[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 211 (Thursday, October 31, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65248-65249]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25849]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2012-0107; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY26

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status 
for the Distinct Population Segment of the North American Wolverine in 
the Contiguous United States

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are 
reopening the public comment period on the proposed rule to list the 
distinct population segment (DPS) of the North American wolverine (Gulo 
gulo luscus) in the contiguous United States as threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The proposed rule was 
published in the Federal Register on February 4, 2013. We are reopening 
the comment period to allow the public an additional opportunity to 
review and comment on the proposed rule, as well as the peer review and 
public comments that were submitted during the first comment period. 
Comments already submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be 
fully considered in preparation of the final rule, which we intend to 
issue by February 4, 2014, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

DATES: We will accept public comments until December 2, 2013. Comments 
submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see 
ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on that 

ADDRESSES: Document availability: You may obtain a copy of the proposed 
rule on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-
R6-ES-2012-0107 or at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolverine/. All comments received during the first comment 
period, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the 
proposed rule, can be found at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. 
FWS-R6-ES-2012-0107. Comments and materials we receive during this 
reopened comment period will also 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, Montana Field Office (see 
    Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following 
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R6-ES-2012-0107, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking action. You may submit a 
comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2012-0107; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. 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 Information Requested section below for more details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jodi Bush, Field Office Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Field Office, 585 Shepard Way, 
Helena, MT 59601; telephone 406-449-5225;

[[Page 65249]]

facsimile 406-449-5339. If you use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-



    On February 4, 2013, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule to list the distinct population segment of the North 
American wolverine (78 FR 7864) under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The proposed rule had 
a 90-day comment period, which ended May 6, 2013. During the comment 
period, we received several comments from the public, States, and peer 
reviewers that questioned our analysis of the best available scientific 
information that we used in the proposed rule. Specifically, some of 
the peer reviewers and States disagreed with our determination that 
wolverines are dependent on persistent late spring snow.
    Some commenters thought that wolverine distribution was not 
restricted by access to snow dens and that wolverine distribution and 
behavior was better explained by other hypotheses, such as the need for 
cold places to cache food. They also disagreed with our interpretation 
of the scientific information regarding the likely effects of climate 
change on wolverines in the future. Our assessment of climate change 
impacts on wolverines used wolverines' snow dependence and suitable 
wolverine habitat and climate change models to predict future impacts 
of climate change on wolverine habitat suitability. Some of the 
commenters disagreed with this assessment and suggested that if the 
model of wolverine habitat that we used was not scientifically 
supported, then any analysis of climate change impacts to wolverines 
based on that habitat model may be flawed. Other peer reviewers were 
supportive of our interpretations of this information and provided 
analyses to support their views.
    We are reopening the comment period to seek additional public 
comment on the proposed rule and on the issues outlined below. To 
ensure the public has an adequate opportunity to review and comment on 
the new information submitted to us on the proposed rule, we are 
reopening the comment period until the date specified above in DATES. 
We intend to issue a final determination on this rule by February 4, 
    The information provided by the peer-reviewers can be found at our 
peer-review Web site at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/science/peer_review.cfm and also at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Individual comments may be read and specific 
comments may be found using the Search box function at that Web site.

Information Requested

    We will accept written comments and information during this 
reopened comment period and will consider information and 
recommendations from all interested parties. If you previously 
submitted comments or information on the proposed rule, please do not 
resubmit them. We have incorporated them into the public record, and we 
will fully consider them in the preparation of our final determination. 
We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal be based 
on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate 
and as effective as possible.
    We request comments or information from the public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this 
proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Whether wolverines are dependent on cold and snowy conditions 
and habitat that closely approximates the area covered by snow until 
late spring (May 15).
    a. Whether wolverines are dependent on such habitats defined by 
persistent spring snow for feeding, breeding, and sheltering.
    b. Whether the projected impacts of climate change will result in 
loss of habitat for wolverines.
    (2) 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 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
    e. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    (3) Information regarding the threats we identified in the proposed 
rule, or threats to the species that we may have overlooked in the 
proposed rule. Threats we identified were:
    a. Habitat loss due to climate change;
    b. Regulated trapping of wolverines and trapping of wolverines 
incidental to trapping for other species; and
    c. Inbreeding and related genetic and demographic effects of small 
and isolated populations.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include. 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 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.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES. We request that 
you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    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 information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.


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

    Dated: October 23, 2013.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-25849 Filed 10-30-13; 8:45 am]