[Federal Register: May 11, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 90)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 25263-25269]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF43

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To 
Delist the Douglas County Population of Columbian White-Tailed Deer

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) propose to remove the 
Douglas County population of the Columbian white-tailed deer 
(Odocoileus virginianus leucurus) from the Lists of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plant species (delist), pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.
    Two populations of this subspecies exist, one in Douglas County, 
Oregon, (Douglas County population), and the other in Columbia and 
Clatsop counties, Oregon, and Wahkiakum County, Washington (Columbia 
River population). The Columbian white-tailed deer was listed as 
endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act, and 
subsequently listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended 
    The Douglas County population has increased from a low of fewer 
than 300 deer in 1940 to a current total of about 5,500 deer. The range 
of this population also has increased. Habitat has been secured and/or 
protected for the population, enabling it to increase in numbers and 
range to the point where a change in status is appropriate.
    The Douglas County population of Columbian white-tailed deer meets 
the recovery plan's criteria for delisting. The Columbia River 
population numbers meet the criteria for downlisting to threatened, but 
do not presently meet the objectives for secure habitat needed to 
delist the population. We anticipate another proposed rule in the 
future to downlist this population.
    This proposed rule includes a proposed 5-year post-delisting 
monitoring plan for the Douglas County population as required for 
species that are delisted due to recovery. Monitoring will include 
population trends and productivity.

DATES: We must receive your comments on the Douglas County population 
of Columbian white-tailed deer delisting by July 12, 1999. Public 
hearing requests must be received by June 25, 1999.

[[Page 25264]]

ADDRESSES: Send comments and materials concerning this proposal to the 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwest Oregon Field 
Office, 2900 N.W. Stewart Parkway, Roseburg, Oregon 97470. Comments and 
materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Tuss, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (See ADDRESSES section ), (telephone 541/957-
3474; facsimile 541/957-3475) for information pertaining to the Douglas 
County population.



    The Columbian white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus) 
resembles other white-tailed deer subspecies, ranging in size from 39 
to 45 kilograms (kg) (85 to 100 pounds (lbs)) for females and 52 to 68 
kg (115 to 150 lbs) for males. Generally a red-brown color in summer, 
and gray in winter, the species has white rings around the eyes and a 
white ring just behind the nose. Its tail is long and triangular in 
shape, and is brown on the dorsal (upper) surface and fringed in white 
(Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) 1995). The species was 
formerly distributed throughout the bottomlands and prairie woodlands 
of the lower Columbia, Willamette, and Umpqua River basins in Oregon 
and southern Washington (Bailey 1936). It is the westernmost 
representative of the 38 subspecies of white-tailed deer. Early 
accounts suggested this deer was locally common, particularly in 
riparian areas along the major rivers (Gavin 1978). The decline in deer 
numbers was rapid with the arrival and settlement of pioneers in the 
fertile river valleys. Conversion of brushy riparian land to 
agriculture, urbanization, uncontrolled sport and commercial hunting, 
and perhaps other factors apparently caused the extirpation of this 
deer over most of its range by the early 1900's (Gavin 1978). Only a 
small herd of 200 to 400 animals in the lower Columbia River area of 
Clatsop and Columbia counties, Oregon, and Cowlitz and Wahkiakum 
counties, Washington, and a disjunct population of unknown size in 
Douglas County, Oregon, survived. These two remnant populations are 
geographically separated by about 320 kilometers (km) (200 miles (mi)) 
of unsuitable or discontinuous habitat.
    Population declines led to classification of this subspecies as 
endangered in 1967 (32 FR 4001). Prior to 1977, the Douglas County 
population was considered a black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus 
columbiana) or a hybrid between the black-tailed deer and the Columbian 
white-tailed deer by the State of Oregon, and was managed accordingly, 
including by a regulated harvest. In 1978, the State of Oregon 
recognized the white-tailed deer population in Douglas County as the 
Columbian white-tailed deer and prohibited hunting of white-tailed deer 
in that County (ODFW 1995). The Columbian white-tailed deer was removed 
from the State of Oregon list of threatened and endangered species in 
1996 because the State considers the population to have recovered.
    The Columbian White-Tailed Deer Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) was 
approved by us in 1976, and a revised version was approved in 1983. 
Because of the distance between these populations and differences in 
habitats and threats, the Recovery Plan addresses the recovery of each 
population separately.
    Crews (1939) estimated the population in the 1930's in Douglas 
County at 200 to 300 individuals within a range of about 78 square 
kilometers (sq km) (30 square miles (sq mi)). In 1970, ODFW estimated 
that 450 to 500 deer were present. By 1983, the number had increased to 
about 2,500 (Smith 1985). The population has continued to grow and 
presently numbers about 5,500 deer (ODFW 1995).
    Along with this increase in numbers, the range also has expanded. 
The deer have expanded to the north and west in the last 10 years, and 
now occupy an area of approximately 800 sq km (308 sq mi)(ODFW 1995). 
The highest densities of Columbian white-tailed deer are found along 
the south bank of the North Umpqua River within about 1 km (0.6 mi) of 
the river. Within this zone, browse lines are becoming evident in some 
areas, and higher parasite loads and bacterial infections are beginning 
to become apparent due to high concentrations of deer (Kistner and 
Denney 1991). High internal parasite loads are generally considered to 
be indicators of high deer densities (ODFW 1995).
    Most habitat for the Douglas County population is on private lands, 
and 3,713 hectares (ha) (9,191 acres (ac)) of suitable habitat are 
presently considered secure on Federal, County and private lands. For 
the purpose of delisting, habitat is considered secure if it is 
protected by legally binding measures or law from adverse human 
activities for the foreseeable future. The majority of this secure 
habitat (2,804 ha) (6,941 ac) is managed by the U.S. Department of the 
Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Roseburg District. About 
2,658 ha (6,581 ac) is managed as the North Bank Habitat Management 
Area, which was acquired by the BLM in order to secure habitat for the 
Douglas County population of Columbian white-tailed deer, and its 
primary purpose is to manage for the species (BLM 1998). BLM also 
manages another 145 ha (360 ac) of for the species (Lowell Hayes, BLM, 
in litt. 1998). Douglas County provides another 626 ha (1,550 ac) of 
secure habitat, and includes the Kanipe Ranch property (444 ha) (1,100 
ac), which was deeded to the County with the stipulation that it be 
managed as a wildlife area and the County manages it in that manner; 
Whistler Park (40 ha)(100 ac), which the County manages as a park; and 
the Glide Transfer Site (141 ha)(350 ac) which is managed as an 
experimental forest, with wildlife habitat as one of its objectives 
(Frank M. Nielsen, Douglas County Public Works Department, in litt. 
1998; David Peterson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 
1998). Several other organizations are providing secure habitat, 
including the Nature Conservancy, which owns about 8 ha (20 ac) and 
manages it as a natural area and will continue to do so into 
perpetuity; 12 ha (30 ac) is provided by Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife, which manages the land for wildlife and public fishing; and 
Ramp Canyon (263 ha) (650 ac) is managed by the Ramp Canyon Board, 
comprised of private citizens, as an outdoor recreation site which 
provides habitat for the Douglas County population of Columbian white-
tailed deer (D. Peterson, pers. comm. 1998).
    Though not considered secure, habitat on private lands within the 
core range of this population that contains key foraging, hiding, 
fawning, and travel corridors is also providing a measure of protection 
for the subspecies. Douglas County has implemented land use plans and 
zoning ordinances that apply to private land to protect habitat and 
assist in recovery (Douglas County 1997). These protection measures 
include retention of existing land uses that maintain essential habitat 
components. Minimum lot sizes for farm use and timberlands, and 
building setbacks along riparian zones, have been established to assure 
maintenance of habitat and travel corridors (ODFW 1995; Douglas County 
    The Recovery Plan described the criteria for reclassification of 
the Douglas County population to threatened status. This criteria was 
maintenance of a total of 1,000 animals in the herd in combination with

[[Page 25265]]

moderate habitat protection (such as provided by Douglas County Land 
Use Plans and zoning ordinances) (Service 1983). The Recovery Plan also 
had an objective of at least 500 deer distributed on at least 2,222 ha 
(5,500 ac) of suitable, secure habitat for the Douglas County 
population to be considered recovered and subject to removal from the 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (Service 1983). The figure 
of 500 deer was calculated based on existing sex ratios and 
distribution, and is theoretically required to eliminate the 
potentially deleterious effects of inbreeding. The theory and formulas 
for calculating this number were developed and discussed by Senner 
    From 1994 to 1997, population estimates indicated that 507, 424, 
558 and 618 deer have been present on secure habitat (S. Denney, ODFW, 
in litt. 1997). The rest of the population is found on habitat not 
considered secure. The current total population size is roughly five 
times the population size required for downlisting, which greatly 
reduces the risk to the population. It is also anticipated that as 
habitat management and restoration activities are implemented by the 
BLM in the North Bank Habitat Area, which contains the majority of 
secure lands, the carrying capacity and numbers of deer on these lands 
will increase accordingly. The Douglas County population has met the 
objectives in the Recovery Plan, and greatly exceeded the habitat 

Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment

    The Douglas County and Columbia River populations of the Columbian 
white-tailed deer qualify as distinct under our Policy Regarding the 
Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the 
Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), published in the Federal Register on February 7, 1996 (61 FR 
4722). For a population to be listed under the Act as a distinct 
vertebrate population segment, three elements are considered--(1) the 
discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of 
the species to which it belongs; (2) the significance of the population 
segment to the species to which it belongs; and (3) the population 
segment's conservation status in relation to the Act's standards for 
listing (i.e., is the population segment, when treated as if it were a 
species, endangered or threatened?).
    The Douglas County and Columbia River populations of Columbian 
white-tailed deer are discrete as they are geographically isolated and 
separated from each other. Historically, this subspecies ranged from 
the south end of Puget Sound in Washington south to the Roseburg area 
in Oregon (Bailey 1936). At the present time, only two locations for 
this subspecies exist. The subspecies' range has been reduced to its 
present locations along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon and 
in Douglas County, Oregon. The populations are separated by over 320 km 
(200 mi) of discontinuous or unsuitable habitat. Columbian white-tailed 
deer are not migratory and appear to restrict their movements to 
relatively small home ranges (ODFW 1995). As a result, the wide 
geographic gap in suitable habitat between the Columbia River and 
Douglas County populations identifies this subspecies as having two 
discrete and isolated population segments.
    Regarding significance, there are some recognized ecological 
differences between the habitats of the Columbia River and Douglas 
County populations, although both subpopulations are tied to riparian 
areas. The Douglas County population occurs in a relatively dry area 
that has rolling hills, grasslands, and oak forests (ODFW 1995). Smith 
(1981) found that oak woodland/grassland habitat is important to this 
population, and heavily used by Columbian white-tailed deer. The 
Columbia River population, by contrast, occurs in wet bottomlands and 
dense forest swamps where there is little elevational relief, and which 
receive a large amount of precipitation (ODFW 1995).
    As previously mentioned, the Columbian white-tailed deer was listed 
as endangered in 1967 (32 FR 4001), and subsequently listed under the 
Act (see Previous Federal Action section below). The Recovery Plan 
addressed recovery objectives and criteria for each population, and 
recognized them as two distinct populations because of differences in 
location, habitats, land use, etc. (Service 1983). For the reasons 
described herein, we believe that the Douglas County population has met 
the criteria for delisting. The Columbia River population has met the 
criteria for downlisting, and we anticipate another proposed rule in 
the future to downlist this population.

Previous Federal Action

    On March 11, 1967, the Columbian white-tailed deer was listed in 
the Federal Register as an endangered species under the Endangered 
Species Preservation Act (ESPA) of 1966 (32 FR 4001). The ESPA defined 
listing factors and required publication of the names of fish and 
wildlife species threatened with extinction. On March 8, 1969, we again 
published in the Federal Register (34 FR 5034) a list of fish and 
wildlife species threatened with extinction under the Endangered 
Species Conservation Act of 1969. This list again included the 
Columbian white-tailed deer. On August 25, 1970, we published a 
proposed list of endangered species, which included the Columbian 
white-tailed deer, in the Federal Register (35 FR 13519) as part of new 
regulations implementing the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 
1969. This rule became final on October 13, 1970 (35 FR 16047). Species 
listed as endangered on the above mentioned lists were automatically 
included in the lists of threatened and endangered species when the 
Endangered Species Act was authorized in 1973.
    The processing of this proposed rule conforms with our listing 
priority guidance published in the Federal Register on May 8, 1998 (63 
FR 25502). This guidance clarifies the order in which we will process 
rulemakings following two related events--(1) the lifting, on April 26, 
1996, of the moratorium on final listings imposed on April 10, 1995 
(Public Law 104-6) and, (2) the restoration of significant funding for 
listing through passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 
following severe funding constraints imposed by a number of continuing 
resolutions between November 1995 and April 1996. Under this guidance, 
highest priority (Tier 1) is given to processing emergency listings and 
second highest priority (Tier 2) to resolving the listing status of 
outstanding proposed listings, resolving the conservation status of 
candidate species, processing administrative findings on petitions to 
add species to the lists or reclassify species from threatened to 
endangered status, and delisting or reclassifying actions. The lowest 
priority actions, processing critical habitat designations, are in Tier 
3. This proposed rule falls under Tier 2.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act)(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and regulations promulgated to implement 
the listing provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 424) set forth the 
procedures for listing, reclassifying or removing species. A species 
may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one 
or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1). These factors 
should also be considered in any decision to delist a species, and 
their application to

[[Page 25266]]

the Columbian white-tailed deer are as follows:
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range. The preferred habitat of the 
Columbian white-tailed deer includes grass-shrub, spruce-cottonwood 
swamps, oak mottes, open and closed oak woodland within bottomland and 
riparian zones, and some coniferous forest. The lowland riparian 
system, however, is the key habitat component for the deer (Service 
1983; Smith 1987). Conversion of these habitat types to residential and 
intensive agricultural developments was a key factor leading to the 
listing of this subspecies as endangered.
    Within the range of the Douglas County population, 3,713 ha (9,191 
ac) are now considered secure habitat, as previously described. These 
lands were estimated to harbor 507, 424, 558 and 618 deer in each of 
the years between 1994-1997, respectively (S. Denney, in litt. 1997). 
The remainder of the species' preferred habitats are privately owned. 
However, since 1983, prime habitat areas for Columbian white-tailed 
deer have been designated by the Douglas County Land Use Plan (1997) 
for rural residential, agriculture, grazing and forest, which protects 
lands from urban development. Key travel corridors and fawning areas 
along the North Umpqua River are now partly protected from intensive 
and excessive development by Douglas County, which developed a habitat 
protection program for the Columbian white-tailed deer within the 
species' range in that county. Protective measures to conserve habitat 
for the species include a 30 m (100 ft) structural development setback 
from streams to preserve riparian corridors, a minimum parcel size of 
32 ha (80 ac) within 96 percent of the protected habitat area, and 
limit rural residential development along the western edge of the 
protected habitat. The deer population has continued to increase in 
this area. This sustained increase in numbers in conjunction with 
habitat protection measures has resulted in a population of Columbian 
white-tailed deer that is no longer threatened by habitat loss or 
    B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes. Prior to protection under the Act, the Columbian 
white-tailed deer experienced intensive hunting pressure that, coupled 
with habitat loss, resulted in a precipitous population decline. Since 
protection under the Act and the securing of suitable habitat, the 
Douglas County population has increased in numbers, and has increased 
even during the periods of legal sport hunting. Scientific studies, 
permitted under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act, have resulted in the 
take of as many as 40 deer within 1 year from the Douglas County 
population. These permitted takings have not had measurable impacts on 
population trends in this population.
    Poaching of several Columbian white-tailed deer has been documented 
annually, but it is not judged to have a significant impact on the 
population (ODFW 1995).
    Past overutilization was considered a threat to this population and 
was one of several factors leading to its listing as endangered. 
Columbian white-tailed deer cannot be legally hunted while the 
subspecies is listed under the Act. Delisting of the Douglas County 
population will allow the State of Oregon to regulate the harvest of 
this subspecies, and may result in an increased level of utilization 
(ODFW 1995). However, the population now numbers about 5,500 deer, 
which is considered to be large enough to withstand some regulated 
harvest. The regulated harvest objective would be to reduce the 
population density in certain areas, and to expand the range of the 
subspecies by trapping and transplanting individuals to unoccupied 
range (ODFW 1995). Also, the population would be monitored for at least 
5 years after delisting to ensure that the population remains stable 
and there are no further risks to the subspecies' well-being. 
Overutilization is no longer considered a threat to the population.
    C. Disease or predation. At the time of listing, disease and 
predation were not thought to be major limiting factors of this 
population. Parasitism and some bacterial diseases are now beginning to 
become apparent in areas where deer densities are highest. Continued 
increases in numbers within the core range may lead to widespread 
mortality from parasitism and disease (Kistner and Denney 1991). 
Kistner and Denney's (1991) work included the permitted take of 40 deer 
to analyze disease and parasite levels. Delisting would allow 
management practices by the State of Oregon such as hazing to disperse 
concentrations of deer and depredation permits to remove individual 
deer. Sport hunting to regulate high-density populations would also be 
possible. These actions would reduce the likelihood of a density-
dependent epizootic disease or infection. It would not, however, 
totally eliminate the potential for such an occurrence. Predation has 
not been identified or recognized as a controlling or limiting factor 
of this population. In conclusion, disease and predation are not 
considered threats to the population, and delisting of the population 
would probably facilitate managers' ability to reduce existing problems 
with disease.
    D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. The lack of 
adequate regulatory mechanisms for protecting habitat and controlling 
take was responsible for the decline of the deer. Listing the deer as 
endangered under the Act protected individual animals from take, but 
habitat degradation and destruction on private lands has continued, 
which was a major factor contributing to the decline. For the Douglas 
County population, securing 2,222 ha (5,500 ac) of habitat that 
supports 500 deer assures that adequate habitat will be protected to 
maintain a minimum viable population (Service 1983). The 3,713 ha 
(9,191 ac) of habitat secured on BLM, Douglas County, and other lands 
exceeds this minimum amount. BLM manages the North Bank Management Area 
and several hundred other hectares (acres) for Columbian white-tailed 
deer; Douglas County manages 624 ha (1550 ac) as parks, forests, and 
wildlife areas that provide habitat; and The Nature Conservancy, ODFW, 
and Ramp Canyon board also manage lands to benefit the species. In 
addition, passage and implementation of the Douglas County Land Use 
Plan in 1995 provided additional habitat protection for the population 
on private land, although this level of habitat protection does not 
meet the secure habitat criteria. That plan requires retention of 
wooded habitat on farm and forest land, and 30 meter (100 feet) 
setbacks for building construction along the North Umpqua River. This 
portion of the river is the principal travel corridor and dispersal 
route within the core area of this population. Securing of adequate 
habitat on Federal and County lands, and the additional zoning 
requirements have removed this threat to the Douglas County population.
    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence. With growth of the deer population, deer-human conflicts 
have increased. Private croplands, gardens, and ornamental plantings 
have been subject to varying degrees of depredation by the Douglas 
County population. This has created serious problems because under the 
Act it is illegal to haze, harass, disperse, or lethally take listed 
deer, even where serious continued damage is occurring. Unregulated 
indiscriminate illegal take is occurring and is likely to increase as 
the herd increases. Illegal unreported forms of control do not allow 

[[Page 25267]]

analysis of behavior, population changes or the subsequent formulation 
of management strategies based on known population dynamics. Removal of 
the Douglas County population of Columbian white-tailed deer from the 
endangered and threatened species lists will allow development and 
implementation of management procedures necessary to control and 
enhance deer populations, while fostering better land manager-landowner 
relationships that are necessary for effective long-term conservation.
    Fire has historically played a large part in shaping habitat for 
Columbian white-tailed deer in Douglas County. Although fire may have 
negative short-term impacts on habitat, deer distribution, and numbers, 
the long-term effects can be beneficial by removing decadent brush, 
promoting nutritious vegetation, and maintaining the oak/grassland that 
the subspecies prefers (ODFW 1995). Columbian white-tailed deer evolved 
with the occurrence of fire in the ecosystem, and prescribed burning of 
their habitat would likely be beneficial. Currently, where this 
population occurs, all wildfires are suppressed because of the 
proximity of homes and businesses. Given the increasing Douglas County 
population and resulting range expansion, it is unlikely that fire 
would pose a significant threat to the population.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by this subspecies in determining to propose this rule. Based on 
this evaluation, the proposed action is to delist the Douglas County 
population of the Columbian white-tailed deer. The population currently 
exceeds the minimum population number necessary to assure continued 
viability. Sufficient suitable habitat has been secured in Douglas 
County to support delisting that population.

Effects of the Rule

    If the Douglas County population of the Columbian white-tailed deer 
is removed from the Lists of Threatened and Endangered Species, Federal 
agencies would no longer be required to consult with us under section 7 
of the Act to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out 
by them is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
deer. The protection from take under section 9 of the Act would also be 
eliminated. However, the 1988 amendments to the Act require that all 
species which have been delisted due to recovery be monitored for at 
least five years following delisting. We are responsible for 
implementing a system, in cooperation with the states, to monitor the 
status of a recovered species.
    Delisting the Douglas County population could have several positive 
effects. Individual deer could be legally controlled by hazing or 
physical removal, or populations could be controlled where repeated 
severe damage to agricultural crops, gardens, or ornamental plantings 
was documented. If delisted, the population could also be regulated 
through legal harvest. Biological data such as sex ratios, age, 
reproductive status, and health status (parasitism and bacterial 
infections) from individual deer taken through legal harvest or the 
issuance of special permits would be available.


    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires that whenever a species has 
recovered and been delisted, we must implement a system, in cooperation 
with the states, to effectively monitor the status of any species that 
has recovered to the point where the protective measures provided under 
the Act are no longer necessary. The purpose of this requirement is to 
develop a program that detects the failure of any delisted species to 
sustain itself without the protective measures of the Act. This 
monitoring program will continue for at least five years and, if at any 
time during that period data indicates that the species' well-being is 
under a significant risk, we can initiate listing procedures, 
including, if appropriate, emergency listing.
    The Recovery Team will coordinate monitoring activities and 
annually review the status of the Douglas County population of 
Columbian white-tailed deer. Within 6 months following the conclusion 
of the mandated 5-year monitoring program, the Recovery Team will 
conduct a comprehensive review of the Douglas County population of 
Columbian white-tailed deer and forward a report to the Regional 
Director for approval and release to the general public for review and 
comment. The review will include a recommendation on whether to (1) 
continue the monitoring program for an additional five years, (2) 
terminate the monitoring program, or (3) reconsider the status of the 
Columbian white-tailed deer.
    We will use, to the fullest extent possible, information routinely 
collected by researchers and land managers in a variety of 
organizations and agencies, which will supplement data collected under 
a systematic monitoring program, and consider relisting the species if, 
during or after the 5-year monitoring effort, we have determined a 
reversal of recovery has taken place.
    If the report recommends, and we have determined, at the end of the 
mandatory 5-year monitoring period that recovery is complete, and 
factors that led to the listing of the Douglas County population, or 
any new factors, have been sufficiently reduced or eliminated, 
monitoring may be reduced or terminated. If the data show that the 
Douglas County population is declining, or if one or more factors that 
have the potential to cause decline are identified, monitoring will 
continue beyond the 5-year period and the monitoring program may be 
modified, based on an evaluation of the results of the initial 5-year 
monitoring program.
    The following minimum monitoring activities are necessary:
    (1) Monitor Columbian white-tailed deer population parameters using 
the following measures--
    (a) Fall (November 15-December 31) and spring (March 1-April 15) 
ground surveys of each population/subpopulation. Data collected on 
these surveys will include--
    (i) Sex and age ratios to estimate fawn production, overwinter fawn 
survival, and genetic effective population size, i.e., the risk of 
    (ii) Numbers of Columbian white-tailed deer counted to estimate 
population trends and minimum population size.
    (b) Aerial surveys--Aerial surveys using forward looking infra-red 
scanners (or similar technology) are needed to obtain more precise 
information on minimum deer numbers. Survey flights will be conducted 
three times per year for three years over areas of secure habitat, and 
then once every third year for the duration of the monitoring program 
should a second five years of monitoring be required. Data from these 
flights will be used to develop a correlation factor with the ground 
surveys described in (a) above. The correlation factor will be used to 
improve estimates of population sizes and trends obtained from ground 
    (2) Develop Geographic Information System maps of Columbian white-
tailed deer range to use in monitoring habitat loss to human 
development, habitat improvements, and the locations actually occupied 
by the deer. This information will be used to encourage local land use 
planning that protects the habitat of the Columbian white-tailed deer.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal to 

[[Page 25268]]

the Douglas County population from the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife will be as accurate and effective as possible. 
Therefore, we solicit any comments or suggestions from the public, 
other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, 
industry, or any other interested party concerning any aspect of this 
proposal. Comments should be sent to our Southwest Oregon Office (see 
ADDRESSES section). Comments are particularly sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to the Columbian white-tailed deer and its 
habitat that would result from implementing the measures outlined in 
this proposed rule;
    (2) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of this subspecies;
    (3) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on Columbian white-tailed deer and its habitat; and
    (4) Adequacy of the monitoring plan, and its ability to detect 
changes in the population.
    Our final decision regarding the delisting of the Douglas County 
population of Columbian white-tailed deer will take into consideration 
the comments and any additional information that we receive during the 
comment period. Such communications may lead to adoption of a final 
regulation that differs from this proposal.
    The Endangered Species Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days of the date of publication of the proposal in the Federal 
Register. You must make such requests in writing and address them to--
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Washington Office, 
510 Desmond Drive, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503.

Executive Order 12866

    Executive Order 12866 requires agencies to write regulations that 
are easy to understand. We invite your comments on how to make this 
proposal easier to understand including answers to questions such as 
the following: (1) Is the discussion in the ``Supplementary 
Information'' section of the preamble helpful in understanding the 
proposal? (2) Does the proposal contain technical language or jargon 
that interferes with its clarity? (3) Does the format of the proposal 
(grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) 
aid or reduce its clarity? What else could we do to make the proposal 
easier to understand?

Required Determinations

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR 1320, 
which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.), require that interested members of the public and 
affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on agency information 
collection and record keeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)). The OMB 
regulations at 5 CFR 1320.3(c) define a collection of information as 
the obtaining of information by or for an agency by means of identical 
questions posed to, or identical reporting, record keeping, or 
disclosure requirements imposed on ten or more persons. Furthermore, 5 
CFR 1320.3(c)(4) specifies that ``ten or more persons'' refers to the 
persons to whom a collection of information is addressed by the agency 
within any 12-month period.
    This rule does not include any collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The 
information needed to monitor the status of the Columbian white-tailed 
deer will be collected primarily by Service, ODFW, and the BLM. We do 
not anticipate a need to request data or other information from the 
public, other than the ODFW, to satisfy monitoring information needs. 
If it becomes necessary to collect information from ten or more 
individuals, groups, or organizations per year, we will first obtain 
information collection approval from OMB.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that an Environmental Assessment or an 
Environmental Impact Statement, as defined under the authority of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in 
connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. A notice outlining our 
reasons for this determination was published in the Federal Register on 
October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein, as well as others, 
is available upon request from the Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Western Washington Office, 510 Desmond Dr., Suite 102, Lacey, 
Washington 98503.


    The primary author of this proposed rule is John Grettenberger, 
Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Washington 
Office, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503, (360) 

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and Threatened Species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
record keeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we hereby propose to amend 
part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, Title 50 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations as set forth below:


    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.

    2. We propose to amend section 17.11(h) by revising the entry for 
the Columbian white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus leucurus, under 
``MAMMALS'', to read as follows:

[[Page 25269]]

                       Species                                                 Vertebrate
------------------------------------------------------                      population where                                      Critical     Special
                                                         Historic range       endangered or        Status        When listed      habitat       rules
           Common name              Scientific name                            threatened

                 *                  *                  *                    *                    *                  *                  *
Deer, Columbian White-tailed....  Odocoileus           U.S.A. (WA, OR)...  Entire, except      E              1,____..........           NA           NA
                                   virginianus                              Douglas County,
                                   leucurus.                                OR.

                 *                  *                  *                    *                    *                  *                  *

    Dated: April 16, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-11747 Filed 5-10-99; 8:45 am]