[Federal Register: May 28, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 103)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 30596-30598]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R2-ES-2008-0065; 1111 FY07 MO-B2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 
Status Review for the Northern Mexican Gartersnake (Thamnophis eques 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; initiation of status review and solicitation of new 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
initiation of a status review for the northern Mexican gartersnake 
(Thamnophis eques megalops). Through this action, we encourage all 
interested parties to provide us information regarding the status of, 
and any potential threat to, the northern Mexican gartersnake.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request 
that information be submitted on or before July 14, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2008-0065; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, 
Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all information on 
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Information Solicited 
section below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, 
Arizona Ecological Services Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 
103, Phoenix, AZ 85021-4951; telephone 602-242-0210; facsimile 602-242-
2513. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call 
the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

[[Page 30597]]


Information Solicited

    To ensure that the status review is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting 
information concerning the status of the northern Mexican gartersnake 
(Thamnophis eques megalops). We request any additional information from 
the public, other concerned governmental agencies, Native American 
Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
parties on the status of the northern Mexican gartersnake throughout 
its range, including:
    (1) Information from the United States and Mexico regarding the 
subspecies' historical and current population status, distribution, and 
trends; taxonomy; biology and ecology; and habitat selection;
    (2) Information on the effects of potential threat factors in the 
United States and Mexico that are the basis for a listing determination 
under section 4(a) of the Act, which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of the subspecies' habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    Please note that submissions merely stating support or opposition 
to the action under consideration without providing supporting 
information, although noted, will not be considered in making a 
determination, because section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) directs that determinations as to whether any species is a 
threatened or endangered species must be made ``solely on the basis of 
the best scientific and commercial data available.'' At the conclusion 
of the status review, we will determine whether listing is warranted, 
not warranted, or warranted but precluded.
    You may submit your information concerning this status review by 
one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not 
consider submissions sent by e-mail or fax or to an address not listed 
in the ADDRESSES section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this personal identifying 
information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://
    Information and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER 


    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as 
amended (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 indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on 
information provided in the petition and supporting information 
submitted with the petition. To the maximum extent practicable, we are 
to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition and 
publish our notice of the finding promptly in the Federal Register. 
Section 4(b)(3)(B) also requires that, for any petition to revise the 
Lists of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Plants that contains 
substantial scientific or commercial information that the action may be 
warranted, we make a finding within 12 months of the date of the 
receipt of the petition on whether the petitioned action is: (a) Not 
warranted, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted but precluded by other 
pending proposals. Such 12-month findings are to be published promptly 
in the Federal Register.
    On December 19, 2003, we received a petition from the Center for 
Biological Diversity requesting that we list the northern Mexican 
gartersnake as threatened or endangered, and that we designate critical 
habitat concurrently with the listing. On May 17, 2005, the petitioners 
filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, challenging 
our failure to issue a 90-day finding in response to the petition as 
required by 16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A) and (B). In a stipulated settlement 
agreement, we agreed to submit a 90-day finding to the Federal Register 
by December 16, 2005, and, if the petition presented substantial 
scientific information indicating that listing the northern Mexican 
gartersnake may be warranted, submit a 12-month finding to the Federal 
Register by September 15, 2006 (Center for Biological Diversity v. 
Norton, CV-05-341-TUC-CKJ (D. Az)). On January 4, 2006, we published 
our 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial scientific 
information indicating that listing the northern Mexican gartersnake 
may be warranted and initiated a 12-month status review (71 FR 315).
    On September 26, 2006, we published our 12-month finding that 
listing of the northern Mexican garter snake was not warranted because 
we determined that not enough information on the subspecies' status and 
threats in Mexico was known at that time (71 FR 56227).
    Since the time of the 12-month finding, a formal opinion has been 
issued by the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, ``The 
Meaning of In Danger of Extinction Throughout All or a Significant 
Portion of Its Range'' (U.S. DOI 2007), which provides further guidance 
on how to conduct a detailed analysis of whether a species is in danger 
of extinction throughout a significant portion of its range.
    In December 2007, the Service withdrew the September 26, 2007, 12-
month finding. This notice initiates a new status review for the 
northern Mexican gartersnake that is consistent with current policies, 
including any subsequent analysis relevant to the ``significant portion 
of its range.'' We will incorporate any new information received as 
requested above.
    At this time, we are soliciting new information on the status of 
and potential threats to the northern Mexican gartersnake. We will base 
our new determination as to whether listing is warranted on a review of 
the best scientific and commercial information available, including all 
such information received as a result of this notice. For more 
information on the biology, habitat, and range of the northern Mexican 
gartersnake, please refer to our previous 90-day finding published in 
the Federal Register on January 4, 2006 (71 FR 315), and our previous 
12-month finding published in the Federal Register on September 26, 
2006 (71 FR 56227).


    The primary author of this notice is the staff of the Arizona 
Ecological Services Office.


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

[[Page 30598]]

    Dated: May 9, 2008.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E8-11756 Filed 5-27-08; 8:45 am]