[Federal Register: May 14, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 93)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 34422-34423]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of 90-Day 
Finding on a Petition To Delist the Lost River Sucker and Shortnose 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding for a petition to remove the Lost River sucker 
(Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris), 
throughout their ranges, from the Federal list of threatened and 
endangered species, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). We find that the petition and additional information 
available in our files did not present substantial scientific or 
commercial information indicating that delisting of the Lost River and 
shortnose suckers may be warranted. We will not be initiating a further 
status review in response to the petition to delist.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on May 10, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Data, information, written comments and materials, or 
questions concerning this petition and finding should be submitted to 
the Project Leader, Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 6610 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603. 
The petition finding, supporting data, and comments are available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve A. Lewis, at the above address, 
or telephone 541/885-8481.



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires that we make a finding 
on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. This finding is to be based on all 
information available to us at the time the finding is made. To the 
maximum extent practicable, this finding is to be made within 90 days 
of receipt of the petition, and the finding is to be published promptly 
in the Federal Register. If we find substantial information present, we 
are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the 
species, if one has not already been initiated (50 CFR 424.14).
    The petition to delist the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) 
and shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris), dated September 12, 
2001, was submitted by Richard A. Gierak, representing Interactive 
Citizens United. This petition also requested the removal of the 
southern Oregon/Northern California coast coho salmon (Oncorhynchus 
kisutch) from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. 
This species is under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries 
Service and will be addressed by them in a separate finding. The 
petition was received by the Department of the Interior, Office of the 
Executive Secretariat on September 26, 2001. This petition finding also 
responds to three other petitions to delist the Lost River and 
shortnose suckers, which were received from Leo Bergeron, James L. 
Buchal, and Naomi Fletcher after Mr. Gierak's petition was submitted. 
As explained in our 1996 Petition Management Guidance, subsequent 
petitions are treated separately only when they are greater in scope or 
broaden the area of review of the first petition. The three subsequent 
petitions to delist the Lost River and shortnose suckers were 
considered equivalent to Mr Gierak's petition. Therefore, we treated 
these three petitions as comments on the first petition received.
    The petition requests the delisting of the Lost River sucker and 
shortnose sucker. The petition's supporting documentation consists of 
four pages and ``Figures 2 & 3'' from testimony by David A. Vogel 
before the U.S. House Committee on Resources (Vogel 2001), five 
bibliographic references, and eight footnotes. Three of the five 
bibliographic references are cited in the excerpted section of the 

[[Page 34423]]

(Buettner 1999, Markle et al. 1999, 53 FR 27130). The footnotes support 
the information in Figure 2 of the petition. All of the references have 
been reviewed in this decision. Two of the petitioner's bibliographic 
references (Buettner 1999 and Markle et al. 1999) are abstracts from a 
1999 conference and are superseded by more recent reports by the 
principal authors (United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) 2001, 
Desjardins and Markle 2000). Four of the eight footnotes provide 
quotations from Professor Carl Bond of Oregon State University 
confirming the low population numbers of suckers in the 1950s through 
the 1970s, while the remainder either replicate previous citations (53 
FR 27130, USBR 2001), qualify a methodology (Fortune 1986, citation 
unspecified in the petition), or reference a sucker working group 
meeting in 1987. The information in the testimony was previously 
available to the Service and was considered in a 2001 status review of 
the Lost River and shortnose suckers.


    The Lost River sucker and shortnose sucker are two fishes that 
naturally occur only in the Klamath Basin of southern Oregon and 
northern California. They are long-lived species, reaching ages of over 
30 years. Both species reside primarily in lake habitats and spawn in 
tributary streams, or at springs within Upper Klamath Lake itself. 
Historically, the two species made large spawning migrations up the 
rivers of the Upper Klamath Basin. The two species were federally 
listed as endangered in 1988 (53 FR 27130). At the time of listing, 
recognized threats to the species included: (1) Drastically reduced 
adult populations and lack of significant recruitment; (2) over-
harvesting by sport and commercial fishing; (3) potential competition 
with introduced exotic fishes; (4) lack of regulatory protection from 
Federal actions that might adversely affect or jeopardize the species; 
(5) hybridization with the other two sucker species native to the 
Klamath Basin; and (6) large summer die-offs caused by declines in 
water quality.
    The petitioners assert, through reference to statements made in the 
testimony of David A. Vogel, that delisting of the Lost River and 
shortnose suckers should occur because: (1) The estimates of the sucker 
populations in the 1980s were in error and did not, in fact, 
demonstrate a precipitous decline (i.e., the populations were much 
larger than assumed), or (2) the estimates of the sucker populations in 
the 1980s were reasonably accurate, and the suckers have demonstrated 
an enormous boom in the period since listing and no longer exhibit 
``endangered'' status.
    In 2001, the Service conducted a status review of the Lost River 
and shortnose suckers. This 2001 status review drew from all 
information provided in published and unpublished reports on the 
biology, distribution, and status of the listed sucker species in the 
Klamath region and the ecosystem on which they depend. The 2001 status 
review included additional information and we also considered this 
information as we reviewed the petition.
    With regard to Mr. Vogel's first and second statements, concerning 
sucker population estimates, the early population estimates were based 
on the available, though limited, sampling data and from creel surveys 
for the sport and subsistence fishery for suckers, which declined 
precipitously in the 1980s and caused the Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife to terminate the fishery in 1987, just prior to the federal 
    Comparisons between current estimates and those made during the 
fishery, prior to its termination in 1987, are not informative due to 
extreme differences in methodology. Population estimates made since 
listing, while numerically higher than earlier estimates, show no 
overall trend for increasing populations within the last decade.
    The endangered status of the suckers is based on continuing threats 
to the populations. The 2001 status review identifies continuing 
threats to the two species which warrant maintaining their listing as 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act, including but not limited 
to habitat loss, degradation of water quality, periodic fish die-offs, 
and entrainment into water diversions.


    We have reviewed the petition and its supporting documentation, as 
well as other available information, published and unpublished studies 
and reports, and agency files. On the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial information available, we find that no substantial 
information has been presented or found that would indicate that 
delisting of the Lost River sucker or shortnose sucker may be 

Information Solicited

    When we find that there is not substantial information indicating 
that the petitioned action may be warranted, initiation of a status 
review is not required by the Act. However, we continually assess the 
status of species listed as threatened or endangered. To ensure that 
our information is complete, and based on the best available scientific 
and commercial data, we are soliciting information for both sucker 

References Cited

Buettner, M. 1999. Status of Lost River and shortnose suckers. U.S. 
Bureau of Reclamation. Abstract of presentation at the 1999 Klamath 
Basin Watershed Restoration and Research Conference. 1 p.
Desjardins, M. and D. Markle. 2000. Distribution and biology of 
suckers in Lower Klamath reservoirs. 1999 final report submitted to 
PacifiCorps, Portland, Oregon. 75 pp.
Markle, D., L. Grober-Dunsmoor, B. Hayes, and J. Kelly. 1999. 
Comparisons of habitats and fish communities between Upper Klamath 
Lake and Lower Klamath Reservoirs. Abstract of presentation at the 
1999 Klamath Basin Watershed Restoration and Research Conference. 1 
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 2001. Biological assessment of Klamath 
Project's continuing operations on the endangered Lost River sucker 
and shortnose sucker. Klamath Falls, Oregon. 112 pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (``Service'') 2001. Biological/
conference opinion regarding the effects of operation of the Bureau 
of Reclamation's Klamath Project on the endangered Lost River sucker 
(Deltistes luxatus), endangered shortnose sucker (Chasmistes 
brevirostris), threatened bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and 
proposed critical habitat for the Lost River and shortnose suckers. 
Klamath Falls, Oregon. 188 pp.
Vogel, D. 2001. Testimony of David A. Vogel before the House 
Committee on Resources oversight field hearing on water management 
and endangered species issues in the Klamath Basin; June 16, 2001. 7 


    The primary author of this document is Stewart Reid, fishery 
biologist, Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES section).

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 10, 2002.
Steve Williams,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 02-12123 Filed 5-13-02; 8:45 am]