[Federal Register: May 5, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 87)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 26444-26448]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To List the Andrews' Dune Scarab Beetle as Threatened or 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list the Andrews' dune scarab beetle 
(Pseudocotalpa andrewsi) as threatened or endangered under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We find the petition does 
not provide substantial information indicating that listing the 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle may be warranted. Therefore, we will not be 
initiating a status review in response to this petition. We ask the 
public to submit to us any new information that becomes available 
concerning the status of the species or threats to it or its habitat at 
any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on May 5, 2006.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this finding is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6010 
Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011. New information, materials, 
comments, or questions concerning this species may be submitted to us 
at any time at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section above), by telephone at 
760-431-9440, or by facsimile to 760-431-9624.



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that we make a finding 
on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on 
information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted 
with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files at 
the time we make the determination. To the maximum extent practicable, 
we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the 
petition and publish a notice of this finding promptly in the Federal 
    Our standard for substantial information within the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day petition finding is ``that 
amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe 
that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted'' (50 CFR 
424.14(b)). If we find that substantial information was presented, we 
are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the 
    In making this finding, we relied on information provided by the 
petitioners and information otherwise available in

[[Page 26445]]

our files at the time of petition review and evaluated that information 
in accordance with 50 CFR 424.14(b). Our process of coming to a 90-day 
finding under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and section 424.14(b) of 
our regulations is limited to a determination of whether the 
information in the petition meets the ``substantial information'' 
    On December 13, 2002, we received a formal petition dated December 
12, 2002, from the Center for Biological Diversity requesting the 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle (Pseudocotalpa andrewsi) be listed as 
threatened or endangered in accordance with section 4 of the Act.
    Action on this petition was precluded by court orders and 
settlement agreements for other listing actions that required nearly 
all of our listing funds for fiscal year 2003. On December 9, 2004, we 
received a 60-day notice of intent to sue, and on December 1, 2005, we 
received a complaint regarding our failure to make the 90-day and 12-
month findings on the status of the Andrews' dune scarab beetle. On 
January 12, 2006, we reached an agreement with the plaintiffs to submit 
to the Federal Register a completed 90-day finding by April 28, 2006, 
and to complete, if applicable, a 12-month finding by January 26, 2007 
(Case No. 05 CV 1988 BEN (BLM) S.D.CAL). This notice constitutes the 
90-day finding for the December 12, 2002, petition.

Previous Federal Actions

    In a proposed rule that included 10 North American beetles, the 
Service proposed to list as threatened and designate critical habitat 
for the Andrews' dune scarab beetle on August 10, 1978 (43 FR 35636). 
Without citing any literature, species experts, or other scientific 
authority to support the various claims in the proposal, we indicated 
that the action was being taken for the 10 beetles because of 
``decreased population levels and anticipated adverse modification of * 
* * habitat.'' Specifically regarding the Andrews' dune scarab beetle, 
the Service stated that the ``continued disruption of dune troughs by 
off-road vehicles [ORVs] prevents the accumulation of dead organic 
matter upon which the immature stages of this beetle feed.'' On October 
1, 1980 (45 FR 65137), we published a notice of withdrawal for the 
proposed rule to list the Andrews' dune scarab beetle and seven other 
beetles because the 1978 amendments to the Act mandated withdrawals for 
all proposals not finalized within two years. As a result, the Andrews' 
dune scarab beetle currently has no Federal regulatory status.

Species Information

    Within the subtribe Areodina of North American scarab beetles 
(family Scarabaeidae), Hardy described the Andrews' dune scarab beetle 
(Pseudocotalpa andrewsi) as a monotypic species within a new genus in 
1971. Subsequently, Hardy (1974) described two additional species of 
Pseudocotalpa (P. guilianii and sonorica), along with the note that an 
additional 82 specimens of P. andrewsi had been collected from the type 
locality near Glamis in Imperial County, California. Andrews' dune 
scarab beetles are golden-brown and covered with long, pale, fine 
hairs, and range in length from 0.51 to 0.71 inches (in) (13 to 18 
millimeters (mm)) (Hardy 1971). The Andrews' dune scarab beetle can be 
differentiated from other closely related scarab beetles by its smaller 
size, the deep concave shape of the clypeus, and the poorly developed 
prothoracic post-coxal spine or knob (Hardy 1971, Hardy 1974).
    The Service described the ``specific habitat of the beetles [as] 
troughs of loose drifting sand between dunes'' in the 1978 proposed 
rule (43 FR 35636). Habitat vegetation type was described as creosote 
bush scrub by Hardy and Andrews (1980), but many collections occurred 
in areas described as psammophytic (``sand loving'') scrub (Hardy and 
Andrews 1980; BLM 2002). Psammophytic scrub vegetation occurs in the 
interior portions of sand dunes, most frequently between active dunes 
in areas that form depressions (BLM 2003). The Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle appears to prefer low dunes on the margin of thickets (dense 
patches of scrub vegetation) that form finger-like extensions into the 
dunes (Scarabaeus Associates 1991). Andrews reported that all of the 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle burrowing mounds that he identified were in 
bare ground near thickets and, therefore, density appeared to be 
positively correlated with thicket density (Scarabaeus Associates 
1991). Thickets are typically dominated by large creosote (Larrea 
tridentata); palo verde (Cercidium floridum); ironwood (Olneya tesota) 
(Scarabaeus Associates 1991); and other associated plants include 
desert buckwheat (Eriogonum deserticola) and desert needle (Palafoxia 
arida) (Hardy and Andrews 1980). Bureau of Land Management (BLM 2002) 
noted that the ``Andrews' dune scarab beetle is found primarily along 
the eastern edge of the dunes in the transitional zone between creosote 
bush scrub, psammophytic scrub, and microphyll woodland habitats.''
    During periods of inactivity, Andrews' dune scarab beetles remain 
buried at the interface of the wet and dry sand, at depths of 2 to 11.8 
in (5 to 30 centimeters (cm)) (Hardy and Andrews 1980; Scarabaeus 
Associates 1991). Adults have been collected from mid-April through the 
first week of May (Hardy and Andrews 1980). The adult flight season 
runs from late March to early May (Scarabaeus Associates 1991). Adults 
emerge in ``large'' numbers at dusk (Hardy 1971) and fly for 10 to 30 
minutes, while congregating in groups of 3 to 20 individuals around 
nearby bushes, then move away in pairs to copulate (Hardy and Andrews 
1980; Scarabaeus Associates 1991). After copulation, adults rapidly 
bury themselves in the sand (Hardy and Andrews 1980). We do not have 
information on the life span of this species.
    Hardy and Andrews (1980) reported that the Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle ``is a species that is (as far as can be determined) endemic to 
the Algodones Dunes in Imperial County, California, and probably the 
portion of the same dune system that occurs in Baja California Norte, 
Mexico.'' However in Hardy's (1971) article describing the new species 
and its habitat, the author included a male specimen collected from the 
``Yuma Dunes'' in 1960 as referable to the species. Hardy and Andrews 
(1980) noted this same collection in their article as well. The Yuma 
Dunes occur approximately 15 miles (mi)(28 kilometers) southeast of the 
Algodones Dunes, across the Colorado River, in extreme southwestern 
Arizona. Moreover, given that such plants as the Peirson's milk-vetch 
(Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii) are known from the Algodones 
Dunes, Yuma Dunes, and Gran Desierto de Altar (Felger 2000), and the 
dune sunflower (Helianthus niveus ssp. tephrodes) is known from the 
Algodones Dunes and Gran Desierto de Altar (Seiler et al. 2006), it is 
possible that the Andrews' dune scarab beetle occurs farther south as 
well in the large dune systems of the Gran Desierto de Altar in 
northwestern Sonora, Mexico. The Algodones Dunes, Yuma Dunes, and Gran 
Desierto are geologically part of the same active dune system (Rinker 
et al. 1991). As a result, the Andrews' dune scarab beetle does not 
appear to be restricted to the Algodones Dunes of southeastern 
California or northeastern Baja California Norte, but rather occurs at 
least within the Yuma Dunes of Arizona and potentially within the Gran 
Desierto de Altar in northwestern Sonora, Mexico.

[[Page 26446]]

    No population estimates are available for this species.

Threats Analysis

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal list of 
endangered and threatened species. A species may be determined to be an 
endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) Present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence. In making this finding, we evaluated 
whether threats to the Andrews' dune scarab beetle presented in the 
petition and other information available in our files at the time of 
the petition review may pose a concern with respect to its survival. 
Our evaluation of these threats is presented below.

A. Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
the Species' Habitat or Range

    The petitioners state that ORV activity destroys and modifies 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle habitat and curtails its range (range 
estimate based on Andrews et al. 1979; Hardy and Andrews 1980). The 
petitioners state that the congregating behavior of adult Andrews' dune 
scarab beetles during the active season (generally February through 
May) renders colonies vulnerable to direct mortality by ORV activity. 
The petition uses the arthropod observations of Luckenbach and Bury 
(1983) as substantiation.
    The petitioners assert that ORVs can also ``adversely modify dune 
habitat.'' According to the petition, accumulations of vegetable matter 
collected in wind-made troughs may serve as nurseries for Andrews' dune 
scarab beetle larval stages, and creosote bushes may be host plants for 
the species. The petitioners maintain that because Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle reproduction occurs once a year from mid-April through early 
May, ORV destruction of accumulated vegetable matter in which larvae 
may be developing could eliminate an entire generation. Citing Carpelan 
(1995), the petitioners claim that dune buggies adversely modify 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle habitat, while they note ``Hardy and 
Andrews (1976) concluded that ORVs destroy plant growth within and near 
the Algodones Dunes, scatter or crush accumulations of organic matter 
likely used by P. andrewsi larvae for nurseries, disrupt layers of 
crust which stabilize the dunes, and may upset beetle reproduction.''
    The petitioners also claim that if protected areas of the Algodones 
Dunes are reopened to ORVs, as described in the draft environmental 
impact statement (DEIS) for the Proposed Recreation Area Management 
Plan and Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan (BLM 
2002), habitat for the Andrews' dune scarab beetle will be modified or 
destroyed and its range within the dune system will likely be 
curtailed. The petitioners contend that not only is the Andrews' dune 
scarab beetle endemic to the Algodones Dunes, but no recolonization 
source exists in the event of population extirpation.
    The petition does not discuss or provide specific scientific or 
commercial information on distribution and population status of the 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle in Mexico or outside of the Algodones Dunes 

Evaluation of Information in the Petition and Our Files

    The petition and our files contain little information regarding the 
threat of ORV use to the Andrews' dune scarab beetle. Luckenbach and 
Bury (1983) reported that ``arthropod (mostly beetle) tracks were 
twenty-four times more abundant in control plots than in ORV-impacted 
plots.'' However, this work was not species-specific (observed tracks 
may not be the Andrews' dune scarab beetle or reflect the abundance of 
the species), and the sampled plots were placed in areas where no 
Andrews' dune scarab beetles have been collected, therefore it is not 
clear from these results that Andrews' dune scarab beetle is adversely 
impacted by ORV use, or that ORV use constitutes a significant threat 
to the beetle. Despite the claim in the petition that Hardy and Andrews 
(1976) concluded that ORVs destroy plants within and near the Algodones 
Dunes and impact larval nurseries of Andrews' dune scarab beetle, Hardy 
and Andrews (1976) did not survey the Algodones Dunes in their insect 
surveys in six California and Nevada dune systems and the authors 
provided only generalized data of potential adverse effects of off-
highway vehicles (OHVs, also known as ORVs) to ``dune restricted or 
adapted insects.'' Carpelan (1995) focused his book chapter on dune 
stabilization and the adaptation and speciation of dune insects. 
Carpelan's work was largely derived from Hardy and Andrews (1976) and 
he gave Andrews' dune scarab beetle as an example of a dune endemic. 
While Hardy and Andrews (1976) and Carpelan (1995) expressed concern 
regarding the general effects of OHVs to dunes (especially stabilized 
dunes), neither paper supported any assertion of OHVs ``adversely 
modify dune habitat'' of the Andrews'' dune scarab beetle. Similarly, 
the statements in the 1978 proposal to list the Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle regarding the decreased population levels and OHV impacts were 
not supported by the available scientific information.
    An additional report by Andrews (Scarabaeus Associates 1991) 
provides little additional insight into the potential impact ORV use 
may have on Andrews' dune scarab beetles or their habitat. Although his 
study was intended to investigate the potential impacts of ORV use on 
the Andrews' dune scarab beetle, conclusions regarding the impact of 
ORV use on Andrews' dune scarab beetle could not be derived from the 
study as designed. Plots were placed based on collection records and 
expert opinion of habitat suitability, not randomized within use 
designation areas or a larger reasonable subset of dune habitat, such 
as the central upland-lowland dune transition areas where most beetles 
have been collected. The only measure of ORV activity was BLM use 
classification (Intensive, Moderate, Limited, and Controlled (no 
access)). Andrews (Scarabaeus Associates 1991) did not detect any 
individuals in ORV Intensive use classification plots where most early 
collections of Andrews' dune scarab beetle were made. However, no 
individuals were detected in Controlled use (closed to ORV use) 
classification plots either, where habitat appeared ``excellent,'' and 
``significant'' populations had been detected in previous years. Most 
beetle detections were made in plots located within the two 
intermediate ORV use classification areas (Moderate and Limited). An 
``extensive'' search of a greater area classified as Controlled 
resulted in detection of only two individuals. Andrews' study 
(Scarabaeus Associates 1991) indicates that occupancy of habitat 
patches may shift regardless of habitat suitability or ORV impacts but 
did not demonstrate impacts of ORV use on Andrews' dune scarab beetle 
    The petitioners assert that only one population of the Andrews' 
dune scarab beetle, a species endemic to the Algodones Dunes, exists. 
As discussed above, however, the species has been collected from the 
Yuma Dunes in Arizona. Moreover, given that the

[[Page 26447]]

federally threatened Peirson's milk-vetch (Astragalus magdalenae var. 
peirsonii) is known from the Algodones Dunes, Yuma Dunes, and Gran 
Desierto de Altar (Felger 2000), and the dune sunflower (Helianthus 
niveus ssp. tephrodes) is known from the Algodones Dunes and Gran 
Desierto de Altar (Seiler et al. 2006), it is possible that this dune 
species occurs farther south as well in the large dune systems of the 
Gran Desierto de Altar in northwestern Sonora, Mexico. Information 
provided with the petition and in our files does not indicate that the 
Yuma Dunes or the sand dune systems within the 5,000 square mi (1.3 
million ha) of the Gran Desierto de Altar have been surveyed for the 
Andrews' dune scarab beetle.
    We find that, due to weak, incomplete, or nonexistent information 
regarding impacts to the Andrews' dune scarab beetle from ORV use, the 
petition and our files do not present substantial information that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. No other information regarding 
Factor A was contained in the petition or our files. Because the known 
populations in the United States exist on lands owned and managed by 
BLM, it is unlikely to be subject to other forms of habitat 
modification under Factor A, such as loss of habitat due to 

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The petition states no data are available. We have no scientific or 
commercial information in our files indicating that overutilization of 
the beetle exists for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes, and the petition did not provide any such 

C. Disease or Predation

    The petition states that natural predation affects the population 
but does not describe any effects. The petition states that effects of 
disease on the Andrews' dune scarab beetle are unknown, and we have no 
information in our files to indicate that either disease or predation 
threatens the beetle.

Evaluation of Information in the Petition and Our Files

    Some information available in our files provided specific 
observations of predation. Hardy and Andrews (1980) stated that 
``[d]uring evening flights, night hawks were observed to be important 
predators of Pseudocotalpa.'' Andrews (Scarabaeus Associates 1991) 
observed nighthawk and scorpion predation, noting that nighthawks 
appeared to actively search occupied sites for Andrews' dune scarab 
beetles. However, review of the petition and information in our files 
did not provide substantial scientific or commercial information that 
mortality by predation or disease may threaten survival of the species 
across its range.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petitioners assert that existing regulatory mechanisms are 
inadequate to protect this Algodones Dunes species from extinction. The 
petition states that past administrative plans and legal requirements 
to monitor and conserve the Andrews' dune scarab beetle have not been 
implemented by BLM. Current management plans allow ORV activity in the 
majority of the known range of the Andrews' dune scarab beetle on BLM 
lands in the Algodones Dunes (94 percent of all creosote scrub and 84 
percent of all psammophytic scrub).
    All known Andrews' dune scarab beetle habitat in the United States 
is on land managed by the BLM (Andrews et al. 1979; Hardy and Andrews 
1980; BLM and CDFG 1987). The petitioners state that, although the 
sensitive, potentially endangered status of the Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle and adverse impacts of ORVs on the species have been made known 
to BLM (Hardy and Andrews 1976), the use of ORVs continues to be 
permitted in sensitive beetle habitat. According to the petition, the 
preferred alternative management plan in the DEIS (BLM 2002) would 
result in relaxed conservation measures for the species, including 
reopening thousands of acres of protected habitat to ORV use (see 
Factor A discussion above).
    The petition notes that three planning documents for the Algodones 
Dunes Wildlife Habitat Area have addressed management of ORV use and 
the Andrews' dune scarab beetle: the 1972 Recreation Management Plan, 
the 1980 California Desert Conservation Area Plan, and the 1987 
Recreation Area Management Plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes (RAMP) (BLM 
and CDFG 1987). The previously implemented RAMP called for a reduction 
in the proposed level of recreation development and dispersal of 
intensive recreational use within Class I areas. The RAMP included the 
Algodones Dunes Wildlife Habitat Management Plan (HMP), implemented 
under the authority of the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a-670o). The HMP 
recommended biennial surveys for the Andrews' dune scarab beetle (p. 
22): ``Permanent plots will be evaluated biennially, and results will 
be compared to existing information to determine trend, until a 
satisfactory amount of data are gathered. Supplementary and monitoring 
studies will be through contract * * *.''
    The petition reports that only one set of surveys was ever 
conducted (Scarabaeus Associates 1991), and although the report could 
not be located by the petitioners, it is in our files. The petition 
notes that permanent monitoring of the Andrews' dune scarab beetle was 
recommended in the HMP, but surveys have not been conducted for the 
past decade. The petition notes that the RAMP also stipulated that 
localized surveys be conducted for the Andrews' dune scarab beetle 
prior to approval of particular development projects. The petition 
concludes that no available documents indicate that the stipulated 
surveys were conducted, although a number of the named development 
projects were approved and completed.
    The petition quotes a recent DEIS (BLM 2002) that ``little is known 
about the biology of this beetle, [and] current information about the 
distribution and preferred habitat at the Plan Area is not available * 
* *. No information about threats to this species is available.'' The 
petition claims this assessment of the species is inaccurate given 
information presented in the petition. The petition notes that the HMP 
mandated collection of demographic and distributional information would 
have provided relevant additional information regarding the species. 
Additionally, no data were presented in the DEIS regarding the 
distribution of the Andrews' dune scarab beetle, although such data are 
required before land-use decisions are made to ensure the species is 
not jeopardized. The petitioners also note that the DEIS recognizes 
``OHV activity tends to be concentrated within the psammophytic scrub. 
As a consequence, some special-status wildlife species such as * * * 
endemic dune beetles occurring in these dunes would be killed or 
injured by OHV activity.'' The preferred alternative in the DEIS 
(Alternative 2) would allow 198,220 ac (80,217 ha) of the Algodones 
Dunes to be open to ORV use, and only the relatively small 27,695-ac 
(11,208-ha) portion of the Algodones Dunes would remain as off-limits 
to ORVs.

Evaluation of Information in the Petition and Our Files

    Focusing on the concerns expressed by the petitioners, the final 
and currently implemented RAMP (BLM 2003) does not address specific 
conservation, research, or monitoring of the Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle. The only mention of Andrews' dune scarab

[[Page 26448]]

beetle is a note on page 32, recognizing that the beetle is a ``poorly 
known'' BLM sensitive species (Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities 
section). The final RAMP utilizes the preferred alternative in the DEIS 
(Alternative 2) discussed in the petition. Under the final RAMP, all-
terrain vehicle, motorcycle, truck, and dune buggy ORV use will be 
prohibited in the 26,202 ac (10,601 ha) North Algodones Dunes 
Wilderness Recreation Management Area. The wilderness area closed to 
ORV use under the final RAMP is 18 percent of the BLM-managed Imperial 
Sand Dunes Recreation Area known to contain Andrews' dune scarab beetle 
habitat (not including the Dune Buggy Flats Recreation Management Area 
uplands where studies have not detected Andrews' dune scarab beetle) 
(Hardy and Andrews 1980; BLM 2002). Historically, most Andrews' dune 
scarab beetle observations were concentrated in the Glamis Recreation 
Management Area (Hardy and Andrews 1980), which has the highest 
allowable recreation impacts under the final RAMP. As stated above, 
interim vehicle use closure areas designated for the threatened 
Peirson's milk-vetch plant (Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii) and 
desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) through legal stipulation (BLM 
2002), including approximately 49,000 ac (19,829.6 ha) of the Andrews' 
dune scarab beetle range, were not maintained (they were opened to ORV 
use) under the final RAMP (BLM 2003).
    Regardless of whether the petition or the above description 
accurately details the historic, existing, and proposed management and 
monitoring of the Algodones Dunes by the BLM, the central issue is 
whether such management is inadequate because the associated ORV 
activity has adversely affected or will adversely affect the Andrews' 
dune scarab beetle such that listing may be warranted. Though the 
petitioners claim they ``were unable to find a single study documenting 
positive or even neutral effects of ORVs'' after completing a 
comprehensive review of scientific literature regarding ORV impacts on 
desert flora and fauna, the petition and our files do not contain any 
direct or substantial evidence that ORV activity is adversely affecting 
the Andrews' dune scarab beetle. Despite the assertion from the 
petitioners that ``a sufficient body of information on negative effects 
of ORVs on arthropods in the Algodones Dunes exists to indicate the 
species is imperiled,'' the often cited study by Hardy and Andrews 
(1976) did not address the Algodones Dunes or the Andrews' dune scarab 
beetle, while the counting of arthropod tracks in the Luckenbach and 
Bury study (1983), also cited many times by the petitioners, was not 
specific to Andrews' dune scarab beetle and does not necessarily 
correlate to the beetle. Moreover, the results of Andrew's study 
(Scarabaeus Associates 1991) intended to investigate the impact of ORV 
use on the Andrews' dune scarab beetle indicated that beetle abundance 
was not correlated with BLM ORV use designations, and that occupancy of 
habitat patches may shift regardless of habitat suitability or ORV 
impact. However, as noted above, due to study design limitations, the 
impact of ORV use could not be adequately determined. In fact, another 
possible hypothesis that could support the study data is that some 
disturbance of the dunes is beneficial to the beetles, as the most 
beetles were collected in areas open to moderate disturbance, and no 
beetles were collected in a formerly occupied area where disturbance 
may have been reduced by closure. Because of the weak information on 
the effects of ORVs to the Andrews' dune scarab beetle and the lack of 
information supporting species-specific threats, there is no basis for 
finding that existing regulatory protections are inadequate. 
Accordingly, we find that the petition and our files do not present 
substantial scientific or commercial information that the petitioned 
action may be warranted.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' Continued 

    Without citing any scientific references or studies, the petition 
states that pesticide use in the agricultural areas of the Imperial 
Valley is likely having negative impacts on the species through 
pesticide drift into the dunes and that spraying programs for the curly 
top leafhopper virus are also likely directly impacting the species.
    The petition also included the issue of direct mortality from OHV 
use in the Andrews' dune scarab beetle habitat.

Evaluation of Information in the Petition and Our Files

    The assertion provided in the petition that pesticide use is likely 
having negative impacts was not supported by any scientific 
information, citations, or data. Thus, the petition does not provide 
substantial scientific or commercial information documenting loss of 
Andrews' dune scarab beetles by pesticide use or how this may threaten 
survival of the species across its range, nor is there any additional 
information in our files.
    The assertion provided in the petition that OHV use is likely to 
have negative impacts on direct mortality was not supported by any 
scientific information, citations, or data. Therefore, this petition 
does not provide substantial scientific or commercial information 
documenting loss of Andrews' dune scarab beetles by the use of OHVs.


    We reviewed the petition and supporting information provided with 
the petition and evaluated that information in relation to other 
pertinent literature and information available in our files at the time 
of petition review. After this review and evaluation, we find the 
petition does not provide substantial scientific or commercial 
information to demonstrate that listing the Andrews' dune scarab beetle 
may be warranted at this time. The species information in the petition 
and in our files was collected between 1967 and 1991, when most of the 
specific data was collected. We encourage interested parties to 
continue to gather data that will assist with the conservation of the 
species. Information regarding the Andrews' dune scarab beetle may be 
submitted to the Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see ADDRESSES section above) at any time.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available, upon 
request, from the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 


    The primary author of this notice is Alison Anderson, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).


    The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 1, 2006.
H. Dale Hall,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E6-6791 Filed 5-4-06; 8:45 am]