[Federal Register: December 8, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 235)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 72973-72976]
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; Revised 12-Month 
Finding for the Greater Adams Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus pholeter) 
and the Lesser Adams Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus cataryctos)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of revised 12-month petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our 
revised 12-month finding for a petition to list the greater Adams Cave 
beetle (Pseudanophthalmus pholeter) and the lesser Adams Cave beetle 
(Pseudanophthalmus cataryctos) under the Endangered Species Act (Act). 
After a review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we conclude that these species are not likely to become 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of their range. Therefore, we find that proposing a 
rule to list these species is not warranted, and we no longer consider 
them to be candidate species for listing. The Service will continue to 
seek new information on the taxonomy, biology, and ecology of these 
species, as well as potential threats to their continued existence.

DATES: This finding was made on November 15, 2005. Although no further

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action will result from this finding, we request that you submit new 
information concerning the taxonomy, biology, ecology, and status of 
the greater and lesser Adams Cave beetles, as well as potential threats 
to their continued existence, whenever such information becomes 

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this finding is available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 3761 Georgetown Road, Frankfort, Kentucky 
40601. Submit new information, materials, comments, or questions 
concerning this species to us at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael A. Floyd, Kentucky Ecological 
Services Field Office at the address listed above, by telephone at 502-
695-0468, by facsimile at 502-695-1024, or by e-mail at 



    The Act provides two mechanisms for considering species for 
listing. One method allows the Secretary, on her own initiative, to 
identify species for listing under the standards of section 4(a)(1). We 
implement this through an assessment process to identify species that 
are candidates for listing, which means we have on file sufficient 
information on biological vulnerability and threats to support a 
proposal to list the species as endangered or threatened, but for which 
preparation and publication of a proposal is precluded by higher-
priority listing actions. Using this process we identified the greater 
and lesser Adams Cave beetles as candidates for listing in 2001 and 
included them in the Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR) published in the 
Federal Register on October 30, 2001 (66 FR 54808). In subsequent CNORs 
that we published June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40657) and May 4, 2004 (69 FR 
24875), we continued to recognize these two species as candidates for 
listing based on updated assessments of their status.
    A second mechanism that the Act provides for considering species 
for listing is for the public to petition us to add a species to the 
Lists of threatened or endangered species. Under section 4(b)(3)(A), 
when we receive such a petition, we must determine within 90 days, to 
the extent practicable, whether the petition presents substantial 
scientific or commercial information that listing may be warranted (a 
``90-day'' finding). If we make a positive 90-day finding, we must 
promptly commence a status review of the species and under section 
4(b)(3)(B), we must make and publish one of three possible findings 
within 12 months of receipt of such a petition (a ``12-month 
    1. The petitioned action is not warranted;
    2. The petitioned action is warranted (in which case we are to 
promptly publish a proposed regulation to implement the petitioned 
action); or
    3. The petitioned action is warranted but (a) the immediate 
proposal of a regulation and final promulgation of a regulation 
implementing the petitioned action is precluded by pending proposals, 
and (b) expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to 
the Lists.
    On May 11, 2004, the Service received a petition from the Center 
for Biological Diversity to list 225 species we previously had 
identified as candidates for listing, including the greater and lesser 
Adams Cave beetles. Our standard for making a species a candidate 
through our own initiative is identical to the standard for making a 
warranted-but-precluded 12-month petition finding. Pursuant to 
requirements in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, the CNOR and Notice of 
Findings on Resubmitted Petitions published by the Service on May 11, 
2005 (70 FR 24870), included a finding that the immediate issuance of a 
proposed listing rule and the timely promulgation of a final rule for 
each of these petitioned species, including the greater and lesser 
Adams Cave beetles, was warranted but precluded by higher priority 
listing actions, and we described those actions as well as the 
expeditious progress being made to add qualified species to the Lists.
    Section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the ESA directs that when we make a 
``warranted but precluded'' finding on a petition, we are to treat the 
petition as being one that is resubmitted annually on the date of the 
finding; thus the ESA requires us to reassess the petitioned actions 
and to publish a finding on the resubmitted petition on an annual 
basis. Although we typically make the annual finding for petitioned 
candidate species through the CNOR, we need not wait a full year to 
reassess the status of such a species and may publish a revised 
petition finding separately from the CNOR. That is what we are doing in 
this situation.
    As a result of new information regarding conservation efforts for 
the greater and lesser Adams Cave beetles, we completed a reassessment 
of their status in September 2005 (FWS 2005a). The updated assessment 
document is available from our Kentucky Ecological Services Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES, above). This resubmitted 12-month finding 
evaluates new information, as described in the species assessment and 
related documents referenced in it, and re-evaluates previously-
acquired information.

Species Information

    The greater Adams Cave beetle (Pseudanopthalmus pholeter) and 
lesser Adams Cave beetle (Pseudanopthalmus cataryctos) were described 
by Krekeler (1973) based upon specimens collected in Adams Cave by T.C. 
Barr and S.B. Peck in 1964. The two beetles are eyeless, reddish-brown 
insects that range in length from 3 to 5 mm. Both species are 
predatory, feeding upon small cave invertebrates such as spiders, 
mites, springtails, and millipedes. More detailed information on the 
taxonomy, biology, and habitat of these species can be found in FWS 
    Both the greater and lesser Adams Cave beetle are restricted to 
Adams Cave, a large, limestone cave located in the Bluegrass region of 
central Kentucky. The passageways of Adams Cave vary in height from 
approximately 5 to 60 feet and extend over 1,500 feet in length. The 
only known entrance to the cave and part of its underground passages 
lie within a 1-acre lot of a rapidly developing residential subdivision 
(Adams Place) located southwest of Richmond, Kentucky.

Conservation Efforts

    The Service secured a commitment from the prior landowner to donate 
the enrolled property to a conservation organization or other non-
profit organization to further ensure adequate, long-term protection 
and conservation of the cave and species inhabiting it. In 2002, the 
Southern Conservation Corporation (SCC), a non-profit land trust, 
accepted ownership of 1 acre of land that includes the only known 
entrance to the cave and a small portion of the 215-acre groundwater 
basin for Adams Cave. The Service worked with SCC to develop a 
Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for the greater 
and lesser Adams Cave beetles (SCC and Service 2005). This CCAA, signed 
in March 2005, covers the 1-acre area owned by SCC, including the cave 
entrance. Through the CCAA, SCC committed to implement three 
conservation efforts specifically designed to further address the 
primary threats to the species: (1) SCC will maintain the Adams Cave 
property in a natural state by implementing provisions that ensure an 
adequate, natural energy flow into the cave is maintained and that 
development impacts and the probability of a contaminants spill that 
might impact the cave habitat are minimized; (2) SCC

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will maintain the metal gate at the entrance to Adams Cave; and (3) SCC 
will control/limit access to Adams Cave. Additional information 
regarding the details of these three efforts is provided in the species 
assessment and in the CCAA.
    Many aspects of the conservation efforts identified in the CCAA are 
on-going, such as maintenance of the gate and control of access into 
the cave, and others are planned. Based on our evaluation of each of 
the three conservation efforts using the criteria provided in the 
Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing 
Decisions (PECE) (68 FR 15100), we have determined that each of the 
three efforts is sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective 
so as to have contributed to the elimination or reduction of threats to 
the species (FWS 2005b). Therefore, the Service can consider these 
conservation efforts in making a determination as to whether either the 
greater or lesser Adams cave beetle meets the Service's definition of a 
threatened or endangered species.

Discussion of Listing Factors

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
at 50 CFR part 424 set forth procedures for adding species to the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. A species may be 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more 
of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1). These factors and 
their application to greater and lesser Adams Cave beetles are 
summarized below. Additional information that provides the basis for 
this summary is available in the species assessment and is incorporated 
by reference.

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

    In our initial assessment of the greater and lesser Adams cave 
beetles in 2001, we identified these species candidates for listing due 
to the present and threatened destruction and modification of their 
habitat (66 FR 54800). The activities contributing to this threat 
factor have now been addressed, as summarized below.
    One of the identified threats was debris and trash in the cave and 
around the cave entrance. The debris and trash have been removed.
    In our 2001 assessment we identified a potential risk of 
destruction or modification of the cave environment, including the cave 
food chain, which could occur as a result of polluted runoff from the 
surrounding residential development or spills of toxic materials in the 
watershed in which the cave occurs. We now have determined that the 
potential risk of polluted stormwater runoff is quite limited because 
the majority of stormwater flows, the principal means by which 
pollutants could enter the cave, are diverted away from Adams Cave by a 
stormwater collection system for Adams Place subdivision. Also, native 
vegetation plantings now surrounding the cave entrance serve as natural 
filters for any potential non-point source pollutants that could 
potentially enter the cave during storm events. Toxic material spills 
from external sources are improbable because the Adams Cave watershed 
is not a commercial area where toxic chemicals are produced or stored, 
nor is there likely to be transport of any significant amounts of toxic 
materials in the area. Further, one of the conservation efforts in the 
CCAA prohibits the use of pesticides on the property, and under the 
CCAA the property cannot be used as a chemical, waste, or debris 
storage site or facility, and the dumping of debris or potential 
contaminants on the property is prohibited.
    Adams Cave was utilized for camping and other activities for 
several decades. In an attempt to control access to the cave, the prior 
owner placed a concrete block wall at the cave entrance. However, this 
blocked the normal flow of organic material and air that are important 
components of maintaining the cave ecosystem and food chain. The 
Service funded and oversaw the removal of the concrete block wall from 
the cave entrance and the installation of a locked metal gate just 
inside the entrance of Adams Cave. The metal gate now controls access 
without limiting the flow of air and various nutrients needed to 
maintain the cave habitat.
    Continued maintenance of the metal gate SCC, coupled with strict 
control of access to the cave, ensures that human entry into the cave 
is tightly controlled and restricted. This prevents vandalism and the 
deposition of trash or other debris that could destroy or modify 
habitat of the beetles. Routine inspection and maintenance of the cave 
gate prevents the gate from becoming blocked by fallen rock or other 
debris, thereby maintaining the natural flow of organic matter from the 
surface to the cave ecosystem.
    We note also that SCC is a non-profit land trust that acquired the 
site for the purpose of protecting it. As such, no development or other 
activities that could directly impact the cave habitat are likely to 
occur under their ownership, as they have committed to, and have been 
implementing, the conservation efforts in the CCAA.
    Based on the information summarized above, the greater and lesser 
Adams Cave beetles are not threatened by the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of their habitat or range.

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

    We have no evidence of overutilization of the greater and lesser 
Adams Cave beetles in the past for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes, and have no information that 
suggests such a threat exists in the foreseeable future. Under the 
CCAA, collection for scientific purposes would be allowed only with the 
permission of the Service. The cave has been used for recreational 
purposes by spelunkers and by passive recreationists in the past, but 
placement of the locked metal gate across the cave entrance a few years 
ago has effectively eliminated such uses. Further, through maintenance 
of the metal gate at the cave entrance, as required by the CCAA, all 
unauthorized access to the cave is prevented. Based on these 
considerations, overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes is not a threat to the species.

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease and predation are not known to be threats for either of 
these species and are, instead, a normal part of their life history. 
Mortality from disease or predation likely occurs but has not 
eliminated these species in the past and we have no reason to expect 
disease or predation to pose a substantial risk to the species in the 

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Although the greater and lesser Adams Cave beetles are listed as 
endangered in Kentucky by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves 
Commission, they are not protected under State law. However, there are 
no foreseeable reasons why specific regulatory mechanisms would be 
necessary to ensure the survival of these species because the 
landowner, SCC, is committed to and is implementing various 
conservation efforts to protect the cave and the greater and lesser 
Adams Cave beetles. This includes, but is not limited to, strictly 
controlling access to the cave and the property surrounding the cave 
opening. The metal gate is effective in preventing unauthorized entry 
into the cave, and as

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described above, SCC has committed to and is implementing measures to 
strictly control access to the cave.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Populations of each of these two cave beetle species are restricted 
to Adams Cave and are generally believed to be represented by a small 
number of individuals. Although this is a natural situation, their 
limited distribution and numbers make these species vulnerable to 
extirpation due to effects from various manmade factors, such as spills 
of toxic substances, non-point source pollutants, and habitat-related 
damage, as described above under Factor A. As described above, the 
conservation efforts taken prior to the CCAA, as well as the efforts 
included in the CCAA, have removed or substantially reduced these 
habitat-related risks. Small population sizes for these species may 
also limit the natural interchange of genetic material within the 
population, which could affect long-term genetic and population 
viability. However, these are endemic species that have persisted over 
time despite the risks of limited genetic interchange. For the reasons 
described above, the greater and lesser Adams Cave beetles are not 
threatened by other natural or human-caused factors.

Revised Petition Finding

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by the greater and lesser Adams Cave beetles.
    We have evaluated the threats to the greater Adams cave beetle and 
the lesser Adams cave beetle and considered factors that, individually 
and in combination, presently or potentially could pose a risk to these 
species and their habitat. We conclude that listing these species under 
the Endangered Species Act is not warranted because the species are not 
likely to become endangered species within the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of their range. These species 
no longer meet our definition of a candidate and are removed from 
candidate status.
    We will continue to monitor the status of the greater and lesser 
Adams Cave beetles, and to accept additional information and comments 
from all concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, 
industry, or any other interested party concerning this finding. We 
will reconsider this determination in the event that new information 
indicates that the threats to these species are of a considerably 
greater magnitude or imminence than identified here.


    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES).


    The primary author of this finding is Michael A. Floyd, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES).


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

    Dated: November 15, 2005.
Richard E. Sayers, Jr.,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-23762 Filed 12-7-05; 8:45 am]