[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 246 (Monday, December 23, 2013)]
[Pages 77485-77486]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30481]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2013-N216; FXES11130600000-145-FF06E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Recovery 
Plan for the Black-Footed Ferret

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability of a revised recovery plan for the black-footed ferret 
(Mustela nigripes). This species is federally listed as endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the recovery plan are available online 
at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html. Paper 
copies of the revised recovery plan are available by request from the 
National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 190, Wellington, CO 80549; telephone 970-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pete Gober, National Black-footed 
Ferret Recovery Coordinator, at the above address or telephone (see 



    Recovering an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, sustainable member of its ecosystem is a 
primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To help guide 
the recovery effort, the Service prepares recovery plans for the 
federally listed species native to the United States where a plan will 
promote the conservation of the species. Recovery plans describe site-
specific actions necessary for the conservation of the species; 
establish objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result 
in a determination that the species no longer needs the protection of 
the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and provide estimates of the time and 
cost for implementing the needed recovery measures.
    The Act requires recovery plans for listed species unless such a 
plan would not promote the conservation of a particular species. 
Section 4(f)(4) of the Act requires that public notice and opportunity 
for public review and comment be provided during recovery plan 
development. We made the draft recovery plan available for public 
comment and peer review from April 23, 2013, to June 24, 2013 (78 FR 
23948). We have considered all information received during the public 
comment and peer review period in the preparation of the final revised 
recovery plan for the black-footed ferret. The Service and other 
Federal agencies will take these comments and reviews into 
consideration in the course of implementing the final approved recovery 
plan for the black-footed ferret. In this final revised plan, we have 
summarized and responded to the issues raised by both the public and 
the requested peer reviewers in an appendix to the plan, and 
incorporated changes to the plan as appropriate.
    The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) was historically found 
throughout the Great Plains, mountain basins, and semi-arid grasslands 
of North America wherever prairie dogs occurred. The species was listed 
as endangered in 1967 (32 FR 4001, March 11, 1967) under the Endangered 
Species Preservation Act of 1966 and again in 1970 under the Endangered 
Species Conservation Act of 1969 (35 FR 8491, June 2, 1970). On January 
4, 1974, the black-footed ferret was listed under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (39 FR 1171). The ferret's close association with 
prairie dogs was an important factor in the ferret's decline. From the 
late 1800s to approximately the 1960s, prairie dog-occupied habitat and 
prairie dog numbers were dramatically reduced by the effects of both 
temporal and permanent habitat loss caused by conversion of native 
grasslands to cropland, poisoning, and disease. The ferret population 
declined precipitously as a result.
    The recovery of the black-footed ferret will be achieved by 
establishing a number of ferret populations where appropriate habitat 
exists and by

[[Page 77486]]

ameliorating threats impacting the species so as to allow the ferret's 
persistence. Although ferret habitat has been dramatically reduced from 
historical times, a sufficient amount remains if its quality and 
configuration is appropriately managed. This management, for the most 
part, is likely to be conducted by State, Tribal, and Federal fish and 
wildlife and land management agencies. Additionally, private parties, 
including landowners and conservation organizations, are key for ferret 
recovery. Many partners contributing to ferret recovery in many places 
will help minimize the risk of a significant loss of wild populations.
    Specifically, recovery of black-footed ferrets will depend upon: 
(1) Continued efforts of captive breeding facilities to provide 
suitable animals for release into the wild; (2) conservation of prairie 
dog habitat adequate to sustain ferrets in several populations 
distributed throughout their historical range; and (3) management of 
sylvatic plague. The single, most feasible action that would benefit 
black-footed ferret recovery is to improve prairie dog conservation. If 
efforts are undertaken to more proactively manage existing prairie dog 
habitat for ferret recovery, all other threats to the species will be 
substantially less difficult to address. Downlisting of the black-
footed ferret could be accomplished in approximately 10 years if 
conservation actions continue at existing reintroduction sites and if 
additional reintroduction sites are established. Delisting will be 
possible if more intensive reintroduction efforts are conducted.


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

    Dated: November 8, 2013.
Matt Hogan,
Acting Regional Director, Denver, CO.
[FR Doc. 2013-30481 Filed 12-20-13; 8:45 am]