[Federal Register: October 5, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 193)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 56979-56980]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AV19

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Petition 
Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as 
Threatened Throughout Its Range

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Extension of comment period; notice of availability of new 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
extension of the public comment period on nine new United States 
Geological Survey (USGS) reports produced for the Service to provide 
current data and modeling results relevant to the final determination 
of whether the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) qualifies for listing under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We intend to take 
these reports into consideration as we make our final listing 
determination on the polar bear, and are extending the reopened public 
comment period on the January 9, 2007, proposed rule to list the polar 
bear as threatened throughout its range under the Act (72 FR 1064) for 
an additional 15 days to allow interested parties to comment on the 
USGS reports. We are limited in how long we can extend the public 
comment period because of the statutory deadline, which requires a 
final listing determination within one year of publication of the 
proposed rule, unless an extension of up to six months is granted due 
to substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of 
the available data relevant to the determination.
    Please note that comments previously submitted should not be 
resubmitted. This comment period is open only for comments on the nine 
USGS reports listed below. Comments submitted during the prior comment 
period have been incorporated into the public record and will be fully 
considered during preparation of our final determination.

DATES: We will accept public comments until October 22, 2007.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments and materials to us by any one of 
the following methods:
    (1) You may mail or hand-deliver written comments and information 
to the Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals 
Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503.
    (2) You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: 
Polar_Bear_Finding@fws.gov. For instructions on how to file comments 

electronically, see the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section below. In 
the event that our Internet connection is not functional, please submit 
your comments by one of the alternate methods listed in this section.
    (3) You may submit your comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting 

    For information on obtaining copies of the nine USGS reports, see 
the ``Obtaining Copies of the Nine USGS reports'' section below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rosa Meehan, Marine Mammals Management 
Office (see ADDRESSES) (telephone 907-786-3800). Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 9, 2007, the Service published a 
12-month petition finding and proposed rule to list the polar bear 
(Ursus maritimus) as threatened throughout its range under the Act (72 
FR 1064). The document announced a 3-month public comment period on the 
proposed rule, which closed on April 9, 2007. We also held three public 
hearings during the proposed rule's comment period, as announced in the 
February 15, 2007, Federal Register (72 FR 7381).
    On September 7, 2007, the Service received nine reports prepared by 
the USGS that provide new data and modeling outputs relevant to the 
final determination of whether the polar bear qualifies for listing as 
threatened or endangered under the Act. These reports are:
    (1) Polar Bear Population Status in the Northern Beaufort Sea by 
Stirling et al.
    (2) Polar Bear Population Status in Southern Hudson Bay Canada by 
Obbard et al.
    (3) Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea I: Survival and 
Breeding in Relation to Sea Ice Conditions, 2001-2006 by Regehr et al.
    (4) Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea II: Demography and 
Population Growth in Relation to Sea Ice Conditions by Hunter et al.
    (5) Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea III: Stature, Mass, 
and Cub Recruitment in Relationship to Time and Sea Ice Extent Between 
1982 and 2006 by Rode et al.
    (6) Uncertainty in Climate Model Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice 
Decline: An Evaluation Relevant to Polar Bears by DeWeaver.
    (7) Predicting the Future Distribution of Polar Bear Habitat in the 
Polar Basin from Resource Selection Functions Applied to 21st Century 
General Circulation Model Projections of Sea Ice by Durner et al.
    (8) Predicting Movements of Female Polar Bears between Summer Sea 
Ice Foraging Habitats and Terrestrial Denning Habitats of Alaska in the 
21st Century: Proposed Methodology and Pilot Assessment by Bergen et 
    (9) Forecasting the Range-wide Status of Polar Bears at Selected 
Times in the 21st Century by Amstrup et al.
    On September 20, 2007, we published a notice in the Federal 
Register announcing the availability of these nine reports and our 
intention to consider them in making our final listing determination 
(72 FR 53749). In that notice we also reopened the public comment 
period on the January 9, 2007, proposed rule to list the polar bear as 
threatened under the Act (72 FR 1064) for 15 days to provide the public 
the opportunity to submit comments or information on these reports. 
Because of the volume and complexity of the information in the reports, 
we are extending the public comment period for an additional 15 days. 
The comment period now closes on October 22, 2007. We are asking for 
public comments on these reports and a review of the extent to which 
they add to the knowledge base for making the final decision. In 
particular we are seeking information regarding whether the reports 
raise an issue of substantial disagreement among scientists 
knowledgeable about polar bears regarding the accuracy or sufficiency 
of the available data relevant to the listing determination.

Obtaining Copies of the Nine USGS Reports

    You may obtain copies of any of the nine USGS reports:
     By mail from the U.S. Department of the Interior, United 
States Geological Survey, Office of Communication, 119 National Center, 
Reston, VA 20192;

[[Page 56980]]

     By calling USGS Public Affairs at (703) 648-4460;
     By visiting the USGS Web site at http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/special/polar_bears/
; or

     Via link to the USGS Web site from the Service's Web site: 

    Copies of the reports are also available for public inspection, by 
appointment during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Marine Mammals Management Office (see ADDRESSES).

Public Comments Solicited

    Comments and information submitted during the initial comment 
period on the January 9, 2007 (72 FR 1064), proposed rule should not be 
resubmitted, as this comment period is open only for comments on the 
nine USGS reports listed above. Our final determination of whether the 
polar bear qualifies as threatened or endangered under the Act will 
take into consideration all comments and information we receive during 
both comment periods.
    You may submit your comments and any materials concerning the above 
reports by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES). If you use e-
mail to submit your comments, please include ``Attn: Polar Bear 
Finding'' in your e-mail subject header, preferably with your name and 
return address in the body of your message.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold from public view your personal 
identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do 


    The primary author of this notice is staff of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.

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

    Dated: September 28, 2007.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 07-4946 Filed 10-2-07; 11:36 am]