[Federal Register: March 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 48)]
[Page 11376-11377]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Supplements to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of two supplements to the Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos 
horribilis) Recovery Plan. The supplements, appended to the Grizzly 
Bear Recovery Plan, present revised methods to estimate population size 
and sustainable mortality limits for the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population, and establish habitat-based recovery criteria for the 
Yellowstone grizzly bear population.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the recovery plan, including these 
supplements, by any of the following means:
    1. World Wide Web: http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans or http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/


[[Page 11377]]

    2. U.S. mail or in-person pickup: By appointment, during normal 
business hours, at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University Hall, 
Room 309, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812. Call (406) 243-
4903 to make arrangements.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Christopher Servheen, Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Coordinator (see ADDRESSES above), (406) 243-4903.



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure member of its ecosystem is a primary goal of 
our endangered species program. Recovery plans help guide recovery 
efforts by describing actions we consider necessary for the 
conservation of the species, establishing criteria for downlisting and 
delisting listed species, and estimating time and cost for implementing 
the measures needed for recovery measures. Under the provisions of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), we approved the first Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan on January 29, 
1982 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1982). In 1993, we approved a 
revision to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service 1993), which included additional tasks and new information that 
increased the focus and effectiveness of recovery efforts. Supplements 
to the Recovery Plan were approved in 1997 and 1998 (U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service 1997, 1998).
    In 1994, The Fund for Animals, Inc., and 42 other organizations and 
individuals filed suit over the adequacy of the 1993 Recovery Plan. In 
1995, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an 
order remanding for further study and clarification four issues 
relevant to the Yellowstone grizzly bear population including the 
methods we use to measure the status of bear populations (Fund for 
Animals v. Babbitt, 903 F. Supp. 96 (D. D.C. 1995)). Following appeals 
by both parties, we entered into a subsequent settlement agreeing to 
establish habitat-based recovery criteria prior to any delisting action 
(Fund for Animals v. Babbitt, 967 F. Supp. 6 (D. D.C. 1997)).
    Regarding the methods used to measure the status of bear 
populations, beginning in 2000, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study 
Team, which the U.S. Geological Survey leads in cooperation with 
various University specialists, began a comprehensive evaluation of the 
demographic data and the methodology used to estimate population size 
and establish the sustainable level of mortality for grizzly bears in 
the Greater Yellowstone Area. The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan Task Y11 
also recommended further consideration of population objectives, 
stating that the team should work to ``determine population conditions 
at which the species is viable and self sustaining'' and ``reevaluate 
and refine population criteria as new information becomes available'' 
for the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service 1993, p. 44). After evaluating current methods, scientific 
literature, and alternative methods, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study 
Team recommended the most valid technique based on the best available 
science (Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team 2005, 2007) and drafted 
the Reassessing Methods to Estimate Population Size and Sustainable 
Mortality Limits for the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear document (Reassessing 
Methods document). As per section 4(f) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)), 
we released a draft version of the Reassessing Methods document for 
public comment on November 22, 2005 (70 FR 70632). Considering all 
comments received, the Study Team produced a Supplement to the 
Reassessing Methods document (Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team 2006) 
and finalized this document. We have attached relevant portions of 
these reports to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service 1993) in a supplement.
    Regarding the settlement agreeing to establish habitat-based 
recovery criteria prior to any delisting action, on June 17, 1997, we 
held a public workshop in Bozeman, Montana, to develop and refine 
habitat-based recovery criteria for the Yellowstone grizzly bear 
population. A Federal Register notice notified the public of this 
workshop and provided interested parties an opportunity to participate 
and submit comments (62 FR 19777, April 23, 1997). Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Plan Task Y423 also recommended further consideration of this 
issue, stating that we should work to ``establish a threshold of 
minimal habitat values to be maintained within each Cumulative Effects 
Analysis Unit in order to ensure that sufficient habitat is available 
to support a viable population'' (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993, 
p. 55). After considering 1,167 written comments, we developed 
biologically-based habitat criteria with the goal of maintaining or 
improving habitat conditions at 1998 levels. As per section 4(f) of the 
Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)), we published these draft criteria in the 
Federal Register for review and comment on July 16, 1999 (64 FR 38464). 
Considering all comments we received, we finalized the Habitat-Based 
Recovery Criteria. We have attached the established Habitat-Based 
Recovery Criteria to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service 1993) in a supplement.

References Cited

    To obtain a complete list of all references cited herein, contact 
the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator (see ADDRESSES above).


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

    Dated: January 10, 2007.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. E7-4568 Filed 3-12-07; 8:45 am]