[Federal Register: March 20, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 54)]
[Page 14999-15000]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability; Recommended Guidance for Private 
Landowners Concerning the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl; and the Cactus 
Ferruginous Pygmy-owl Survey Protocol

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability; Private Landowner Guidance and Survey 
Protocol for the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announces the 
availability of its recommended private landowner guidance for the 
cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) (pygmy-
owl). These recommendations will assist private landowners in 
minimizing their risk of inadvertently ``taking'' (harming, harassing 
or killing) a pygmy-owl. In addition, the Service in cooperation with 
the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), announces the availability 
of a revised survey protocol for the pygmy-owl. This survey protocol 
should be used by landowners and managers in determining presence/
absence of the endangered pygmy-owl.
    On March 10, 1997, the Service published a final rule adding the 
Arizona population of the pygmy-owl to the federal list of endangered 
species (62 FR 10730). The principle cause for the decline in 
population and reduction in current known range for the once ``common'' 
and ``fairly numerous'' species is the loss of habitat.
    In December 1997, the Service provided interim guidance describing 
the habitat relied upon by the pygmy-owl and suggested that landowners 
with such habitat have surveys conducted on their land to determine 
whether the habitat is occupied by an owl prior to disturbing the 
habitat. The intent of the Service was to furnish landowners and 
agencies with enough information to determine the level of stewardship 
their development planning should require in order to avoid harming, 
harassing, or killing (taking) a pygmy-owl. On August 13, 1998 the 
Service published two

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notices of availability and opening of public comment periods for the 
proposed pygmy-owl landowner guidance (63 FR 43363) and survey protocol 
(63 FR 43362). On September 16, 1998, the Service announced the 
extension of the comment period from September 14, 1998, to November 
14, 1998 for both the landowner guidance and protocol (63 FR 49539). 
Public information meetings were also held on the guidance and survey 
protocol on October 5, 1998, in Phoenix, Arizona; on October 6, 1998, 
in Tucson, Arizona; and on October 7, 1998, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. 
On November 20, 1998, the Service again announced the extension of the 
comment period for both the guidance and protocol to March 14, 1999 (63 
FR 64449).
    Using information gathered during the comment period and 
subsequently from researchers in the field, and with technical 
assistance of AGFD, we revised the proposed ``Guidance for Private 
Landowners and Federal, State, and Local Agencies Concerning Take of 
the Endangered Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl'' and ``Protocol for 
Surveying for the Endangered Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-owl''. The 
Service's recommended landowner guidance entitled ``Recommended 
Guidance for Private Landowners Concerning the Cactus Ferruginous 
Pygmy-owl'' and the AGFD-Service authored ``The Cactus Ferruginous 
Pygmy-owl Survey Protocol'', both dated January 2000, incorporate those 
modifications found to be appropriate, and replace the 1998 proposed 
landowner guidance and 1993 AGFD survey protocol. We and AGFD intend to 
annually review and (as appropriate) modify this survey protocol, to 
ensure that the best scientific information is incorporated into the 
prescribed methodology.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the revised landowner guidance and survey protocol 
may be obtained from the Service's Region 2 World Wide Web Home Page 
at: http://ifw2es.fws.gov/Arizona/ or from the Field Supervisor, 
Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, 
Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Wrigley at the above address 
(telephone 602/640-2720, facsimile 602/640-2730).



    The cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) 
(pygmy-owl) was listed as an endangered species on March 10, 1997 as 
result of loss and degradation of habitat, overutilization for 
recreational purposes, inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, 
low levels of genetic variation, possible contamination from 
pesticides, and potential competition from other bird species that use 
cavities for nesting (62 FR 10730). Historically in Arizona, pygmy-owls 
occupied areas of south-central Arizona from the New River, about 56 km 
(35 mi) north of Phoenix, west to Agua Caliente near Gila Bend and 
Cabeza Prieta Tanks, and east to near present day Geronimo and Fort 
Thomas along the Gila River. Recent records (since 1993) suggest that 
pygmy-owls in Arizona may only occur in Pima and Pinal counties, 
however, the total number and their distribution in Arizona is 
currently unknown because not all areas have been surveyed. Only 39 
adult individuals were known to exist in the state in the spring of 
1999. Most of these birds were distributed in three areas: northwest 
Tucson, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and the Altar Valley, 
including Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.
    In Arizona, pygmy-owls rarely occur below 305 m (1,000 ft) or above 
1,219 m (4,000 ft). Historically, cottonwood (Populus fremontii)-
mesquite (Prosopis spp.) forest and mesquite woodland along the Gila 
and Salt rivers, and major tributaries were environments typically used 
by the owls. Pygmy-owls currently occupy paloverde (Cercidium spp.)-
mesquite-acacia (Acacia spp.) xeroriparian, and saguaro (Carnegiea 
gigantea)-paloverde desertscrub areas often with ironwood (Olneya 
tesota) and/or exotic landscaping supported by irrigation. Recently, 
pygmy-owls have also been located in semidesert and Sonoran savanna 
grasslands with xeroriparian washes. Dominant tree species in riparian 
areas include mesquite, ash (Fraxinus spp.), and hackberry (Celtis 
spp.). Uplands in these areas primarily consist of grasslands with 
dispersed mesquite trees, and very few, isolated saguaro cacti in some 

Nancy M. Kaufman,
Regional Director, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 00-6802 Filed 3-17-00; 8:45 am]