[Federal Register: January 12, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 7)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 1567-1568]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[92210-1111-0000 B2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition to List the Eastern Population of the Gopher Tortoise as 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding; reopening of the information 
solicitation period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), provide 
clarification of our request for information related to our September 
9, 2009, 90-day finding on a petition to list the eastern population of 
the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and initiation of 
status review. This notice is intended to clarify that all interested 
parties may continue to submit information and materials on the status 
of the gopher tortoise throughout its range during the period of the 
status review. Information previously submitted need not be resubmitted 
as it has already been incorporated into the public record and will be 
fully considered in the 12-month finding.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to consider and incorporate submitted 
information into our review, we request that we receive information on 
or before March 15, 2010. After this date, the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal will not accept further information. Although we

[[Page 1568]]

will accept information submitted after that date, that information 
should be submitted directly to the Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). Please note that while we will make every effort 
to address or incorporate information in our status review that we 
receive after March 15, 2010, in order for us to make a timely finding 
we request submittal of information and comments as soon as possible.

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-R4-ES-2009-0029; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, 
Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will post all information we receive on http://
www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us If your hardcopy submission 
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.
    Information and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this finding, will be available for 
public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment 
during normal business hours, at the Jacksonville Ecological Services 

Wildlife Service, Attn: Gopher Tortoise Review, 7915 Baymeadows Way, 
Suite 200, Jacksonville, Florida 32256; by telephone (904 731-3336); by 
facsimile (904 731-3045); or by e-mail: northflorida@fws.gov. Persons 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Request for Information

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, published a 90-day finding 
on a petition to list the eastern population of the gopher tortoise 
(Gopherus polyphemus) as threatened in the Federal Register on 
September 9, 2009 (74 FR 46401). In that finding, we found that the 
petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information 
indicating that listing the eastern population of the gopher tortoise 
may be warranted. We also initiated a status review to determine if 
listing the species is warranted, and asked the public to submit 
information to assist us in our status review. We asked the public to 
submit information by November 9, 2009, in order for us sufficient time 
to consider the information in the status review.
    Since that time, several interested parties have notified us that 
they wish to submit additional information relevant to the listing of 
the eastern population of the gopher tortoise. They have indicated that 
the information could not be submitted before November 9, 2009, but 
could be submitted prior to the anticipated completion of the status 
review in 2010. We have advised these parties individually that we 
would continue to accept such information after November 9, 2009. 
However, to ensure that all interested parties have the same 
opportunity to provide relevant data, this notice clarifies that 
information to assist us in our review of the status of the gopher 
tortoise may be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal through the 
date specified in DATES, and directly to the Field Office thereafter 
(see DATES and ADDRESSES above). This notice also corrects errors in 
contact information in the September 9, 2009, notice.
    We are continuing to request information on the status of the 
gopher tortoise throughout its range. We request information from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, 
the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties 
concerning the status of the eastern portion of the gopher tortoise's 
range. We are seeking information regarding:
    (1) The species' historical and current status and distribution, 
its biology and ecology, and ongoing conservation measures for the 
species and its habitat;
    (2) Information relevant to the factors that are the basis for 
making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a) of the 
Act, which are:
    a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of the species' 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 
existence and threats to the species or its habitat; and
    (3) Information related to the genetics, status, distribution, and 
threats to the gopher tortoise in the eastern portion of its range.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as 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.'' Based on our 
status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition as 
provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.


    The authority for this action is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: December 28, 2009.
Robyn Thorson,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-311 Filed 1-11-10; 8:45 am]