[Federal Register: May 4, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 87)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 25867-25881]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AD67

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification 
of Yacare Caiman in South America From Endangered to Threatened, and 
the Listing of Two Other Caiman Species as Threatened by Reason of 
Similarity of Appearance

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reclassifying 
the yacare caiman (Caiman yacare; also known as Caiman crocodilus 
yacare) from its present endangered status to threatened status under 
the Endangered Species Act because the current endangered listing does 
not correctly reflect the present status of this species. The Service 
also is listing the common caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus) and 
the brown caiman (Caiman crocodilus fuscus) as threatened by reason of 
similarity of appearance.
    Caiman yacare is native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Bolivia. Caiman crocodilus crocodilus and C. c. fuscus occur in Mexico 
and Central and South America. All three taxa are listed in Appendix II 
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild 
Fauna and Flora (CITES), which allows for international commercial 
trade in these species. Listing the two taxa as threatened by reason of 
similarity of appearance will assist in protecting the yacare caiman by 
facilitating wildlife inspections of shipments at the ports of entry 
and detection of illegal shipments.
    A special rule for these three caiman populations allows U.S. 
commerce in their skins, other parts, and products from individual 
countries of origin and countries of re-export if certain conditions 
are satisfied by those countries prior to exportation to the United 
States. These conditions largely pertain to the implementation of a 
CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution for crocodilian skins 
(adopted at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties) as well 
as provisions intended to support sustainable management of wild 
populations of the above three caiman species/subspecies. In the case 
where tagged caiman skins and other parts are exported to another 
country, usually for tanning and manufacturing purposes, and the 
processed skins and finished products are exported to the United 
States, the rule prohibits importation or re-exportation of such skins, 
parts, and products if we determine that either the country of origin 
or re-export is engaging in practices that are detrimental to the 
conservation of caiman populations.
    The purpose of this rule is threefold. First, the rule accurately 
reflects the conservation status of the yacare caiman. Second, we wish 
to promote the conservation of the yacare caiman by ensuring proper 
management of the commercially harvested caiman species in the range 
countries and, through implementation of trade controls (as described 
in the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution), to reduce 
commingling of caiman specimens. Third, downlisting of C. yacare to 
threatened reconciles listings of the species in the Act and CITES.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This final rule is effective on June 5, 2000.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for public 
inspection by appointment, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, at the Office of Scientific Authority, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr., 
Room 750, Arlington, Virginia.

Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mail Stop ARLSQ-
750, Washington, DC 20240 (phone: 703-358-1708; fax: 703-358-2276; e-
mail: r9osa@fws.gov).


    Note: Portions of the original proposed rule were re-written to 
conform to the new Federal policy on the use of ``plain English'' in 
Federal documents. However, the original intent of the text remains 
the same. Text in the proposed rule has also been amended in this 
final rule in response to comments submitted by the public (see 
``Comments Received'' below) and to coincide with the CITES 
Universal Tagging System Resolution.


    The yacare caiman was listed as endangered throughout its entire 
range under the predecessor of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973 
on June 2, 1970 (35 FR 8495). (At the time of the original listing, 
Peru was incorrectly listed as one of the range countries, whereas 
Paraguay was excluded. In this final rule, we correct that situation.) 
On July 1, 1975, it was also placed in Appendix II of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora--
CITES (42 FR 10465). (The species has never been listed in CITES 
Appendix I, which prohibits international trade in the species if such 
activity is conducted for primarily commercial purposes and/or 
determined to be detrimental to the survival of the species.) The 
endangered listing under the Act prohibited imports and re-exports of 
the species into/from the United States. However, the Appendix II 
listing allows for regulated commercial trade elsewhere in the world, 
based on certain findings. As a result, a substantial U.S. law 
enforcement problem has occurred because of the different listing 
status under the Act and under CITES. Imports and re-exports of yacare 
caiman into/from the United States without an ESA permit are prohibited 
under the Act, including shipments originating from countries of origin 
with valid CITES export documents. However, imports and re-exports of 
products from the common and brown caimans are legal, when accompanied 
by appropriate CITES documents. Since products manufactured from the 
yacare caiman, common caiman, and the brown caiman are often 
indistinguishable as to species from which they are made, products from 
the prohibited yacare caiman are often commingled with products from 
non-prohibited taxa among commercial shipments into the United States. 
The unauthorized entry of prohibited yacare caiman products constitutes 
a violation of the Act, and if the yacare is legally protected in 
individual range countries, then Lacey Act violations may also have 
    Until relatively recently, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay 
prohibited the export of caiman products (Brazaitis in comments on the 
October 29, 1990, Federal Register notice [55 FR 43389]). However, 
CITES Notification to the Parties No. 781, issued on March 10, 1994, 
indicated that Brazil's CITES Management Authority had registered 75 
ranching operations for producing skins of C. c. crocodilus and C. 
yacare. These ranching operations were established under provisions of 
Article 6 B of Brazilian Wildlife Law No. 5.197, of November 3, 1967. 
Caiman yacare from these Brazilian ranches were being legally traded in 
the international

[[Page 25868]]

marketplace, except into the United States. Paraguay and Bolivia have 
also expressed an interest in the legal international marketing of C. 
yacare skins, and restricted legal hunts are currently allowed (see 
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recognizes that 
substantial populations of crocodilians that are managed as a 
sustainable resource can be utilized for commercial purposes while not 
adversely affecting the survival of individual populations of the 
species, when scientifically based management plans are implemented. 
When certain positive conservation conditions have been met, the 
Service has acted to allow utilization and trade from managed 
populations of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), the 
importation of commercial shipments of Nile crocodile (Crocodylus 
niloticus) from several southern and eastern African countries, and 
similar shipments of saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) specimens 
from Australia (61 FR 32356; June 24, 1996). The CITES Parties reviewed 
management activities prior to transferring certain populations from 
CITES Appendix I to Appendix II (thereby allowing commercial trade) and 
included assessments of population status, determination of sustainable 
harvest quotas (or approval of ranching programs), and the control of 
the illegal harvest. Management regulations imposed after harvest 
included the tagging of skins and issuance of permits to satisfy the 
requirements for CITES Appendix II species.
    This final rule and its accompanying special rule allow U.S. 
commerce in skins, other parts, and products from Caiman yacare, Caiman 
crocodilus crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus into the United States. These 
three Caiman populations are widespread in Mexico and Central and South 
America, and have high reproductive potential (Thorbjarnarson 1992, 
Thorbjarnarson 1994). In fact, they have survived in spite of 
substantial legal and illegal harvests in the past (Mourao et al. 1996, 
Da Silveria and Thorbjarnarson 1999). As in the case of the final rules 
involving Alligator mississippiensis, Crocodylus niloticus, and 
Crocodylus porosus (50 CFR part 17), this final rule will allow 
commerce in Caiman yacare, Caiman c. crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus into 
the United States only from range countries that regulate the legal 
harvest and control illegal trade of these three populations, so as to 
ensure that they are being sustained at biologically sound levels. 
Furthermore, the Service does not intend to allow importation or re-
exportation of Caiman yacare, C. crocodilus crocodilus, or C. c. fuscus 
specimens from intermediary countries that do not properly control 
trade in crocodilian skins, other parts, and products.
    This rule reclassifies the yacare caiman (Caiman yacare = C. 
crocodilus yacare) from endangered to threatened status under the Act 
and lists two additional taxa, the common caiman (C. c. crocodilus) and 
the brown caiman (C. c. fuscus including C. crocodilus chiapasius), as 
threatened by reason of similarity of appearance. When traded as skin 
pieces and products, the yacare caiman is similar in appearance to the 
common caiman and the brown caiman, which are listed as CITES Appendix 
II species but are not listed in the Act. Other caiman species will be 
retained as endangered under the Act, including the black caiman 
(Melanosuchus niger) and the broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris). 
This rule does not affect the endangered or threatened status, under 
the Act, of any other crocodilian species in the Western Hemisphere.
    The original listing for the yacare caiman (under the provisions of 
the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969) was C. yacare, which 
is the presently accepted taxonomic name for the species (King and 
Burke 1989) and the name used throughout this rule. Some authors treat 
the taxon as a subspecies, C. c. yacare, and this is the taxonomic name 
presently included in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife 
(50 CFR part 17.11). King believes (in litt.) that C. yacare should be 
considered biologically as a subspecies or at the end of a 
morphological cline, but indicates that, nomenclaturally, it is 
recognized as a full species. A recent study, including an analysis of 
mitochondrial DNA variation, indicates that the C. yacare of Argentina, 
Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay comprise a single taxonomic unit with 
substantial genetic, morphological, and zoogeographical similarities 
(Brazaitis et al. 1993). Those authors indicate that C. yacare 
populations are effectively separated from C. c. crocodilus populations 
by mountains and highlands that limit nesting habitat and the migration 
of individual animals between southern and northern river systems. 
Caiman yacare, C. c. crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus are considered, on 
the basis of their DNA sequences, to be distinct populations of a 
widespread and related taxon (Amato 1992) with C. yacare apparently 
having greater genetic differences from C. c. crocodilus than C. c. 
crocodilus has in relationship to C. c. fuscus (Brazaitis et al. 1993). 
Additional DNA analyses by Brazaitis and others support the 
interpretation that ``Caiman yacare, C. c. crocodilus, and C. c. 
chiapasius (probably C. c. fuscus) are each phylogenetic species, as 
per the criteria of Davis and Nixon (1992)'' (Brazaitis et al. 1997a, 
Brazaitis et al. 1997b). However, recent work by Busack and Pandya 
(1996) suggests that C. c. crocodilus and C. c. fuscus comprise a 
single genetic population at the subspecies level, while confirming 
that the yacare caiman is a distinct subspecies, C. c. yacare. 
Currently, no biochemical evidence indicates that recognizable 
subgroups of C. yacare occur within its distributional limits in the 
river systems of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, or Paraguay (Brazaitis et 
al. 1993), and, therefore, no such subgroups are recognized in this 

Comments Received

    On March 15, 1988, the Service received a petition from Mr. Armand 
S. Bennett, President of Columbia Impex Corporation, requesting the 
reclassification of the yacare caiman from endangered to threatened 
status. The Service reviewed the petition and concluded that it did not 
present sufficient scientific or commercial information to indicate 
that a reclassification was warranted (55 FR 43387, published October 
29, 1990). However, the Service, in the October 29, 1990, Federal 
Register notice, also solicited relevant data, comments, and 
publications dealing with the current status and distribution, 
biological information, and conservation measures pertaining to the 
yacare caiman. The Service also requested comments about the 
advisability and necessity of treating the subspecies C. c. crocodilus 
and C. c. fuscus as endangered or threatened due to similarity of 
appearance to the listed C. yacare. Based on the information received 
in response to the Federal Register notice and other available 
information, the Service published on September 23, 1998, a proposed 
rule for the reclassification of the yacare caiman from endangered to 
threatened, with a special rule allowing U.S. commerce in skins, other 
parts, and products of this species. The Service also proposed listing 
the common caiman (C. c. crocodilus) and the brown caiman (C. c. 
fuscus) as threatened by reason of similarity of appearance.
    We received a total of 26 comments in response to the September 23, 
1998, proposed rule: 6 were from crocodilian experts, 11 from foreign 
governments and institutions (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, 
Paraguay, and Singapore), 1 from a State government (Louisiana), 6 from 
the crocodile trade industry (2 based in the United States

[[Page 25869]]

and 4 foreign), and 2 from non-governmental organizations (World 
Wildlife Fund and The Humane Society of the United States).
    In summary, the majority of foreign government correspondents 
(Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia) and World Wildlife Fund 
supported the downlisting of yacare caiman. Likewise, five of the six 
correspondents from the crocodile trade industry in the United States 
(Columbia Impex Corporation, Florida) and overseas (Tecno--Caiman Ltd., 
Argentina; Cooperative of Caiman Breeders from the Pantanal of Mato 
Grosso, Brazil; Colombian Association of Animal Ranchers; and Singapore 
Reptile Skin Trade Association) supported the proposed downlisting. 
However, the Humane Society of the United States opposed it. The 
Government of Paraguay considered that the original listing of yacare 
caiman as endangered was unwarranted, and, therefore, commented that 
the species should be removed form the Act.
    Comments from various crocodilian experts, including five members 
of The World Conservation Union/Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) 
Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), were mixed. Dr. James Perran Ross 
(CSG Executive Officer), Mr. Alejandro Larriera (CSG Regional Vice 
Chairman for Latin America and Caribbean), and Mr. Tomas Waller (CSG 
member from Argentina), supported the proposed downlisting of yacare 
caiman to threatened. Mr. Ted Joanen (CSG Vice Chairman for North 
America) and Mr. Peter Brazaitis (Forensic Specialist in Herpetology) 
opposed the proposed downlisting, whereas Prof. F. Wayne King (CSG 
Deputy Chairman) considered that the original listing of yacare caiman 
as endangered was unwarranted. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 
of Louisiana partially supported the proposed downlisting.
    Comments: The Governments of Argentina (Secretaria de Recursos 
Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable--Secretary of Natural Resources and 
Sustainable Development), Bolivia (Vice-Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, 
Recursos Naturales y Desarrollo Forestal, Ministerio de Desarrollo 
Sostenible y Planificacion--Vice-Ministry of the Environment, Natural 
Resources and Forestry Development, Ministry of Sustainable Development 
and Planning; Unidad de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente, Prefectura 
y Comandancia General del Beni--Natural Resources and Environment Unit, 
Government of the Department of Beni; Museo Nacional de Historia 
Nacional--National Museum of Natural History; Museo de Historia 
Natural, Universidad Autonoma Gabriel Rene Moreno--Museum of Natural 
History, Gabriel Rene Moreno Autonomous University), Brazil (Instituto 
Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis--
Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources; and 
Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC), and Colombia (Ministerio del 
Medio Ambiente--Ministry of the Environment) commented that yacare 
caiman is abundant or has recovered in their respective countries, and, 
therefore, supported the proposed downlisting of yacare caiman. 
Argentina supports downlisting of C. yacare, even though it bans export 
of the species. All four countries (three of which are yacare caiman 
range countries) believe that the opening of commerce in C. yacare 
products, through a special rule allowing commercial importation and 
re-exportation of yacare caiman specimens into/from the United States, 
will provide an economic incentive for the protection of the species 
throughout its range.
    Prof. F. Wayne King, Dr. James Perran Ross, and Mr. Tomas Waller 
(all members of CSG) also considered the yacare caiman to be abundant 
throughout most of its range. Furthermore, they argued that enough 
national and international regulatory and management mechanisms (such 
as CITES) are in place in the range countries, so that illegal harvest 
no longer constitutes a major threat to the species.
    Finally, based on recent field surveys, World Wildlife Fund also 
did not consider C. yacare to be threatened. Furthermore, they 
recognized that the proposed downlisting and special rule will help 
reconcile listings of yacare caiman in the Act and CITES.
    Response: We continue to believe that the downlisting of yacare 
caiman from endangered to threatened, with a special rule allowing U.S. 
commerce in caiman skins, other parts, and products, is warranted (See 
``Summary of Factors Affecting Caiman yacare'' below).
    Comment: Prof. F. Wayne King, Dr. John Perran Ross, and the 
Government of Paraguay (Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle Ranching) 
considered C. yacare to be abundant enough in the wild to prompt its 
complete removal from the Act.
    Response: Although wild populations of yacare caiman have recovered 
in portions of the species' range, we note that some populations have 
not fully recovered, and, therefore, we continue to believe the 
threatened classification is appropriate (See ``Summary of Factors 
Affecting Caiman yacare'' below).
    Comments: Mr. Ted Joanen, Mr. Peter Brazaitis, the Department of 
Wildlife and Fisheries of Louisiana, and The Humane Society of the 
United States opposed the proposed special rule allowing U.S. commerce 
in skins, parts, and products of yacare caiman because of concerns 
about current management of the species in some range countries. They 
argued that some range countries lack protected habitats, long-term 
monitoring programs, effective national legislation, or effective 
national law enforcement to prevent uncontrolled harvest of the 
    To address those concerns, Mr. Joanen and Dr. John Perran Ross 
suggested that importation of C. yacare specimens from individual range 
countries not be allowed until these countries provide the Service with 
detailed written descriptions of their respective management plans, 
regulations, and ongoing studies for the species, as was requested in 
previous rules involving Australian saltwater crocodile, American 
alligator, and Nile crocodile. Likewise, the National Museum of Natural 
History of Bolivia recommended amending the special rule, so as to 
require that all skins allowed for import into the United States 
originate from populations under a sustainable use management plan, 
such as the one developed in Bolivia. Bolivia believes that this 
requirement will prevent the sale of illegally hunted crocodilian skins 
that are seized by government agencies, but legalized through 
government-sponsored auctions.
    Response: We note that enforcement of domestic regulations 
pertaining to harvest of wild yacare caimans is a domestic issue. No 
government or agency provides perfect management, but many governments 
and agencies provide sufficient management to permit sustainable use of 
certain individual species. A reasonable standard for the Service to 
use to determine sufficiency of a wildlife management program in any 
country is to compare management of a foreign species with management 
in the United States. In the United States, poaching of white-tailed 
deer still occurs, despite strict State laws regulating hunting of the 
species. However, State enforcement of deer hunting laws is sufficient 
to continue allowing sustainable harvest of the species.
    Similarly, although all range countries of yacare caiman regulate 
the harvest of the species, they are not always capable of enforcing 
such regulations, particularly in isolated areas. Although we 
acknowledge that illegal hunting of

[[Page 25870]]

yacare caiman for local trade still occurs in many of the species' 
range countries, international illegal trade in crocodilian skins has 
been reduced significantly since the adoption by CITES Parties of 
Resolution Conf. 9.22 on the Universal Tagging System Resolution for 
crocodilians in November 1994 (see ``Inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms'' below). Given that all four range countries (Argentina, 
Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay) are CITES Parties, we believe that 
international trade in yacare caiman is adequately regulated to allow 
commercial importation and re-exportation of yacare caiman into/from 
the United States.
    Furthermore, C. yacare and other species of caiman appear to be 
resilient to hunting. In Brazil, the impact of hunting on caiman 
populations is reduced by strong bias for males among hunted animals 
(Mourao et al. 1996, Da Silveria and Thorbjarnarson 1999). In C. yacare 
and C. crocodilus, this bias is largely due to the fact that hunters 
target mostly the largest animals, which are almost exclusively males. 
In the case of black caiman (Melanosuchus niger; a species listed as 
endangered in the Act), male-biased sex ratios among harvested animals 
appear to be caused by preference of adult females for more protected 
and difficult to reach areas. Since a single male can fertilize several 
females, this male-biased harvest is less likely to have a negative 
impact on the reproductive potential of caiman populations. Impact of 
hunting on caiman is also reduced by propensity of hunters to 
concentrate their harvest in areas easily accessible (Mourao et al. 
    In anticipation to a possible increase in illegal harvest of yacare 
caiman, this rule contains language prohibiting importation or re-
exportation of yacare caiman skins, other parts, or products, if we 
obtain reliable information indicating that the countries of origin or 
re-export are engaging in practices that are detrimental to the 
conservation of yacare caiman populations in the wild.
    Nevertheless, we agree with the suggestion made by several 
correspondents of requesting updated information from the yacare caiman 
range countries regarding their respective management plans, 
regulations, and ongoing studies for the species. Maintenance of such 
information in our files would permit us and other interested parties 
to better understand the measures being taken by range countries to 
ensure that harvest of yacare caiman is done in a sustainable manner. 
Furthermore, submission of such information by range countries on a 
regular basis would allow us to monitor the status of yacare caiman in 
the wild, as required under the Act. Therefore, we have added language 
in this final rule requesting that the range countries of C. yacare 
(Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay) provide to the Service every 2 
years current information on the status of these taxa in their 
countries (see ``The Monitoring of Yacare Caiman'' below). We will also 
monitor trade in the species by requesting import and export data on C. 
yacare from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), a 
repository of the annual CITES reports prepared and submitted to the 
Secretariat by CITES Parties.
    Comments: Mr. Alejandro Larriera and the Colombian Association of 
Animal Ranchers (AZOOCOL) supported the right of the United States to 
prohibit imports from countries not in compliance with the CITES 
Universal Tagging System Resolution or engaging in practices 
detrimental to the survival of the species. However, the Singapore 
Reptile Skin Trade Association expressed concerns about unilateral U.S. 
prohibition of crocodilian imports from countries not in compliance 
with CITES requirements. Columbia Impex Corporation also commented that 
the United States should never have regulations different than those 
set by other countries.
    Response: We note that Article XV of CITES allows CITES Parties to 
``adopt stricter domestic measures'' regulating trade, taking, 
possession, or transport of specimens of any species, regardless of 
whether the species is listed in the CITES Appendices or not. For 
example, some CITES Parties currently prohibit the export of all their 
native species (Australia) or require permits for the export of any of 
their native wildlife (Mexico and Brazil), even though many of the 
species are not listed in the CITES Appendices. In the United States, 
Congress has enacted several laws for the protection of native and 
foreign wildlife (including the African Elephant Conservation Act, 
Eagle Protection Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Migratory Bird 
Treat Act, Wild Bird Conservation Act, Rhinoceros and Tiger 
Conservation Act, and the Endangered Species Act), many of which impose 
stricter restrictions on trade of certain species compared to CITES. 
Thus, adoption of this rule is in no way contrary to the CITES treaty.
    Comment: Prof. King and Dr. Ross expressed concern about unilateral 
prohibition of yacare caiman imports from countries not in compliance 
with the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution based on 
``information from * * * other reliable resources'.
    Response: We agree that any decision regarding possible U.S. 
unilateral prohibition of yacare caiman imports or re-exports from 
countries not in compliance with the CITES Universal Tagging System 
Resolution should be based on the best available information. As 
recommended by Dr. Ross, we intend to consult with experts within and 
outside our agency (such as the Service's National Fish and Wildlife 
Forensics Laboratory, university and natural history museum 
researchers, and IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group), the Management and 
Scientific Authorities of other countries, and any other qualified 
persons prior to making a final determination related to the possible 
prohibition of yacare caiman imports from any country.
    Comments: Mr. Ted Joanen and Mr. Peter Brazaitis expressed concern 
about implementation of the proposed rule by the Service, particularly 
since most caiman skins imported into the United States arrive in the 
form of manufactured products, which are not marked, and, therefore, 
difficult to identify. Mr. Brazaitis also commented that Federal 
regulations do not require tamper-proof identification tags on 
crocodile skins for importation.
    Response: We consider that international illegal trade in 
crocodilian skins has been reduced significantly since the adoption of 
Resolution Conf. 9.22 (Universal Tagging System Resolution) by CITES 
Parties. Therefore, requiring that yacare caiman shipments imported 
into the United States be accompanied by proper CITES documentation, as 
described in this rule, diminishes the likelihood of importing yacare 
caiman specimens obtained in a manner detrimental to the species. 
Furthermore, by allowing U.S. commerce in yacare caiman, we eliminate 
the incentive to intentionally misidentify yacare caiman specimens for 
importation into the United States. Consequently, we will be able to 
gather more accurate trade data on the species. At this time, the CITES 
Universal Tagging System Resolution is codified in the Federal 
regulations just for Alligator mississippiensis, Crocodylus niloticus, 
and Crocodylus porosus. However, we are currently in the process of 
updating the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations to include language 
codifying the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution for all 
crocodilians (see Federal Register notice 62 FR 42093, published on 
August 5, 1997). In the meantime, the language contained in this rule 
implements the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution for shipments 
involving C. yacare, C. crocodilus fuscus, and C. c. crocodilus.

[[Page 25871]]

    Comment: The Humane Society of the United States supported the 
listing of C. crocodilus fuscus and C. c. crocodilus as threatened 
because of similarity of appearance, as well as the conditions in the 
special rule. However, Strictly Reptiles, Inc., opposed listing of C. 
c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus because of similarity of appearance, 
since it believes that C. yacare, C. c. fuscus, and C. c. crocodilus 
are easily distinguishable. Columbia Impex Corporation also commented 
that C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus are easily distinguishable once 
skins are tanned, whereas the Government of Paraguay commented that as 
long as skins are properly tagged and accompanied by CITES permits, 
there is no chance for misidentification of shipments involving C. 
yacare, C. c. fuscus, and C. c. crocodilus.
    Response: Controversy still exists as to whether C. yacare, C. c. 
fuscus and C. c. crocodilus can be distinguished using morphological 
characters. Listing of C. c. fuscus, and C. c. crocodilus because of 
similarity of appearance will bring C. yacare and all known subspecies 
of C. crocodilus under the Act (C. c. apaporiensis is already listed as 
endangered) and, therefore, will facilitate and expedite inspection of 
C. crocodilus and C. yacare shipments into the United States. Wildlife 
inspectors at the ports will no longer face the time-consuming and 
difficult task of examining individual C. crocodilus and C. yacare 
shipments to determine whether or not they involve protected species 
and/or subspecies, as all shipments involving these two taxa will be 
treated equally.
    Comment: The Government of Colombia and the Singapore Reptile Skin 
Trade Association commented that listing of C. c. fuscus and C. c. 
crocodilus will make trade in these two subspecies more difficult 
because of the need for permits and inspections. Likewise, the 
Colombian Association of Animal Ranchers (AZOOCOL) opposed listing of 
C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus because of similarity of appearance 
because they believe that such listing will punish sustainable use of 
C. crocodilus in Colombia.
    Response: As noted by the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group in their 
October 1998--December 1998 newsletter (Volume 17, Number 4, pages 15-
18), the listing of C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus as threatened by 
similarity of appearance does not add any new requirements to those 
already in place for the importation and re-exportation of skins, other 
parts, and products of these two subspecies into/from the United 
States. Since C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus are currently listed in 
Appendix II of CITES, a CITES permit issued by the exporting country is 
already required for importation of skins, parts, and products of these 
two subspecies into another country. This rule only requires that 
shipments involving skins and other parts of C. c. fuscus and C. c. 
crocodilus be tagged in accordance with the CITES Universal Tagging 
System Resolution and accompanied by valid CITES documents, as is 
currently required. Furthermore, inclusion of these two subspecies just 
codifies in the U.S. Federal regulations an existing international 
    However, this special rule does not cover the importation of viable 
caiman eggs or live caimans into the United States. In addition to a 
valid CITES export permit (already required), importation of these two 
types of specimens of C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus will require an 
Endangered Species Act import permit. This requirement will allow 
scrutiny of individual applications for importation of live caimans or 
eggs so as to prevent accidental introduction of these exotic species 
into the United States (in accordance with Executive Order 13112 on 
Invasive Species issued by President Bill Clinton on February 3, 1999), 
an event that may have negative economic and ecological impacts on 
humans, native wildlife, and ecosystems in the United States.
    Comments: Dr. John Perran Ross, the Singapore Reptile Skin Trade 
Association, and the Governments of Colombia and Singapore commented on 
the 25 percent restriction on replacement tags and opposed the measure. 
Dr. Ross and the Singapore Reptile Skin Trade Association noted that 
the special rule goes beyond CITES restrictions on replacement tags 
(Resolution Conf. 9.22), which the United States helped draft. The 
Government of Colombia considered this restriction an indication of 
mistrust of range and re-exporting countries. The Government of 
Singapore and the Singapore Reptile Skin Trade Association commented 
that, since tanneries regularly removed tags from raw skins before 
processing them, the 25 percent restriction will create problems for 
skin traders in their country. Singapore made two suggestions to 
resolve this issue: (1) shipments involving re-tagged skins must 
include all tags from the country of origin, and (2) re-exporting 
countries should fax copies of their re-export CITES permits as well as 
the CITES permits from the country of origin.
    Response: As noted above, Article XV of CITES allows for CITES 
Parties to adopt stricter domestic regulations for the protection of 
wildlife, whether the species is listed in the CITES Appendices or not. 
Therefore, adoption of this rule is not contrary to CITES. Moreover, 
this 25 percent restriction on replacement tags is consistent with the 
requirements for importation of saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus 
porosus) and Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) published in the 
Federal Register on June 24, 1996 (61 FR 32356--``Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of Saltwater Crocodile 
Population in Australia From Endangered to Threatened With Special Rule 
for the Saltwater and Nile Crocodiles'').

Summary of Factors Affecting Caiman yacare

    Section 4(a)(1) of the 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 five criteria to be used in determining whether to add, 
reclassify, or remove a species from the list of endangered and 
threatened species. These factors and their applicability to 
populations of the yacare caiman in South America are as follows:

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    Since the initial listing of the yacare caiman, controversy has 
been associated with defining the ranges of caiman species, especially 
that of C. yacare in southern South America. To assist in the 
clarification of the distribution and status of C. yacare, the CITES 
Secretariat, in conjunction with the World Conservation Union/Species 
Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), 
undertook a survey (starting in late 1986 and early 1987) to develop a 
conservation program for crocodilians of the genus Caiman. These 
surveys were conducted under the auspices of CITES and were carried out 
by the CSG and the Governments of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. We 
review the available data from these studies (Brazaitis 1989a; 
Brazaitis et al. 1990; King and Videz Roca 1989; and Scott et al. 1988 
and 1990) on the distribution, ecology, and status of C. yacare in this 
and following sections assessing factors affecting the species.
    Caiman yacare is widely distributed throughout the lowland areas 
and river systems of northeastern Argentina, southeastern and northern 
Bolivia, Paraguay, and the western regions of the

[[Page 25872]]

Brazilian States of Rondonia, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul 
(Thorbjarnarson, J. B. 1992). The range includes the entire Guapore 
River (= Itenes River) drainage, including its headwaters in the 
Brazilian State of Mato Grosso and its tributaries in northeastern 
Bolivia; eastern Bolivia and western Brazil throughout the drainage of 
the Paraguay River and the Pantanal of Brazil; Paraguay River and 
southern Pilcomayo River in Paraguay; and the lower Salado River, the 
Parana River east to the Uruguay River, and south to the mouth of the 
Parana River in Argentina (Brazaitis et al. 1993). The yacare caiman is 
found in a wide variety of habitats, including those that are altered 
by humans. The species occurs in vegetated and non-vegetated large open 
rivers, secondary rivers and streams, flooded lowlands and forests, 
roadside ditches and canals, oxbows, large and small lakes and ponds, 
cattle ponds, and streams (Brazaitis et al. 1988).
    The common caiman, Caiman crocodilus crocodilus, occurs in the 
drainage basins of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in French Guiana, 
Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela, eastern Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil 
(Thorbjarnarson 1992). A narrow zone of intergradation exists between 
C. yacare and C. c. crocodilus along the northern border of Bolivia and 
Brazil in the State of Acre in the Acre River and Abuna drainages, 
northward to approximately Humaita on the Madeira River in the 
Brazilian State of Amazonas (Brazaitis et al. 1990).
    The brown caiman, Caiman crocodilus fuscus (including C. c. 
chiapasius), occurs from Mexico through Central America to Colombia 
(west of the Andes), along the coastal and western regions of 
Venezuela, and south through Ecuador to the northwestern border of 
Peru. The CITES Secretariat and several authors consider C. c. 
chiapasius a synonym of C. c. fuscus, and we consider it so for the 
purposes of this rule.
    The expansion of cattle grazing and the concurrent construction of 
permanent water sources for cattle has increased the dry season 
freshwater habitats available to yacare caiman in some areas. However, 
cattle grazing has also diminished habitat in other areas by increasing 
the salinity of waterways (King et al. 1994). Habitat destruction and 
deterioration has taken place and continues to occur in parts of the 
species' range. Deforestation for road construction and mining not only 
destroys habitat, but also increases access of poachers to some yacare 
habitats (Brazaitis et al. 1996). Increasing human populations, 
development of hydroelectric projects, draining of wetlands, and 
deteriorating water quality due to siltation or the extensive dumping 
of pollutants (particularly as a result of mining and industry) also 
have caused habitat degradation. However, yacare caiman habitat is very 
extensive and the species is so widespread that it is very unlikely 
that the species is presently endangered or threatened because of the 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    In the past, large numbers of C. yacare were taken from South 
America, particularly from Brazil, in violation of domestic laws 
protecting the species (Brazaitis et al. 1988, Brazaitis et al. 1996). 
Although yacare caiman populations declined in many areas, the species 
still could be found in varying population densities in most areas 
where suitable habitat remained (Brazaitis et al. 1988). Yacare caiman 
found in some surveys almost a decade ago also were small, extremely 
wary, and exhibited a high male-biased sex ratio. One hypothesis 
suggested that females might be more heavily harvested at a time when 
they might be very vulnerable while protecting their nests (Brazaitis 
    In spite of substantial legal and illegal harvests in the past, 
many caiman populations have been able to survive and recover after 
being protected or properly managed (Mourao et al. 1996, Da Silveria 
and Thorbjarnarson 1999). Recent research also suggests that C. yacare 
and other species of caiman in Brazil, and most likely other parts of 
the species' range, are resilient to hunting. Recent estimates of C. 
yacare in the Brazilian Pantanal show densities as high as 147 
individuals/square kilometer, far larger than those reported for other 
crocodilians (Coutinho and Campos 1996). In Brazil, the impact of 
hunting on caiman populations is reduced by strong bias for males among 
hunted animals (Mourao et al. 1996, Da Silveria and Thorbjarnarson 
1999). In C. yacare and C. crocodilus, this bias appears to be largely 
due to the fact that hunters target mostly the largest animals, which 
are almost exclusively males. In the case of black caiman (Melanosuchus 
niger; a species listed as endangered under the Act), male-biased sex 
ratios among harvested animals appear to be caused by preference of 
adult females for more protected and difficult to reach areas. Since a 
single male can fertilize several females, this male-biased harvest is 
less likely to have a negative impact on the reproductive potential of 
caiman populations. Impact of hunting is also reduced by propensity of 
hunters to concentrate their harvest on areas that are easily 
accessible (Mourao et al. 1996).
    To ensure sustainable management of C. yacare in Brazil, the 
Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais 
Renovaveis (IBAMA--Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renewable 
Natural Resources) regulates commerce of C. yacare. To date, IBAMA has 
approved and registered 65 yacare breeding facilities, with a 
production of over 80,000 skins (communication from the Embassy of 
Brazil, Washington, DC). In recent months, IBAMA has also teamed up 
with other Brazilian Federal and State government agencies to help 
enforce Brazilian laws for the protection of wildlife, thus reducing 
illegal trade of all native wildlife in Brazil.
    The yacare caiman remains widely distributed in Bolivia 
(communications from Unidad de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente, 
Prefectura y Comandancia General del Beni, Bolivia--Natural Resources 
and Environment Unit of the Department of Beni; Museo Nacional de 
Historia Nacional, La Paz, Bolivia--National Museum of Natural History; 
Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Autonoma Gabriel Rene Moreno, 
Santa Cruz, Bolivia--Natural History Museum, Gabriel Rene Moreno 
Autonomous University; and Viceministro de Medio Ambiente, Recursos 
Naturales y Desarrollo Forestal, Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible y 
Planificacion, La Paz, Bolivia--Vice-Minister of the Environment, 
Natural Resources and Forestry Development, Ministry of Sustainable 
Development and Planning). Although caiman populations in some rivers 
were extirpated, caimans still survive in Bolivia due to abundant 
habitat and their rapid growth to sexual maturity. Where protected, 
populations have recovered, including those in the extensive wetlands 
of ``El Pantanal''. In fact, the Bolivian Red Book lists C. yacare as a 
low-risk species (communication with Dr. Mario Suarez, Director of the 
Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Autonoma Gabriel Rene Moreno, 
Santa Cruz, Bolivia--Natural History Museum, Gabriel Rene Moreno 
Autonomous University). Consequently, Bolivia has recently approved 
conservation and sustainable use plans for C. yacare in the Departments 
of Beni and Santa Cruz. Although a decade ago it was reported that the 
long-term continuation of the

[[Page 25873]]

status quo could lead to the endangerment of the species in Bolivia 
(King and Videz Roca 1989), we believe that situation has improved 
considerably, with effective management of the species by Bolivian 
    In Paraguay, King et al. (1994) reported that large populations of 
yacare could still be found in suitable habitats. Caiman yacare 
populations in Paraguay are currently being monitored annually 
(communications with Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia--Ministry of 
Agriculture and Cattle Ranching, Paraguay's CITES Authority). Recent 
surveys show that populations are either stable or increasing. Based on 
survey data, hunting quotas are established accordingly.
    The CSG did not conduct a survey and status assessment in 
Argentina. However, Argentina currently bans export of the species 
(communication with Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Desarrollo 
Sustentable--Ministry of Natural Resources and Sustainable 
    In summary, hunting for hides, both legal and illegal, has in the 
past been the major threat to the survival of populations of yacare 
caiman. However, the species has recovered in many parts of its range, 
and the four range countries either provide protection to the species 
by domestic legislation and/or regulate harvest by established hunting 
seasons and limits on the size of animals that can be legally killed 
for commercial trade. In spite of these actions, we believe sufficient 
cause exists to find, at this time, that some populations of the yacare 
caiman still may be threatened by illegal hunting for domestic trade in 
portions of its extensive range (see ``Inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms'' below).

C. Disease or Predation

    The eggs of C. yacare are eaten by a variety of predators, which in 
some localities include humans, and hatchlings are consumed by a 
variety of predators including other crocodilians. However, we have no 
evidence, at this time, that disease or predation are significant 
factors affecting C. yacare populations.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The yacare caiman is protected in Argentina by a total ban on 
commercial hunting and on the export of raw and tanned hides and other 
products. Brazil bans the export of wildlife and wildlife products from 
native species (Article 6 B of Brazilian Wildlife Law No. 5.197, of 
November 3, 1967), except from approved ranching programs. In Paraguay, 
the yacare caiman was nominally protected by a 1961 Presidential decree 
that prohibits hunting, commerce, and import and export of all native 
wildlife, their parts, and products. However, a limited harvest of 
yacare caiman is currently allowed, with quotas being determined based 
on annual surveys of the species. Bolivia permits the hunting of yacare 
from January 1 to June 30, and imposes a 1.5 m size limit on all 
harvested caiman. The yacare was additionally listed as endangered 
under the U.S. Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 and was 
added to Appendix II of CITES in 1975.
    In the past, existing legislation and decrees protecting the yacare 
caiman or regulating its harvest have been inadequately or unevenly 
enforced. Many yacare caiman were apparently illegally killed in 
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay, and their skins were 
illegally exported with real or forged CITES export permits from some 
South American countries. The CITES Secretariat, in conjunction with 
the CSG, and with the permission and cooperation of the range 
countries, conducted a series of surveys of the status of the yacare 
caiman during the 1980s and found major inadequacies associated with 
the existing regulatory mechanisms. For example, Bolivia did not 
effectively enforce either the hunting season restriction or the 
minimum size limit restrictions on harvested animals. In the mid-1980s, 
large numbers of poached yacare caiman skins were illegally exported to 
Paraguay, encouraging the transnational movement of illegal wildlife 
products through that country in violation of CITES. As a result, in 
June 1986 and to November 1987, the Bolivian Government imposed a ban 
on the export of wildlife specimens (Decreto Supremo 21312 and Decreto 
Supremo 21774, respectively) and, through the CITES Secretariat, asked 
that the Parties to the Convention no longer accept certain CITES 
export permits issued illegally by the former Bolivian Government 
(Notice of Information No. 3-50 FR 34016; Notice of Information No. 4-
50 FR 34016; Notice of Information No. 8-50 FR 50965; Notice of 
Information No. 11-51 FR 43978).
    Some countries of manufacture, knowingly or unknowingly, have also 
apparently accepted illegally killed and illegally exported yacare 
caiman, used these materials in the production of leather goods, and 
shipped the resulting finished products to the United States. Although 
a live or whole yacare caiman can be distinguished from other caiman 
species, the products from tanned or processed skins are often very 
difficult to distinguish from other caiman species. U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service Wildlife Inspectors, by clearing crocodilian products 
from these leather good manufacturing countries, could have 
inadvertently allowed the import of parts and products from illegally 
harvested yacare caiman. Such imports would constitute violations of 
the U.S. Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act, and would be 
detrimental to the conservation of the yacare caiman by not effectively 
promoting the sustainable management of the species.
    However, currently available information indicates that many of the 
irregularities have been corrected since the CITES survey in the 1980s. 
A combination of increased awareness of conservation needs, reduced 
crocodilian hide prices, increased action by government and 
international agencies, and increased difficulty in marketing illegally 
harvested crocodilian skins have relieved some of the hunting pressure 
on wild caiman populations (Scott et al. 1990, King et al. 1994).
    International illegal trade in crocodilian skins has been reduced 
significantly since the adoption by the CITES Parties of Resolution 
Conf. 9.22 (Universal Tagging System Resolution for the Identification 
of Crocodilian Skins) in November 1994. This resolution establishes an 
universal tagging system for the tracking of international trade in 
crocodilian skins, other parts, and products, which includes: (1) 
Universal tagging of raw and processed crocodilian skins with non-
reusable tags for all crocodilian skins entering international trade, 
unless they have been further processed and cut into smaller pieces; 
(2) tagging of transparent containers for crocodilian parts; (3) use of 
non-reusable tags that include as a minimum the International 
Organization for Standardization two-letter code for the country of 
origin, a unique serial identification number, a standard species code, 
and the year of production or harvest; (4) registration of such non-
reusable tags with the CITES Secretariat; (5) recording of the same 
information that appears on the tags on the export permit, re-export 
certificate, or other Convention document; and (6) implementation by 
the re-exporting countries of an administrative system that allows for 
effective matching of imports and re-exports, and ensures that the 
original tags are intact upon re-export, and, if tags are broken, the 
re-tagging of skins is performed as described in CITES Resolution Conf. 
9.22. Given that all four range countries are Parties to CITES 
(Argentina acceded

[[Page 25874]]

on April 8, 1981; Bolivia on October 4, 1979; Brazil on November 14, 
1975; Paraguay on February 13, 1977), we believe that international 
trade in yacare caiman is adequately regulated.
    To improve implementation of CITES, at the invitation of the 
Bolivian Government and with the financial support of the U.S. Agency 
for International Development's Partnership for Biodiversity, the 
Service's Office of Scientific Authority and Division of Law 
Enforcement visited Bolivia in the summer of 1998 to conduct CITES 
training. The participants included not only staff from the Bolivian 
CITES Management and Scientific Authorities, but also representatives 
from other Bolivian governmental agencies involved in the 
implementation of CITES, including the Bolivian National Police and 
Defense Ministry. During the one-week training, the Service also 
discussed with the participants how to improve collaboration between 
the United States and Bolivia in the protection and conservation of 
wildlife. The training participants also took this unique opportunity 
to develop a plan to implement and coordinate CITES as well as other 
fish and wildlife enforcement activities in Bolivia.
    Although all four range countries have taken steps to curtail 
illegal international trade in yacare caiman and other crocodilians, 
enforcement of already existing laws regulating domestic trade in 
crocodilians may still be insufficient in some areas (Brazaitis et al. 
1996, Mourao et al. 1996), due mostly to the limited resources 
available to local enforcement agencies as well as the remoteness and 
inaccessibility of many of the areas. Therefore, we believe that 
sufficient cause exists to find that the yacare caiman is presently 
threatened, but no longer endangered, in some parts of its range by the 
inadequacy of the existing regulatory mechanisms.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    A recent new possible threat to yacare caimans and their habitats 
is chemical pollution, primarily from mineral mining and industry 
(Brazaitis et al. 1996). However, short-and long-term effects of 
chemical contamination on yacare caiman populations are unknown.

Summary of Findings

    Wildlife, such as the yacare caiman, can be advantageously utilized 
in commerce if management is sufficient to maintain satisfactory 
habitats and harvest is at levels that allow maintenance of healthy and 
sustainable populations. The yacare, under such conditions, can provide 
revenue to pay for its own management.
    In developing this rule, we have carefully assessed the best 
available biological and conservation status information regarding the 
past, present, and future threats faced by the yacare caiman. The 
available data from these studies on the distribution, ecology, and 
status of C. yacare indicate that this species is not endangered or in 
danger of extinction in any significant portion of its range. The 
Service has concluded that an extensive population of yacare caiman 
still exists over large and seasonally inaccessible areas within the 
four South American range countries.
    The Service recognizes that yacare caimans near human populations 
may be illegally taken. However, the best available information 
indicates that this and many other species of crocodilians are capable 
of surviving despite unregulated harvests and that new international 
requirements are being implemented to curtail international trade in 
illegally harvested crocodile skins.
    Criteria for reclassification of a threatened or endangered 
species, found in 50 CFR part 424.11(d), include extinction, recovery 
of the species, or error in the original data for classification. The 
original listing did not encompass the survey information, such as 
Medem's 1973 work, which documented an extensive range for this 
species. Given the reproductive capabilities and current status of the 
yacare caiman, this species is more properly considered not as in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
vast range, but as threatened due to inadequately regulated domestic 
commercialization in some portions of its range. Therefore, if range 
countries continue to successfully implement measures to regulate its 
harvest and domestic commercialization, the yacare caiman should be 
able to maintain stable and sustainable population levels.

Similarity of Appearance

    In determining whether to treat a species as endangered or 
threatened due to similarity of appearance, the Director shall consider 
the criteria in section 4(e) of the Endangered Species Act. Section 
4(e) of the Act and criteria of 50 CFR 17.50 set forth three criteria 
in determining whether to list a species for reasons of similarity of 
appearance. These criteria apply to populations of common caiman (C. c. 
crocodilus) in South America and the brown caiman (C. c. fuscus) in 
Mexico and Central and South America.
    The Service has intercepted numerous shipments of manufactured 
items with documents identifying them as a lawfully tradeable Appendix 
II species (most often C. c. crocodilus and C. c. fuscus) and have 
determined that they are, in fact, made from yacare caiman. In other 
instances, products from other endangered species, such as Melanosuchus 
niger, have been declared as C. c. fuscus. One reason for this 
situation is that many vendors, buyers, and traders in South and 
Central America have deliberately misidentified yacare caiman by 
obtaining documents purporting to permit export of other Appendix II 
species. In addition, representatives of the manufacturing industry and 
others have indicated that a common practice in the trade is to 
commingle skins at the tanning, cutting, and assembly stages of the 
manufacturing process so that inadvertent commingling frequently 
occurs. While some affirmative yacare caiman identifications can be 
made in manufactured products, in numerous instances, proper 
identifications are not made and significant quantities of yacare 
caiman are probably being imported unlawfully. This situation occurs 
because a positive identification of yacare caiman depends upon whether 
certain indicator patterns are present on a piece of skin. However, a 
large proportion of commercially useful pieces of skins do not bear 
these identification patterns.
    In his comments submitted in response to the October 29, 1990, 
Federal Register notice, Mr. Peter Brazaitis provided extensive 
information on the similarity of appearance among six caiman and 
crocodilian species or subspecies as they occur in manufactured 
products and some hides. He discussed in detail the indicator 
characteristics for C. yacare, C. c. crocodilus, C. c. fuscus, C. c. 
apaporiensis, C. latirostris, and M. niger for live animals, whole 
skins, and untanned skins that remain after tanning and cutting, and 
how frequently similar characteristics found on pieces of skin prevent 
positive identification.
    The three criteria for listing of other caiman by similarity of 
appearance are discussed below:
    (1) The degree of difficulty enforcement personnel would have in 
distinguishing the species, at the point in question, from an 
endangered or threatened species (including those cases where the 
criteria for recognition of a species are based on geographical 
    Caiman yacare, C. c. crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus are 
distinguishable as live animals because of different markings

[[Page 25875]]

and coloration in the head region. However, manufactured products 
(shoes, purses, belts, or watchbands, etc.) are extremely difficult 
even for an expert to identify as to the species of origin (Brazaitis 
1989b). Products from the three crocodilians often cannot readily be 
distinguished by law enforcement personnel, which means that under 
present conditions mixed products from U.S. listed and unlisted species 
may occur in U.S. commerce.
    (2) The additional threat posed to the endangered or threatened 
species by loss of control occasioned because of the similarity of 
    The inability to adequately control commerce in caiman products has 
likely allowed losses to occur to other endangered species such as C. 
latirostris and M. niger. For example, the Service has records of 
leather goods manufactured from M. niger being included in product 
shipments declared as C. c. fuscus.
    Another problem occurs when unlawfully harvested yacare caiman 
skins enter commerce in non-range South American countries and then are 
re-exported with documents describing the export as native caiman. The 
Service has intercepted a number of shipments of yacare caiman from 
Colombia despite domestic laws that permit only the export of caimans 
from captive breeding programs, and despite the fact that the yacare 
caiman does not occur naturally in Colombia.
    This rule allows for cessation of commercial trade to the United 
States if CITES bans are imposed for failure to implement appropriate 
trade control measures, including the use of non-reusable tags for 
species identification. A secondary effect of this rule may be to 
enhance the management of C. yacare, C. c. crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus 
to facilitate commerce in products of caiman species that can tolerate 
a managed commercial harvest, and to more effectively protect the 
endangered species of caiman or of other taxa that cannot sustain a 
managed commercial harvest.
    (3) The probability that so designating a similar species will 
substantially facilitate enforcement and further the purposes and 
policy of the Act.
    The Division of Law Enforcement presently inspects caiman shipments 
to determine the validity of the proffered Appendix II CITES documents 
and consults herpetologists to evaluate specimens when warranted. Due 
to the problems of commingling and identification, a substantial number 
of seizures, forfeitures, and penalty assessments have been contested. 
Judicial decisions have affirmed the validity of the Service's 
identifications, but the expenditure of funds and resources is 
disproportionate to that devoted to other species. An earlier judicial 
forfeiture action was concluded after 6 years, a full trial, and the 
employment, by both parties, of several expert witnesses. One of the 
purposes of this similarity-or-appearance listing is to shift the 
inquiry from one of evaluating a particular shipment to one of 
supporting the effectiveness of the CITES crocodilian skin control 
system as well as the effectiveness of yacare caiman management 
programs in countries of origin and re-export, thereby enhancing the 
management of the species while permitting other allocations of 
enforcement resources.
    The improved management of trade should enhance the conservation 
status of each species, and this listing action and special rule should 
assist CITES Parties to control the illegal trade in caiman skins, 
products, and parts.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition of conservation status, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies and 
groups, and individuals.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
their actions that are to be conducted within the United States or on 
the high seas, with respect to any species that is proposed to be 
listed or is listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its 
proposed or designated critical habitat, if any is being designated. 
However, given that C. yacare is not native to the United States, no 
critical habitat is being proposed for designation with this rule.
    Currently, with respect to C. yacare, no Federal activities, other 
than the issuance of CITES export permits, are known that would require 
conferral or consultation. According to the CITES treaty, Appendix-II 
species need only a CITES export permit issued by the exporting country 
for their importation into another country. However, because of its 
listing as endangered under the Act, the importation and exportation of 
specimens from C. yacare presently require an Endangered Species Act 
permit issued by the Office of Management Authority. Consequently, a 
consultation with our Office of Scientific Authority is currently 
required before our Office of Management Authority can issue any import 
or export permit for C. yacare.
    The listing of C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus as threatened by 
similarity of appearance does not add any new requirements to those 
already in place for the importation or re-exportation of skins, other 
parts, and products of these two subspecies into/from the United 
States. This rule just requires that shipments involving skins and 
other parts of C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus be tagged in 
accordance with the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution and 
accompanied by valid CITES export documents, as is currently required. 
No U.S. import permits will be required for these specimens. However, 
this special rule does not cover the importation of viable caiman eggs 
or live caimans into the United States. In addition to a valid CITES 
export permit (already required), importation of viable eggs or live 
specimens of C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus will require an 
Endangered Species Act import permit.
    Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited 
financial assistance for the development and management of programs 
that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful 
for the conservation of endangered species in foreign countries. 
Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to encourage 
conservation programs for foreign endangered species, and to provide 
assistance for such programs, in the form of personnel and the training 
of personnel.
    Sections 4(d) and 9 of the Act, and implementing regulations found 
at 50 CFR part 17.31, (which incorporate certain provisions of 50 CFR 
part 17.21), set forth a series of prohibitions and exceptions that 
generally apply to all threatened wildlife. These prohibitions, in 
part, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the 
United States to take (within U.S. territory or on the high seas), 
import or export, ship in interstate commerce in the course of a 
commercial activity, or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign 
commerce any listed species. It also is illegal to possess, sell, 
deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been 
taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees or agents of the 
Service, other Federal land management agencies, the National Marine 
Fisheries Service, and State conservation agencies (50 CFR part 
17.21(c)(3) and part 17.31(b)).
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving threatened wildlife species under certain circumstances. 
Regulations governing permits are

[[Page 25876]]

codified at 50 CFR part 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a 
permit may be issued for the following purposes: Scientific research, 
enhancement of propagation or survival, zoological exhibition or 
education, incidental taking, or special purposes consistent with the 
Act. All such permits must also be consistent with the purposes and 
policy of the Act as required by section 10(d). Such a permit will be 
governed by the provisions of Sec. 17.32 unless a special rule 
applicable to the wildlife (appearing in Sec. 17.40 to Sec. 17.48) 
provides otherwise.
    Threatened species are generally covered by all prohibitions 
applicable to endangered species, under section 4(d) of the Act. The 
Secretary, however, may propose special rules if deemed necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. The special 
rule described here for Sec. 17.42 allows commercial importation and 
re-exportation into/from the United States of certain farm-reared, 
ranch-reared, and wild-collected specimens of threatened caiman 
species, which are listed in CITES Appendix II. Importation could be 
restricted from a particular country of origin or re-export if that 
country is not complying with the CITES Universal Tagging System 
Resolution, or if that country has been identified as a subject to a 
recommended suspension of trade by the CITES Standing Committee or at a 
CITES Conference of the Parties. Interstate commerce within the United 
States and re-export of C. yacare, C. c. crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus 
parts will not require additional U.S. threatened species permits.

Effects of This Rule

    This rule revises Sec. 17.11(h) to reclassify the C. yacare from 
endangered to threatened to reflect more accurately the present status 
of this species. The Apaporis River caiman (C. c. apaporiensis), the 
black caiman (M. niger), and the broad-snouted caiman (C. latirostris) 
retain their endangered status under the Act. Crocodylus crocodylus 
crocodilus and C. c. fuscus (including C. c. chiapasius) are listed as 
threatened by reason of similarity in appearance. /-

Description of the Special Rule

    Currently, listing of C. yacare in Appendix II of CITES allows 
commercial trade in the species. This special rule allows commercial 
importation and re-exportation into/from the United States of C. yacare 
skins, other parts, and products originating from countries effectively 
implementing the crocodilian CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution, 
and only from countries that have not been identified by the CITES 
Parties for inadequate implementation of CITES. The intent of this 
special rule is to enhance the conservation of the yacare caiman and 
the other endangered and threatened caiman populations by supporting 
those countries properly managing their caiman populations through the 
opening of commercial markets in the United States.
    The degree of endangerment of crocodilian species varies by species 
and specific populations. Some caiman species are listed on Appendix I 
of CITES. Such listing prohibits international trade in the species if 
such activity is conducted for primarily commercial purposes and/or 
determined to be detrimental to the survival of the species. The 
remaining species and populations of caiman are included in Appendix 
II, thereby allowing commercial trade if certain scientific and 
management findings are made. Some caiman species are also listed as 
endangered in the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, 
while other species are not included. In addition to the United States, 
several countries have taken domestic actions to protect wild caiman 
populations, but allow trade in specimens bred or raised in captivity 
under appropriate management programs.
    We agree that yacare caiman populations in some range countries are 
being sufficiently managed through ranching or captive breeding 
programs to support controlled commercial use. However, the Service is 
concerned about: (1) The illegal harvest and inadequate trade controls 
for caiman species in Appendix II of CITES; (2) the commingling and 
misidentification of legal and illegal skins in intermediary trading, 
processing, and manufacturing countries; and (3) the sustainable 
management of the yacare caiman in those countries allowing a legal 
harvest of wild specimens.
    The CITES Parties adopted at the 1994 Fort Lauderdale meeting 
(COP9) and are currently implementing proisions of the Universal 
Tagging System Resolution for crocodilian skins (Resolution Conf. 
9.22). The Service supports these efforts, including the most recent 
clarifications of the resolution resulting from the Animals Committee 
meeting held in September 1996. At the CITES meeting of the Conference 
of the Parties in Zimbabwe in 1997, the CITES Secretariat reported 
that, to its knowledge, all range countries were effectively 
implementing the Universal Tagging System Resolution. Adherence to the 
CITES tagging requirements has reduced the potential for substitution 
of illegal skins and reduced the trade control problems with the 
similarity of appearance of skins and products among different species 
of crocodilians.
    In addition to the measures established by CITES in the Universal 
Tagging System Resolution, this special rule contains other steps 
designed to restrict or prohibit trade from countries that are not 
effectively implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution 
and, thus, to ensure that the United States does not become a market 
for illegal trade in crocodilian species and to encourage other nations 
to control illegal trade.

Effects of the Special Rule

    Consistent with the requirements of sections 3(3) and 4(d) of the 
Act, this rule also contains a special rule that amends 50 CFR 17.42 to 
allow commercial importation and re-exportation, under certain 
conditions, of whole and partial skins, other parts, and finished 
products from yacare caiman without a threatened species import permit 
otherwise required by 50 CFR part 17, if all requirements of the 
special rule and 50 CFR parts 13 (General Permits Procedures), 14 
(Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife), and 23 
(Endangered Species Convention--CITES) are met.
    The reclassification of C. yacare to ``threatened'' and the 
accompanying special rule allowing commercial trade into the United 
States without endangered species import permits does not end 
protection for this species, which remains on Appendix II of CITES. To 
the contrary, the special rule complements the CITES Universal Tagging 
System Resolution for crocodilian skins by allowing imports and re-
exports only from those range countries properly managing this species 
and controlling exports, and only from those intermediary countries 
properly implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution. 
Thus, this special rule simply reconciles ESA requirements for the 
importation and exportation of C. yacare shipments into and from the 
United States with CITES ones.
    The listing of C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus as threatened by 
similarity of appearance, and the accompanying special rule allowing 
commercial trade into the United States, also will have no effect on 
the issuance of permits for the commercial importation and exportation 
of skins, other parts, and products of these two caiman subspecies into 
and from the United States. Since C. c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus are 
currently listed in Appendix II of CITES, a CITES permit issued by the 
exporting or re-

[[Page 25877]]

exporting country is already required for importation of shipments of 
these two subspecies into another country. This rule requires only that 
shipments involving skins and other parts of C. c. fuscus and C. c. 
crocodilus be tagged in accordance with the CITES Universal Tagging 
System Resolution and accompanied by valid CITES export documents, as 
is currently done. No U.S. import permits are required for these 
specimens. However, in the case of viable eggs or live specimens of C. 
c. fuscus and C. c. crocodilus into the United States, an Endangered 
Species Act import permit will be required in addition to the already 
required CITES export permit.
    In summary, this special rule prohibits the importation and re-
exportation of specimens (skins, other parts, or products) of C. 
caiman, C. c. crocodilus, and C. c. fuscus originating from any country 
(range country or a country of manufacture or re-export) that: (1) Is 
not effectively implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System 
Resolution including (but not limited to) the use of properly marked 
tamper-proof tags on all skins, the package of other crocodile parts in 
transparent sealed containers clearly marked with parts tags, the 
recording of the same information on the tags on the CITES documents, 
and maintenance of records accounting for transactions of skins, parts, 
and products; or (2) has failed to designate a Management Authority or 
Scientific Authority; or (3) have been identified by the Conference of 
the Parties to the Convention, the Convention's Standing Committee, or 
in a Notification from the Secretariat as a country from which Parties 
should not accept permits.
    In a limited number of situations where the original tags from the 
country of export have been lost in processing the skins, we will allow 
whole skins, flanks, and chalecos into the United States if CITES-
approved re-export tags have been attached in the same manner as the 
original tags and proper re-export certificates accompany the shipment. 
If a shipment contains more than 25 percent replacement tags, the re-
exporting country must consult with the U.S. Office of Management 
Authority prior to clearance of the shipment, and such shipments may be 
seized, if the Service cannot determine that the requirements of the 
CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution have been observed.
    In the case where tagged caiman skins are exported to another 
country for manufacturing purposes, and the finished products are re-
exported to the United States, then neither the country of origin nor 
the country of re-export can be subject to a Notice of Information 
based on the criteria described in the special rule if imports are to 
be allowed. The Service will initially presume that intermediary 
countries are effectively implementing the CITES Universal Tagging 
System Resolution, but the special rule has provisions to impose bans 
if persuasive evidence to the contrary is presented.
    Our Office of Management Authority will provide on request the list 
of those countries subject to a Schedule III Notice of Information to 
manufacturers in the country of re-export and to importers so that they 
may be advised of restrictions on caiman skins, products, and parts 
that can be utilized in products intended for U.S. commerce. The 
Management Authority of the country of manufacture should ensure that 
re-export certificates provided for manufactured goods intended for the 
United States are not for products and re-exports derived from 
countries subject to a Schedule III Notice of Information. In 
compliance with these rules, commerce in finished products from a re-
export country would be allowed only with the required CITES 
documentation and without an endangered or threatened species permit 
for individual shipments otherwise required under 50 CFR part 17.
    Finally, this special rule does not cover the importation of viable 
caiman eggs or live caimans into the United States. Importation of 
these two types of specimens will require an Endangered Species Act 
import permit and the appropriate CITES permit. This requirement will 
allow scrutiny of individual applications for importation of live 
caimans or eggs so as to prevent accidental introduction of these 
exotic species into the United States, which may have detrimental 
effects on U.S. native wildlife or ecosystems. Re-exportation from the 
United States of caiman skins, other parts, and products will continue 
to require CITES documents. Interstate commerce within the United 
States in legally imported caiman skins, other parts, and products will 
not require U.S. threatened species permits.
    This special rule allows trade through intermediary countries. 
Countries are not considered as intermediary countries or countries of 
re-export if the specimens remain in Customs control while transiting 
or being transshipped through the country and provided those specimens 
have not entered into the commerce of that country. However, the CITES 
Universal Tagging System Resolution presupposes that countries of re-
export have implemented a system for monitoring skins.
    We wrote this special rule to allow the Service to respond quickly 
to changing situations that may result in lessened protection to 
crocodilians. The criteria described in the special rule establish 
specific, non-discretionary bases for determining whether CITES 
provisions are being effectively implemented. Therefore, by the 
publication of such notice in the Federal Register, we can deny 
approval of permits, and imports into the United States can be 
prohibited from any country that fails to comply with the requirements 
of the special rule.
    In a separate rule-making proposal, amending 50 CFR part 23, the 
Service will propose implementation of the CITES Universal Tagging 
System Resolution for all crocodilians. That rulemaking will adopt 
CITES tags as the required tag for all crocodilian skins, including 
caiman chalecos and flanks, being imported into or exported from any 
country if the skin is eventually imported into the United States. For 
the reasons noted above, the Service finds that the special rule for 
caiman species, including the yacare caiman, includes all of the 
protection that is necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of such species.

The Monitoring of Yacare Caiman

    Requirements of the Act for the monitoring of species also apply to 
foreign species (see final rule ``Endangered and Threatened Wildlife 
and Plants; Removal of Three Kangaroos From the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife'' published in the Federal Register on March 9, 
1995; 60 FR 12887). Monitoring programs are conducted to ensure that 
species continue to fare well after delisting or downlisting occurs. 
These monitoring programs frequently include population and species 
distribution surveys, assessment of the condition of important habitats 
for the species, and assessment of threats identified as relevant to 
the species.
    The Service depends primarily on range countries to monitor C. 
yacare. To monitor the status of C. yacare, we will request the 
governments of the range countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Bolivia) wishing to export specimens of C. yacare to the United States 
for commercial purposes to provide us every two years, for the 
following 10 years, with the most recent information available on the 
status of the species, gathered by the respective range countries to 
fulfill their CITES scientific and management requirements. The first 
submission of

[[Page 25878]]

status information is due on December 31, 2001. All information 
provided by the range countries will be available for public review.
    For each country, the following information should be provided on 
the status of C. yacare:
    (1) Recent distribution and population data, and a description of 
the methodology used to obtain such estimates;
    (2) Description of research projects currently being conducted 
related to the biology of the above species in the wild, particularly 
their reproductive biology (for example, age or size when animals 
become sexually mature, number of clutches per season, number of eggs 
per clutch, survival of eggs, survival of hatchlings);
    (3) Description of laws and programs regulating harvest of the 
above species, including approximate acreage of land set aside as 
natural reserves or national parks that provide protected habitat for 
the above species;
    (4) Description of current sustainable harvest programs for the 
above species, including ranching (i.e., captive-rearing of crocodiles 
collected from the wild as eggs or juveniles) and farming (captive-
breeding of animals) programs;
    (5) Current harvest quotas for wild populations; and
    (6) Export data for the last 10 years (preferably organized 
according to origin of animals: wild-caught, captive-reared, and 

Regulatory Planning and Review

    This rule is not subject to review by the Office of Management and 
Budget under Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of the Interior certifies that the special rule in 
Sec. 17.42(g) will not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities, as defined under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) Most or all of the potential 
applicants who might take advantage of the procedures implemented 
through this special rule are individuals or small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The special rule in Sec. 17.42(g) does not impose an unfunded 
mandate on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector of 
more than $100 million a year.


    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the special rule in 
Sec. 17.42(g) does not have significant takings implications.


    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the special rule in 
Sec. 17.42(g) does not have significant Federalism effects to warrant 
the preparation of a Federalism assessment.

Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the 
Solicitor has determined that this special rule in Sec. 17.42(g) does 
not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The special rule in Sec. 17.42(g) does require an information 
collection from 10 or more parties and, therefore, a submission under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act is required. The Office of Management and 
Budget approved the information collection requirements contained in 
this special rule under the Paperwork Reduction Act and assigned 
clearance number 1018-0093 as part of the permit requirements contained 
in Part 23 of Title 50.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Service has determined that Environmental Assessments and 
Environmental Impact Statements, 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 Act 
of 1973, as amended. A notice outlining the Service's reasons for this 
determination was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 
(48 FR 49244).

References Cited

Amato, G. D. 1992. Expert Report. Yale University, New Haven, CT. 6 
pp. Unpublished report.
Brazaitis, P. 1989a. The caiman of the Pantanal: Past, present, and 
future, pp. 119-124, in Crocodiles. Proceedings of the 8th Working 
Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 
204 pp.
Brazaitis, P. 1989b. The forensic identification of crocodilian 
hides and products, pp. 17-43, in Crocodiles: Their ecology, 
management and conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
Brazaitis, P., C. Yamashita, and G. Rebelo. 1988. CITES central 
South American caiman study: Phase I-central and southern Brazil. 62 
Brazaitis, P., C. Yamashita, and G. Rebelo. 1990. A summary report 
of the CITES central South American caiman study: Phase I: Brazil, 
pp. 100-115, in Crocodiles. Proceedings of the 9th Working Meeting 
of the Crocodile Specialist Group. Vol. I. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 
300 pp.
Brazaitis, P., G. Amato, G. Rebelo, C. Yamashita, and J. Gatesy. 
1993. Report to CITES on the biochemical systematics study of Yacare 
caiman, Caiman yacare, of central South America. Unpublished report. 
43 pp.
Brazaitis, P., R. Madden, G. Amato, and M. Watanabe. 1997a. The 
South American and Central American caiman (Caiman) complex. 
Systematics of the Caiman: Results of morphological, statistical, 
molecular genetics, and species discrimination studies. Special 
report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 62 pp. Unpublished.
Brazaitis, P., R. Madden, G. Amato, and M. Watanabe. 1997b. 
Morphological characteristics, statistics, and DNA evidence used to 
identify closely related crocodilian species for wildlife law 
enforcement. Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic 
Sciences. Annual Meeting, New York City, February 17-22, 1997. D28: 
92-93. Published abstract.
Brazaitis, P., G. H. Rebelo, C. Yamashita, E. A. Odierna, and M. E. 
Watanabe. 1996. Threats to Brazilian crocodilian populations. Oryx, 
Busack, S. D., and S. S. Pandya. 1996. Presented at 76th annual 
meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and 
Herpetologists. New Orleans, LA. Abstract.
Coutinho, M., and Z. Campos. 1996. Effect of habitat and seasonality 
on the densities of caiman in southern Pantanal, Brazil. Journal of 
Tropical Ecology, 12:741-747.
Da Silveria, R., and J. B. Thorbjarnarson. 1999. Conservation 
implications of commercial hunting of black and spectacled caiman in 
the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve, Brazil.
Fitch, H., and M. Nadeau. 1979. An assessment of Caiman latirostris 
and Caiman crocodilus yacare in northern Argentina. Unpublished 
progress report to World Wildlife Fund--U.S., U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, and New York Zoological Society. 7 pp.
Groombridge, B. 1982. The IUCN Amphibia-Reptilia red data book. Part 
I: Testudines, Crocodylia, Rhynchocephalia. IUCN, Gland, 
Switzerland. 426 pp.
King, F. W., and Burke, R. L. 1989. Crocodilian, tuatara, and turtle 
species of the world: A taxonomic and geographic reference. 
Association of Systematic Collections, Washington, D.C.
King, F. W., and D. H. Videz-Roca. 1989. The caimans of Bolivia: A 
preliminary report on a CITES and Centro Desarrollo Forestal 
sponsored survey of species distribution and status, pp. 128-155, in 
Crocodiles. Proceedings of the 8th Working Meeting of the Crocodile 
Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 204 pp.
King, F. W., A. L. Aquino, N. J. Scott, Jr., and R. Palacios. 1994. 
Status of the crocodiles of Paraguay: Results of the 1993 monitoring 
surveys. Report from Biodiversity Services, Inc., to Paraguay's 
Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia and the Secretariat of the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild 
Fauna and Flora (CITES). 39 pp.
Mourao, G., Z. Campos, and M. Coutinho. 1996. Size structure of 
illegally harvested

[[Page 25879]]

and surviving caiman Caiman crocodilus yacare in Pantanal, Brazil. 
Biological Conservation, 75:261-265.
Scott, N. J., A. L. Aquino, and L. A. Fitzgerald. 1988. 
Distribution, habitats, and conservation of the caiman 
(Alligatoridae) of Paraguay. Unpublished report to the CITES 
Secretariat, Lausanne, Switzerland. 30 pp.
Scott, N. J., A. L. Aquino, and L. A. Fitzgerald. 1990. 
Distribution, habitats and conservation of the caimans 
(Alligatoridae) of Paraguay. Vida Silvestre Neotropical, 43-51.
Thorbjarnarson, J. B. 1992. Crocodiles: An action plan for their 
conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 136 pp.
Thorbjarnarson, J. B. 1994. Reproductive ecology of the spectacled 
caiman (Caiman crocodilus) in the Venezuelan Llanos. Copeia, 


    The primary author of this rule is Dr. Javier Alvarez, Office of 
Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC 
20240 (703-358-1708 or FTS 921-1708).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulations Promulgation

    Accordingly, the Service hereby amends part 17, subchapter B of 
chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth 


    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. Amend Sec. 17.11(h) by revising the current entry for the yacare 
caiman and by adding entries for the brown and the common caimans in 
alphabetic order under ``Reptiles'' on the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife to read as follows:

Sec. 17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

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

                 *                  *                   *                   *                  *                   *                   *

                 *                  *                   *                   *                  *                   *                   *
    Caiman, brown...................  Caiman crocodilus        Mexico, Central America,           Entire  T(S/A)                695        NA   17.42(g)
                                       fuscus (includes         Colombia, Ecuador,
                                       Caiman crocodilus        Venezula, Peru.
    Caiman, common..................  Caiman crocodilus        Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador          Entire  T(S/A)                695        NA   17.42(g)
                                       crocodilus.              French Guiana, Guyana,
                                                                Surinam, Venezuela,
                                                                Bolivia, Peru.
    Caiman, yacare..................  Caiman yacare..........  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,        Entire  T                   3,695       N/A   17.42(g)

                 *                  *                   *                   *                  *                   *                   *

    3. Section 17.42 is amended by adding a new paragraph (g) as 

Sec. 17.42  Special rules--reptiles.

* * * * *
    (g) Threatened caiman. This paragraph applies to the following 
species: Yacare caiman (Caiman yacare), the common caiman (Caiman 
crocodilus crocodilus), and the brown caiman (Caiman crocodilus fuscus 
including Caiman crocodilus chiapasius). These taxa will be 
collectively referred to as ``caiman.''
    (1) What are the definitions of terms used in this paragraph (g)? 
(i) Caiman skins means whole or partial skins, flanks, chalecos, and 
bellies (whether these are salted, crusted, tanned, partially tanned, 
or otherwise processed).
    (ii) Caiman parts means body parts with or without skin attached 
(including tails, throats, feet, and other parts, but excluding meat 
and skulls) and small cut skins pieces.
    (iii) Caiman product means any processed or manufactured product 
items (including curios and souvenirs) that are ready for retail sale, 
and composed, totally or in part, of yacare caiman, brown caiman, or 
common caiman.
    (iv) Country of re-export means those intermediary countries that 
import and re-export caiman skins, parts, and/or products. However, we 
will not consider intermediary countries those through which caiman 
skins, parts, and/or products are shipped while remaining under Customs 
    (v) Universal Tagging System Resolution means the CITES (Convention 
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 
resolution entitled ``Universal Tagging System for the Identification 
of Crocodilian Skins'' and numbered Conf. 9.22, and any subsequent 
    (2) What activities involving yacare caiman (Caiman yacare), the 
common caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus), and the brown caiman 
(Caiman crocodilus fuscus) are prohibited by this rule? (i) Import, 
export, and re-export. Except for the activities described in paragraph 
(g)(3) of this section, it is unlawful to import, export, re-export, or 
present for export or re-export without valid permits (as required 
under 50 CFR parts 17 and 23) any caiman or their skins, other parts or 

[[Page 25880]]

    (ii) Commercial activity. Except as described in paragraph (g)(3) 
of this section, it is unlawful to sell or offer for sale, deliver, 
receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce 
any caiman or their skins, other parts, or products.
    (iii) It is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of 
the United States to commit, attempt to commit, solicit to commit, or 
cause to be committed any acts described in paragraphs (g)(2) (i) and 
(ii) of this section.
    (3) What activities involving yacare caiman (Caiman yacare), the 
common caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus), and the brown caiman 
(Caiman crocodilus fuscus) are allowed by this rule? The import/export/
re-export of, or the interstate/foreign commerce in caiman skins, other 
parts, or products may be allowed without a threatened species permit 
(issued according to 50 CFR 17.32) only when the provisions in 50 CFR 
parts 13, 14, and 23, and the requirements of the applicable paragraphs 
below have been met.
    (i) Import, export, or re-export. The import, export, or re-export 
into/from the United States of caiman skins, parts, or products may be 
allowed provided the following conditions are met:
    (A) Each caiman skin imported into or exported or re-exported from 
the United States after the effective date of the final rule must bear 
    (1) An intact, uncut tag from the country of origin meeting all the 
requirements of the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution, or
    (2) An intact, uncut replacement tag from the country of re-export 
where the original tags were lost or removed from raw, tanned, and/or 
processed skins. These replacement tags must meet all the requirements 
of the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution, except showing the 
country of re-export instead of the country of origin, provided those 
re-exporting countries have implemented an administrative system for 
the effective matching of imports and re-exports consistent with the 
CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution. If a shipment contains more 
than 25 percent replacement tags, the Management Authority of the re-
exporting country must consult with the U.S. Office of Management 
Authority before clearance of the shipment. Such shipments may be 
seized if we determine that the requirements of the CITES Universal 
Tagging System Resolution have not been met.
    (B) In accordance with the CITES Universal Tagging System 
Resolution, all caiman parts must be placed in a transparent, sealed 
container. Each container imported, exported, or re-exported into/from 
the United States after the effective date of the rule:
    (1) Must have a parts tag attached in such a way that opening of 
the container will prevent later reuse of such tag; and
    (2) The parts tag must contain a description of the contents plus 
total weight of the container and its contents.
    (C) The information on the export permit or re-export certificate 
must be the same as that on the skin and part tags, carry the same 
permit or certificate number, and be validated by the government 
authority designated as the CITES document-issuing authority.
    (D) The CITES permit or certificate accompanying shipments of 
caiman skins, parts, or products must contain the following 
    (1) The country of origin, its export permit number, and date of 
    (2) If re-export, the country of re-export, its certificate number, 
and date of issuance; and
    (3) If applicable, the country of previous re-export, its 
certificate number, and date of issuance.
    (E) The country of origin and any intermediary country(s) must be 
effectively implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution. 
If we receive persuasive information from the CITES Secretariat or 
other reliable sources that a specific country is not effectively 
implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution, we will 
prohibit or restrict imports from such country(s) as appropriate for 
the conservation of the species.
    (F) At the time of import, for each shipment covered by this 
exception, the country of origin and each country of re-export involved 
in the trade of a particular shipment must not be subject to a Schedule 
III Notice of Information (see paragraph (g)(4) of this section) 
prohibiting or restricting imports of all wildlife or any members of 
the Order Crocodylia. A listing of all countries subject to such a 
Schedule III Notice of Information is available by writing to: Office 
of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mail Stop 
ARLSQ-700, Washington, DC 20240, or via e-mail at r9oma@fws.gov.
    (ii) Shipment of skulls, processed meat, and scientific specimens. 
The import, export, and re-export into/from the United States of 
skulls, processed meat, and scientific specimens of caiman is allowed 
without permits otherwise required by 50 CFR part 17, provided the 
requirements of part 23 are met.
    (iii) Noncommercial accompanying baggage. The conditions described 
in paragraphs (g)(3)(i) and (ii) for skins, skulls, meat, other parts, 
and products made of specimens of caiman do not apply to non-commercial 
personal effects in accompanying baggage or household effects.
    (iv) Eggs and live specimens. This special rule does not apply to 
live specimens or eggs of caiman. Import of such specimens requires an 
import permit as described in 50 CFR 17.32.
    (4) When and how will we inform you of additional restrictions in 
trade of yacare caiman (Caiman yacare), the common caiman (Caiman 
crocodilus crocodilus), and the brown caiman (Caiman crocodilus 
fuscus)? Except in rare cases involving extenuating circumstances that 
do not adversely affect the conservation of the species, the Service 
will issue a Notice of Information announcing additional CITES 
restrictions in trade in specimens of caiman dealt with in this 
paragraph (g) if any of the following criteria are met:
    (i) The country is listed in a Notification to the Parties by the 
CITES Secretariat as not having designated Management and Scientific 
Authorities that issue CITES documents or their equivalent.
    (ii) The country is identified in any action adopted by the 
Conference of the Parties to the Convention, the Convention's Standing 
Committee, or in a Notification issued by the CITES Secretariat, 
whereby Parties are asked not to accept shipments of specimens of any 
CITES-listed species from the country in question or of any crocodilian 
species listed in the CITES appendices.
    (iii) We determine, based on information from the CITES Secretariat 
or other reliable sources, that the country is not effectively 
implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution.
    (5) What are the approved information collection requirements in 
this rule? The Office of Management and Budget approved the information 
collection requirements contained in this special rule under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act and assigned clearance number 1018-0093 as part 
of the permit requirements contained in Part 23 of Title 50. We may not 
conduct or sponsor, and you are not required to respond to, a 
collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB 
control number. The collection of information under this rule is done 
to provide information necessary to evaluate permit applications. We 
will use this information to review permit applications and make 
decisions, according to criteria established in various Federal 
wildlife conservation statutes and regulations, on the

[[Page 25881]]

issuance, suspension, revocation, or denial of permits. You must 
respond to obtain or retain a permit. We estimate the public reporting 
burden for these reporting requirements to vary from 20 minutes to 2 
hours per response, with an average of 1 hour per response, including 
time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining data, and 
completing and reviewing the forms.

    Dated: April 7, 2000.
Stephen C. Saunders,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 00-11055 Filed 5-3-00; 8:45 am]