[Federal Register: May 17, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 95)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 28653-28654]
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; Petition To List 
the Polar Bear as Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Status review; reopening of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of the public comment period on the status review of polar 
bears (Ursus maritimus) to determine if listing this species as 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), 
is warranted. This action will provide all interested parties with an 
additional opportunity to submit written comments for our status review 
of this species. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted 
as they have already been incorporated into the public record and will 
be fully considered in any final decision.

DATES: We will accept comments and information until 5 p.m. on June 16, 
2006. Any comments received after the closing date may not be 
considered in the final decision on the status review of this species.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and/or 
information concerning this species and the status review by any one of 
the following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information to the 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management 
Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our Marine Mammals 
Management Office at the address given above.
    3. You may send your comments by electronic mail (e-mail) directly 
to the Service at AK_Polarbear@fws.gov, or to the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. For more information on 

submitting e-mail comments, see the Public Comments Solicited section 

telephone, 907-786-3800; facsimile, 907-786-3816.


Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this status review 
will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we solicit 
comments or suggestions from the public, concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party. We specifically seek information on the status of the polar bear 
throughout its range, including:
    (1) Information on taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection 
(especially denning habitat), food habits, population density and 
trends, habitat trends, and effects of management on polar bears;
    (2) Information on the effects of climate change and sea ice change 
on the distribution and abundance of polar bears and their principal 
prey over the short and long term;
    (3) Information on the effects of other potential threat factors, 
including oil and gas development, contaminants, hunting, poaching, and 
changes of the distribution and abundance of polar bears and their 
principal prey over the short and long term;
    (4) Information on management programs for polar bear conservation, 
including mitigation measures related to oil and gas exploration and 
development, hunting conservation programs, anti-poaching programs, and 
any other private, tribal, or governmental conservation programs that 
benefit polar bears; and
    (5) Information relevant to whether any populations of the species 
may qualify as distinct population segments.
    We will base our finding on a review of the best scientific and 
commercial information available, including all information received 
during the public comment period.
    When e-mailing your comments, your submission must include ``Attn: 
Polar Bear'' in the subject line of your message, and you must not use 
special characters or any form of encryption. Electronic attachments in 
standard formats (such as .pdf or .doc) are acceptable, but please name 
the software necessary to open any attachments in formats other than 
those given above. Also, please include your name and return address in 
your e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the 
system that we have received your e-mail message, please submit your 
comments in writing using one of the alternate methods described in the 
ADDRESSES section. In the event that our internet connection is not 
functional, please submit your comments by one of the alternate methods 
mentioned in the ADDRESSES section.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home addresses from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which 
we would withhold from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, 
as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or 
address, you must state this

[[Page 28654]]

prominently at the beginning of your comment, but you should be aware 
that the Service may be required to disclose your name and address 
pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. However, we will not 
consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
    All comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at our Marine 
Mammals Management Office in Anchorage, Alaska (see ADDRESSES).


    On February 9, 2006, we published a notice of 90-day petition 
finding and initiation of status review in the Federal Register (71 FR 
6745) to determine if listing the polar bear under the Act is 
warranted. The initial public comment period to provide information for 
this review was open for 60 days, ending April 10, 2006.
    We are reopening the public comment period for 30 days in response 
to requests we received from the public regarding their intent to 
provide the Service with additional information, including information 
from other polar bear range states (e.g., Canada and Russia) on the 
worldwide status of polar bears and to ensure that all interested 
parties have an opportunity to submit comment and information to us 
concerning the status of polar bears.


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

    Dated: May 8, 2006.
H. Dale Hall,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E6-7448 Filed 5-16-06; 8:45 am]