[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 120 (Wednesday, June 22, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 36491-36493]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-15355]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R7-ES-2011-N086; 70120-1113-0000-C4]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Eskimo Curlew; 
Initiation of 5-Year Status Review

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Initiation of 5-year status review and request for information.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
initiation of a 5-year status review for the Eskimo curlew (Numenius 
borealis), a bird species listed as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We conduct 5-year reviews to 
ensure that our classification of each species as threatened or 
endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants 
is accurate. We request any new information on this species that may 
have a bearing on its classification as endangered. Based on the 
results of this 5-year review, we will make a finding on whether this 
species is properly classified under the Act.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct our 5-year review, we are

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requesting that you submit your information no later than August 22, 
2011. However, we accept new information about any listed species at 
any time.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments and information on this species, as 
well as any request for information, by any one of the following 
methods. You may also view information and comments we receive in 
response to this notice, as well as other documentation in our files, 
at the following locations by appointment, during normal business 
    E-mail: denise_walther@fws.gov; Use ``Eskimo curlew'' as the 
message subject line.
    Fax: Attn: Denise Walther (907) 456-0208.
    U.S. mail: Denise Walther, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 101 12th 
Avenue, Room 110, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99701.
    In-Person drop-off or Document review/pickup: You may drop off 
comments and information, review/obtain documents, or view received 
comments during regular business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Walther, Endangered Species 
Biologist, at the address under ADDRESSES or by phone at (907) 456-


I. Background

    We originally listed the Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis) as 
endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 on 
March 11, 1967 (32 FR 4001). No information on the biology of the 
species or the threats to it was presented in the listing. No critical 
habitat has been designated for the species. Eskimo curlews are thought 
to have once numbered in the hundreds of thousands (Gill et al. 1998). 
The population declined precipitously and approached extinction in the 
late 19th century. Spring market hunting in the midwestern United 
States during the late 1800s was clearly an important factor 
contributing to the species' decline. However, Gill et al. (1998) also 
implicate the conversion of prairie habitat to agriculture, fire 
suppression, and extinction of the Rocky Mountain grasshopper 
(Melanoplus spretus) in the rapid decline of Eskimo curlew. By 1900, 
sightings of Eskimo curlews were rare. The last confirmed observation 
took place in Nebraska in 1987.
    Because Eskimo curlews were not well studied before their decline, 
we have very limited information on their biology. The following 
summary of their life history is based on Gollop et al. (1986), unless 
another citation is provided. The taxonomy, historical distribution, 
and ecology of Eskimo curlew is further summarized by Gill et al. 
    The only confirmed breeding grounds for the Eskimo curlew occurred 
in treeless tundra in the Northwest Territories, Canada, but their 
breeding range probably extended through similar habitats in northern 
Alaska and possibly eastern Siberia. Nests were simple depressions on 
bare ground with four eggs, one clutch per season. Hatching occurred 
during late June and early July. Primary foods on the breeding grounds 
were berries, particularly crowberries (Empetrum nigrum) and insects.
    The Eskimo curlew migrated annually between breeding grounds in 
North America and wintering grounds in South America. In late summer 
and fall, the majority of birds migrated eastward across Alaska and 
Canada, where they continued to forage in heath-shrub habitats. Eskimo 
curlews staged in large numbers along the coast of Labrador, feeding on 
berries in nearby uplands and invertebrates in intertidal habitats 
(Gill et al. 1998), before continuing south 4000-5000 km (2500-3000 mi) 
over the Atlantic Ocean to South America. They then migrated south to 
wintering grounds in the Pampas of Argentina, southern Brazil, Uruguay, 
and Chile. There is some evidence that Eskimo curlews also overwintered 
in southern Patagonia, possibly leaving the Pampas in mid-winter (Gill 
et al. 1998). Spring migration probably began in late February to March 
and continued through May. The northward migration route through South 
America is unknown. However, Eskimo curlews are thought to have passed 
through Central America and crossed the Gulf of Mexico into Texas. They 
travelled northward through the midwestern United States, where they 
fed on grasshopper egg cases and emerging nymphs, other insects, and 
earthworms on burned and disturbed prairie and agricultural fields 
(Gill et al. 1998). Eskimo curlews then migrated northwestward through 
Canada, returning to the breeding grounds in late May.

II. Initiation of 5-Year Status Review

A. Why do we conduct a 5-year review?

    Under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), we maintain a List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (List) in the Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for 
plants). An informational copy of the List, which covers all listed 
species, is also available on our Internet site at http://endangered.fws.gov/wildlife.html#Species. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act 
requires us to review the status of each listed species at least once 
every 5 years. Then, based on such review, under section 4(c)(2)(B), we 
determine whether any species should be removed from the List 
(delisted), reclassified from endangered to threatened, or reclassified 
from threatened to endangered. Any change in Federal classification 
requires a separate rulemaking process.
    Our regulations in 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice 
in the Federal Register announcing the species we are reviewing. This 
notice announces our active 5-year status review of the endangered 
Eskimo curlew.

B. What information do we consider in our review?

    We consider the best scientific and commercial data available at 
the time we conduct our review. This includes new information that has 
become available since our current listing determination or most recent 
status review of the species, such as new information regarding:
    A. Any confirmed sightings;
    B. Species biology, including but not limited to population trends, 
distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;
    C. Habitat conditions, including but not limited to amount, 
distribution, and suitability;
    D. Conservation measures that have been implemented that may 
benefit the species;
    E. Threat status and trends (see five factors under heading ``How 
Do We Determine Whether a Species is Endangered or Threatened?''); and
    F. Other new information, data, or corrections, including but not 
limited to taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of 
erroneous information contained in the List, and improved analytical 

C. How do we determine whether a species is endangered or threatened?

    Section 4(a)(1) of the Act requires that we determine whether a 
species is endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five 
following factors:
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    C. Disease or predation;
    D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or

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    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    Under section 4(b)(1) of the Act, we are required to base our 
assessment of these factors solely on the best scientific and 
commercial data available.

D. What could happen as a result of our review?

    For each species we review, if we find new information indicating a 
change in classification may be warranted, we may propose a new rule 
that could do one of the following:
    A. Reclassify the species from threatened to endangered (uplist);
    B. Reclassify the species from endangered to threatened (downlist); 
    C. Remove the species from the List (delist).
    If we determine that a change in classification is not warranted, 
then the species remains on the List under its current status.
    We must support any delisting by the best scientific and commercial 
data available, and only consider delisting if such data substantiate 
that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more 
of the following reasons:
    A. The species is considered extinct;
    B. The species is considered to be recovered; and/or
    C. The original data available when the species was listed, or the 
interpretation of such data, were in error (50 CFR 424.11(d)).

E. Request for new information

    To ensure that a 5-year review is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we request new 
information from the public, governmental agencies, Tribes, the 
scientific community, environmental entities, industry, and any other 
interested parties concerning the status of the species.
    See ``What information do we consider in our review?'' for specific 
criteria. If you submit information, support it with documentation such 
as maps, bibliographic references, methods used to gather and analyze 
the data, and/or copies of any pertinent publications, reports, or 
letters by knowledgeable sources.

F. Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. 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 received will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
offices where we receive comments.

III. Definitions

    (A) Species includes any species or subspecies of fish, wildlife, 
or plant, and any distinct population segment of any species of 
vertebrate, which interbreeds when mature;
    (B) Endangered means any species that is in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range; and
    (C) Threatened means any species that is likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.

IV. Authority

    We publish this notice under the authority of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 12, 2011.
LaVerne Smith,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 7, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-15355 Filed 6-21-11; 8:45 am]