the 
Pearl River System, 21 percent of the turtle's range has been modified. 
Human alteration of stream flow eliminates basking and nesting sites, 
adversely impacts the species' prey base, and increases turbidity and 
siltation (Matthews and Moseley 1990). Impoundments inundate the 
turtle's shallow water habitat. Shooting basking turtles and collecting 
also pose serious threats, particularly as populations decline from 
other factors. Collection of ringed map turtles poses a serious threat 
to species abundance and composition, because local populations can be 
extirpated rapidly when collectors target a specific site within the 
species' limited range.

[[Page 74707]]

Yellow-blotched Map Turtle
    The yellow-blotched map turtle (Graptemys flavimaculata) is 
restricted to the Pascagoula River drainage, which includes the 
Pascagoula, Leaf, and Chickasawhay rivers (Ernst and Barbour 1989). It 
may also occur in the lower stretches of larger tributary streams 
within the drainage basin. The species' range in the Pascagoula River 
extends downstream to tidal-influenced, brackish marshes in southern 
Jackson County, Mississippi. The species has also been located in major 
tributaries of the Leaf and Chickasawhay rivers. Similar to other map 
turtle species, this species prefers riverine habitats with a moderate 
to rapid current, and sand and clay substrates. G. flavimaculata spends 
a large amount of time basking on brush piles and other woody debris, 
and uses tangled riverbank roots for shelter from predators (Ernst et 
al. 1994).
    The yellow-blotched map turtle was once regarded as the dominant 
turtle species of the Pascagoula River system (Ernst and Barbour 1989), 
but due to population declines documented during the 1980s, received 
protected status over a decade ago in the State of Mississippi (U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service 1992). G. flavimaculata has been Federally 
protected since 1991, when the species was listed as threatened under 
the Act (56 FR 1459). Similar to other map turtle species, the decline 
of yellow-blotched map turtle populations was attributed to habitat 
modification, water pollution, and unsustainable collection for 
commercial trade. Channel dredging and alteration for flood control and 
navigation purposes eliminates shallow water and bankside basking and 
nesting sites, alters water flow regimes, negatively impacts the 
species' prey base, and increases turbidity and siltation, thus 
resulting in water quality degradation (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
1990). Currently authorized and planned river control and modification 
projects, sand and gravel dredging, and the implementation of flood 
control studies could modify most, if not all, of the species' 
remaining habitat. Collection for commercial purposes, prior to listing 
of the species under the Act, also contributed to declines in its 
abundance. Because of the species' diminished population status, local 
G. flavimaculata populations could be extirpated within a short period 
of time if targeted for collection.
Black-knobbed Map Turtle
    The black-knobbed map turtle (Graptemys nigrinoda) is generally 
found in river habitats below the fall line in the Alabama, Tombigbee, 
and Black Warrior rivers in Alabama and Mississippi (Ernst et al. 
1994). There are two recognized subspecies: Graptemys nigrinoda 
nigrinoda is found in the upper Tombigbee and Alabama river systems in 
Alabama and Mississippi, and G. n. delticola is restricted to the 
streams and lakes of the Mobile Bay delta drainage in Alabama's Baldwin 
and Mobile counties (Ernst et al. 1994). Both subspecies prefer streams 
with a fairly rapid current and sand and/or clay substrates. Similar to 
other Graptemys species, black-knobbed map turtles favor abundant 
basking sites that include areas where brush, woody debris, and logs 
accumulate (Ernst and Barbour 1989). G. nigrinoda prefers deeper water 
than G. oculifera and G. flavimaculata (Ernst et al. 1994).
    Human activities present the most serious risks to G. nigrinoda 
populations. Large numbers of turtle eggs were previously collected and 
eaten by delta residents. Additionally, a thriving market in live adult 
turtles intended for human consumption was sustained well into the 
early 1980s (Lahanas 1982, in Ernst et al. 1994). Collection for the 
pet trade poses a serious threat to the survival of the species because 
it occupies such a limited range (NatureServe 2003). Habitat 
modifications that include removal of logs and snags, stream 
channelization for navigational improvements, and water impoundment for 
flood control purposes, impact the species by eliminating essential 
habitats, such as basking sites and nesting beaches (McCoy and Lovich 
1993). Adult black-knobbed map turtles are often found drowned in gill 
nets set for commercial fisheries, and picnickers and hikers have been 
known to disrupt and destroy nests (Ernst et al. 1994).

Description and Application of CITES Appendix III

    CITES is an international treaty to which the United States is a 
signatory country, or Party. CITES regulates import, export, re-export, 
and introduction from the sea of certain animal and plant species 
listed in one of the Convention's three Appendices. Appendix I includes 
species threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by 
international trade. Commercial trade in Appendix-I species is 
prohibited. Appendix II includes species that, although not necessarily 
threatened with extinction at the present time, may become so unless 
their trade is strictly controlled through a system of export permits. 
Appendix II also includes species that CITES must regulate so that 
trade in other listed species may be brought under effective control 
(i.e., because of similarity of appearance between listed species and 
other species).
    Appendix III includes species that any Party may identify as 
subject to regulation within its jurisdiction for the purpose of 
preventing or restricting exploitation, and for which the listing Party 
is seeking the cooperation of other Parties in the control of trade. 
Any country may unilaterally list a species in Appendix III if it is a 
species native to that country. When a Party requests the CITES 
Secretariat to include a species in Appendix III, the Secretariat 
notifies all of the Parties, who are then required to monitor and 
control trade in the species. An Appendix-III listing becomes effective 
90 days after the Secretariat notifies the CITES Parties of the 
listing. The effective date of this rule has been extended by 30 days, 
to give the CITES Secretariat sufficient time to notify all Parties of 
the listing. For further information about CITES, the listing process, 
and the advantages of an Appendix-III listing, you may refer to our 
proposed rule published in the Federal Register on January 26, 2000 (65 
FR 4217).
    When a species is listed in Appendix III, the Management Authority 
of the listing country must issue a CITES export permit for the export 
of specimens of that species, or a CITES re-export certificate for re-
exports. Any other country must issue a CITES certificate of origin for 
the export of specimens of that species. In the United States, the 
Service's Division of Management Authority (DMA) issues permits and 
certificates for Appendix-III species. To issue a permit or 
certificate, DMA must be satisfied that: (1) specimens were legally 
acquired (i.e., not obtained in contravention of any Federal, State, 
Tribal, or local laws), and (2) any living specimen will be prepared 
and shipped so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health, or 
cruel treatment. Export may take place at any of the Service's 
Authorized Ports for export of wildlife and wildlife products, during 
normal business hours, when accompanied by an export permit and a 
completed Office of Law Enforcement Form 3-177, Declaration for 
Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife (available for download 
at: http://www.le.fws.gov/).

    Individuals that transport or sell map turtles, or alligator 
snapping turtles, across State lines in contravention of State laws may 
be subject to Federal Lacey Act violations. The Lacey Act is a Federal 
statute that makes it unlawful to sell, receive, or purchase in 
interstate or foreign commerce any wildlife taken, possessed, 
transported, or sold in

[[Page 74708]]

violation of any law or regulation of any State. A CITES Appendix-III 
listing will complement existing Federal and State laws enacted for the 
conservation of map turtles and alligator snapping turtles by 
authorizing all CITES party members to enforce Appendix-III 
requirements for international trade of listed species. These 
requirements involve presentation of an export permit, or Certificate 
of origin, upon import, to ensure that all specimens were legally 
    An Appendix-III listing will also allow the Service to collect 
valuable trade data that can be used by the States for development and 
revision of species management plans for these turtles. For example, an 
Appendix-III listing will require identification of every specimen to 
the species level on each export permit, or Certificate of origin, 
rather than continuing the current practice of combining different map 
turtle species intended for international trade into one category, 
denoted as Graptemys spp., on export documents. Species-level 
identification will provide us with specific data that can be used to 
illustrate which species are preferred in trade, thereby allowing us to 
determine if local wild populations are being over-harvested. This sort 
of information will prove invaluable to State wildlife conservation 
agencies for management purposes. Finally, listing will afford 
additional protection to turtle farmers and dealers engaged in 
legitimate business, by ensuring that all animals in international 
trade are legally acquired.

Summary of Comments

    In our proposed rule (January 26, 2000; 65 FR 4217), we asked all 
interested parties to submit factual reports or information that could 
assist us in the decision-making process for development of a final 
rule. The comment period ended on March 13, 2000. State agencies, 
scientific organizations, and other parties known to have a particular 
interest in or knowledge of the alligator snapping turtle or map 
turtles were contacted and requested to comment. We received a total of 
106 comments during the comment period. Of these comments, 99 supported 
the proposal, 6 were opposed, and 1 comment was neutral. Comments 
pertained to several key issues. These issues, and our responses, are 
discussed below.
    Issue 1: Several comments pertained to farm rearing or captive 
breeding of alligator snapping turtles and map turtles. Some turtle 
farmers requested an exemption to the Appendix-III listing for farm-
raised hatchlings. They believed that additional regulation was 
unnecessary because the State of Louisiana already regulates the 
turtle-farming industry.
    Response: Our intent is to implement a permitting system that will 
not prove burdensome to U.S. turtle farmers or exporters while ensuring 
that persons engaging in illegal trafficking are stopped. This listing 
will not impact the States' current management and regulatory programs 
for the turtle-farming industry. Rather, the purpose of the listing is 
to support State management and conservation of the species by ensuring 
that exports occur in a manner consistent with State law. We will also 
use the listing to gather data on trade in these species, to better 
quantify the level of trade in these species and the impact of trade on 
these species. These data will be made available to State wildlife 
management agencies, to improve management programs and further the 
conservation of these species.
    Issue 2: Some individuals also expressed the concern that Appendix-
III permitting requirements would impede trade in farm-raised turtle 
hatchlings, because any delays in receiving export permits would 
negatively impact this segment of the trade by making captive 
propagation economically unfeasible. With this in mind, several 
individuals suggested that we exempt State-certified farm-raised 
turtles from the Appendix-III permit requirements.
    Response: The provisions of CITES require that a listing include 
all live specimens. Therefore, we cannot exempt live farm-raised turtle 
hatchlings from the Appendix-III listing. The Appendix-III listing will 
cover trade in all types of specimens of these species, including meat.
    To address the concern about delay in permit issuance, DMA has 
developed a two-tiered plan for review of export applications, with the 
goal of streamlining permit review and issuance for exporters of turtle 
hatchlings from certified farms. As with all CITES-listed species, DMA 
must determine that the Appendix-III specimens were legally acquired. 
After consultation with State authorities, we have concluded that the 
export of hatchlings raised on State-certified farms, if 2 inches or 
less in straight-line carapace length for map turtles and 3 inches or 
less in straight-line carapace length for alligator snapping turtles, 
pose little or no risk to wild populations, since it is unlikely they 
were collected from the wild. However, specimens larger than the 2- or 
3-inch length limits, as described above, will require greater scrutiny 
due to the greater potential that these specimens have originated 
directly from the wild. For turtles that exceed the length limits, or 
for dealers that do not exclusively export farm-raised turtles within 
the size limits (e.g., those farms that hold both farm-raised and wild-
collected specimens, or specimens of multiple size-classes), we will 
use our standard data-collection and review process to make legal 
acquisition findings. The applicant must provide all the information 
required on the application form, and will be subject to the same 
permitting process established for all other CITES specimens.
    All data and information provided by permit applicants will be 
provided to the States on an annual basis. Likewise, as required by the 
Convention, we will monitor trade in these species. Approximately every 
2 years, we will consult with the States and review the effectiveness 
of the listing, documented levels of illegal trade, and the volume of 
legal trade in the species, particularly trade in those specimens 
harvested from the wild. After these consultations, we will determine 
if further action is needed.
    Issue 3: Several individuals suggested development of 
reintroduction programs for alligator snapping turtles and map turtles 
using farm-raised hatchlings to replace eggs and adults that are 
removed from wild populations for farming purposes and/or trade. 
Commenters stated that it is important to release sufficient numbers of 
turtles in reintroduction programs, that releases should include a 1:1 
sex ratio, and that turtles must be released in appropriate habitat. 
They advised us that the State of Louisiana has a restocking program 
for alligator snapping turtles; each turtle farmer is required to 
provide a specified number of hatchlings each year for release. Another 
commenter noted that the number of turtles returned to the wild far 
exceeds the number of wild-caught turtles taken each year.
    Response: The Federal Government has responsibility only for 
recovery and/or reintroduction of species listed under the Act. 
Reintroduction programs for alligator snapping turtles and map turtles 
that are not listed under the Act are the sole responsibility of State 
wildlife management agencies. The Service encourages those individuals 
who are interested in such programs to contact their local State 
wildlife management agency for information on regulations and 
management plans for the reintroduction of native species.
    Issue 4: Several individuals noted that the Service currently 
requires an Office of Law Enforcement Declaration for Importation or 
Exportation of Fish or Wildlife (Form 3-177) for the export of

[[Page 74709]]

wildlife specimens, including their parts or products. They questioned 
the need for an Appendix-III listing to collect trade data on alligator 
snapping turtles and map turtles when Form 3-177 is an existing tool 
for collecting export data.
    Response: Many importing and re-exporting countries do not have 
national legislation that requires inspection of all wildlife, 
particularly if the species in question is not listed under CITES. One 
reason for listing these species is to improve enforcement of Federal 
and State laws by enlisting the support of other CITES Parties. An 
Appendix-III listing will require inspection and documentation of 
imports, exports, and re-exports of alligator snapping turtles and map 
turtles by all CITES Parties, not just the United States.
    The listing will also close some export loopholes and improve the 
quality and quantity of turtle export data. The U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration (FDA) defines turtles as fish and/or fisheries products 
when intended for human consumption. In addition, Service regulations 
found at 50 CFR 14.55 exempt fishery products for human or animal 
consumption from declaration and Service clearance requirements when 
the products do not require a permit under 50 CFR Part 17 or 23. Since 
the FDA defines turtles as fish, exporters may be interpreting the 
regulations found at 50 CFR 14.55 as not applying to turtles that are 
being exported for human consumption, and thereby bypassing the 
Service's requirements for the export of wildlife. There is the 
probability that, due to differing interpretations of these 
regulations, a number of turtle specimens, in particular meat and meat 
products, leave the United States without completion of the Service's 
Declaration Form 3-177. The absence of this information may be a 
limiting factor when States are developing management programs for 
these species. Listing of these species in Appendix III will give us 
the ability to capture this information and better quantify the volume 
of all exports. It will help us detect trade trends and, in 
consultation with the States, implement pro-active conservation or 
trade management measures that better control exports and detect 
illegal trade.
    Issue 5: One individual noted that an Appendix-III listing might 
discourage exporters from putting resources into captive breeding, 
resulting in increased take from the wild.
    Response: We believe an Appendix-III listing will afford additional 
protection to wild alligator snapping turtle and map turtle 
populations, and it will not deter captive breeding of these turtle 
species, whether for commercial or conservation purposes. A higher 
degree of scrutiny will be applied to applications for the export of 
animals that are or may have been harvested from the wild than for 
those turtles that are legitimately raised on State-certified turtle 
farms. Documentation that larger animals, or those exceeding the size 
limits, were legally acquired will require consultation with the State 
of origin. Therefore, we believe that this listing will provide us with 
more accurate information on the harvest of wild turtles, and because 
permit processing will be streamlined for State-certified turtle farms, 
this listing is unlikely to discourage the production of farm-raised 
    Issue 6: Several individuals noted that some exported turtles are 
not transported in a humane manner. Many turtles are dying in transport 
containers or shortly after arrival at foreign destinations. However, 
one commenter stated that the use of standard International Air 
Transport Association (IATA) Live Animal Regulations (LAR) for the 
humane transport of turtles is unnecessary because, in an effort to 
protect their business, some turtle farmers have developed packing 
containers that minimize stress and mortality for exported turtles.
    Response: Any international air cargo shipments of live turtles are 
required by the airlines to comply with the IATA LAR. An Appendix-III 
listing, however, requires the humane transport of all live specimens 
in international trade in order for the CITES documents to be valid. 
Currently, the Service has no authority to enforce humane transport 
requirements for the import or export of alligator snapping turtles or 
map turtles. Although humane transport requirements for the import of 
mammals and birds exist, and the Service is developing transport 
regulations for the import of reptiles and amphibians, the Service can 
only enforce humane transport requirements for export when a species is 
listed in the CITES appendices. The CITES Appendix-III listing will, 
therefore, strengthen the Service's legal authority to enforce these 
regulations and penalize exporters if adequate primary containers are 
not used for shipment of live specimens of these species. In comments 
we received from the State of Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and 
Fisheries (James H. Jenkins, Jr., Secretary, Louisiana Department of 
Wildlife and Fisheries, in litt. to the Service 2000), they noted that 
several Louisiana turtle farmers have already developed packing 
containers that minimize stress and mortality of live turtles in 
transit. We support all efforts to ensure humane transport of live 
animals, and the Service will enforce the IATA LAR for all map and 
alligator snapping turtle shipments entering or leaving the United 
States via air cargo once this rule becomes effective.
    Issue 7: Our original proposal to list the alligator snapping 
turtle and map turtles in Appendix III indicated that female alligator 
snapping turtles were routinely held to obtain hatchlings and then 
butchered for the meat trade. Comments we received from the State of 
Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (James H. Jenkins, 
Jr., Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in 
litt. to the Service 2000) indicated that, in the State of Louisiana, 
``few turtle farmers (< 5) deal in alligator snapping turtles,'' and the 
farmers maintain their breeding stock from year to year. Furthermore, 
breeding stock is not butchered as suggested in our earlier proposal. 
The price for live alligator snapping turtles (in 2000) was about $1.50 
per pound when exported for the meat market (at least $50 per female), 
yet the average female annually produces hatchlings that yield a total 
value of about $250.00. On the basis of these figures, it was suggested 
that slaughtering breeding stock for meat was not a sound business 
practice, and would require paying about $50.00 per turtle to acquire 
new female breeding stock for the next season.
    Response: We appreciate this additional information from the State 
of Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and note that the 
purpose of the proposed rule was to obtain additional information that 
may be used to make a final decision based on the best available 
scientific data and other relevant information. We do, however, remain 
concerned that some portion of the international trade in these species 
is turtle meat, or processed turtle meat products, such as canned soup, 
that is being exported without being declared and cleared by the 
Service. An Appendix-III listing will require prior issuance of permits 
and clearance of all alligator snapping turtles and map turtles and 
their parts and products, including processed food products for human 
consumption, at a designated port (or a non-designated port if the 
exporter holds a valid designated port exemption permit issued by the 
Service's OLE.) This should substantiate or refute the assumption that 
this is an unknown segment of the international trade in turtles, and 
allow us to quantify the international trade in these species.

[[Page 74710]]

    Except for the State of Louisiana, States that allow commercial 
trade in alligator snapping turtles and map turtles did not provide us 
with trade data for these species. Therefore, we believe that an 
Appendix-III listing is the best method available to further understand 
the international trade in alligator snapping turtles and map turtles.
    Issue 8: The State of Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and 
Fisheries opposed inclusion of alligator snapping turtles and map 
turtles in CITES Appendix III. State officials contended that the 
proposed listing was unnecessary because strict statutes are already in 
place within Louisiana that govern turtle-farming operations.
    Response: We have discussed this proposal with IAFWA, an 
organization that represents State wildlife management agencies. 
Through IAFWA, a consensus was reached among the States that these 
species would benefit from an Appendix-III listing.
    Issue 9: In our original proposal, we noted that ``some [alligator 
snapping turtle] hatchlings offered by dealers are said to have been 
captive-bred, although these are likely to have been hatched from eggs 
collected from nests in the wild.'' Regarding map turtles, we stated, 
``[t]urtle farmers in recent years in the Southeast have apparently 
achieved considerable success with captive-breeding operations, but we 
believe all such operations draw upon the wild to replace breeding 
stock. The degree of wild harvest is unknown but could be very 
substantial * * *. The majority of these [turtles] may represent farm-
raised animals that may or may not [have] been taken directly from the 
wild.'' In response to these statements in our proposed rule, Jeff 
Boundy, a herpetologist for the State of Louisiana's Department of 
Wildlife and Fisheries, observed that the map turtles are farm-raised 
hatchlings, and furthermore, the hatchlings were not taken from the 
wild due to difficulties in collecting hatchling map turtles from 
aquatic habitats (Boundy in James H. Jenkins, Jr., Secretary, Louisiana 
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in litt. to the Service 2000). 
Mr. Boundy further acknowledged that most turtle farmers originally 
obtain breeding stock from the wild, although ``family-based branch 
operations'' acquire stock from captive turtle breeding ponds already 
in existence. Mr. Boundy stated that, after initial stocking, most 
farmers do not restock their ponds. However, he noted that, over an 
unspecified amount of time, there are records of a single operation in 
Louisiana purchasing 6,500 map turtles, and an unknown number of farms 
within the State that purchased new stock of ``fewer than 1,200'' 
    Response: The Service's analysis of export data from 1996 to 2000 
confirms that many of the alligator snapping turtles and map turtles 
exported from the United States were declared as captive-bred animals. 
However, a portion of each year's exports is declared as wild, and as 
stated previously, not all trade is being recorded under the wildlife 
declaration program. An Appendix-III listing will help quantify the 
actual trade of wild and captive-bred specimens.

Required Determinations

    The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed this document 
under Executive Order 12866.
    The Department of the Interior certifies that this document will 
not have a significant effect on a substantial number of small entities 
under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 60 et seq.). This final 
rule establishes the means to monitor international trade in several 
native U.S. species and does not impose any new or changed restriction 
on the trade of legally acquired specimens. This final rule is not a 
major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
    a. Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or 
    b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government 
agencies; or geographic regions.
    c. Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.
    This final rule does not impose an unfunded mandate or have a 
significant or unique effect on State, local, or Tribal governments, or 
the private sector under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 501 
et seq.) because we, as the lead agency for CITES implementation in the 
United States, are responsible for the authorization of shipments of 
live wildlife, or their parts or products, that are subject to the 
requirements of CITES.
    Under Executive Order 12630, this final rule does not have 
significant takings implications since there are no changes in what may 
be exported. The permit requirement will not alter the current criteria 
for exports of these specimens.
    Under Executive Order 13132, this final rule does not have 
sufficient Federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
Federalism assessment because it will not have a substantial direct 
effect on the States, on the relationship between the Federal 
Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government. Although this 
final rule will generate information that will be beneficial to State 
wildlife agencies, it is not anticipated that any State monitoring or 
control programs will need to be developed to fulfill the purpose of 
this final rule. We have consulted the States, through the IAFWA, on 
this final rule. Under Executive Order 12988, the Office of the 
Solicitor has determined that this final rule does not unduly burden 
the judicial system and meets the requirements of Sections 3(a) and 
3(b)(2) of the Order.
    The information collections referenced in this final rule are 
already approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act. They have been assigned control numbers 1018-
0093 (for CITES export permits and CITES re-export certificates) and 
1018-0012 (for Form 3-177). Implementing regulations for the CITES 
documentation appear at 50 CFR 23. We may not conduct or sponsor, and a 
person is not required to respond to, a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.
    This final rule does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. The 
action is categorically excluded under 516 DM 2, Appendix 1.10 in the 
Departmental Manual. Therefore, a detailed statement under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 is not required.

Literature Cited

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Boundy, J. 2000. in litt. to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Buhlmann, K.A., and J.W. Gibbons. 1997. Imperiled aquatic reptiles 
of the southeastern United States: Historical review and current 
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Aquatic fauna in peril: The southeastern perspective. Special 
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Communications, Decatur, Georgia. 553 pp.
Cagle, FR 1952. The status of the turtles Graptemys pulchra Baur and 
Graptemys barbouri Carr and Marchand, with notes on their natural 
history. Copeia 1952:223-234.
Cagle, FR 1953. Two new subspecies of Graptemys pseudogeographica. 

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Conant, R., and J.T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and 
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Tulane Stud. Zool. Bot. 23:85-102.
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Ernst, C.H., and R.W. Barbour. 1972. Turtles of the United States. 
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Biology 43:543-559.
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Snapping Turtle Harvest Limited. 11/17/2004. http://www.wlf.state.la.us/apps/netgear/index.asp

Lovich, J.E., and C.J. McCoy. 1992. Review of the Graptemys pulchra 
group (Reptilia: Testudines: Emydidae), with descriptions of two new 
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Insects, and Srachnids. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, DC 
1180 pp.
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to the Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
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LEMIS trade data for Graptemys spp. and Macroclemys temminckii.
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    This final rule was prepared by Marie T. Maltese, Division of 
Scientific Authority, under authority of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 23

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Fish, Imports, Plants, 
Reporting and record keeping requirements, Treaties.

Regulation Promulgation

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Service amends title 50, 
chapter I, subchapter B, part 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations as 


1. The authority citation for part 23 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Convention on International Trade in Endangered 
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 27 U.S.T. 1087; and Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

2. In Sec.  23.23, amend the table in paragraph (f) to add the new 
entries set forth below:

Sec.  23.23  Species listed in Appendices I, II, and III.

    (f) * * *

[[Page 74712]]

                 Species                           Common name                    Appendix           date (month/

                                                  * * * * * * *
CLASS REPTILIA:                            REPTILES:

                                                  * * * * * * *
Order Testudinata:

                                                  * * * * * * *
    Graptemys spp........................  Map turtles................  III........................    (6/14/06)

                                                  * * * * * * *
    Macroclemys (=Macrochelys) temminckii  Alligator snapping turtle..  III........................    (6/14/06)

    Dated: July 13, 2005.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service

    Editorial Note: This document was received in the Office of the 
Federal Regiser on December 12, 2005.

[FR Doc. 05-24099 Filed 12-15-05; 8:45 am]