[Federal Register: April 29, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 82)]
[Page 22727-22728]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Draft Revised Environmental Assessment, 
Management Plan, and Implementation Guidance for Take of Nestling 
American Peregrine Falcons in the Contiguous United States and Alaska 
for Falconry

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice is to announce the availability of a Draft Revised 
Environmental Assessment, Management Plan, and Implementation Guidance 
document on take of nestling American Peregrine Falcons (Falco 
peregrinus anatum) for falconry. We published a final Environmental 
Assessment in April 2001. The draft Revised Environmental Assessment, 
Management Plan, and Implementation Guidance was done to correct an 
error in the modeling on which the earlier Environmental Assessment was 
based and to use population data since delisting to assess the effects 
of take of nestlings for falconry.

DATES: Comments on the Environmental Assessment, Management Plan, and 
Implementation Guidance are due by June 30, 2003.

ADDRESSES: The document is available from, and written comments about 
it should be submitted to, Chief, Division of Migratory Bird 
Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, 
Room 634, Arlington, Virginia 22203-1610. The fax number for a request 
or for comments is 703-358-2272. You can request a copy of the 
Environmental Assessment by calling 703-358-1714. The Assessment also 
is available on the Division of Migratory Bird Management web pages at 

Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 703-358-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The American peregrine falcon (Falco

[[Page 22728]]

peregrinus anatum) occurs throughout much of North America from the 
subarctic boreal forests of Alaska and Canada south to Mexico. American 
peregrine falcons nest from central Alaska, central Yukon Territory, 
and northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, east to the Maritimes and south 
(excluding coastal areas north of the Columbia River in Washington and 
British Columbia) throughout western Canada and the United States to 
Baja California, Sonora, and the highlands of central Mexico. American 
peregrine falcons that nest in subarctic areas generally winter in 
South America. Those that nest at lower latitudes exhibit variable 
migratory behavior; and some do not migrate.
    Peregrine falcons declined precipitously in North America following 
World War II, a decline attributed largely to organochlorine 
pesticides, mainly DDT, applied in the United States and Canada. 
Because of the decline, the American peregrine was listed as endangered 
in 1970 (35 FR 16047).
    Recovery goals for American peregrine falcons in the United States 
were substantially exceeded in some areas, and in August 1999 the 
American peregrine was removed from the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants (64 FR 46541). Anticipating delisting, 
in June 1999 the States, through the International Association of Fish 
and Wildlife Agencies, proposed allowing take of nestling American 
peregrines for falconry.
    In an October 1999 Federal Register notice (64 FR 53686), we stated 
that we would consider a conservative take of nestling peregrines from 
healthy populations of American peregrine falcons in the western U.S. 
and Alaska. We published a Final Environmental Assessment in April 
2001. The draft Revised Environmental Assessment was done to correct an 
error in the modeling on which the earlier Environmental Assessment was 
based. In the models the breeding age for American peregrines was 
inadvertently set at two years of age, rather than three. Though some 
peregrines breed as early as age two, to be conservative we intended to 
model breeding first at age three. Corrected modeling and evaluation of 
recent American peregrine falcon population data in the western United 
States indicated that the adult mortality figure used for comparisons 
in the original Environmental Assessment was too high. Therefore, we 
based analyses in the revised Environmental Assessment on updated 
American peregrine falcon population, productivity, and mortality 
information for the western U.S. population.
    The nesting population in States west of 100[deg] longitude in 1998 
was at least 1091 pairs. Based on recent data provided by the States, 
we believe that since delisting the American peregrine falcon 
population in the western United States has grown. At a minimum, we 
believe the population to have been 10% greater in 2001 than it was in 
1998. We also determined that recent productivity in the western United 
States has averaged about 1.51 young per nesting attempt.
    To determine an appropriate value to use for adult mortality in the 
assessment, we used post-delisting data from Arizona, California, 
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. 
Population data from those States, combined with modeling of population 
change, indicated that adult mortality since delisting has been 10.1% 
per year.
    We considered six alternatives to address potential take of 
nestling American peregrine falcons in the western United States and 
Alaska. The No Action Alternative would mean that no legal take of 
peregrine falcons for falconry can occur. We also evaluated allowing 
take of 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% of annual production in states west of 
100[deg] longitude. The sixth alternative we evaluated was lifting the 
current restriction on take by falconry permittees in 11 contiguous 
western States and Alaska. The preferred alternative is to allow take 
of 5% of the nestlings produced in Western States, with take at the 
discretion of each State. The 5% level of take would allow continued 
good population growth if population density does not affect 
reproduction or survival.

    Dated: March 20, 2003.
Paul R. Schmidt,
Assistant Director, Migratory Birds and State Programs.
[FR Doc. 03-10524 Filed 4-28-03; 8:45 am]