[Federal Register: January 6, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 3)]

[Rules and Regulations]               

[Page 769-775]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 23

RIN 1018-AF23


Export of River Otters Taken in Missouri in the 1998-1999 and 

Subsequent Seasons

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This document announces final findings by the CITES Scientific 

and Management Authorities of the United States that approve the 

addition of Missouri to the list of States and Indian Nations approved 

for the export of river otter skins. This approval is on a multi-year 

basis. The Service intends to apply these findings to river otters 

taken in Missouri during the 1998-1999 season and subsequent seasons, 

subject to the same conditions applying to other States previously 


DATES: This rule is effective on January 6, 1999.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scientific Authority finding: Dr. 

Susan Lieberman, Chief, Office of Scientific Authority; phone: 703-358-

1708; fax: 703-358-2276; E-mail: r9osa@mail.fws.gov. Management 

Authority finding: Ms. Teiko Saito, Chief, Office of Management 

Authority; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Mail Stop ARLSQ 700; 1849 C 

Street, NW; Washington, DC 20240; phone: 703-358-2095; fax: 703-358-


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Convention on International Trade in 

Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a treaty that 

regulates international trade in certain species of animals and plants. 

Exports of specimens (live, dead, or parts and products thereof) of 

animals and plants listed in Appendix II of CITES require an export 

permit from the country of origin. Export permits for specimens of 

species listed in CITES Appendix II are issued by a country's CITES 

Management Authority after two conditions are met: first, the country's 

CITES Scientific Authority must determine that the exports will not be 

detrimental to the survival of the species. This is known as a ``non-

detriment finding''. Second, the CITES Management Authority must 

determine that the specimens were not obtained in violation of laws for 

their protection. Live animals or plants require additional findings. 

For exports from the United States, the U.S. Fish and

[[Page 770]]

Wildlife Service's Office of Management Authority and Office of 

Scientific Authority make these findings.

    On January 5, 1984 (49 FR 590), we published a rule granting 

approval for the export of pelts of North American river otters (Lontra 

canadensis) and certain other CITES-listed Appendix-II species of 

furbearing mammals from specified States and Indian Nations, Tribes, 

and Reservations (hereafter referred to as Indian Nations). That rule 

covered the 1983-1984 season as well as subsequent seasons. In 

succeeding years, we have approved the export of pelts of one or more 

species of furbearing mammals listed in CITES Appendix II from other 

States and Indian Nations, through the administrative or rule-making 

processes. These approvals were and continue to be subject to certain 

population monitoring and export requirements. The purposes of this 

final rule are to: (1) Announce final findings by the Scientific and 

Management Authorities of the United States for the export of river 

otter pelts (Lontra canadensis) taken in the State of Missouri; and (2) 

to add Missouri to the list of States and Indian Nations approved for 

the export of river otter skins. We adopt these findings for the export 

of the pelts of river otters taken in the State of Missouri during the 

1998-1999 and subsequent seasons, subject to the conditions applying to 

other approved States and Indian Nations.

    CITES regulates the import, export, re-export, and introduction 

from the sea of animal and plant species listed in the three CITES 

Appendices for the purpose of controlling trade in those species. 

According to CITES (and the Endangered Species Act, which implements 

CITES in the United States):

    (1) Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction that are 

or may be affected by trade.

    (2) Appendix II includes species that, although not necessarily 

threatened with extinction now, may become so unless their trade is 

strictly controlled. Appendix II also includes species that must be 

subject to regulation in order that trade in other currently or 

potentially threatened species (those in Appendix I or II) may be 

brought under effective control (e.g., because of difficulty in 

distinguishing specimens of threatened species from those of other non-

threatened species).

    (3) Appendix III includes species that any Party country identifies 

as being subject to regulation within its jurisdiction for purposes of 

preventing or restricting exploitation, and for which it needs the 

cooperation of other Party countries to control trade.

    CITES Appendix II includes the American river otter pursuant to 

CITES Article II, paragraph 2(b). You may obtain a copy of the CITES 

Treaty from the Office of Scientific Authority at the above address or 

from the Service's web page at http://www.fws.gov. CITES Article II, 

paragraph 2 states: ``Appendix II shall include: (a) all species which 

although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so 

unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict 

regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their 

survival; and (b) other species which must be subject to regulation in 

order that trade in specimens of certain species referred to in sub-

paragraph (a) of this paragraph may be brought under effective 

control.'' In the January 5, 1984, Federal Register (49 FR 590), we 

announced the results of a review at the fourth meeting of the CITES 

Conference of the Parties (COP4, held in 1983 in Botswana) regarding 

U.S. species of furbearing mammals, including the river otter. 

Specifically, it was determined that the river otter is included in 

Appendix II of CITES because of the similarity in appearance of its 

pelts (and of products manufactured from those pelts) to other species 

listed in Appendix I or II. The Service determined at that time that 

the American river otter did not qualify for CITES Appendix II based on 

its own conservation status, but rather due to its similarity to other 

listed species. The January 5, 1985, Notice in the Federal Register 

described how our Office of Scientific Authority planned to monitor, on 

an annual basis, the population and trade status of the native 

furbearer species listed pursuant to CITES Article II.2(b). We stated 

then that we could institute restrictive export controls for a given 

species, for one or more States or Indian Nations, if export levels 

appeared to be contributing to long-term population declines. In that 

document we also described how our Office of Management Authority would 

require States and Indian Nations to assure the legal acquisition of 

specimens entering international trade, as evidenced by marking with 

approved, serially unique tags.

    This is the second Federal Register document published in 1998 

concerning the Service's findings on export of river otters, Lontra 

(formerly Lutra) canadensis, taken in Missouri. The first document (63 

FR 52226; September 30, 1998) announced the proposed findings on the 

export of river otters taken in Missouri in the 1998-99 season and 

subsequent seasons and solicited public comments.

    The purpose of this rule is to add Missouri to the list of States 

and Indian Nations for which the export of river otter is approved (50 

CFR 23.53). The Service will apply these findings to harvests in 

Missouri during the 1998-99 and subsequent seasons, subject to the same 

conditions applying to other approved entities.

Comments and Information Received

    Twenty-two comments were received in response to the September 30, 

1998, Federal Register (63 FR 52226) proposed rule on the export of 

river otters taken in the State of Missouri. Comments were received 

from State wildlife agencies, animal welfare and animal protection 

organizations, scientists and other private citizens. About the same 

number of comments reflected support for the proposed rule as those 

comments that opposed approval of the export of Missouri otters.

    All State wildlife agencies that submitted comments (Montana, 

Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) supported the proposed 

rule. Several of these States, as well as the National Trappers 

Association, claimed that Missouri's population estimates used sound 

biological methods and indicated that the otter population could 

sustain a regular harvest. Those States that used the population model 

as well as the pelt tagging system adopted by Missouri said that the 

model and system had served them well.

    All of the animal welfare organizations that submitted comments, as 

well as several private individuals, opposed the proposed rule. Several 

groups, including the Animal Protection Institute and The Humane 

Society of the United States, claimed that the current population 

estimates of Missouri otters were inadequate. The Animal Legal Defense 

Fund and the Rocky Mountain River Otter Protection Coalition are among 

those that conclude that there are no reliable census methods for 

otters. We acknowledge that the census methods for otters and other 

furbearers are not free of imperfections; however, several of the 

standard methods were used and the growth trend of the Missouri otter 

population is clear.

    Richard Ostfeld, a mammalogist at the Institute of Ecosystem 

Studies whose work was also cited in other letters, commented that the 

computer simulation built by the Missouri Department of Conservation 

was overly simplistic in at least two ways: there was no density 

dependence and no consideration of population subdivision. While these 

could be important factors at a later time, in a

[[Page 771]]

recently reintroduced and expanding population it is our opinion that 

these are not critical omissions in the population model, though we 

concur that these parameters could improve the model if and when the 

population stabilizes. Several respondents pointed out the discrepancy 

between the projected otter population and the revised number based on 

the actual harvest in the years that trapping has been conducted. Both 

private individuals and groups including The Fund for Animals and the 

International Otter Survival Fund contend that the survival rates used 

to project otter populations are inaccurate, and that environmental 

factors such as river pollution and deforestation could further 

decrease otter survival.

    The survival rates given are based on methods supported in the 

scientific literature. While environmental factors may have a greater 

effect on otter survival at some time in the future, the empirical 

evidence suggests that both habitat and prey base have been adequate to 

support the rapid increase of the reintroduced population. We agree 

that there are other factors influencing otter mortality, but do not 

find evidence that they presently pose a threat that could deplete the 

otter population to the point that export would be detrimental. Many of 

those that opposed the otter export by Missouri noted that there was no 

limit to the number of individuals that could be taken but only a limit 

on the length of the trapping season. The State has argued convincingly 

that if they were to limit the number of individuals trapped rather the 

number of trapping days, otters that are taken in traps set for other 

furbearers would be given to other trappers or not reported.

    Several individuals and groups stated that the trapping of otters 

solely for their pelts is inhumane, and the practice is opposed by the 

majority of Missouri residents. Given that the river otter is listed as 

an Appendix II.2.(b) species, it is the role of the Service to assess 

whether the proposed plan poses a threat to otter species worldwide or 

river otter populations in North America, but not the fate of 

individual animals. The types of traps that are used, while also an 

important issue, is not germane to the decision that the Service is 

required to make. Some of the comments reflected the primary concern of 

an Appendix II.2.(b) status of species: That the trade in Missouri 

river otters would be detrimental to the same species in other States 

where they were protected, or other otter species that were listed as 

CITES Appendix I. We feel that the tagging system developed for otters 

and other exported CITES-listed furbearer species limits this risk (See 

Scientific Authority Findings), and there are also forensic methods for 

determining the species-identity of otter pelts.

    The Office of Scientific Authority also sought the independent 

assessments of two expert scientists with Department of Interior, U.S. 

Geological Survey Biological Resources Division (BRD). These scientists 

noted that the population modeling approach used by the Missouri 

Department of Conservation (MDC) was a standard one when the population 

is treated as a single interbreeding group. In this regard they pointed 

out that all of the Missouri otters have been reintroduced from founder 

stocks that originated in Louisiana and other localities outside of 

Missouri. They concurred that the high reproductive rate based on 

corpora lutea found upon necropsy is supported in the scientific 

literature, and other measures used were standard for carnivore 

population biology. Both scientists concluded that the population 

estimation methods were sound. The population model did not consider 

density dependence or the development of local populations. The 

evaluators indicated that these assumptions were allowable in a 

recently introduced, rapidly growing otter population. One scientist 

noted that the model has already undergone modification, and the other 

suggested that such factors might be added to the model if the Missouri 

population reached equilibrium in the future. While acknowledging that 

all populations models and estimates have limitations, both biologists 

indicated that the Missouri Department of Conservation made a thorough 

analysis of the effects of otter trapping. We concur with these BRD 

scientists that both the census and modeling efforts show that river 

otters in Missouri represent an expanding population that can sustain 

harvesting without a serious risk of rapid decline.

Scientific Authority Findings

    Article IV (paragraph 2) of CITES requires that, before the 

Management Authority issues a permit to export a specimen of a species 

included in Appendix II, the Scientific Authority must advise ``that 

such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species.'' 

Our Office of Scientific Authority must develop such advice (known as a 

``non-detriment finding'') for the export of Appendix-II animals, in 

accordance with section 8A(c)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 

as amended. For native U.S. species such as the river otter, the Act 

requires the Secretary of the Interior to base export determinations 

and advice ``upon the best available biological information derived 

from professionally accepted wildlife management practices; but is not 

required to make, or require any State to make, estimates of population 

size in making such determinations or giving such advice.''

    The wildlife agencies of individual States and Indian Nations 

manage the river otter. We identified in the January 5, 1984, Federal 

Register, and listed in 50 CFR 23.53 States and Indian Nations approved 

for the export of river otters. We granted administrative approval to 

the State of Tennessee for the 1994-1995 season and multi-year approval 

through a rule-making for 1995-1996 and subsequent seasons (61 FR 2454, 

January 26, 1996). We granted administrative approval to the State of 

Missouri for the 1996-1997 and 1997-1998 seasons. Each State or Indian 

Nation approved by the Service for the export of river otters has a 

program to regulate the trapping and take of the species.

    The Service's Office of Scientific Authority therefore has two 

primary obligations regarding exports of river otters taken in the 

United States. We must find that any U.S. exports of river otter pelts 

are not detrimental to the population status in the wild of any other 

similar furbearer species listed in Appendix I or II. We also must 

determine that the status of river otters in the United States (based 

on information provided by the States and based on our own monitoring 

of trade) does not decline to the point where the species itself could 

qualify for inclusion in CITES Appendix II in its own right, pursuant 

to Article II.2(a). The CITES Parties adopted new, improved criteria 

for inclusion of species in Appendix II, pursuant to Article II.2(a), 

at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in the 

United States in November 1994 (Resolution Conf. 9.24).

    Since listing of the river otter in Appendix II was due to its 

similarity of appearance to other listed species in need of trade 

controls, an important component of our non-detriment finding is 

consideration of the impact of river otter trade on the status of these 

other species. The Office of Scientific Authority has determined that 

the CITES requirement of issuing export permits naming the species 

being traded, coupled with the marking of pelts with tags bearing the 

name of the species, State of origin, year of take, and a unique serial 

number, is sufficient to eliminate potential problems of confusion 

with, and therefore risk to, other listed species. The requirement to

[[Page 772]]

tag all river otter pelts with unique, tamper-proof tags is a U.S. 

requirement that goes beyond any CITES requirement (see Management 

Authority Findings, below, for tag specifications).

    In addition to considering the effect of trade on species or 

populations other than those being exported from the United States, we 

will regularly examine information on river otters in the State of 

Missouri to determine if there is a population decline that might 

warrant more restrictive export controls. The Service will continue to 

work closely with the State of Missouri, which has primary management 

responsibility for its river otters. The monitoring and assessment for 

Missouri will follow the same approach used for other States and Indian 

Nations. As part of this monitoring, we annually request that the 

States and Indian Nations already approved for export of river otters 

certify to the Service that the best available biological information 

derived from professionally accepted wildlife management practices 

indicates that take of river otters during the forthcoming season will 

not be detrimental to the survival of the species. The Service plans to 

work with Missouri and other States and Indian Nations to develop 

consistent methods of assessing river otter populations.

    Whenever available information from the States or other sources 

indicates a possible problem in a particular State, the Scientific 

Authority will conduct a comprehensive review of accumulated 

information to determine whether conclusions about the treatment of 

these species as listed for similarity of appearance (Article II.2.b) 

continue to be true for the particular State.

    Though at one time found commonly in the State of Missouri, river 

otters were nearly extirpated from the State between 1860 and 1910. An 

estimated 70 animals survived in the southeastern part of the State by 

the mid-1930s. Because most significant habitat changes occurred more 

recently, this early population decline is believed to be a consequence 

of unregulated trapping and other killing of the species. Legal 

protection for the species occurred in 1936, but the species did not 

begin to recover until the State initiated a restoration and 

reintroduction program. The MDC initiated a river otter reintroduction 

program in 1982, whereby it released 845 river otters at 43 locations 

in the State. The MDC considers that restoration program to have been 

completed in 1992; during those 10 years it studied the status and 

distribution of river otters in the State. Based on information 

provided by the State of Missouri and other States, the Service 

believes that the status of river otters in the Midwest of the United 

States has improved, and populations in virtually all States where the 

species is native are either stable or increasing. We published a 

discussion of this release program and our previous findings on river 

otters in Missouri in the Federal Register on April 2, 1996 (61 FR 

14543), and October 7, 1996 (61 FR 52403).

    According to the MDC, Missouri has in place several different 

methods to monitor and assess the status of river otters in the State: 

(1) A three-year study began in 1996, in cooperation with the 

University of Missouri, to develop population monitoring methods, 

including a stream survey for otter sign, a capture-per-unit-effort 

index based on trappers' records, and a refined population model based 

on age-specific reproduction data and age-distribution data from a 

sample of Missouri river otters; (2) the State uses aerial surveys of 

winter tracks to monitor populations, along with Archer's Index to 

Furbearer Populations, as an index of population trends; and (3) the 

State has in place a mandatory pelt registration and tagging program 

during annual trapping seasons, in order to provide a harvest 

accounting system.

    In 1995, the Missouri Conservation Commission approved an otter 

trapping season for the 1996-1997 season. After further deliberation we 

approved export authorization for pelts of Missouri river otters taken 

during the 1996-1997 season. Subsequently, in July 1997, the MDC 

requested export authority for the 1997-1998 season and subsequent 

trapping seasons. We granted export authorization for the 1997-1998 

season only, based on our evaluation of information provided by 

Missouri. On June 22, 1998, our Office of Scientific Authority received 

a detailed request from the State of Missouri for approval of exports 

of river otter pelts for 1998-1999 and subsequent seasons. The June 22, 

1998, request from the State of Missouri Department of Conservation 

contained detailed analyses of data from the 1997-1998 season as well 

as previous seasons. This information is available on request from the 

Office of Scientific Authority.

    According to the State of Missouri, trappers took 1,146 otters in 

the 1997-1998 trapping season. The State believes that trapping 

pressure and the number of otters taken per licensed trapper (an index 

of population status) remained basically the same from previous years. 

Of those otters taken, the State tagged 1,128 with CITES tags provided 

by the Service. The State also analyzed and necropsied 260 river otters 

taken in the State as an important component of its assessment of river 

otter populations. The submission of June 22, 1998, from the State 

elaborates on these assessments. Using a number of indices and 

measurements, the State of Missouri has determined that reproductive 

rates are higher than previously predicted for river otters and that a 

healthy proportion of the river otter population in the State consists 

of juveniles and yearlings (both males and females), which reinforces 

the State's assertion that the population is increasing. The State also 

used population demographic data from otter necropsies and survival 

data from radio-telemetry studies to model otter population growth. The 

MDC has concluded that there is a pre-season estimated population of 

6,736 river otters in the State of Missouri, and that this population 

continues to increase.

    Ongoing river otter population surveys in Missouri have taken place 

both prior to and after the trapping seasons. Preliminary results 

indicate a stable or increasing population. The State also calculates 

indices of capture-per-unit-effort based on trapper diaries, and has 

provided preliminary data for the 1996-1997 and the 1997-1998 seasons. 

The MDC has also used Archer's Index to Furbearer Populations to detect 

changes in furbearer populations; those results are consistent with an 

increase in river otter populations.

    The State of Missouri has presented information that supports a 

conclusion that river otter populations are widely distributed and 

secure in Missouri. The Service notes that the State of Missouri has 

primary responsibility for managing its river otter population 

including its decision to authorize trapping. The State of Missouri is 

committed to continue its surveys, population monitoring, and 

population modeling. Based on: (1) The biological and other information 

provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation; (2) the existence 

of a management infrastructure in the State for managing and enforcing 

trapping regulations; (3) independent scientific review of the Missouri 

Department of Conservation otter population model and assessment; (4) 

an evaluation of the disparate comments received on the proposed rule; 

and (5) the determination that permitting and tagging requirements will 

minimize the risk that exporters will misrepresent other similar-

appearing CITES-listed species in trade as river otters, the Service's 

Office of Scientific Authority has advised the Office of Management 

Authority that exports of river otter pelts of animals legally taken in 

the State of Missouri

[[Page 773]]

will not be detrimental to the population of other similar furbearer 

species listed in CITES Appendix I or II. Furthermore, the Office of 

Scientific Authority also believes that river otters in the United 

States do not qualify for inclusion in CITES Appendix II pursuant to 

Article II.2(a). Therefore, the Service hereby adds the State of 

Missouri to the list of States and Indian Nations approved for export 

of river otters.

Management Authority Findings

    Exports of Appendix-II species are allowed under CITES only if the 

Management Authority is satisfied that the specimens were not obtained 

in violation of laws for their protection. Therefore, to allow any 

export, we must be satisfied that applicants wishing to export river 

otter pelts, hides, or products obtained those items in compliance with 

State, Indian, and Federal law. State or Tribal tagging programs 

provide evidence of legal take for the following native U.S. species: 

Alaskan gray wolf, Alaska brown or grizzly bear, American alligator, 

bobcat, lynx, and river otter. The States and Tribes have 

responsibility for management of these species, and we assure ourselves 

that pelts are taken in accordance with State and Tribal law through a 

tagging program. The Service annually contracts for the manufacture and 

delivery of specific CITES animal-hide tags for States and Indian 

Nations that qualify. We note that, although the United States 

instituted this tagging requirement independently of CITES, the CITES 

Parties adopted it for all crocodilian species. The Office of 

Management Authority is responsible for ordering the tags for all 

approved States and Indian Nations and provides them at no charge. We 

have adopted the following export requirements for the 1983-1984 and 

subsequent seasons:

    (1) Current State or Indian Nation, Tribe, or Reservation hunting, 

trapping, and tagging regulations and sample tags must be on file with 

our Office of Management Authority;

    (2) The tags must be durable and permanently locking, and must show 

the U.S.-CITES logo, the name of the State or Indian Nation, Tribe, or 

Reservation of origin, the year of take, the species, and a unique 

serial number;

    (3) Trappers or other persons taking otters must attach tags to all 

pelts taken within a minimum time after take, as specified by the State 

or Indian regulation, and must do so as soon as possible to minimize 

movement of untagged pelts (even pelts not intended for export must be 


    (4) Trappers or other persons taking otters must attach tags 

permanently as authorized and prescribed by the State or Indian 


    (5) Takers/trappers/dealers who are licensed or registered by the 

State or Indian Nation must account for all tags received and must 

return unused tags to the State or Indian Nation within a specified 

time after the season closes; and

    (6) We will allow the export of fully manufactured fur or hide 

products from the United State only when the CITES export tags removed 

from the hides prior to manufacture are surrendered to us prior to 


Export Approval

    This document represents the final administrative step in 

procedures established to authorize exports of river otters and other 

designated furbearing mammals from Service-approved States and Indian 

Nations in accordance with CITES. Accordingly, the export of Missouri 

river otters harvested during the 1998-1999 and subsequent seasons is 

now approved on the grounds that such exports meet the criteria for 

both the Scientific Authority and Management Authority under CITES.

    The Department has determined within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 553(d) 

(1) and (3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, that there is good 

cause to make these findings and rule effective immediately. It is the 

Department's opinion that a delay in the effective date of the 

regulations after this rule is published could affect the export of 

pelts taken in the harvest season that has already begun in Missouri. 

Because Scientific and Management Authority criteria have been 

satisfied, it follows that making this rule effective immediately will 

not adversely affect the species involved. This approval is subject to 

revision prior to any subsequent taking season in any State or Indian 

Nation, if a review of information reveals that Management Authority or 

Scientific Authority findings in favor of export should be changed.

Effects of the Rule and Required Determinations

    As a preface to this portion of the notice, we note that the 

issuance of Management Authority and Scientific Authority findings 

under CITES does not constitute rulemaking under the Administrative 

Procedure Act (APA). Nevertheless, we have used the rulemaking 

procedure to enhance involvement by the States and the public.

    The Department of the Interior previously determined (48 FR 37494, 

August 18, 1983) that the export of river otters from various States 

and Indian Nations, taken in the 1983-1984 and subsequent seasons, is 

not a major Federal action that would significantly affect the quality 

of the human environment under the National Environmental Policy Act 

(NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347). The Fish and Wildlife Service has 

determined that a finding of no significant impact is appropriate for 

this action under regulations implementing NEPA.

    This rule was not subject to Office of Management and Budget review 

under Executive Order 12866 and would not pose significant economic 

effects to a substantial number of small entities as outlined under the 

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). Because the existing 

rule treats exports on a State-by-State and Indian Nation-by-Indian 

Nation basis and approves export in accordance with an already existing 

State or Indian Nation management program, the rule would have little 

effect on small entities in and of itself. This final rule will allow 

continued international trade in river otters from the United States in 

accordance with CITES and does not contain any Federalism impacts as 

described in Executive Order 12612. This action is not expected to have 

significant taking implications for U.S. citizens, as per Executive 

Order 12630.

Information Collection Requirements

    We have examined this regulation under the Paperwork Reduction Act 

of 1995 and found it to contain no new information collection 

requirements for which Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval 

is required. Persons exporting river otter skins from the United States 

may obtain permits which are already authorized under 50 CFR part 23 as 

approved by OMB and assigned clearance number 1018-0093. No new 

information collection or permit requirements are contained in this 

regulation. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not 

required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a 

currently valid OMB control number.

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 

Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule does not have 

an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; will not cause 

a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual 

industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic 

regions; and does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 

employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability

[[Page 774]]

of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501, 

et seq.), this rule will not significantly or uniquely affect small 

governments, nor will it produce a Federal mandate of $100 million or 

greater in any year ( i.e., it is not a significant regulatory action 

under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act).

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 

``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 

Governments'' (59 FR 22951) and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible 

effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that 

there are no effects. Individual tribal members are subject to the same 

regulatory requirements as other individuals who export American river 


    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the 

Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the 

judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 

of the Order. Specifically, this rule has been reviewed to eliminate 

errors and ambiguity, has been written to minimize litigation, provides 

a clear legal standard for affected conduct, and specifies in clear 

language the effect on existing Federal law or regulation.

    This final rule is issued under the authority of the Endangered 

Species Act of 1973 as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 23

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Treaties.


    Accordingly, the Service amends Part 23 of Title 50, Code of 

Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

    1. The authority citation for Part 23 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Convention on International Trade in Endangered 

Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 27 U.S.T. 1087; and Endangered 

Species Act of 1973, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

    2. In Subpart F-Export of Certain Species, revise Sec. 23.53 to 

read as follows:

Sec. 23.53  River otter (Lontra canadensis)

    States for which we permit the export of the indicated season's 

take under Sec. 23.15 of this part:

    (a) States and Indian Nations, and Seasons Approved for Export of 

River Otter From the United States:


                                                                                                                                    1983-84 and     1995-96 and     1996-98 and     1998-99 and

                                   1977-78 \1\      1978-79 \2\     1979-80 \3\       1980-81         1981-82         1982-83         future          future          future          future


Alabama........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Alaska.........................  +                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Arkansas.......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Connecticut....................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Delaware.......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Florida........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Georgia........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Louisiana......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Maine..........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Maryland.......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Massachusetts..................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Michigan.......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Minnesota......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Mississippi....................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Missouri.......................  -                -               -               -               -               -               -               -               + \5\           +

Montana........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

New Hampshire..................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

New Jersey.....................  -                -               -               -               -               +               +               +               +               +

New York.......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

North Carolina.................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Oregon.........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Penobscot Nation...............  -                -               -               -               -               -               +               +               +               ..............

Rhode Island...................  Q                +               -               -               -               -               -               -               -               -

South Carolina.................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Tennessee......................  -                -               -               -               -               -               -               + \4\           +               +

Vermont........................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Virginia.......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Washington.....................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +

Wisconsin......................  Q                +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +               +


\1\ For further information, see 42 FR 43729, Aug. 30, 1977; 43 FR 11081, Mar. 16, 1978; and 43 FR 29469, July 7, 1978.

\2\ For further information, see 43 FR 11096, Mar. 16, 1978; 43 FR 13913, Apr. 3, 1978; 43 FR 15097, Apr. 10, 1978; 43 FR 29469, July 7, 1978; 43 FR 35013, Aug. 7, 1978; 43 FR 36293, Aug. 16,

  1978; and 43 FR 39305, Sept. 1, 1978.

\3\ For further information, see 44 FR 25383, Apr. 30, 1979; 44 FR 31583, May 31, 1979; 44 FR 40842, July 12, 1979; 44 FR 52289, Sept. 7, 1979; and 44 FR 55540, Sept. 26, 1979.

\4\ Export for 1994-95 approved administratively (for Tennessee).

\5\ Export for 1996-97 and 1997-98 approved administratively (for Missouri).

Q Export approved with quota.

+ Export approved.

- Export not approved.

    (b) Condition on export: Exporters must clearly identify each pelt 

as to species, State or Indian Nation of origin, and season of taking 

by permanently attaching a serially numbered tag of a type approved and 

provided by the Service and attached under conditions established by 

the Service. Exception to the tagging requirement: We will allow

[[Page 775]]

the export of fully manufactured fur or hide products from the United 

States only when the CITES export tags removed from the hides prior to 

manufacture are surrendered to us prior to export. Such tags must be 

removed by cutting the tag straps on the side next to the locking 

socket of the tag, so that the locking socket and locking tip remain 


    Dated: December 29, 1998.

Stephen C. Saunders,

Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

[FR Doc. 98-34837 Filed 12-31-98; 8:45 am]