Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region

About the Document:

Title:  Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation

Type of review:  Influential

Estimated Peer Review Timeline:

Peer review initiated by:  September 2006

Peer review to be completed by:  October 2006

Rule to be finalized by:  January 2007

About the Peer Review Process:

In accordance with the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review, we will initiate peer review of the science relevant to the draft black-footed ferret 5-year review and our use of said science.   

The Service will solicit comments from independent scientific reviewers.  The Service contacted State agencies and Tribal governments within the historic range of the species regarding the nomination of peer reviewers.  The Service will select peer reviewers, considering, but not limited to these nominations.  Selection of peer reviewers will consider the following criteria: 

  • Expertise:  The reviewer should have knowledge, experience, and skills in one or more of the following areas:  black-footed ferret biology; small and declining population dynamics and extinction risk analysis; environmental pressures within the range of the species; land planning and management; modeling; and/or evaluation of biological plausibility.

  • Independence:  The reviewer should not be employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or other agencies within the Department of the Interior.  Academic and consulting scientists should have sufficient independence from the Service or Department if the government supports their work.

  • Objectivity:  The reviewer should be recognized by his or her peers as being objective, open-minded, and thoughtful.  In addition, the reviewer should be comfortable sharing his or her knowledge and perspectives and openly identifying his or her knowledge gaps.

  • Advocacy:  The reviewer should not be known or recognized for an affiliation with an advocacy position regarding the protection of the species under the Endangered Species Act.

  • Conflict of Interest:  The reviewer should not have any financial or other interest that conflicts or that could impair his or her objectivity or create an unfair competitive advantage.  If an otherwise qualified reviewer has an unavoidable conflict of interest,  the Service may publicly disclose the conflict.

We anticipate sending the document to the peer reviewers this fall with responses requested approximately 30 days later.  We will not provide financial compensation to peer reviewers.  We will obtain reviews from at least three qualified experts. 

The Service will provide each peer reviewer with information explaining his or her role and instructions for fulfilling that role, the draft 5-year review, public comments received in response to our Federal Register notice initiating the 5-year review (70 FR 39326), a full list of citations noting whether the source has been peer reviewed, and all citations (or for some longer documents, the relevant pages of the document) in electronic format on a CD.  The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the draft 5-year review is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by recognized experts are incorporated into the final document.  Peer reviewers will be asked not to provide advice on policy.  Instead, the charge to the reviewers will be to focus their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties.  Additionally, peer reviewers will be asked to consider the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts:

1.      Is our description and analysis of the biology, habitat, population trends, historic and current distribution of the species accurate?

2.      Does the 5-year review provide accurate and adequate review and analysis of the factors affecting the species (habitat loss and modification, overutilization, disease, predation, regulatory mechanisms, chemical control and genetic fitness)?

3.      Are our assumptions and definitions of suitable habitat logical and adequate?

4.      Are there any significant oversights, omissions or inconsistencies in the 5-year review?

5.      Are our conclusions logical and supported by the evidence we provide?

6.      Did we include all necessary and pertinent literature to support our assumptions and conclusions?

Peer reviewers will provide individual, written responses to the Service.  Peer reviewers will be advised that their reviews, including their names and affiliations, will be included in the administrative record; and, when the process is complete, their reviews will be available to the public upon request.  We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the peer reviewers in the final document.  A final determination regarding this 5-year review is expected by early 2007.

About Public Participation: 

The public is currently being provided an opportunity to comment on this planned peer review process.  Comments must be received by August 31, 2006.  Send comments on this peer review plan to: Pete Gober, Field Supervisor, South Dakota Ecological Services Field Office, 420 South Garfield Avenue, Suite 400, Pierre, SD 57501.  Comments on this plan may also be submitted by electronic mail to >r6espeerreview@fws.gov<.  The subject line should read “Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation.” 

The public had an opportunity to provide input on the 5-year review from July 7, 2005 through September 6, 2005 (70 FR 39326). This Notice announced our initiation of a 5-year review of the species and requested submission of any new information.


For more information, please contact Pete Gober, Project Leader, South Dakota Ecological Services Field Office at 605-224-8693, extension 24.

Last updated: May 18, 2011