[Federal Register: June 16, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 116)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 33968-33970]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R9-IA-2008-0075; 96100-1671-0000-B6; 1018-AT56]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Petition To 
Reclassify the Argentine Population of the Broad-Snouted Caiman From 
Endangered to Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our 
90-day finding on a petition to reclassify the Argentine population of 
the broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris) from endangered to 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 
We find that the petition presents substantial scientific and 
commercial information indicating that the petitioned action of 
reclassifying the broad-snouted caiman in Argentina from endangered to 
threatened status under the Act may be warranted. Therefore, we are 
initiating a status review of the broad-snouted caiman to determine if 
reclassification of the population in Argentina, as petitioned, is 
warranted under the Act. To ensure that the status review is 
comprehensive, we are requesting submission of any new information on 
the broad-snouted caiman since its original listing as an endangered 
species in 1976. At the conclusion of our status review, we will make 
the requisite recommendation under section 4(c)(2)(B) of the Act and 
issue a 12-month finding on the petition, as provided in section 
4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

DATES: To be considered in the 12-month finding on this petition, we 
will accept comments and information from all interested parties until 
September 15, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information, materials, and comments 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-R9-IA-2008-0075]; 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 comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).

Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, Room 110, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone: 703-358-1708; 
facsimile: 703-358-2276; e-mail: ScientificAuthority@fws.gov. Persons 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Public Information Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this status review 
will be as accurate and effective as possible based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information. Therefore, we solicit 
information, comments, or suggestions on the broad-snouted caiman from 
the public, concerned government agencies, the scientific community, 
industry, or any other interested party. We are opening a 90-day public 
comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to 
provide information on the status of the Argentine population of the 
broad-snouted caiman, as well as the status of the species throughout 
its range, including:
    (1) Information on taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection and 
use, food habits, population density and trends, habitat trends, and 
effects of management on broad-snouted caimans in the wild;
    (2) Information on broad-snouted caiman ranching programs in 
Argentina and throughout the caiman's range; including efficacy of 
programs, origin of parental stock, stock supplementation for any 
purpose, including genetic purposes, growth rates, birth and mortality 
rates in captivity, location of ranches in comparison to wild 
populations, effects of ranching on the species' natural habitats and 
wild populations, wastewater management, and any other factors 
occurring from ranching activities that might negatively affect or 
reduce the species' natural habitat or range;
    (3) Information on the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, 
trends in domestic and international trade, illicit hunting of wild 
broad-snouted caimans, illegal trade and enforcement efforts and 
current and/or future solutions to poaching and illegal trade, products 
resulting from caiman

[[Page 33969]]

ranching programs, current identification systems for products 
including tagging and marking, and use of the species by the scientific 
    (4) Information on the effects of other potential threat factors, 
including contaminants, changes in the distribution and abundance of 
wild populations, disease outbreaks within ranching programs, large 
mortality events, or negative effects resulting from the presence of 
invasive species;
    (5) Information on management programs for broad-snouted caiman 
conservation in the wild, including private or government-funded 
conservation programs that benefit broad-snouted caimans; and
    (6) Information relevant to the possibility that the Argentine 
population of the broad-snouted caiman may qualify as a distinct 
population segment.
    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.
    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept comments you send 
by e-mail or fax.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that we will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this 90-day finding, 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, Division of Scientific Authority (see previous 


    We received a petition from the Government of Argentina dated 
November 5, 2007, requesting that we reclassify the broad-snouted 
caiman (Caiman latirostris) in Argentina from endangered to threatened. 
The petition contained detailed information about the natural history 
and biology of the broad-snouted caiman, including the species' current 
status and distribution.
    The broad-snouted caiman is a medium-sized crocodilian reaching no 
more than 2 meters (6.6 feet) in total length at maturity. Species 
distribution includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
northern Uruguay. The species is found mostly in freshwater marsh, 
swamp, and mangrove habitats. Recent surveys in Argentina indicate that 
much of the original broad-snouted caiman's habitat remains, and 
healthy wild populations have been located. Experimental caiman 
ranching programs have proven successful, indicating that the 
establishment of ranching programs could yield commercial-scale results 
if properly managed.
    On May 22, 1975, the Fund for Animals, Inc. (Fund) submitted a 
request to the Service to list as endangered species 216 taxa of 
animals and plants that were listed in Appendix I of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora 
(CITES, or Convention) and that did not already appear on the U.S. 
Lists of Endangered Wildlife and Plants (Lists). The Fund contended 
that signature and ratification of CITES by the United States was an 
acknowledgment of the endangered status of these species and that they 
therefore should appear on the Lists pursuant to the Act (40 FR 44329).
    CITES is an international treaty for the conservation of wild fauna 
and flora subject to trade; it was drafted in 1973 and had been 
ratified by enough nations by 1975 to enter into force. The United 
States ratified the treaty on September 13, 1973 (41 FR 24062; June 14, 
1976). Accession to CITES is open to all nations that wish to reduce 
the impact of international trade on wildlife and plants. CITES 
includes three Appendices that list species meeting specific criteria. 
Depending on the Appendix in which they are listed, species are subject 
to permitting requirements intended to ensure that international trade 
in them is legal and does not threaten their survival. Appendix-I 
species are those that are threatened with extinction and which are, or 
may be, affected by trade. Commercial trade in Appendix-I species is 
strictly prohibited. On July 1, 1975, the date the Convention was 
entered into force, Appendix I of the Convention included over 200 
species, including the broad-snouted caiman.
    As a result of the Fund's listing request, the Service published a 
proposed rule on September 26, 1975: ``Proposed Endangered Status for 
216 Species Appearing on Convention on International Trade'' (40 FR 
44329). The proposed rule requested public comments regarding amendment 
of the Lists through the addition of species included in CITES Appendix 
I. On June 14, 1976, a final rule entitled ``Endangered Status for 159 
Taxa of Animals'' was published in the Federal Register (41 FR 24062). 
These species included some, but not all, of the Appendix-I species 
that had been listed under CITES and whose listing under the Act had 
been requested by the Fund. In 1976, the Convention had only been 
ratified for one year, and ratification by additional member nations 
was necessary for CITES to become a stronger international trade 
measure. Until the number of Parties to CITES increased, however, the 
commercial importance of the species that were determined to be 
endangered in the listing rule and the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms to control international trade continued to be 
factors of major concern. It was believed that the listing action was 
imperative, to provide an interim regulatory mechanism to restrict U.S. 
trade in listed species and, ultimately, as a supportive measure to 
further address the conservation purposes of CITES.
    The broad-snouted caiman is currently listed in Appendix I of 
CITES, range-wide except in Argentina (http://www.cites.org). The 
Argentine population was downlisted to Appendix II in 1997, with 
support from the United States. In addition, under CITES Resolution 
11.12: Universal Tagging System for the Identification of Crocodilian 
Skins, all crocodilian skins must be affixed with a non-reusable tag 
from the country of origin prior to entering international trade 
(http://www.cites.org). Tagging crocodilian skins allows individual 
countries to track quotas, prevent illegal trade, and ensure that 
annual take is not detrimental to the survival of the species. Through 
a system of permits, the CITES Appendix-II listing allows international 
trade in Argentine broad-snouted caiman parts and products throughout 
the world, with one exception: Trade in Argentine broad-snouted caiman 
specimens is prohibited in the United States because the species is 
listed as endangered (41 FR 24062; June 14, 1976) under section 4 of 
the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    With this petition, the Government of Argentina requests 
reclassification of the species from endangered to threatened in their 
country only, because populations are healthy, habitat remains 
plentiful, and caiman ranching programs have proven successful. 
Reclassification of the species may allow the establishment of trade in 
ranched specimens of broad-snouted

[[Page 33970]]

caimans from Argentina to the United States and re-export from other 
CITES Parties.


    On the basis of the information provided in the petition, we have 
determined that the petition presents substantial scientific and 
commercial information that reclassifying the broad-snouted caiman from 
endangered to threatened in Argentina may be warranted. Therefore, we 
are initiating a status review to determine if reclassification of the 
species is warranted. To ensure that the status review is 
comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information 
regarding this species. Under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, we are 
required to make a finding as to whether reclassification of the broad-
snouted caiman is warranted within 12-months of receipt of the 


    The primary author of this document is Marie T. Maltese of the 
Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see 
ADDRESSES section).

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

    Dated: June 4, 2008.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E8-13162 Filed 6-13-08; 8:45 am]