[Federal Register: July 8, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 130)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 36836-36837]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 36836]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF03

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 6-month 
Extension on the Proposed Rule to List the Contiguous United States 
Distinct Population Segment of the Canada Lynx as Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of extension of deadline.


SUMMARY: We (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) extend for not more 
than 6 months the time to make a decision on the proposal to list the 
contiguous United States distinct population segment of the Canada lynx 
(Lynx canadensis) as a threatened species. The new deadline for final 
action on the proposed rule to list the contiguous United States 
population segment of the Canada lynx is extended from July 8, 1999, to 
January 8, 2000. We will use the 6-month extension to obtain and review 
new information anticipated to be forthcoming in a scientific report on 
the Canada lynx from the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research 

DATES: We intend to reopen the public comment period to accept comment 
on the science report when it becomes available and will soon announce 
the dates of the new public comment period in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this notice is available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Montana 
Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 100 N. Park Avenue, Suite 
320, Helena, Montana 59601.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kemper McMaster, Field Supervisor at 
the above address, or telephone 406/449-5225; facsimile 406/449-5339.



    Within the timeframes established under the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), a final 
determination of whether or not to list the contiguous United States 
distinct population segment of the Canada lynx is due by July 8, 1999. 
The proposed listing of the Canada lynx was a result of a settlement 
agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 
plaintiffs, Defenders of Wildlife et al., on February 12, 1998. This 
agreement required the publication of a proposed rule to list the 
Canada lynx in the contiguous United States. The proposed rule to list 
this population segment as threatened was published in the Federal 
Register on July 8, 1998 (63 FR 36994).
    If there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or 
accuracy of the available data, the Act allows for a 6-month extension 
of a final listing determination for the purpose of soliciting 
additional data. We are extending for 6 months the deadline for the 
final determination to list the lynx. The new deadline for a final 
listing determination is extended from July 8, 1999, to January 8, 
    The scientific basis for our findings and conclusions in the 
proposed rule have been questioned by many of the 14 affected State 
wildlife agencies that responded during the public comment period. 
These State wildlife agencies have expertise and historical knowledge 
of lynx biology within their respective jurisdictions and dispute the 
accuracy of our assessment of the status and/or threats to the lynx. 
The information challenged by the State agencies included our 
assessment of the effects on lynx populations of forestry practices, 
past overharvesting, and competition with other species. They also 
disputed our assessment of the lynx population's status within the 
individual states. Additionally, we received comments from professional 
societies similarly disputing the assessment of status and threats.
    Subsequent to the 1998 settlement agreement, the U.S. Forest 
Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station assembled a team of 
scientists to prepare a scientific report on the Canada lynx. This 
``science report'' will be a comprehensive compilation and assessment 
of historic and current lynx occurrence records and distribution, 
scientific literature, lynx and prey ecology, habitat correlations, and 
threats to the continued existence of lynx in the contiguous United 
States. The science report will be the only comprehensive assessment of 
lynx in the contiguous United States, besides the Service's proposed 
rule. The science report will undergo scientific peer review prior to 
release. The science report is anticipated to be finalized by late July 
    Given the serious concerns expressed by the States and scientists 
with expertise in the field of lynx biology questioning our assessment 
of the status and threats to the lynx in the proposed rule, and our 
assessment of preliminary information from the Science Team that may 
cause us to reconsider some of the conclusions on status and threats in 
the proposed rule, we conclude that there is substantial scientific 
disagreement regarding the sufficiency and accuracy of the available 
data relevant to a final determination of whether or not to list the 
lynx. The additional time we need to adequately address these issues is 
not anticipated to appreciably impact the lynx.
    We have reason to believe the forthcoming science report will 
represent significant new and important information critical to helping 
resolve ongoing substantial scientific disagreement regarding the 
status of lynx and the presence and magnitude of threats facing its 
continued existence in the contiguous United States. Therefore, we are 
using the provision in section 4(b)(6)(B)(i) of the Act to extend for a 
period of 6 months the deadline for a final listing determination for 
the lynx.
    The 6-month extension will enable us to receive and evaluate the 
new information in the science report, allow time for public comment on 
the science report, assess the public comments received, and integrate 
this information into the final listing decision. The extension will 
enable us to make a sound final determination using the best available 
scientific and commercial data, within the legal mandates of the Act 
and the Administrative Procedure Act.
    This report is expected to be an important contribution to the best 
scientific and commercial data available and may strengthen the 
biological basis for making a final listing determination for the 
Canada lynx. The public comment period will be reopened to receive both 
the science report and accept public comments on the report. The 
opening of the public comment period will be announced in the Federal 
Register when the availability of the science report is known. At that 
time, instructions for obtaining a copy of the science report also will 
be announced.
    Author. The author of this document is Lori H. Nordstrom (see 
ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    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.

[[Page 36837]]

    Dated: June 30, 1999.
John G. Rogers,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-17246 Filed 7-7-99; 8:45 am]