[Federal Register: December 19, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 244)]
[Page 65508-65509]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered Species Permit Issuance

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of emergency exemption issuance.


SUMMARY: The following applicant has been issued a scientific research 
permit to conduct certain activities with an endangered species 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Linda Belluomini, Permits Biologist at 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Washington Department of Fish and 
Wildlife has been authorized via permit number TE-050644, by the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region to capture individuals from 
the Columbia Basin distinct population segment (DPS) of the pygmy 
rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) for a captive propagation program. We 
issued this permit for the purpose of enhancing the propagation and 
survival of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit. The 30-day public comment 
period required by the Endangered Species Act (Act) was waived in 
accordance with section 10(c) of the Act upon a determination that an 
emergency affecting the health and life of specimens of Columbia Basin 
pygmy rabbits exists, and that no reasonable alternative is available 
to the applicant.
    The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit DPS has undergone dramatic annual 
declines since 1998, and the entire wild portion of this population now 
consists of fewer than 50 individuals from just 1 known colony on State 
land in Douglas County, Washington. As part of a captive breeding 
program, initiated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(WDFW) during the spring of 2001, an additional 14 individuals from 
this population are being held in

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captivity, including 5 offspring born at the holding facility. The WDFW 
has scheduled additional capture operations over the next 30 days in 
order to secure more animals for the captive breeding program. The 
intent is to capture additional animals from the wild that will 
complement the genetic profiles and potential breeding scenarios of 
those already in captivity. Any pygmy rabbits that are not considered 
essential to the captive breeding program will be left in the wild, and 
ongoing management to protect this portion of the population will 
    Delay in the WDFW's planned activities due to the 30-day public 
comment period could jeopardize the success of the captive breeding 
program and, ultimately, the long-term security of the Columbia Basin 
pygmy rabbit. Individuals within the wild portion of this population 
may experience significant mortality due to increased susceptibility to 
predation and inclement weather with the onset of winter, and 
additional animals may not be available for capture later in the 
season. Even if this population does not undergo further decline this 
winter, any wild individuals will likely have weakened body conditions 
and be more susceptible to capture-related stress and mortality if 
captured later in the season. Capture operations in midwinter may also 
be compromised by seasonal precipitation and/or low temperatures. 
Finally, capturing any additional animals later in the season will give 
them less time to acclimate to the holding facilities, and they may be 
unavailable for breeding efforts planned for early spring 2002.

    Dated: December 6, 2001.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 01-31193 Filed 12-18-01; 8:45 am]