[Federal Register: May 29, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 102)]
[Page 29544]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 29544]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Revised Recovery Plan for the 
Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability of the revised Recovery Plan for the Whooping Crane (Grus 
americana). This is the third revision of the recovery plan for this 
species; the original was completed in 1980. The whooping crane is 
found in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and in central 
Canada. This revision to the recovery plan was developed by an 
international team and will be jointly adopted by the United States and 

ADDRESSES: Copies of the recovery plan on CD may be obtained from the 
Whooping Crane Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Aransas 
National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 100, Austwell, Texas 77950, or the 
plan may be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/endangered
 (type ``whooping crane'' in the species search field).

Coordinator, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 100, Austwell, 
Texas 77950; telephone (361) 286-3559, ext. 221, facsimile (361) 286-
3722, e-mail: Tom_Stehn@fws.gov.



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, the Service is working to prepare recovery 
plans for most of the listed species native to the United States. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting them, and 
estimate time and cost for implementing the recovery measures needed.
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as amended in 1988, 
requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and 
comment be provided during recovery plan development. The Service 
considers all information provided during a public comment period prior 
to approval of each new or revised recovery plan. The Service and 
others take these comments into account in the course of implementing 
recovery plans.
    In the United States, the whooping crane (Grus americana) was 
listed as Threatened with Extinction in 1967 and Endangered in 1970--
both listings were ``grandfathered'' into the Endangered Species Act of 
1973. Critical habitat was designated in 1978. In Canada, it was 
designated as Endangered in 1978 by the Committee on the Status of 
Endangered Wildlife in Canada; critical habitat in Canada will be 
designated upon publication of the final recovery strategy on the 
Species at Risk Act public registry.
    Whooping cranes occur only in North America. Approximately 343 
individuals exist in the wild at 3 locations, and 135 whooping cranes 
are in captivity at 9 sites. Only the Aransas--Wood Buffalo National 
Park population (AWBP) that nests in Canada and winters in coastal 
marshes in Texas is self-sustaining, with approximately 220 in the 
flock. With so few individuals surviving, the population remains in 
danger of extinction. Historic population declines resulted from 
habitat destruction, shooting, and displacement by activities of man. 
Current threats include limited genetics, loss and degradation of 
migration stopover habitat, collisions with power lines, and 
degradation of coastal habitat and threat of chemical spills.
    The revised recovery plan includes scientific information about the 
species and provides objectives and actions needed to downlist the 
species. Recovery actions designed to achieve these objectives include 
protection and enhancement of the breeding, migration, and wintering 
habitat for the AWBP to allow the wild flock to grow and reach 
ecological and genetic stability; reintroduction and establishment of 
geographically separate self-sustaining wild flocks to ensure 
resilience to catastrophic events; and maintenance of a captive 
breeding flock to protect against extinction that is genetically 
managed to retain a minimum of 90 percent of the whooping crane's 
genetic material for 100 years.
    The current recovery goal is to reclassify (downlist) the species 
from endangered to threatened status. Criteria to delist the species 
are not being proposed at this time because the status and biology of 
the species dictate that considerable time (over 20 years) is needed to 
reach downlisting goals. Additional threats are expected to arise and 
will have to be overcome before downlisting occurs. Additional 
information is also needed on the conservation biology of small 
populations, including a determination of effective population size 
(Ne) for whooping cranes to maintain genetic viability over 
the long-term, and impacts of stochastic and catastrophic events on 
population survival. Delisting criteria will be established, as 
appropriate, in a subsequent revision of, or amendment to, this 
recovery plan.
    Downlisting can be achieved when (1) There are a minimum of 40 
productive pairs in the AWBP and 25 productive pairs in each of two 
additional self-sustaining populations, or (1A) there are 100 
productive pairs in the AWBP and 30 productive pairs in a second self-
sustaining population, or (1B) there are 250 productive pairs in the 
AWBP, and (2) there are at least 21 productive pairs in the captive 
    This revision to the recovery plan was developed by an 
international recovery team, and will be jointly adopted by the United 
States and Canada.


    The authority for this action is Section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: July 21, 2006.
Benjamin N. Tuggle,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2.
    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on May 22, 2007.
 [FR Doc. E7-10099 Filed 5-25-07; 8:45 am]