Peer Review of Scientific Information
Pacific Region

Proposed rule to List Four Subspecies of the Mazama Pocket Gopher as Threatened and Propose the Designation of Critical Habitat

About the Document

Title: Listing Four Subspecies of Mazama Pocket Gopher and Designation of Critical Habitat; Proposed Rule

Estimated Dissemination Date of the Proposed Rule:  December, 2012

Estimated Peer Review Timeframe: December 2012 through January 2013

Type of review: Influential

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 and the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service’s interagency peer review policy, we will initiate peer review of the science relevant to our determinations for nine subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama) in the State of Washington that are currently candiates for listing.  We are preparing a proposed rule to list four subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher (Olympia (T.m. pugetensis), Tenino (T.m. tumuli), Yelm (T.m. yelmensis), and Roy Prairie (T.m. glacialis)) as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We additionally propose to designate critical habitat for these four subspecies. We have determined that the Tacoma pocket gopher (T.m. tacomensis) is extinct, and that the listing of three other subspecies of Mazama pocket gopher (Shelton (T.m. couchi), Cathlamet (T.m. louiei), and Olympic (T.m. melanops)) is not warranted.  We conclude that the Brush Prairie pocket gopher (T.m. douglasii) should be removed from the candidate list due to taxonomic error. Concurrent with the listing and in accordance with the requirements of the Act, we are also proposing to designate critical habitat for the Olympia, Tenino, Yelm, and Roy Prairie pocket gophers throughout their ranges in Thurston and Pierce Counties, Washington.

The Service will solicit comments from at least three (and up to six) independent scientific reviewers who will submit individual comments in written form.  Peer reviewers will be selected by the Service.  The scientific peer review will run concurrently with public review and the open comment period.  We will solicit reviews from experts who are willing to commit to providing an objective review within the needed time frame.  Reviewers will be selected by the Service from specialists in the relevant areas of expertise.  We will strive to strike a balance between reviewers on one side of the decision with those on the other side and will avoid selecting peer reviewers who are likely to experience personal gain or loss as a result of the Service’s decision.  Service employees will not be used for this peer review.

The primary disciplines or expertise needed in the peer review include expertise and knowledge of the biology and habitat needs of the Mazama pocket gophers in the State of Washington, including knowledge of pocket gopher biology, prairie and grassland ecosystems, conservation biology, and the impacts of potential threats to the subspecies.
The Service will provide each peer reviewer with information necessary to complete the peer review.  Because the peer review comment period will run concurrently with the public comment period, we cannot provide them with public comments prior to their review.  However, we will ask the peer reviewers to determine whether the relevant data were considered and whether they were considered appropriately.  We will also ask them to evaluate uncertainty and the strength of the data and conclusions.  Deadline for receipt of reviews will be clearly stated.  Peer review comments will be public documents.

Will the public and/or scientific or professional societies be asked to nominate peer reviewers?: NO.

Are waivers or deferrals being invoked? NO

Estimated Start Date of Peer Review:  December 15, 2012

About Public Participation

The public is invited to comment on this plan and on the proposed rule during the public comment period on the proposed rule.  We expect the public comment period to be open from December 2012 through January 2013, however these dates are subject to change and are dependent upon publication of the proposed rule.


Call Jodi Bush at 360.753.6046 for additional information regarding this peer review plan.


Last updated: November 25, 2013
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