[Federal Register: February 13, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 30)]
[Page 8345-8346]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Recovery Plan for the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (Ovis 
canadensis californiana)

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the recovery plan for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep 
(Ovis canadensis californiana). The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep occurs 
primarily on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (Inyo and 
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests) and the National Park Service 
(Yosemite National Park) in the Sierra Nevada in western Inyo and Mono 
Counties, California. This recovery plan describes the status, current 
management, recovery objectives and criteria, and specific actions 
needed to reclassify the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep from endangered to 
threatened, and to ultimately delist it.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the plan by either of the following 
    Internet: Download a copy at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans
, or U.S. mail: Send a request to U.S. Fish and 

Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, 
Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003. Printed copies of the recovery plan will be 
available for distribution in 4 to 6 weeks.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Croft, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address (telephone 951-697-5365).



    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals and plants to the 
point where they are again secure, self-sustaining members of their 
ecosystems is a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, we are working to prepare recovery plans for 
most listed species native to the United States. Recovery plans 
describe actions considered necessary for the conservation of the 
species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting listed 
species, and estimate time and cost for implementing the recovery 
measures needed.
    The Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531, et seq.) (Act) requires 
us to develop recovery plans for listed species unless such a plan 
would not promote the conservation of a particular species. Section 
4(f) of the Act requires us to provide public notice and an opportunity 
for public review and comment during recovery plan development. We made 
the draft recovery plan for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep available 
for public comment from July 30, 2003, through September 29, 2003 (68 
FR 44808), and again from October 9, 2003, through December 8, 2003 (68 
FR 58355). We considered information we received during these public 
comment periods and information from peer reviewers in our preparation 
of this final recovery plan, and also summarized that information in 
Appendix J of the

[[Page 8346]]

recovery plan. We will forward substantive comments regarding recovery 
plan implementation to appropriate Federal and State agencies or other 
entities so they can consider these comments during the course of 
implementing recovery actions. We developed this recovery plan with 
input from the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Team, including a 
science team and a stakeholder team. We also coordinated with the 
California Department of Fish and Game.
    We listed the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep as an endangered distinct 
population segment (DPS) on January 3, 2000 (65 FR 20), following 
initial emergency listing on April 20, 1999 (64 FR 19300). At the time 
of listing, the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep population consisted of 
about 125 adults, known to exist among 5 geographic areas, with little 
probability of interchange among those areas. In 2000, on the basis of 
concurrence between genetic and morphometric data, Wehausen and Ramey 
(2000) reassigned populations of California bighorn outside of the 
Sierra Nevada to other subspecies, leaving bighorn sheep in the Sierra 
Nevada as their own subspecies. By the rules of zoological 
nomenclature, they again assume Grinnell's (1912) subspecies name 
sierrae (Wehausen et al. 2005). With that nomenclature change, the 
California bighorn subspecies was terminated. Concurrent with the 
proposed designation of critical habitat for Sierra Nevada bighorn, on 
July 25, 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed a 
taxonomic revision to amend the final listing rule from DPS to 
subspecies, Ovis canadensis sierrae.
    The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep is threatened primarily by mountain 
lion predation, small population size, and the potential for disease 
transmission due to contact with domestic sheep and goats. Key elements 
for immediate action are: (1) Predator management; (2) augmentation of 
small herds with sheep from larger ones; and (3) elimination of the 
threat of a pneumonia epizootic resulting from contact with domestic 
sheep or goats. Actions needed to recover the bighorn sheep include: 
(1) Protection, maintenance, and enhancement of bighorn sheep habitat; 
(2) enhancing survivorship and reproductive output of bighorn sheep in 
order to the increase population; (3) increasing the use of low-
elevation winter ranges; (4) increasing the numbers of herds, and 
thereby the number of bighorn sheep; (5) developing and implementing a 
genetic management plan to maintain genetic diversity; (6) developing 
sources of translocation stock; (7) developing and implementing a 
captive breeding program, if necessary; (8) monitoring status and 
trends of bighorn sheep herds and their habitat; (9) research; and (10) 
providing information to and working with the public.

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

    Dated: February 6, 2008.
Ken McDermond,
Acting Regional Director, Region 8, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E8-2627 Filed 2-12-08; 8:45 am]