[Federal Register: January 6, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 4)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 1190-1210]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH55

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Mariana Fruit Bat 
(Pteropus mariannus mariannus): Reclassification From Endangered to 
Threatened in the Territory of Guam and Listing as Threatened in the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), reclassify 
from endangered to threatened status the Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus 
mariannus mariannus) from Guam,

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under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act), and determine the Mariana fruit bat from the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to be a threatened species under the 
authority of the Act. This rule lists the Mariana fruit bat as 
threatened throughout its range.
    The Mariana fruit bat was listed previously as endangered on Guam. 
The bat populations on the southern islands of the CNMI (Aguiguan, 
Tinian, and Saipan) were candidates for listing. The best available 
scientific information indicates that Mariana fruit bats on Guam and 
throughout the CNMI comprise one subspecies. The protections of the 
Act, therefore, apply to this subspecies throughout its known range in 
the Mariana archipelago.

DATES: This final rule is effective February 7, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in the preparation of this final rule, will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, 
Honolulu, HI 96850.

Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 
section) (telephone 808/792-9400; facsimile 808/792-9581).



    The Mariana archipelago consists of the 15-island Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Territory of Guam, both 
within the jurisdiction of the United States. This archipelago extends 
470 miles (mi) (750 kilometers (km)) from 13[deg]14' N, 144[deg]45' W 
to 20[deg]3' N, 144[deg]54' W and is approximately 900 mi (1,500 km) 
east of the Philippine Islands (Figure 1). Nine of the 10 northern 
islands (Anatahan, Sarigan, Guguan, Alamagan, Pagan, Agrihan, Asuncion, 
Maug, and Uracas) are volcanic in origin, and Farallon de Medinilla and 
the five southern islands (Guam, Rota, Aguiguan, Tinian, and Saipan) 
are uplifted limestone plateaus with volcanic outcrops. Mariana fruit 
bats have historically inhabited all of these islands except Uracas, 
the northernmost island (Wiles and Glass 1990). Of the largest southern 
islands (Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan), Guam supports the majority of 
the human population. The northern islands (north of Saipan) are either 
unoccupied or support only a few families. The climate is tropical, 
with daily mean temperatures of 75 to 90[deg] Fahrenheit (24 to 32[deg] 
Celsius), high humidity, and average annual rainfall of 80 to 100 
inches (in) (200 to 260 centimeters (cm)). Typhoons may strike the 
Mariana Islands during any month of the year, but are most frequent 
between July and October.

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[[Page 1193]]

Species Description and Biology

    The Mariana fruit bat is a medium-sized fruit bat in the family 
Pteropididae that weighs 0.66 to 1.15 pounds (330 to 577 grams) and has 
a forearm length ranging from 5.3 to 6.1 in (13.4 to 15.6 cm); males 
are slightly larger than females. The underside (abdomen) is colored 
black to brown, with gray hair interspersed, creating a grizzled 
appearance. The shoulders (mantle) and sides of the neck are usually 
bright golden brown, but may be paler in some individuals. The head 
varies from brown to dark brown. The well-formed and rounded ears and 
large eyes give the face a canine appearance; members of the family 
Pteropodidae often are referred to as flying foxes.
    The Mariana fruit bat is highly colonial, forming colonies of a few 
to over 800 animals (Wiles 1987a; Pierson and Rainey 1992; Worthington 
and Taisacan 1995). Bats group themselves into harems (1 male and 2 to 
15 females) or bachelor groups (predominantly males), or reside as 
single males on the edge of the colony (Wiles 1987a). On Guam, the 
average estimated sex ratio in a single colony varied from 37.5 to 72.7 
males per 100 females (Wiles 1982).
    Reproduction is believed to occur throughout the year in Pteropus 
mariannus yapensis on Yap (Falanruw 1988). Mating and the presence of 
nursing Pteropus mariannus mariannus young have been observed year-
round on Guam (Perez 1972; Wiles 1983) with no apparent peak in births 
(Wiles 1987a). Glass and Taisacan (1988) suggested a similar pattern on 
Rota, but also indicated that a peak birthing season may occur during 
May and June, as has been observed in other fruit bats (Pierson and 
Rainey 1992). Female bats of the family Pteropodidae have one offspring 
per year (Pierson and Rainey 1992), pups may be born in any month of 
the year. Observations on Guam between July 1982 and May 1985 found 262 
female bats, each with a single young (Service 1990). This reproductive 
rate, very low for a mammal of this size, results in a low maximum 
population growth rate, and thus a slow rate of recovery when a 
population is diminished (Pierson and Rainey 1992). Length of gestation 
and age of sexual maturity are unknown for the Mariana fruit bat; other 
related bats have a gestation period of approximately 4.6 to 6.3 months 
(Pierson and Rainey 1992). Age of sexual maturity is not known for the 
Mariana fruit bat, but Pteropus species typically do not breed before 
18 months of age (Pierson and Rainey 1992).

Taxonomy and Interisland Movements

    The fruit bats of the Mariana Islands consistently have been 
treated as one or more endemic subspecies or species; that is, they 
occur nowhere outside the archipelago (Andersen 1912; Kuroda 1938; 
Corbet and Hill 1980, 1986, 1991; Koopman 1982, 1993; Flannery 1995). 
Following the taxonomic treatments of Kuroda (1938) and Koopman (1993), 
which are known to be based on examination of numerous specimens, and 
the most recent treatment by Flannery (1995), Pteropus mariannus is a 
widely dispersed species occurring north of the equator in portions of 
Micronesia north to the Japanese Ryukyu Islands. Various authors have 
attributed different numbers of subspecies to P. mariannus. Kuroda 
(1938) and Koopman (1982, 1993) recognize seven subspecies; Flannery 
recognizes three.
    Pteropus fruit bats are well known to be strong fliers and traverse 
long distances (Eby 1991; Palmer and Woinarski 1999; Nelson 2003). 
Evidence that Mariana fruit bats fly between islands in the archipelago 
supports consideration of these bats as a single subspecies made up of 
numerous island populations in the Marianas (Lemke 1986; Service 1990; 
Wiles and Glass 1990; Worthington and Taisacan 1996). The geography of 
the archipelago, as well as the flight capability of fruit bats, 
facilitates interisland exchange. Distances between islands in the 
Mariana archipelago range from 3 to 62 mi (5 to 100 km). Each island in 
the chain is visible from neighboring islands (Wiles and Glass 1990).
    The August 27, 1984, Federal listing (49 FR 33881) of fruit bats 
resident on Guam was based on an assumption that these bats were a 
distinct subspecies isolated from other bat populations in the CNMI. 
However, current evidence exists that large numbers of bats from Rota 
have visited Guam for periods of months. Temporary spikes in the Guam 
fruit bat population were observed in 1992-1993 (from about 350 to 550 
bats) and in 1998 (from about 150 to 760 bats) (Anne Brooke, Service, 
in litt. 2003). These temporary increases lasted for several months. 
More modest but equally sudden increases in the Guam population were 
noted 2 and 4 days following Typhoons Chataan and Pongsona, 
respectively, in 2002 (Dustin Janecke, University of Guam, in litt. 
2003). The most likely explanation is a temporary relocation of bats 
from Rota, which lies 48 mi (77 km) from Guam, is visible from Guam's 
north shore, and harbors one of the largest fruit bat populations in 
the archipelago. For example, the 2002 spike on Guam after Typhoon 
Pongsona was concurrent with an observed dip in fruit bat numbers on 
Rota (Jake Esselstyn, University of Kansas (formerly CNMI Department of 
Fish and Wildlife (DFW)), pers. comm. 2004b). Several other instances 
of apparent immigrations from Rota to Guam documented in the late 1970s 
and 1980s are described in detail by Wiles and Glass (1990). Although 
we cannot be certain that ``visiting'' bats interbreed with resident 
Guam bats during their months on the island, the fact that Mariana 
fruit bats breed throughout the year (Wiles 1983, 1987a) leaves this 
possibility open. The presence of fruit bats on the islands of Tinian 
and Aguiguan, which are close to one another and to Saipan, is 
ephemeral (Worthington and Taisacan 1996), indicating that interisland 
travel likely occurs among these three islands as well.
    An example of likely interisland movement in the northern islands 
of the CNMI comes from Sarigan. Fruit bat surveys on Sarigan documented 
a roughly stable level of approximately 125-235 bats between 1983 and 
2000 (Wiles et al. 1989; Fancy et al. 1999; Wiles and Johnson 2004). In 
2001, surveys estimated 300-400 bats (Wiles and Johnson 2004). 
Recruitment of juvenile bats alone cannot account for this increase, 
and Wiles and Johnson (2004) posit Anatahan, 23 mi (37 km) to the 
south, as the likely source for immigrants. Wiles et al. (1989) twice 
observed individual fruit bats 0.8 mi (2 km) from Guguan, flying south 
in the direction of Sarigan, which lies 39 mi (63 km) away. Anecdotal 
observations of likely transits among other northern islands are 
described in Wiles and Glass (1990) and by other species experts 
(Worthington and Taisacan 1996; Wiles and Johnson 2004).
    Like fruit bats, many other highly mobile vertebrates of Pacific 
Islands, especially birds, are treated as a single species or 
subspecies inhabiting multiple islands in an archipelago (Mayr 1945; 
Pratt et al. 1987; Watling 2001). Immigration rates of perhaps one 
individual per generation could be necessary for an island population 
to maintain genetic homogeneity with the populations on other islands 
(Mills and Allendorf 1996; Wang 2004; Gary McCracken, University of 
Tennessee, pers. comm. 2004). The chances of witnessing such a low rate 
of immigration are slight. The evidence described above for interisland 
movement suggests even greater rates of movement and probable gene flow 
among the fruit bat populations on various islands in the Mariana

[[Page 1194]]

archipelago than the minimum needed to maintain genetic homogeneity.
    Preliminary results of a recent study of genetic variation in a 
similarly gregarious (Pierson and Rainey 1992) and mobile species of 
fruit bat elsewhere in the Pacific provide further, if circumstantial, 
support for the existence of a single subspecies of fruit bats in the 
Marianas. Genetic material collected from the white-collared fruit bat 
(Pteropus tonganus) in Samoa and Fiji shows a lack of genetic isolation 
within island groups (Utzurrum et al. 2000; G. McCracken, pers. comm. 
2004). Little anecdotal observation of interisland movements exists for 
P. tonganus, yet apparently it experiences immigration at sufficient 
intervals to prevent genetic isolation.
    Currently, there are two recognized subspecies restricted to the 
Mariana Islands: the Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus) 
and the Pagan fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus paganensis). Other 
subspecies are endemic to other archipelagos and do not occur in the 
Marianas. The taxonomic status of the Pagan fruit bat is questionable. 
Yamashina (1932) collected three male fruit bats and one female from 
the islands of Pagan and Alamagan in 1931, and stated: ``[t]his 
species, as compared to the Pteropus mariannus mariannus that inhabit 
Guam, is distinctly darker in coloration, having brownish wings.'' He 
made no further comparisons, and thus the distinction of this taxon is 
based on a single, equivocal interpretation of the coloration of four 
specimens. Although future studies may confirm the existence of a 
distinct taxon of fruit bats in the northern islands, at this time, 
based on the best available science including peer reviewer comments, 
we do not consider Pteropus mariannus paganensis as distinct from 
Pteropus mariannus mariannus to represent a single taxon.


    Mariana fruit bats forage and roost primarily in native forest and 
forage occasionally in coconut (Cocos nucifera) groves and strand 
vegetation (Wiles 1987b; Worthington and Taisacan 1996). Wiles (1987b) 
described six bat roost sites on Guam, all within native limestone 
forest. Major roost trees included Ficus spp. and Neisosperma 
oppositifolia. On Rota, fruit bats used primary and secondary limestone 
forest for roosting and foraging (Glass and Taisacan 1988). At least 
nine tree species were used for roosting, including Elaeocarpus 
sphaericus, Macaranga thompsonii, Guamia mariannae, Hernandia spp., 
Artocarpus mariannensis, Ficus prolixia, Barringtonia asiatica, Randia 
cochinchinensis, and the introduced Theobroma cacao (Glass and Taisacan 
1988). A small bat colony also was observed roosting in Casuarina 
equisetifolia on Aguiguan (Worthington and Taisacan 1996). At least 22 
plant species are used as food sources by the Mariana fruit bat. Food 
items include the fruits of 17 species of plants, especially the native 
Artocarpus mariannensis, Cycas circinalis, Ficus spp., Pandanus 
tectorius, Terminalia catappa, and the introduced Artocarpus altilis 
and Carica papaya; the flowers of seven plants, including the native 
Ceiba pentandra and Erythrina variegata, and the introduced Cocos 
nucifera; and leaf stems and twig tips of Artocarpus spp. (Wiles 1987a; 
Service 1990). Although Mariana fruit bats have been observed to feed 
on and roost in cultivated, introduced food plants, nonnative species 
make up only a small fraction of the plants they use (Wiles 1987b; 
Worthington and Taisacan 1996). Fruit bats are important components of 
tropical forest ecosystems because they disperse plant seeds and 
thereby help maintain forest diversity and contribute to plant 
regeneration following typhoons and other catastrophic events (Cox et 
al. 1992).

CNMI Southern Islands

    The relatively large size and moderate topography of the southern 
islands led to their being, along with Guam, the most heavily populated 
and intensively cultivated islands in the archipelago. All of the 
southern Marianas are hypothesized to have been densely forested when 
first settled by humans some 3,500 years ago (Mueller-Dombois and 
Fosberg 1998). The loss and alteration of native habitats on these 
islands began with prehistoric cultivation, accelerated with the 17th 
century introduction of livestock and mechanized agriculture by 
Europeans, and likely peaked during the mid-20th century with 
landscape-scale habitat conversion by commercial agriculture, military 
infrastructure, and bombardment (Bowers 1950; Fosberg 1960; Stone 
1970). This long continuous and intense human disturbance is reflected 
by the near absence of Mariana fruit bats from Saipan, Tinian, and 
    On Saipan and Tinian, agriculture and free-roaming livestock had 
converted much of the islands' forest to fields and pastures as early 
as the 18th century (Barrat 1988 in Stinson et al. 1992). Human 
populations on these islands increased steadily, and virtually all 
arable land was used to grow cash crops or food (Bowers 1950). Sugar 
plantations dominated the landscapes of Saipan, Tinian, and Aguiguan 
prior to World War II (Fosberg 1960). Saipan and Tinian were invaded 
during World War II, and during and after the war, bombing and 
extensive military development resulted in the loss of additional fruit 
bat habitat (Bowers 1950; Fosberg 1960). After the war, Saipan and 
Tinian were estimated to retain 5 and 2 percent native forest cover, 
respectively (Bowers 1950), and these proportions apparently were not 
significantly different in 1982 (Engbring et al. 1986). The 
introduction of nonnative species such as tangantangan for erosion 
control has left these islands dominated by alien vegetation that 
inhibits the growth of native forest (Fosberg 1960; Craig 1993). Feral 
ungulates are present on both islands, resulting in further degradation 
and fragmentation. Finally, Saipan is the most heavily populated and 
industrialized island in the CNMI (CNMI Statistical Yearbook 2001). 
Aguiguan was not invaded during the war, and has retained a greater 
proportion of its native forest (20 percent; Bowers 1950).
    Similar to Saipan and Tinian, large areas of Rota were converted to 
sugar plantations in the early part of the 20th century (Fosberg 1960). 
Rota has more rugged topography, however, and was not invaded during 
World War II. These two factors are thought to explain the greater 
amount of native forest cover (25 percent) remaining on Rota following 
the war (Baker 1946; Bowers 1950). Engbring et al. (1986) estimated 
that roughly 60 percent of Rota's land area supported native vegetation 
in 1982. It is not clear whether Engbring's estimate represents some 
level of native forest recovery since Bowers' (1950) post-war estimate, 
or is a different interpretation and measurement of forest cover.
    Most of Guam's native vegetation has been replaced by land 
development and invasive species. Guam is the population and commercial 
center of the archipelago, and commercial and residential development 
are ongoing. Like the other southern islands, parts of Guam were seeded 
with tangantangan following World War II to control erosion (Fosberg 
1960). Large areas of southern Guam are dominated by savannas; these 
landscapes are thought to have originated as a result of aboriginal 
burning (Fosberg 1960). In 1981, northern Guam, which supports the last 
extensive native forest remaining on the island, was thought to retain 
no more than 37 percent native forest cover (Engbring and Ramsey 1984). 
Feral ungulates are abundant and

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widespread throughout the island and cause significant damage to all 
remaining native forest (Fosberg 1960; Stone 1970; A. Brooke, pers. 
comm. 2004). Lands owned by the U.S. Air Force (Air Force) at Andersen 
Air Force Base in northern Guam include the largest contiguous forested 
areas left in northern Guam; the Air Force permits hunting of feral 
ungulates on parts of the base (U.S. Air Force 2001).

CNMI Northern Islands

    Compared with the history of habitat loss in the southern islands, 
degradation or loss of native forest in the northern islands of the 
CNMI is a recent phenomenon; therefore, these islands have retained 
more habitat to support Mariana fruit bats. Some of the northern 
islands have supported small human settlements, and most of these have 
been occupied only sporadically. Feral ungulates have been present in 
the northern islands only since the mid-20th century. For example, 
Anatahan has had feral goats and pigs for roughly 40 years (Kessler 
1997), and forest degradation and erosion were observed to escalate 
sharply during the 1990s (Marshall et al. 1995; Kessler 2000a; 
Worthington et al. 2001), possibly because feral ungulate damage was 
exacerbated by El Nino-related drought in the late 1990s (Kessler 
    Although changes in forest cover were not quantified, evidence from 
point photo monitoring and other land-based photography conducted on 
Anatahan in 1983, 1996, and 2000 documented widespread loss of forest, 
reduced canopy cover in remaining forest, and increased erosion 
resulting from feral ungulate damage (Marshall et al. 1995; Kessler 
1997, 2000a; Worthington et al. 2001). An ungulate eradication project 
was begun in 2002, but was not completed when Anatahan volcano erupted 
in 2003. This eruption further compromised the island's forest habitat, 
and continuing volcanic activity has hindered completion of the 
ungulate eradication project. A large population of feral pigs still 
occurs on the island and some goats remain; aerial hunting for goats is 
ongoing (Curt Kessler, Service, pers. comm. 2004b). Some vegetation 
recovery has been observed as a result of goat control, but an invasive 
alien vine, Mikania micrantha, has spread rapidly and may inhibit the 
growth of native vegetation (C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004b). This plant 
is known to smother and displace native vegetation on other Pacific 
islands (U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2004).
    On Pagan, livestock was maintained in captivity by island residents 
until the volcanic eruption in 1981, when the human population was 
evacuated. In the subsequent 23 years, large populations of feral 
goats, pigs, and cattle have become established on the island and have 
caused significant damage (Rice and Stinson 1992; Kessler 1997). The 
degradation and loss of native forest on Pagan is thought to be 
occurring more rapidly on there than on Anatahan because of the added 
impact of cattle, which are absent from Anatahan (Kessler 1997). The 
reductions in fruit bat numbers on Pagan are attributed to feral 
ungulates causing major damage to the native forest and preventing its 
regeneration following the 1981 eruption, large areas especially in the 
northern part of the island being converted to grassland or devegetated 
and eroded (Kessler 1997), and the spread of the invasive tree 
Casuarina equisetifolia in monotypic stands (Rice and Stinson 1992; 
Cruz et al. 2000e). In 1992, Casuarina coverage in the upland areas of 
the island was estimated at roughly 60 percent (Rice and Stinson 1992). 
Although this tree is used for roosting by Mariana fruit bats (C. 
Kessler, pers. comm. 2004b), it does not provide food resources, and it 
likely displaces native forest, as it has done elsewhere in the Pacific 
(Cruz et al. 2000e; USDA 2004).
    Vegetation surveys in 2000 on Agrihan, the third-largest of the 
northern islands, documented damage from feral ungulates in the 30 to 
40 percent of the island that supports forest habitat (Cruz et al. 
2000f). The extremely steep and dissected topography of Agrihan is 
thought to restrict the distribution of feral ungulates as well as 
access by humans, and keep goats and pigs geographically separated 
(Rice et al. 1990; Rice and Stinson 1992), thereby protecting roost 
sites and sufficient forest habitat to support foraging fruit bats.
    Feral goats, pigs, and cattle are present on Alamagan and the 
extent of native forest remaining on the island is limited to ravines 
on the south and west slopes and a small plateau in the center of the 
island (Wiles et al. 1989). Rice (1992) described Alamagan as having 
``one of the worst feral ungulate problems in the CNMI,'' and during 
vegetation surveys in 2000, Cruz et al. (2000b) found the remaining 
forests to be in decline.
    Maug, Asuncion, Guguan, and (since 1998) Sarigan are free of feral 
ungulates, but the small size of these islands and the limited extent 
of their forest habitat ultimately limits the number of fruit bats they 
can support. Maug is only 10 to 14 percent forested (Wiles et al. 
1989), and thus supports little habitat for fruit bats. Forest on 
Asuncion and Guguan is limited to the lower western and southern areas; 
the northern and steep upper parts of these islands are bare volcanic 
ash or grassland (Wiles et al. 1989). Roughly 32 percent or 400 acres 
(ac) (162 hectares (ha)) of Sarigan is forested, but most of this is 
monotypic coconut forest that provides only minimal forage for fruit 
bats; only about 72 ac (29 ha) supports relatively diverse native 
forest that provides both roosting and foraging resources for fruit 
bats (Wiles and Johnson 2004). Although the eradication of ungulates 
from Sarigan and initial vegetation recovery may play a role in 
increased numbers of fruit bats on the island, invasive, alien plants 
such as tangantangan (Leucaena leucocephala) and Operculina ventricosa 
also are present on the island and may impede the recovery of native 
forest over the long term (Kessler 2000b). These plants are known to 
degrade native vegetation in the Mariana Islands and elsewhere in the 
Pacific (USDA 2004).

Landownership of Fruit Bat Habitat in the Mariana Islands

    Most of the known fruit bat roost sites in the Mariana Islands are 
located on public lands. On Guam, the single remaining roost and most 
fruit bat foraging habitat is found on U.S. military lands; some 
foraging habitat occurs on private lands and lands belonging to the 
Government of Guam (Wiles 1998). The Air Force controls access to 
Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam, and the high security and 
frequent patrols practiced on base effectively create a refugium for 
fruit bats (Morton 1996). The remote and relatively pristine area where 
the roost is located was set aside by the military in 1973 as a 
research natural area; access to and activities in this area are 
tightly restricted, but no brown treesnake control currently takes 
place specifically at the roost site (Air Force 2001). Service and 
Government of Guam wildlife biologists and authorized researchers are 
permitted access to the area and to the colony to monitor and conduct 
research on fruit bats. Similarly, the U.S. Navy (Navy) and the Service 
restrict access to their lands, which include native forest that 
provides foraging habitat for the fruit bat.
    The remaining roost site is managed as part of the Guam National 
Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) overlay under a cooperative agreement with the 
Air Force. The Refuge was created on October 1, 1993, with additional 
lands (overlay portion) incorporated in 1994 by cooperative agreements 
between the

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Service, the Air Force and the Navy. The establishment and management 
of the overlay portion of the Refuge on Navy and Air Force lands 
provides a commitment by the three agencies to develop coordinated 
programs centered on the protection of endangered and threatened 
species and other native flora and fauna. Active implementation of such 
programs by these agencies contributes to the continued survival of the 
Mariana fruit bat on Guam, as important foraging and roosting habitat 
is located within the Refuge boundaries. However, the lack of brown 
treesnake control in the immediate area where the fruit bats roost is a 
serious deficiency in existing programs to protect endangered species 
on the overlay refuge.
    There is no U.S. Government-owned land in the CNMI, but the Navy 
leases Farallon de Medinilla and part of Tinian. All other public lands 
are administered by the CNMI government. Saipan has little public land 
that is not leased and developed, but a few areas still support native 
forest that is occasionally used by fruit bats. Tinian has large tracts 
of public land that contain small stands of native forest suitable for 
bats, and a large portion of public land on the northern end of the 
island is under lease to the Navy for military activities (Lusk et al. 
1997). All of Aguiguan is owned by the CNMI government. Approximately 
60 percent of the land on Rota is publicly owned, although much of this 
has been leased to private individuals. The primary roosting areas on 
Rota are on Commonwealth lands, but some private lands still retain 
native limestone forest that may support fruit bats. The northern 
islands are mostly public lands, with some land developed as small 
homestead lots.

Population Surveys and Status

    Obtaining accurate estimates of fruit bat populations in Pacific 
archipelagos depends on regular monitoring, standardized survey 
methods, and consideration of the unique ecology and physiographic 
environment of bat populations in various island groups (Utzurrum et 
al. 2004). The difficult terrain of the Mariana Islands, remote 
location of the northern islands of the CNMI, and the high costs 
associated with transits of the island group by sea and aerial surveys 
of individual islands have hindered the establishment of a standard 
monitoring program for the archipelago.
    No known historical records exist to document the status of the 
Mariana fruit bat prior to the 20th century. The history of fruit bat 
surveys and changes in numbers summarized below represent a variety of 
methods and analyses. Archipelago-wide surveys were conducted in 1983 
(Wiles et al. 1989) and 2001 (Johnson 2001).
    The relatively isolated northern islands support the majority of 
the fruit bats in the archipelago, but because of their remote 
location, these islands have not been surveyed as frequently as the 
southern islands. Individual surveys have been conducted on several of 
the southern islands at relatively frequent intervals, and 
comprehensive surveys of the northern islands were conducted in 1983, 
2000, and 2001 (Wiles et al. 1989; Cruz et al. 2000a-f; Johnson 2001). 
Opportunistic surveys have also occurred sporadically throughout the 
archipelago. The methods used in the northern islands in 2001 were 
significantly different from those used in 1983 and 2000; we therefore 
consider only Wiles et al. (1989) and Cruz et al. (2000a-f) for 
purposes of comparison (Table 1). A conservative interpretation of this 
comparison indicates a decline between 1983 and 2000, especially on the 
two islands that supported the largest numbers of fruit bats in the 
archipelago 20 years ago (Table 1).
    Two of the northern islands are not included in this table: Uracas, 
the most northerly, where fruit bats are not known to occur; and 
Farallon de Medinilla, where fruit bats have been observed on only one 
occasion. See text and Table 2 for information about additional and 
more recent surveys and observations of fruit bats on the southern 
islands of the CNMI and Guam, and on Farallon de Medinilla, Anatahan, 
Sarigan, and Pagan.

                    Table 1.--Summary of Mariana Fruit Bat Survey Results: Minimum Estimates
                Island                      Area  Sq. mi (Sq. km)              1983 \1\              2000 \2\
Maug..................................  0.8 (2.0)                     < 25                                  (\3\)
Asuncion..............................  2.9 (7.4)                     400                                  (\3\)
Agrihan...............................  18.3 (47.4)                   1,000                                1,000
Pagan.................................  18.4 (47.7)                   2,500                                1,500
Alamagan..............................  4.3 (11.0)                    0                                      200
Guguan................................  1.5 (4.0)                     400                                    350
Sarigan...............................  1.9 (5.0)                     125                                    200
Anatahan..............................  12.5 (32.3)                   3,000                                1,000
    Total (Northern Islands)..........  ............................  7,450                       ..............
    [Total six islands]...............  ............................  [7,025]                              4,250
Saipan................................  47.5 (122.9)                  < 50                                  (\3\)
Tinian................................  39.3 (101.8)                  < 25                                  (\3\)
Aguiguan..............................  2.7 (7.0)                     < 10                                150-200
Rota..................................  37.0 (95.7)                   800-1,000                            (\3\)
Guam..................................  212.0 (549.0)                 425-500                              (\3\)
    Total (All Islands)...............  ............................  8,760-9,035                           N/A
\1\ Wiles et al. 1989. Dates: August 17-September 10, 1983; 1-4 days/island. Count methods: Evening dispersal
  counts at colonies; evening station counts of solitary fruit bats.
\2\ Cruz et al. 2000a-f. Dates: June 4-August 16, 2000; 7-9 days/island. Count methods: Evening dispersal counts
  at colonies, evening and morning station counts of solitary fruit bats.
\3\ Not surveyed.

[[Page 1197]]

Status of CNMI Southern Islands

    Fruit bats on the southern islands of the CNMI, Tinian, Saipan, 
Aguiguan, and Rota were not surveyed prior to the 1970s, but historical 
accounts indicate that fruit bats once were much more common on these 
islands than they are now. Schnee (1911) reported that bats were 
commonly seen and heard on Saipan, where they were heavily hunted by 
local residents. The Navy restricted civilian access to the northern 
part of Saipan until the early 1970s, effectively providing fruit bats 
with protected roost sites. The fruit bat population on Saipan was 
observed to decline rapidly after the Navy turned over the control to 
the CNMI government and access to the whole island became unrestricted 
(Wiles et al. 1989). Observations during the 1980s and 1990s suggested 
that the Saipan population was small; typically fewer than 50 bats were 
observed (Lemke 1984; Wiles et al. 1989; Wiles 1996; Worthington and 
Taisacan 1996). Surveys on Saipan in 2001 estimated that roughly 50 
bats were present (Johnson 2001).
    Fritz (1901) reported a large number of bats on Tinian in 1900 and 
Fritz (1904) reported that bats were common on all the southern 
islands. Fruit bats are only occasionally seen on Tinian today 
(Marshall et al. 1995; Krueger and O'Daniel 1999; Johnson 2001). 
Observations during the 1990s suggested that the presence of bats on 
Tinian was intermittent and their numbers were low (Lemke 1984; Wiles 
1996; Worthington and Taisacan 1996). Surveys on Tinian conducted in 
2001 found no fruit bats (Johnson 2001). In 1995, between 100 and 125 
bats were believed present on Aguiguan (Wiles 1996). During a 10-day 
visit in 2003, however, no fruit bat colonies were observed on Aguiguan 
despite extensive coverage, and only a few individual fruit bats were 
seen (J. Esselstyn, pers. comm. 2004a).
    The fruit bats on Rota have been surveyed on a regular basis by a 
large number of workers since 1986, using methods described by Stinson 
et al. (1992): primarily evening dispersal counts (EDCs), with some 
station counts of solitary or extracolonial bats and direct counts of 
colonial roosts (Glass and Taisacan 1988; Stinson et al. 1992; 
Worthington and Taisacan 1995, 1996; Johnson 2001; J. Esselstyn in 
litt. 2003, pers. comm. 2004a). This monitoring effort has yielded 
numbers that vary widely both intra- and interannually (e.g., Glass and 
Taisacan 1988; Worthington and Taisacan 1995, 1996). Analysis of the 
census data on Rota is underway (Laura Williams, CNMI DFW, pers. comm. 
    Fruit bat numbers declined following Typhoon Roy in 1988 from an 
estimated 2,400 animals to just under 1,000 (Worthington and Taisacan 
1996). Prior to Typhoon Pongsona in 2002, however, the Rota bat 
population had risen back to approximately 2,500 (J. Esselstyn, in 
litt. 2003). In the months following the storm, repeated surveys 
indicated that numbers had again declined sharply to about 600 (J. 
Esselstyn, pers. comm. 2004b). Continued surveys of Rota's fruit bats 
indicate that the population was once again rising in 2004; in April it 
was estimated at roughly 1,500 animals (J. Esselstyn, pers. comm. 
2004a, 2004b). The Rota population fluctuates and may be resilient, but 
severe storms at short intervals could erode this resilience. The most 
recent available estimate of fruit bat numbers on Rota is 1,100 (C. 
Kessler, pers. comm. 2004b). This estimate was made in May 2004, prior 
to Typhoon Chaba. The bats from Rota are believed to move among the 
southern islands, and this population thus is considered to be 
important to the long-term stability of fruit bats in the southern 
islands of the Mariana archipelago (Wiles and Glass 1990), and to the 
existence of the colony on Guam (Catherine Leberer, Guam Division of 
Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR), in litt. 2004).

Status of CNMI Northern Islands

    The 1983 survey of the northern islands resulted in an estimate of 
7,450 bats for Anatahan, Sarigan, Guguan, Alamagan, Pagan, Agrihan, 
Asuncion, and Maug (Wiles et al. 1989, Tables 1 and 2). Because field 
observation of Mariana fruit bats indicate that this species is 
gregarious and typically roosts in large colonies during the day, this 
and subsequent surveys focused on locating colonies. Wiles et al. 
(1989) located colonies by circumnavigating islands by boat, traversing 
portions of each island on foot, and interviewing residents on islands 
with human inhabitants. EDCs were conducted at each colony beginning at 
1 to 3 hours before nightfall and continuing until complete darkness. 
These surveys were carried out by observers placed so that fruit bats 
departing the colony were silhouetted against the sky or the ocean. 
Rates of fruit bat departure from colonies were observed to be greatest 
between 10 and 40 minutes after sunset, but because departures 
continued after darkness when they are difficult to see, EDCs represent 
minimum counts (Wiles et al. 1989). In addition, evening counts of 
solitary or extra-colonial bats were made from vantage points 
determined to overlap least with the apparent dispersal trajectory of 
colony bats. Islandwide estimates were based on the number of fruit 
bats recorded, island size, extent of forest cover and abundance and 
diversity of food-plant species (Wiles et al. 1989).
    Surveys of the northern islands undertaken in 2000 (Cruz et al. 
2000a-f) employed a combination of the same methods used by Wiles et 
al. (1989) in 1983 and, on Anatahan, by Worthington et al. (2001) in 
1995: land- and sea-based colony searches, EDCs, station-counts of 
extra-colonial bats, and direct day-time counts at roosts. On each 
island they visited, Cruz et al. (2000a-f) spent periods conducting 
fruit bat surveys equal to or greater than periods spent by Wiles et 
al. (1989) on the same six islands. The individual island-wide 
estimates of Cruz et al. (2000a-f) thus are comparable to those of 
Wiles et al. (1989), but owing to logistical and fiscal constraints, 
Cruz et al. (2000a-f) did not visit Asuncion and Maug. The 2000 surveys 
yielded an estimate of 4,450 fruit bats for the 6 northern islands they 
visited (Cruz et al. 2000a-f). The 1983 surveys yielded an estimate of 
7,025 fruit bats for the same six islands (Wiles et al. 1989). A 
conservative interpretation of these data indicates a 37 percent 
decline in fruit bat numbers between 1983 and 2000 among these six 
northern islands.
    The majority of this decline was recorded on two of the three 
largest northern islands, Anatahan (12.5 square mi (32.3 square km)) 
and Pagan (18.4 square mi (47.7 square km)), which together harbored 
roughly 70 percent of the archipelago's fruit bats in the 1980s (Wiles 
et al. 1989). These two islands, which were estimated to support a 
total of 5,500 fruit bats in 1983, were estimated to have only 2,500 
fruit bats in 2000; approximately a 45 percent decline since 1983 (Cruz 
et al. 2000d, 2000e). These declines may be related to severe habitat 
damage caused by feral ungulates (Cruz et al. 2000d, 2000e; Kessler 
2000a; see discussion in Background, Habitat section).
    On Anatahan, surveys identified about 3,000 fruit bats in 1983 
(Wiles et al. 1989), 1,902-2,136 individuals in 1995 (Marshall et al. 
1995; Worthington et al. 2001), and roughly 1,000 in 2000 (Cruz et al. 
2000d; Kessler 2000a). In conjunction with the ungulate eradication 
project, fruit bats on Anatahan have been surveyed frequently since 
2002. Aerial (helicopter) surveys were conducted in May 2002; February, 
March, April, August, October, and December 2003; and January, 
February, March, July, and September 2004. These surveys are

[[Page 1198]]

performed over 2 days, with 4 hours spent over the island each day. 
Coverage of the island during each survey is complete. Fruit bat 
colonies are rapidly reconnoitered to verify known roost sites and 
identify new ones, colonies are counted and mapped, and individual bats 
in flight also are counted. After the volcanic eruption in May 2003, 
the island's state of devegetation facilitated accurate location of all 
colonies (C. Kessler, in litt. 2003, pers. comm. 2004c). In 2002 and 
early 2003, estimates of the island's bat population ranged from 950 to 
1,250 (C. Kessler, in litt. 2003). Following Anatahan's volcanic 
eruption in May 2003, aerial surveys conducted in August, October, and 
December of 2003 yielded estimates of 350-700 bats, and in January and 
February of 2004, bat numbers were estimated at 500-600 and 550-650, 
respectively (C. Kessler, in litt. 2003, pers. comm. 2004c). Surveys in 
March, July, and September of 2004 yielded increased estimates of about 
1,000-1,200 bats (C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004c). This localized 
increase in fruit bat numbers over a short period of time (1 to 1.5 
years) was concomitant with some vegetation recovery, and indicates 
that Anatahan's population may have reached its pre-eruption level, 
whether the source of the additional bats is immigration, recruitment 
of newly volant (flying) young, or both (see Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species section).
    On Pagan, fruit bat numbers were estimated at 2,500 in 1983 (Wiles 
et al. 1983), and at roughly 1,500 in 1999 and 2000 (Cruz et al. 
2000e). On the third-largest northern island, Agrihan (18.3 square mi 
(mi\2\) (47.4 square km (km\2\)), results of surveys in 1983 and 2000 
indicate that fruit bat numbers have been stable at about 1,000 
individuals (Wiles et al. 1989; Cruz et al. 2000f).
    The remaining northern islands with fruit bat populations, Maug, 
Asuncion, Alamagan, Guguan, and Sarigan, all are less than 5 square mi 
(13 square km) (Table 1), and harbor from 100 to 500 bats (Cruz et al. 
2000a, b, c). Sarigan, the next island north of Anatahan, has been 
surveyed more frequently in recent years in conjunction with the 
ungulate eradication there. A 1997 survey of Sarigan estimated the 
population at 170 fruit bats, and a 1999 survey resulted in an estimate 
of 150-200 individuals (Wiles 1999). Surveys between 1983 and 2000 on 
Sarigan estimated populations of approximately 125-235 bats (Wiles et 
al. 1989; Fancy et al. 1999; Wiles and Johnson 2004). In 2001, surveys 
estimated 300-400 bats (Wiles and Johnson 2004). The observed increase 
on Sarigan may reflect a response to the recovery of forest vegetation 
after the eradication of feral goats and pigs from the island in 1998 
(Zoology Unlimited 1998). As described above in the discussion of 
interislands movements, the increase in 2001 may also reflect 
immigration to Sarigan from Anatahan, 23 mi (37 km) to the south, as 
well as recruitment of newly volant young (Wiles and Johnson 2004). The 
potential for increase in fruit bat numbers on Sarigan is thought to be 
limited, however, by the island's small size (1.9 mi\2\ (4.9 km\2\)), 
the small extent of forest habitat (as described above, in the Habitat 
section), and the prevalence of monotypic stands of coconut, which 
provide only minimal forage habitat for fruit bats (Wiles and Johnson 
2004; G. Wiles, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly 
CNMI DFW), pers. comm. 2004).


    On Guam, the sighting of fruit bats was considered to be ``not * * 
* uncommon'' in the 1920s (Crampton 1921). However, by 1931, bats were 
uncommon on Guam, possibly because of the introduction of firearms 
(Coultas 1931). Woodside (1958) reported that in 1958, the Guam 
population was estimated to number no more than 3,000, although the 
method used to make this estimate is not known (Utzurrum et al. 2004). 
This estimate had dropped by an order of magnitude, to between 200 and 
750 animals by 1995, in part because of predation by the introduced 
brown treesnake (Wiles et al. 1995; Wiles 1996). During 1998, bat 
populations on Guam varied from an estimated low of 210-245 to a high 
of 910-980 bats (Wiles 1998), and in 1999, bat numbers ranged from an 
estimated low of 199-235 to a high of 327-371 (Wiles 1999). The most 
recent surveys on Guam put the bat population at fewer than 100 
individuals (D. Janecke, in litt. 2003; A. Brooke, in litt. 2003). 
Predation by brown treesnakes on non-volant young probably prevents 
recruitment of juvenile bats on Guam (Wiles et al. 1995; Wiles 1996; G. 
Wiles, in litt. 2003).

Previous Federal Action

    The Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus) was listed as 
endangered in 1984 on Guam (49 FR 33881). It was listed as a subspecies 
found only on Guam. More recent research over the years since this 
subspecies was listed indicates that Pteropus mariannus mariannus is 
not a subspecies endemic only to Guam but the Guam population is part 
of a subspecies including populations of bats on other islands that 
interact with each other (movement between islands). We believe that it 
is appropriate to list these bat populations in Guam and CNMI as one 
subspecies (63 FR 14641).
    All the bat populations on Guam and in the CNMI are facing a number 
of threats, with most populations declining. We published a proposed 
rule on March 26, 1998 to reclassify the Mariana fruit bat on Guam from 
endangered to threatened and list all the bat populations on Guam and 
other CNMI islands as one subspecies throughout its range as threatened 
(63 FR 14641, 69 FR 30277).
    We proposed to list the subspecies as threatened because we wanted 
to: (1) Simplify actions and expenditures. We could affect a 
downlisting for the population on Guam with little or no additional 
time and expense in conjunction with proposing to list the subspecies 
throughout its range, instead of taking a separate action to downlist 
the population on Guam; and (2) acknowledge a change in taxonomy. When 
we originally listed the population on Guam, we believed it to be a 
separate subspecies endemic only to Guam with a declining population 
and significant threats to it which merited endangered status. However, 
by including the other populations in the listing, we are evaluating a 
larger number of bats with a wider distribution, although threats to 
each population remain. Hence, we proposed threatened status for the 
entire population, instead of having one population as endangered and 
the others as threatened.
    In that proposed rule, we included a detailed history of Federal 
actions completed prior to the publication of the proposal. The public 
comment period closed on May 11, 1998 (63 FR 14641) and was reopened 
from May 29, 1998, through July 10, 1998 (63 FR 29367) to accommodate 
requests for public hearings. We designated critical habitat for the 
Mariana fruit bat on Guam in a final rule published in the Federal 
Register on October 28, 2004 (68 FR 62944). Pursuant to a settlement 
agreement approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Hawaii on August 21, 2002, we must make a final listing decision on the 
Mariana fruit bat and submit the final rule to the Federal Register by 
December 31, 2004. See Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, Civil 
No. 99-00603 (D. Haw.).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the proposed rule published on March 26, 1998 (63 FR 14641), we 
requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the

[[Page 1199]]

proposal. We also contacted appropriate Federal, Territorial, and 
Commonwealth agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other 
interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. 
Newspaper notices were published in the Marianas Variety (Saipan, CNMI) 
and Pacific Daily News (Guam), inviting general public comment and 
attendance at public hearings. We held public hearings on June 24, 
1998, on Saipan and June 25, 1998, on Rota.
    We reopened the public comment period on May 27, 2004 (69 FR 
30277), to permit additional public review. In order to address any 
additional comments received during the reopened comment period, and 
meet the court order to submit to the Federal Register a final listing 
decision for the Mariana fruit bat no later than December 31, 2004, we 
reopened the comment period for 30 days, until June 28, 2004. The 
reopened comment period (and associated notifications in local media 
and via direct mailing) gave interested parties additional time to 
consider the information in the proposed rule and provide comments and 
new information.
    During the first comment period in 1998, we received 13 written 
comments, including those submitted at the public hearings. During the 
reopened comment period in 2004, we received four additional written 
comments, including one from a Government of Guam agency, and one from 
a CNMI government agency. Several individuals or groups submitted 
comments in both the original and the reopened comment periods, or 
during hearings and later in writing. Of those comments received in 
1998, eight opposed listing in the CNMI, one opposed listing in the 
CNMI and opposed downlisting on Guam, one opposed downlisting on Guam, 
one opposed downlisting on Guam but was in favor of listing in the 
CNMI, and one supported listing in the CNMI. In addition to several 
private citizens, the CNMI Governor, Director of the DFW, Rota DLNR 
Resident Director, Rota Mayor, and CNMI Senator Thomas P. Villagomez 
all opposed the proposal. The Air Force supported listing the fruit bat 
as threatened throughout the archipelago, but also stated that 
reclassification from endangered to threatened on Guam would be 
``misleading and confusing to the public,'' and cited an article in the 
local press that misrepresented a temporary influx of fruit bats from 
Rota as an increase in the Guam population (Thomas Churan, Air Force, 
in litt. 1998; also see Issue 15, below). The Air Force also expressed 
its belief that the Mariana fruit bat is more susceptible to 
extirpation on Guam than in the CNMI because of the presence of the 
brown treesnake there, and recommended that the fruit bat retain its 
status as endangered on Guam (T. Churan, in litt. 1998). The Mariana 
Audubon Society supported listing all bats in the Mariana archipelago 
as endangered rather than threatened. Three of the four parties that 
submitted comments during the reopened comment period in 2004 supported 
the listing, including the DAWR. The CNMI DFW opposed the listing.
    This final rule has been revised and updated to reflect the 
pertinent comments and information received during the comment periods. 
Comments of similar nature are grouped under a single issue. In 
addition, we considered and incorporated into the final rule all 
appropriate information obtained through the public comment period.

Peer Review

    In 1998, in accordance with our peer review policy published on 
July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited opinions from four individuals 
who have expertise with the species and the geographic region where the 
species occurs, and are familiar with conservation biology principles. 
We received written comments from two experts and incorporated their 
information into the final rule. One peer reviewer described the 
threats posed to the bats on Guam by brown treesnake predation and 
habitat destruction by feral ungulates. This reviewer did not include 
any professional judgment about movement of bats between islands, but 
has published peer-reviewed literature containing information that 
supports interisland exchange. The other expert expressed agreement and 
knowledge that there is interisland exchange.
    In 2004, we solicited additional scientific peer review of the 
proposed rule from eight specialists, including one of the two who 
provided peer review in 1998. Of these, five responded and provided 
additional factual information, including recent survey results, the 
impact of typhoons and illegal hunting on fruit bats in the southern 
islands, and recent genetic studies of other Pteropus species elsewhere 
in the Pacific. Reviewers also provided citations for literature, 
corrections on minor factual issues, and input on interpretation of the 
existing information.
    One reviewer provided a synopsis of changes in fruit bat numbers 
over the past 10-20 years on individual islands in the archipelago and 
noted declines on Guam, Anatahan, and Pagan. This synopsis was based 
partly on the reviewer's own research and partly on the work of others. 
Based on 19 years of fruit bat research, surveys, and personal 
observations in the Mariana Islands while employed as a Senior 
Biologist with the Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, 
this reviewer (who also authored the original recovery plan for the 
Mariana fruit bat on Guam, agency reports, and numerous peer-reviewed 
research papers on the Mariana fruit bat (e.g., Wiles and Payne 1986; 
Wiles 1987a, b; Wiles et al. 1989; Wiles and Glass 1990; Wiles 1992; 
Wiles et al. 1995; Wiles and Johnson 2004) emphasized three major 
threats to Mariana fruit bats: illegal hunting (described as 
``chronic'' on Rota), habitat destruction by feral ungulates, and brown 
treesnake predation. Another reviewer, a biologist who spent two years 
monitoring fruit bats on Rota and elsewhere in the CNMI for the CNMI 
DFW, provided specific information about firsthand observations and 
evidence of illegal hunting of fruit bats on Rota after Typhoon 
Pongsona, described reports received of numerous other illegal hunting, 
and provided survey information documenting post-typhoon decline in 
fruit bats on Rota and subsequent increase in numbers. Three reviewers, 
two of whom hold doctorates based on research on the biology and 
ecology of island fruit bats, and one of whom is currently conducting a 
graduate research project on fruit bats on Guam, expressed their 
professional opinions that anthropogenic disturbances such as illegal 
hunting and habitat loss are likely to be significant threats to the 
Mariana fruit bat, and that these disturbances are periodically 
exacerbated by severe storms.
    Two reviewers cited their own observations and those of other 
workers that indicated likely interisland movements between Sarigan and 
Anatahan and between Rota and Guam, and another reviewer cited 
information collected by others indicating likely interisland movement 
in the archipelago. Three of the five reviewers provided information 
and professional opinion that supported our treating all fruit bats 
occurring in the Mariana archipelago as a single subspecies, Pteropus 
mariannus mariannus, as described in the proposed rule; the other two 
expressed concern about the possible occurrence of genetically isolated 
populations within the range of fruit bats in the Mariana Islands. Two 
reviewers expressed reservations about treating all fruit bats in the 

[[Page 1200]]

as one taxon without empirical data from genetic or radio-telemetry 
studies. However, one of these reviewers also described unpublished 
genetic research on fruit bats in Polynesia that indicates a lack of 
within-archipelago genetic structure in a widespread species that 
shares social and behavioral traits with the Mariana fruit bat.
    Issue 1: The Service lacks adequate data to assess the population 
status of Mariana fruit bats. Comprehensive surveys are required to 
determine the status of Mariana fruit bats in the northern islands.
    Our Response: In this case, we believe existing data are adequate 
to assess the overall status of the Mariana fruit bat. Subsequent to 
listing, two additional multi-island surveys of bats in the Mariana 
Islands have been conducted. One of these included six of the 10 
northern islands (Cruz et al. 2000a-f) and yielded data comparable to 
those collected in 1983 by Wiles et al. (1989). The other conducted in 
2001 (Johnson 2001) included all of the islands in the archipelago but 
employed methods that precluded direct comparison with other surveys. A 
conservative interpretation of these data indicate that bat numbers 
have declined on the two islands, which historically had large numbers 
of fruit bats in the archipelago.
    Issue 2: The Service's evidence of bats moving between islands was 
inadequate or only anecdotal, and without empirical evidence of 
interisland movement, a determination that all fruit bats in the 
Mariana Islands belong to the same subspecies is premature. 
Fluctuations in bat numbers, particularly on Guam, may be caused by 
    Our Response: Evidence for the movement of bats between islands in 
the Mariana archipelago is discussed in the Background subsection 
above. The large fluctuations in the Guam bat population over a short 
period of time (Wiles 1998; A. Brooke, in litt. 2003) coupled with a 
low reproductive rate make it unlikely that changes in the Guam 
population reflect recruitment from births. Predation by brown 
treesnakes largely precludes the recruitment of young bats into the 
Guam population (Pierson and Rainey 1992; Wiles 1987a; G. Wiles in 
litt. 2003).
    Issue 3: Long term survey data from Rota indicate natural 
fluctuations in fruit bat numbers on various timescales. Archipelago-
wide surveys and the apparent decline they document may not account for 
these natural fluctuations.
    Our Response: To date, we are aware of no analysis of survey data 
from Rota that: (1) Demonstrates a correlation between variation in 
fruit bat numbers and some other natural cycle, or (2) controls for the 
hunting and other human disturbance.
    Issue 4: CNMI government agencies feel the Service overstated the 
illegal hunting problem, and stated that the CNMI DFW is instituting 
law enforcement reforms, and the CNMI government is committed to the 
enforcement of wildlife regulations. In contrast, most peer reviewers 
identified illegal hunting and lack of enforcement as a significant 
threat to the Mariana fruit bat, especially in the CNMI, and an 
official from Guam DAWR expressed concern that recruitment of immigrant 
bats to Guam is threatened by illegal hunting on Rota.
    Our Response: We appreciate the CNMI DFW's commitment to law 
enforcement. We acknowledge that data on illegal hunting is difficult 
to obtain and assess, and that most of the information regarding 
illegal hunting is anecdotal. We have numerous documented observations 
and reports of illegal hunting incidents in the CNMI (e.g., Arnold 
Palacios, CNMI DWF, in litt. 1990; T. Eckhardt, Service, in litt. 1998; 
J. Esselstyn, pers. comm. 2004a; C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004a). We 
address the threat to the Mariana fruit bats from illegal hunting in 
Factor B in the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section.
    Issue 5: The Service was selective in its presentation of the 
impacts of feral animals on Mariana fruit bats, presenting it in a poor 
light to justify listing. The Service did not consider the feral animal 
eradication project on Sarigan, and failed to note that the CNMI DFW 
has an existing federally funded program addressing feral animal damage 
(Feral Animal Monitoring and Management (Project No. W-1-R-1-11; Job 
number 2)).
    Our Response: We have incorporated the results of the Sarigan Feral 
Animal Control Project (Zoology Unlimited 1998) into this final rule 
and discuss the threats posed to fruit bats by feral animals (see 
discussion in the Background section, and Factor A in the Summary of 
Factors Affecting the Species section). Although DFW's Feral Animal 
Monitoring and Management Program has included survey of feral animals 
on many of the northern islands and involvement in several other 
projects, current DFW projections indicate that sufficient funding will 
not be available to complete the eradication of feral ungulates from 
Anatahan, and lack of material support will prevent the implementation 
of plans for feral animal control in the CNMI (L. Williams, pers. comm. 
    Issue 6: Present CNMI Coastal Resources Management (CRM) and DLNR 
land use regulations adequately protect Mariana fruit bat habitat 
(limestone forest) from development, as exemplified by the 
modifications required for construction of the Rota Resort and Country 
Club. Habitat is also being protected through island-wide master 
planning and through implementation of habitat conservation plans 
(HCPs) on Saipan and Rota.
    Our Response: We support the use of local land use regulations to 
promote the conservation of the Mariana fruit bat and its habitat. 
However, the best measure of their past effectiveness in protecting the 
Mariana fruit bat is the success of these regulations in maintaining 
the integrity of native limestone forest systems in the CNMI, 
particularly in the southern islands where development pressures are 
greatest. Direct and secondary effects of human activity continue to 
cause alteration of native forest areas despite these protections.
    Through the Act's section 10 and HCP planning process, listed 
species may be lawfully taken and measures implemented to reduce 
activity impacts on the species and its habitat. Two HCPs are currently 
under development on CNMI and, if completed and implemented, should 
contribute to fruit bat conservation. The successful completion of 
these HCP projects in the CNMI is not sufficiently certain to consider 
them in making this listing decision. See our Policy for Evaluation of 
Conservation Efforts When Making Listing Decisions (PECE policy) (68 FR 
15100, March 28, 2003).
    Issue 7: The Service did not account for actions by the CNMI 
government to control the brown treesnake, thereby decreasing the 
threat of this factor to the Mariana fruit bat.
    Our Response: We recognize that ongoing actions on Guam, Saipan, 
Tinian, and Rota are important and reduce the threat of accidental 
introduction of the brown treesnake. The U.S. Department of the 
Interior (DOI) Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), U.S. Department of 
Defense (DOD), USDA Wildlife Services, Service, Government of Guam, 
CNMI, and State of Hawaii are working together regionally to control 
brown treesnakes, particularly around transport centers (OIA 1999). The 
OIA and DOD actively fund research into methods of controlling snakes 
on Guam, in part to reduce the threat of introduction to other Pacific 
islands (OIA 1999). Both the CNMI DFW and Guam DAWR conduct brown 
treesnake public awareness educational campaigns

[[Page 1201]]

consisting of school presentations, news releases, workshops, and 
poster/pamphlet distribution (Perry et al. 1996), and the CNMI 
maintains a snake reporting hotline (Nate Hawley, CNMI DFW, pers. comm. 
2004a). In 1996, the CNMI became a signatory of the Memorandum of 
Agreement (MOA) between the governments of Hawaii, Guam, and the CNMI, 
and individual Federal government agencies concerned with brown 
treesnake eradication and control (DOI et al. 1993; DOI et al. 1996). 
This MOA commits the CNMI to a proactive brown treesnake program and 
allows the CNMI to apply for funding from the allotment of money 
appropriated by the U.S. Congress each year for brown treesnake control 
and eradication (OIA 1999).
    Despite ongoing efforts, evidence exists that treesnakes are 
present on Saipan. A concrete barrier completed in 2004 at the 
commercial port on Saipan aids in the prevention of new introductions 
from Guam, but this barrier does not address the problem of the 
treesnakes already present on the island. The presence of brown 
treesnakes on Saipan poses a threat to the recovery of the fruit bat 
population there until the treesnakes are controlled throughout the 
island or are eradicated.
    On Tinian, brown treesnakes, have been documented and are not 
thought to be established (Hawley 2002). The upcoming construction of a 
concrete snake barrier on Tinian will aid in the prevention of 
treesnake introductions to the island.
    On Rota, two dead brown treesnakes were found in a cargo container 
in 1991, and in another, a live treesnake was sighted (N. Hawley, pers. 
comm. 2004a). The fence surrounding Rota's port was retrofitted with a 
snake barrier subsequent to the discovery of the two dead treesnakes, 
but damage and maintenance difficulties have resulted in deterioration 
of the barrier, and it was disassembled in 2002 (Gad Perry, U.S. 
Geological Survey-Biological Resource Division, in litt., 1998; N. 
Hawley, pers. comm. 2004b). CNMI DFW recommended replacing the fence 
with a concrete barrier around the cargo area; however, the barrier has 
not yet been constructed. These efforts were considered in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Species section below.
    Issue 8: Existing regulations of the CNMI government are 
satisfactory for protecting the Mariana fruit bat so Federal listing is 
not necessary. The Mariana fruit bat is listed as threatened or 
endangered by the CNMI, and the Service was incorrect in stating that 
the CNMI lifted the moratorium on hunting of Mariana fruit bats. 
Therefore, the threat of legalized hunting is non-existent.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that the CNMI has regulations 
protecting the Mariana fruit bat, but we have concluded that these 
regulations either do not contain sufficient protections or have not 
been adequately enforced to protect bat populations (see Factor D 
    In the proposed rule, we stated that the moratorium on the taking 
of Mariana fruit bats on all islands (Public Law 5-21, September 1977) 
had been lifted. We based this on a memo from the CNMI Assistant 
Attorney General for DLNR to our Law Enforcement (LE) office on Guam 
which stated that the hunting moratorium was no longer in effect 
(Richard Folta, Office of the Governor, Guam, in litt. 1996). In a 
subsequent letter to the Service, the Assistant Attorney General stated 
that the previous communication had been in error, and that the 
moratorium was still in effect (R. Folta, in litt. 1996). This new 
information has been incorporated into this final rule.
    Issue 9: Listing the bat will not improve law enforcement, due in 
part, to the resource limitations of the Service's Division of Law 
Enforcement. No Service LE personnel are stationed in the CNMI, so the 
Service will be unable to enforce Federal regulations associated with 
the listing.
    Our Response: The Service does have a wildlife inspector stationed 
in the Marianas who provides some enforcement of regulations associated 
with the Act. Declines in illegal fruit bat imports to Guam and the 
CNMI have been associated with the presence of LE personnel stationed 
on Guam and efforts of LE personnel based in Honolulu (Sheeline 1991; 
George Phocas, Service, pers. comm. 2004). We work in cooperative 
partnerships with Territorial, Commonwealth, State, local, and Federal 
agencies to further our interdiction and enforcement efforts. In the 
Mariana Islands, Service personnel are presently assisted by local 
customs officers, conservation officers, and quarantine officials in 
the enforcement of the Act. It is important to note that the Act 
provides an additional set of enforcement tools for the protection of 
listed species than are currently available for the fruit bat in the 
    Issue 10: The listing of the Mariana fruit bat in the CNMI may 
result in severe harassment to the species.
    Our Response: There has been no evidence to suggest that harassment 
of fruit bats is likely to occur as a result of listing. We understand 
that hunting of fruit bats takes place on a regular basis in the CNMI 
despite their protection under CNMI law, but all of the information we 
have received indicates that this hunting is motivated by local 
tradition, not by malicious intent in response to CNMI laws and 
regulations. Whatever the motivations for harassment or illegal hunting 
of Mariana fruit bats, their listing under the Act can provide 
additional protection through the enforcement of Federal law. In sum, 
we believe that the protections afforded to Mariana fruit bats by their 
being listed as threatened throughout their range will aid in their 
conservation and recovery.
    Issue 11: Increased funding to the CNMI for endangered species 
recovery is unlikely. Listing the bat as threatened instead of 
endangered has the potential to restrict funding opportunities to 
conduct research and management because the Service's funding system 
places higher priority on species designated as endangered as compared 
to those listed as threatened.
    Our Response: Under their cooperative agreement with us, DFW can 
apply for funding under section 6 of the Act for projects specifically 
related to Mariana fruit bat conservation. We do not categorically 
assign higher priority for funding or recovery actions to species that 
are listed as endangered over those that are listed as threatened.
    Issue 12: Protection for the Mariana fruit bat on Farallon de 
Medinilla should come from the Service through the consultation process 
under section 7 of the Act. Listing the Mariana fruit bat in the CNMI 
will provide no additional protection with regard to military 
    Our Response: Prior to the publication of this final rule, the 
Mariana fruit bat was not federally listed in the CNMI. Federal 
agencies, therefore, have not been required to consult on the effects 
of their actions in the CNMI on the fruit bat. Conversely, 30 days 
after the publication of this rule, the Mariana fruit bat becomes 
federally listed as threatened in the CNMI and throughout its range, 
and Federal agencies will be responsible for consulting with us when 
their activities may affect the fruit bat on Farallon de Medinilla or 
other islands in the CNMI.
    Issue 13: The Service misinterpreted the data and conclusions of 
Morton (1996) in stating that military aircraft training activities on 
Guam cause or create the potential for abandonment of roosting areas.
    Our Response: Current air traffic patterns and volume do not pose a 
threat. There is the potential for roost abandonment if air traffic 
patterns or volume increase significantly (Morton 1996). Significant 
changes could

[[Page 1202]]

include more frequent departures and arrivals, and larger or noisier 
    Issue 14: The rule is politically motivated, biased, based on 
assumptions and broad, unsubstantiated statements, speculative 
observations, and anecdotal evidence.
    Our Response: We used the best scientific information available in 
our determination to list the Mariana fruit bat as threatened in the 
CNMI and reclassify from endangered to threatened on Guam. Threats to 
the Mariana fruit bat are documented in the Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species section of this final rule. We did not rely 
solely on anecdotal information in making a decision to list this 
species as threatened. The rule includes citation to more than 70 
published references, more than 40 scientific reports prepared for 
government agencies and universities, and numerous personal 
communications from scientists and others knowledgeable about fruit 
bats and the Mariana Islands and/or closely involved in natural 
resources management in the archipelago. The anecdotal information we 
did use is consistent with the body of scientific reports.
    Issue 15: Some commenters felt that listing the Mariana fruit bat 
in the CNMI is justified, but many thought that reclassifying the fruit 
bat from endangered to threatened on Guam, and listing the fruit bat as 
threatened rather than endangered in the CNMI, was incorrect. Some of 
these commenters believe that reclassifying the Mariana fruit bat on 
Guam has already sent the wrong message to the public because media 
reports have misinterpreted the proposal as evidence of recovery. Some 
also expressed concern that reclassification of the fruit bat on Guam 
could undermine conservation funding. They suggest that the Service 
either leave the Guam population listed as endangered, or list all bats 
in the Mariana Islands as endangered rather than threatened.
    Our Response: We define an endangered species as one which is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range. Threatened species are defined as those which are likely to 
become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of their range. Because we consider the fruit bats 
on all individual islands in the Mariana archipelago as part of a 
single, archipelago-wide subspecies, Pteropus mariannus mariannus, we 
now are evaluating a larger number of bats with a more widespread 
distribution than was evaluated for the original listing in 1984, which 
included only the fruit bat population on Guam. Listing Pteropus 
mariannus mariannus as threatened throughout its range, including bats 
in both the CNMI and Guam, retains an appropriate level of protection 
for this bat on Guam while increasing overall protection to the Mariana 
fruit bat throughout the Mariana Islands, and it does not undermine 
potential funding for fruit bat conservation on Guam.
    Issue 16: The Service did not properly take into account the 
cultural importance of the Mariana fruit bat in its listing decision. 
For example, some commenters suggested that information from the 
document ``Cultural Significance of Pacific Fruit Bats (Pteropus) to 
the Chamorro People of Guam'' (Sheeline 1991) should have been 
incorporated into the proposed rule.
    Our Response: We incorporated information contained in Sheeline 
(1991) into this final rule in the section Summary of Factors Affecting 
the Species, subsection B.
    Issue 17: If listing occurs, the people of the CNMI deserve the 
same consideration that the Federal government has given to Native 
Americans, such as Alaskan natives, through inclusion of a provision to 
provide for limited take of Mariana fruit bats for cultural use.
    Our Response: We recognize the importance of traditional values to 
native cultures. This is reflected in our close collaboration with 
agencies in the CNMI to develop HCPs. However, the Act specifically 
exempts only Alaskan natives from the take prohibitions if such take is 
primarily for subsistence purposes and meets certain other conditions 
(16 U.S.C.Sec.  1539 (e)), but subsistence take by other groups is not 
exempted by the Act.
    Issue 18: One commenter stated that disease is the cause of decline 
of Mariana fruit bats on Rota.
    Our Response: We are unaware of any evidence of disease affecting 
populations of Mariana fruit bats on Rota or elsewhere in the Mariana 
    Issue 19: The Service should clear up taxonomic questions 
surrounding the Mariana fruit bat and determine exactly how many taxa 
inhabit the Mariana Islands before listing is considered. Several peer 
reviewers expressed concern about the taxonomic uncertainties within 
western Pacific Pteropus, and that there may be more than one taxon 
endemic to the Marianas.
    Our Response: Both the proposed and final rules address taxonomic 
questions in detail (see the Background subsection under SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION). If new information such as results from genetic studies 
of fruit bats in the Mariana Islands indicate the presence of 
additional subspecies, we will take appropriate action.
    Issue 20: One commenter disagreed with the Service's proposed 
determination that designation of critical habitat for the Mariana 
fruit bat would not be prudent because the identification of specific 
locations as critical habitat would lead to increased illegal hunting, 
and would thus increase the threats to the species.
    Our Response: Since publication of the proposed rule in 1998, 
several key court decisions have given us new guidance on making our 
``not prudent'' critical habitat determinations. Furthermore, we now 
have designated critical habitat for the Mariana fruit bat on Guam (69 
FR 62944). We have reexamined the prudency of designating critical 
habitat for the Mariana fruit bat based on these considerations and now 
determine that such a designation would be prudent. Our reasoning is 
presented in the Critical Habitat section below.
    Issue 21: Why is the Service concerning itself with a listing 
priority tier \3/4\ activity when other species are in greater need of 
attention? The Service published the proposed rule based on fiscal and 
timing reasons rather than biological reasons.
    Our Response: This final rule was prepared under the terms of a 
Federal court-approved settlement agreement that stipulated we submit a 
final listing determination for the Mariana fruit bat to the Federal 
Register no later than December 31, 2004 (Center for Biological 
Diversity v. Norton, Civil No. 99-00603 (D. Haw.)).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 424) promulgated 
to implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth the procedures 
for adding species to the Federal lists. 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 the Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus) in 
the Mariana Islands are as follows:
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range. Mariana fruit bats have been 
observed to feed on the fruits, flowers, and leaves of at least 22 
plants, all but three of which are native to the Mariana Islands; fruit 
bats also have been documented to establish roosts primarily in mature

[[Page 1203]]

native trees within landscapes dominated by native forest (Wiles 1983, 
1987a). The Mariana fruit bat depends on native forest trees for food 
and colonial roost sites where mating, parturition, and other important 
social and biological functions take place. Although Mariana fruit bats 
have been observed to feed on cultivated food plants such as Artocarpus 
altilis and Carica papaya (Wiles 1987a), and have been observed to 
roost in Theobroma cacao (Glass and Taisacan 1988), nonnative plants 
make up a very small fraction of the resources used by the subspecies 
(Wiles 1987b; Worthington and Taisacan 1996) (see Habitat section 
above). The degradation and loss of native forest, therefore, deprives 
fruit bats of essential resources for survival and reproduction. The 
southern islands in the Mariana archipelago have lost most of their 
original native forest, primarily over several centuries of large-scale 
agriculture, growing human populations, economic development, and 
military activities (Bowers 1950; Fosberg 1960; see discussion). Few 
Mariana fruit bats occur today on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, the islands 
that have sustained the greatest human disturbance and habitat loss.
    Mariana fruit bats have evolved with, and are dependent for food 
and shelter on, trees and other plants that occur in native forests in 
the Mariana Islands. The degradation or loss of these forests is a key 
threat to the survival of this subspecies. The loss of native forests 
in the Marianas has various sources. The foraging of feral ungulates 
such as goats and pigs prevent forest regeneration because they eat 
ground-layer vegetation and seedlings of understory and canopy species; 
the rooting and stereotypical path-making of ungulates promote erosion 
and facilitate the invasion of native forests by alien plants (Marshall 
et al. 1995; Kessler 1997; Service 1998a,b). These invasive alien 
plants displace or smother native vegetation and prevent its 
regeneration (Kessler 2000b). In the southern islands of the CNMI and 
on Guam, where human influence has the longest continuous history, 
outright conversion of forests for agriculture or other development, as 
well as feral ungulates and alien plant species, historically has been 
a major source of loss of the Mariana fruit bat's forest habitat.
    Throughout the archipelago, feral ungulates have caused severe 
damage to native forest vegetation by browsing directly on plants, 
causing erosion (Marshall et al. 1995; Kessler 1997; Service 1998a,b), 
and retarding forest growth and regeneration (Lemke 1992b). The 
remaining native forest habitat for fruit bats on many of these islands 
continues to be threatened by the fragmentation and degradation 
associated with feral ungulates. Mariana fruit bats are dependent on 
native plants for food and native forest for roost sites. Soil erosion 
and chronically retarded forest regeneration, the concomitant loss of 
native forests caused by the browsing and rooting of feral ungulates, 
and subsequent invasion by nonnative plant species, collectively 
represent a significant threat to fruit bats. These vegetation and 
landscape changes deprive the fruit bats of the native plant species on 
which they depend for food, shelter, and places to conduct their social 
activities. The diminished quality and extent of native forest thus 
leads to an associated reduction in the number of fruit bats that the 
remaining habitat is able to support. The northern islands, for the 
most part, have escaped the effects of millennia of continuous human 
settlement, WWII, and post war activities that caused extensive habitat 
loss and fragmentation of native forest habitat (see Table 2). However, 
the introduction of feral ungulates to some of these islands as 
recently as 40 years ago has resulted in rapid degradation and loss of 
native forest cover, notably on Anatahan and Pagan, two of the largest 
islands that have supported relatively large numbers of fruit bats 
(Kessler 1997, 2000a).

Island by Island Summary

    Table 2 provides a synopsis of the numbers and status of fruit bats 
on each island in the archipelago.

                      Table 2.--Island Summary of Factors Affecting the Mariana Fruit Bat.
                                         [See text for full discussion]
                                                                                             Estimated fruit bat
          Island             Area  Mi\2\ (km\2\)    Historical factors      Key current           numbers and
                                                                              factors               status
Guam.....................  212.0 (549.0)           Hunting, habitat     Brown treesnakes,    < 100;
                                                    loss (development,   habitat loss.        declining.\10\
                                                    agriculture, feral
                                                    ungulates), brown
Rota.....................  37.0 (95.7)             Hunting, habitat     Hunting, habitat     1,100;
                                                    loss (development,   loss (development,   fluctuating.\9\
                                                    agriculture, feral   feral ungulates).
Aguiguan.................  2.7 (7.0)               Small island, feral  Small island, feral  Few individuals;
                                                    ungulates.           ungulates.           possibly
Tinian...................  39.3 (101.8)            Hunting, habitat     Habitat loss.......  Low numbers;
                                                    loss (development,                        intermittent
                                                    agriculture, feral                        presence. \7\
Saipan...................  47.5 (122.9)            Hunting, habitat     Habitat loss,        No colonies, few
                                                    loss (development,   possibly brown       individuals.\6\
                                                    agriculture, feral   treesnakes.
Farallon de Medinilla....  0.8 (2.0)               Small size, limited  Small size, limited  2 fruit bats
                                                    habitat,             habitat,             observed in
                                                    vegetation loss,     vegetation loss,     1996.\5\
                                                    erosion, fires.      erosion, fires.
Anatahan.................  12.5 (32.3)             Feral ungulates....  Feral ungulates,     1,000-1,200;
                                                                         invasive plants.     decline since
                                                                                              1983; recovering
                                                                                              from eruption.\4\
Sarigan..................  1.9 (5.0)               Feral ungulates;     Invasive plants;     300-400; increasing
                                                    little habitat.      habitat limited to   since ungulate
                                                                         72 ac (29 ha).       eradication.\3\
Guguan...................  1.5 (4.0)               Small island,        small island,        350; stable.\2\
                                                    little habitat.      little habitat.
Alamagan.................  4.3 (11.0)              Feral ungulates....  Feral ungulates....  200; possible
                                                                                              increase since
Pagan....................  18.4 (47.7)             Feral ungulates....  Feral ungulates....  1,500; decline
                                                                                              since 1983.\2\
Agrihan..................  18.3 (47.4)             Feral ungulates....  Feral ungulates      1,000; stable.\2\
Asuncion.................  2.9 (7.4)               Small island;        Small island;        400 \1\; stable or
                                                    little habitat.      little habitat.      increasing.

[[Page 1204]]

Maug.....................  0.8 (2.0)               Small island;        Small island;        < 25\1\, unknown.
                                                    little habitat.      little habitat.
\1\ Wiles et al. 1989.
\2\ Cruz et al. 2000f (Agrihan); 2000e (Pagan); 2000b (Alamagan), 2000a (Guguan).
\3\ Wiles and Johnson 2004.
\4\ C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004b.
\5\ T. Sutterfield, in litt. 1997.
\6\ L. Williams, pers. comm. 2004.
\7\ Krueger and O'Daniel 1999; Johnson 2001.
\8\ G. Wiles, pers. comm. 2004.
\9\ C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004b.
\10\ A. Brooke, in litt. 2003.

    Habitat loss and degradation pose a significant threat to the 
Mariana fruit bat because it deprives them of foraging and sheltering 
resources that are necessary for survival and reproduction. The largest 
and most heavily populated southern islands in the archipelago have 
suffered the greatest habitat loss, primarily in the form of land 
conversion for agriculture, and military, commercial, and residential 
development and infrastructure. The most severely altered of these 
islands, Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, today support very few Mariana fruit 
bats. About half of the northern islands of the CNMI, including the 
three largest, harbor large populations of feral ungulates. These 
animals have caused severe damage to, and in parts, of some islands, a 
complete loss of native forest habitat.
    Qualitative observations through time document increasing feral 
ungulate damage to native forest particularly on Pagan, Anatahan, and 
Alamagan (Wiles et al. 1989; Rice 1992; Kessler 1997, 2000a; Service 
1998a, b; Zoology Unlimited 1998; Cruz et al. 2000b, d, e, f). Feral 
goats and pigs have been present on Anatahan for about 40 years, and 
observations indicate that, more recently, the severe ungulate damage 
on Anatahan apparently has been rapid. Thomas Lemke (Montana Department 
of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, in litt. 1995) did not note significant 
erosion or large numbers of goats in the early 1980s. In 1992, Rice and 
Stinson (1992) did not see many feral animals but noted some areas 
where goat- and pig-caused damage was severe and warned that ungulate 
control was needed. In 1995, Marshall et al. (1995) observed many 
groups of goats, several pigs and widespread pig sign, and extensive 
loss of forest understory, devegetation, and erosion especially on the 
southern end of the island. Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 feral goats 
and 500 to 1,000 feral pigs were rapidly destroying the island's 
forests, and forest decline was directly associated with this decline 
in fruit bat numbers (Marshall et al. 1995; Kessler 2000a; Worthington 
et al. 2001). Photographic documentation provides evidence of rapid 
habitat alteration and loss between 1996 and 2000 (Kessler 2000a). Cruz 
et al. (2000d) described the feral ungulate damage they saw on Anatahan 
in 2000 as ``an ecological disaster in progress.''
    A program initiated in 2002 to eradicate goats from Anatahan has 
been resumed; however, not all goats have been removed and pigs are 
still present. Ground-based goat and pig eradication programs will have 
to wait until volcanic activity subsides (C. Kessler, pers. comm. 
2004b). On Pagan, where domestic livestock was released from captivity 
in 1981, rapidly growing populations of feral goats, pigs, and cattle 
already have caused severe damage to native forest and conversion of 
forest to grassland (Kessler 1997; Cruz et al. 2000e). No projects are 
currently underway to remove ungulates or restore habitat on Pagan, 
Agrihan, or Alamagan. However, the eradication of feral goats from 
Sarigan (Zoology Unlimited LLC 1998) has been successful; it has 
resulted in some recovery of native vegetation and habitat for fruit 
bats on that island, although this habitat is limited in extent to 
roughly 72 acres (29 ha), and the island probably cannot support more 
than a few hundred fruit bats (Wiles and Johnson 2004).
    The eradication of feral ungulates alone may not be sufficient to 
restore native habitat for fruit bats on the northern islands. The 
removal of grazing and browsing pressure apparently benefits invasive, 
alien plants, such as tangantangan and the vines Operculina ventricosa 
and Mikania micrantha, which are known to be significant threats to 
native vegetation on Pacific Islands (USDA 2004). These plants already 
have been observed to be increasing in abundance and alien vines are 
smothering other vegetation on Sarigan (where ungulates have been 
eradicated) and Anatahan (where goat numbers have been significantly 
reduced) (Kessler 2000a,b; C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004b). Tangantangan 
forms dense, monotypic stands that exclude other vegetation, and the 
two climbing vines form mats that smother shrub and forest vegetation 
and prevent its regeneration. Without an effective control program, 
invasive alien vegetation may become a significant threat to fruit bat 
habitat on islands where ungulates have been removed.
    DFW's Feral Animal Monitoring and Management Program has included 
surveys of feral animals on many of the northern islands. More 
recently, DFW's feral animal control efforts have included close 
involvement in the Sarigan goat eradication and subsequent monitoring, 
a 2001 survey of feral goats on Aguiguan, and vegetation monitoring and 
aerial control of feral goats on Anatahan (volcanic activity has 
interfered with plans to conduct ground-based goat and pig hunting on 
Anatahan) (L. Williams, pers. comm. 2004). These activities have been 
conducted with significant material and logistical assistance from the 
Navy and Service, and DFW is working with the Tinian Lands and 
Resources agency to increase feral goat hunting on Aguiguan. Currently, 
however, DFW anticipates that funding will not be available to complete 
the eradication of feral ungulates from Anatahan, and lack of material 
support will hinder realization of other existing plans for feral 
animal control in the CNMI (L. Williams, pers. comm. 2004).
    The use of Farallon de Medinilla in the CNMI by U.S. armed forces 
as a bombardment range has limited vegetation, increased erosion that

[[Page 1205]]

impedes regeneration of vegetation, and caused wildfires that destroyed 
habitat (Lusk et al. 1998). Together, these effects limit the habitat 
for fruit bats on this island.
    The southern islands of the archipelago have historically been the 
most densely populated (Bowers 1950), and they have therefore sustained 
the greatest anthropogenic changes to the landscape and proportionally 
the greatest losses of Mariana fruit bats. Feral ungulates were well 
established by the 18th century. Tinian, for example, harbored as many 
as 10,000 cattle, and by mid-century the island's landscape included 
extensive pastureland and the remaining forest had no understory 
(Barrat 1988 in Stinson et al. 1992), and today the island has very few 
bats. Significant habitat conversion on these islands took place during 
the 20th century, and resulted from large-scale agriculture, human 
population growth, wholesale destruction from bombing (especially on 
Saipan and Tinian) during World War II, and the introduction of 
invasive alien plants (Bowers 1950; Fosberg 1960).
    Between 1914 and 1944, extensive removal of native forests for 
development of sugar cane was greatly accelerated on the southern 
islands. Sugar cane fields covered almost all of Tinian and much of 
Aguiguan, Saipan, and Rota (Fosberg 1960). During and after World War 
II, military activities resulted in further dramatic reductions in 
fruit bat habitat on the southern islands. During this period, open 
agricultural fields and other areas prone to erosion on Saipan, Tinian, 
and Guam were seeded with tangantangan (Fosberg 1960). Tangantangan, 
which has a low to moderate stature and as described above grows in 
single-species stands with no substantial understory, provides no 
foraging resources or roost sites for fruit bats and is not suitable 
habitat for this species. Native forest cannot take root and grow where 
this alien tree has become established (Craig 1993), thus tangantangan 
effectively prevents regeneration of fruit bat habitat. After World War 
II, the extent of native forest remaining was estimated at 5 percent on 
Saipan, 2 percent on Tinian, 25 percent on Rota, and about 20 percent 
on Aguiguan (Bowers 1950). A report in 1986 estimated that Rota has 60 
percent native forest cover (Engbring et al. 1986), but whether this 
indicates some forest recovery since World War II is not clear. 
Although there has been some regeneration of native forest on Rota, 
there has been little or none on Saipan or Tinian (Engbring et al. 
1986). About 20 percent of the native forest persists on Aguiguan 
(Engbring et al. 1986) and these areas are occupied by feral goats.
    On Guam, land development and feral ungulates have altered most of 
the native vegetation on the island. The pre-settlement extent of 
forest habitat on the island is unknown, but Guam was likely to have 
been densely forested prior to human settlement (Mueller-Dombois and 
Fosberg 1998). People first settled on Guam at least 3,500 years ago, 
and beginning in the 16th century, hundreds of years of foreign 
colonization and trade brought additional livestock and agricultural 
technology to Guam (and to the other southern islands in the 
archipelago) that resulted in increased landscape-scale habitat 
alteration (Fosberg 1960; Stone 1970). A U.S. Forest Service survey in 
2002 estimated that approximately 63,830 ac (25,851 ha) or 48 percent 
of Guam's land area is under some type of forest (Donnegan et al. 
2004). A map of forest and non-forest cover types on Guam produced by 
the same study clearly shows that the largest contiguous forest tracts 
are in northern Guam (Donnegan et al. 2004), on lands that belong 
primarily to the U.S. Air Force (Air Force) but that also include 50 ac 
(20 ha) that belong to the Service. Generally describing this pattern 
of contiguous forest in the north and fragmentation in the south, 
Donnegan et al. (2004) notes that ``limestone soils in the north are 
covered with forest in areas not cultivated or urbanized,'' and 
volcanic soils on the southern half of Guam are covered primarily by 
grassland, with some ravine forest occurring in sheltered and leeward 
sites.'' Feral ungulates are abundant and widespread on the island and 
cause significant damage to the remaining native forest (Fosberg 1960; 
Stone 1970; A. Brooke, Service, pers. comm. 2004).
    Lands owned by the Air Force at Andersen Air Force Base include the 
largest contiguous forested areas in northern Guam. Restricted access 
to Andersen Air Force Base, and to the Service's Guam National Wildlife 
Refuge at Ritidian Point, provides protection from poaching and other 
human disturbance of the single remaining fruit bat roost on Guam and 
significant foraging habitat in the northern part of the island. Other 
Federal, Government of Guam, and some private lands also have forested 
areas that include adequate habitat for bats (Wiles et al. 1995; 68 FR 
    Currently, the Air Force is proposing to expand development and 
operations at Andersen Air Force Base, and has initiated review of its 
proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (Jeff 
Newman, Service, pers. comm. 2004). We do not have the details of the 
Air Force proposal at this time, nor do we know what effect this 
expansion may have on fruit bat habitat.
    As on Guam, development and other human activities on Saipan and 
Tinian eliminated all but 5 percent of each island's native forest by 
1982 (Engbring et al. 1986). On Saipan, the native forest has been 
replaced with mixed secondary growth forests, savanna grasslands, and 
dense thickets of tangantangan (Falanruw et al. 1989). Much of this 
habitat loss took place during World War II, when both islands were 
invaded (Baker 1946; Bowers 1950). The remaining forests on both 
islands continue to be threatened by planned development.
    Rota experienced extensive agricultural development prior to World 
War II. The fact that Rota was not invaded and occupied during the war, 
combined with the island's rugged topography, resulted in Rota 
retaining a greater proportion of its native forest than Saipan or 
Tinian (Baker 1946). However, Rota's commercial and agricultural 
development poses a threat to the island's limestone forest. One 18-
hole golf resort has been completed on Rota, another 1,025 ac (415 ha) 
are proposed to be developed into golf courses in the CNMI (CNMI 
Statistical yearbook 2001), and plans for additional large-scale 
development, together with smaller developments, continue to threaten 
the remaining limestone forest with destruction, fragmentation, and 
    In summary, loss of native forest habitat resulting from a variety 
of causes is a factor in the decline of the Mariana fruit bat. This 
loss restricts the availability of resources that fruit bats need to 
survive and reproduce, i.e., the native plants fruit bats feed on and 
the mature native forest trees where they roost, and thus limits the 
capacity of any island to support fruit bats. Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, 
the most severely altered islands, today harbor very few fruit bats. 
The ongoing loss and degradation of forest habitat in the archipelago 
continues to be a threat to the species.
    B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes. Mariana fruit bats have been used as food since 
humans first arrived on the islands (Lemke 1992a), and consumption of 
bats represents a significant cultural tradition. Social events and 
cultural status in the Mariana Islands are often enhanced by a variety 
of foods, and the fruit bat is a highly prized delicacy. Because of 
their scarcity, bats are often reserved for the elderly and other 
respected guests, and

[[Page 1206]]

one bat may be shared among several people (Lemke 1992a). In a survey 
of Chamorros on Guam, 53 percent of the respondents indicated that they 
enjoyed eating fruit bat (Sheeline 1991). It is clear that the Marianas 
fruit bat is an important cultural symbol in the Mariana Islands, as 82 
percent of the respondents to the same survey believed that fruit bats 
had cultural value. However, 85 percent of the respondents also 
believed people should stop hunting and eating fruit bats if such 
activity would lead to the species extinction (Sheeline 1991).
    Traditionally, fruit bats were captured with limited success using 
nets, traps, thorny branches on poles, or stone projectiles (Lemke 
1992a). Today, bats are mostly taken with shotguns fired at roosting 
and feeding sites or along flyways. It is important to note that 
gregarious fruit bats such as the Mariana fruit bat are particularly 
vulnerable to hunting at their roost sites. One shotgun blast may kill 
several bats or knock them to the ground, and a successful raid can 
glean up to 50 bats (Wiles 1987b; Lemke 1992a). Once fruit bats are on 
the ground, they are unable to take flight and are essentially 
helpless. Hunting at nursery colonies can also result in direct 
mortality and abandonment of infant and juvenile bats (Lemke 1992a). In 
Sheeline's (1991) survey, 45 percent of the respondents believed 
overhunting was the primary reason for the decline of fruit bats on 
    From 1975 to 1981, prior to listing of the Mariana fruit bats as 
endangered on Guam (49 FR 33881), approximately 15,800 fruit bats were 
shipped to Guam from Rota and Saipan for human consumption (Wiles and 
Payne 1986). This number could be twice the total number of Mariana 
fruit bats in existence today. During the last two decades, thousands 
of fruit bats have been shipped annually into the Mariana Islands from 
other Pacific islands for human consumption. Most of these shipments 
were the subspecies Pteropus mariannus pelewensis from the Republic of 
Palau. A single fruit bat can sell for U.S. $50-$75 in the CNMI 
(Worthington and Taisacan 1996; C. Kessler, in litt. 2003), where 
hunting of fruit bats has been illegal since 1977.
    Overhunting, along with habitat loss, is cited as a causal factor 
in the initial fruit bat declines on Guam, Saipan, and Tinian (Perez 
1972; Wheeler 1980; Wiles 1987b). Hunting-related declines on Guam, 
where hunting of fruit bats had been illegal since 1973, led to Federal 
listing as endangered on Guam in 1984 (49 FR 33881). Numerous 
documented reports indicate that hunting continues to be a threat to 
the Mariana fruit bat (Glass and Taisacan 1988; Lemke 1992b; Marshall 
et al. 1995; Worthington and Taisacan 1996; Stan Taisacan, CNMI DFW, 
pers. comm. 1997a, b; Rainey 1998; Nathan Johnson, CNMI DFW, pers. 
comm. 2000; G. Wiles, in litt. 2003; J. Esselstyn, pers. comm. 2004a; 
C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004a; Arlene Pangelinan, Service, pers. comm. 
2004). This long history of observations by CNMI biologists on Rota 
indicates some level of illegal hunting is occurring.
    Illegal hunting of fruit bats on the northern islands is 
occasionally reported. In 1996, it was reported to be an increasingly 
significant problem in the CNMI (Worthington and Taisacan 1996). On 
Anatahan, which lies only 94 mi (151 km) from heavily-populated Saipan, 
remains of recently cooked fruit bats were found in the main campsite 
area in 1995 (Marshall et al. 1995). Also in 1995, a team of DFW 
biologists on the island observed residents of Anatahan cooking and 
eating fruit bats (Ann Marshall, Service (formerly CNMI DFW), pers. 
comm. 2004).
    In 1998, 14 poached Mariana fruit bats were confiscated from a CNMI 
vessel returning from the northern islands (T. Eckhardt, in litt. 
1998), and illegal hunting of Mariana fruit bats was reported on the 
island of Sarigan (Zoology Unlimited LLC 1998). On Pagan, 7 recently 
expended .410 (very small bore) shotgun shells were found in 1999, 4 
more were found in 2000, and a .410 shell and fresh remains of cooked 
fruit bat were found during a helicopter refueling stop in 2001 (Cruz 
et al. 2000e; Johnson 2001). This size of ammunition is too small for 
hunting goats, pigs, or other ungulates, but can be used for birds as 
well as fruit bats. That expended shells were found in conjunction with 
fruit bat remains points to this ammunition being used to hunt fruit 
bats. Although the frequency of illegal hunting in the Northern Islands 
is likely low and difficult to quantify, this evidence supports that it 
does occur.
    In 1987, between three and eight bats were reported to be illegally 
hunted from a small colony on Saipan (Glass and Taisacan 1988). In 
1997, there was a report of nearly 90 bats that were illegally hunted 
on Tinian from a colony that roosted on the island briefly (Tim 
Sutterfield, Navy, pers. comm. 1998). Following supertyphoon Roy in 
1988, defoliation and other damage caused by the storm forced bats on 
Rota to forage during the day in areas close to human habitation (Lemke 
1992b; see Factor E). As a result, extensive illegal hunting occurred, 
contributing to a reduction of the total Rota population by more than 
half (A. Palacios, in litt. 1990). Although bat numbers on Rota had 
risen again to more than 2,000 before supertyphoon Pongsona in December 
2002, the population again declined by more than half following this 
storm. With illegal hunting as a contributing factor, this decline was 
documented by monthly surveys conducted by the same individuals using 
the same techniques (evening colony departures, direct colony counts, 
and searches for solitary bats). These surveys yielded estimates of 
fewer than 750 animals for most of the 15 months following the 
supertyphoon (J. Esselstyn, in litt. 2003, pers. comm. 2004b). Similar 
sharp increases in hunting of fruit bats following severe storms has 
been documented in American Samoa as well as in the Mariana Islands 
(Craig et al. 1994; see Factor D).
    Continued illegal hunting on Rota is reported to diminish the fruit 
bat population's rate of recovery to pre-storm abundance as observed by 
CNMI biologists (Worthington and Taisacan 1996). Hunter interviews 
indicated that hunting pressure on fruit bats has increased by roughly 
31 percent in the year since Pongsona (J. Esselstyn, pers. comm. 
2004a). As recently as July 2004, we received reports from members of 
the community on Rota that one or more illegal hunting incidents in 
June and July killed at least 40 fruit bats, resulting in the 
abandonment of the largest colony on the island, and another smaller 
colony had been abandoned as well (C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004a). On 
August 22-23, 2004, 21 months after supertyphoon Pongsona, supertyphoon 
Chaba hit the Mariana Islands, and Rota sustained severe damage. 
Information that we received indicates that this storm may have 
defoliated as much as 60 to 75 percent of the island (A. Pangelinan, 
pers. comm. 2004). Fruit bats were seen foraging near and on the 
ground; frequent gun-shots and cooking of fruit bats were noted 
following the storm (A. Pangelinan, pers. comm. 2004). This level of 
illegal hunting, characteristic of the post-typhoon period, taking 
place again so soon after previous typhoons, is likely to compound the 
    C. Disease or predation. The brown treesnake, which has caused the 
extinction of several bird species on Guam (Savidge 1987), is probably 
responsible for the lack of recruitment in the single remaining Mariana 
fruit bat colony on that island (Wiles 1987a; Pierson and Rainey 1992). 
Although only two cases of treesnake predation on Guam bats have been 
reported (Wiles 1983), the brown treesnake is

[[Page 1207]]

considered capable of preying on non-volant young bats at their roosts 
(Service 1990). Wiles (1987b) and Wiles et al. (1995) suggested that 
the nocturnal brown treesnake will prey on young bats that have become 
too large to be carried by their mothers and are left at the roosts at 
night. In 1982, 46.6 percent of all juvenile Mariana fruit bats counted 
in northern Guam were judged to be in this size class, but between 1984 
and 1986, after brown treesnakes had spread into the area, no bats of 
this size class were observed (Service 1990).
    The brown treesnake was accidentally introduced to Guam between 
1945 and 1952, probably in ship cargo (Rodda et al. 1992). By 1986, the 
treesnake had reached the extreme northern end of the island (Savidge 
1987), and was probably present throughout the island. Because of a 
variety of historical and ecological factors associated with the 
treesnake, along with Guam's location and role as a major 
transportation hub in the Pacific, the probability is high that human 
activities will disperse brown treesnakes from Guam to other Pacific 
islands (Fritts 1988).
    Reports of treesnakes found in the CNMI, especially on the island 
of Saipan, have increased since 1982 (Brown Treesnake Control Plan 
1996). As of July 2004, on Saipan there have been 62 credible brown 
tree snake sightings resulting in the capture of 11 live brown 
treesnakes (N. Hawley, pers. comm. 2004a). The frequency of treesnake 
sightings on Saipan reported from 1982 through 2004 indicates that 
brown treesnakes are present on the island (Brown Treesnake Control 
Plan 1996; N. Hawley, pers. comm. 2004a) leading to increased predation 
risks. No reports of brown treesnakes exist from other islands in the 
    D. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. Prompted by 
severe declines in fruit bat numbers, the CNMI legislature in 1977 
passed a moratorium on the taking of fruit bats on all islands (Pub. L. 
5-21, September 1977). However, no agency possessed authority to 
enforce the law until the CNMI DFW was created in 1981 (Lemke 1992a). 
The bat has since been listed as threatened or endangered (the CNMI 
makes no specific distinction between the threatened and endangered 
categories) by the CNMI government on Rota, Saipan, Tinian, and 
Aguiguan (CNMI 1991). The CNMI's designation of threatened or 
endangered species does not include prohibition on take (K. Garlick, 
Service, in litt. 1997) or any other protection (A. Palacios, in litt. 
1990; Worthington and Taisacan 1996). However, current CNMI hunting 
regulations (Part 4, Section 10.7.i (Commonwealth Register Vol. 23, 
August 16, 2001, p. 18266)) prohibit the hunting, killing, or 
possessing of threatened, endangered, and protected species. DFW has 
statutory authority to promulgate and enforce such regulations to 
protect fruit bats and impose fines for violations (L. Williams, pers. 
comm. 2004).
    However, it has been reported that there is little enforcement of 
the hunting ban, and few investigations or convictions have taken place 
(Lemke 1992a; Tina de Cruz, CNMI DFW, pers. comm. 2003). In addition, 
following supertyphoon Pongsona, a CNMI biologist on Rota reported 
observing at least two individuals illegally hunting fruit bats from a 
colony, received a report from a conservation officer of five hunting 
parties in the vicinity of the same colony, and received anecdotal 
reports of illegal hunting at least two additional colonies, but no one 
was apprehended or cited for illegal hunting (J. Esselstyn, in litt. 
2003). Also, although the Mariana fruit bat season is currently closed 
under DFW regulations (CNMI 1986), the DFW has, in the past, authorized 
special bat hunts on Rota and Anatahan. In light of this, there is the 
possibility that DFW will authorize special bat hunts on Rota in the 
    The Mariana fruit bat also is listed as an endangered species by 
the Government of Guam and take is prohibited under this designation 
(Wiles 1982). On Guam, the bat is legally protected from hunting by its 
endangered status under U.S. and Guam laws, and it is physically 
protected because the primary colony is in a remote location on Air 
Force lands where access is restricted.
    On October 22, 1987, Pteropus mariannus was included in Appendix II 
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 
a treaty established to prevent international trade that may threaten 
the survival of plant and animal species. Continuing declines in fruit 
bat populations resulted in the reclassification of P. mariannus to 
Appendix I of CITES on January 18, 1990, as well as the listing of all 
other species of Pteropus under Appendix II of CITES (except those 
species already listed under Appendix I), in an effort to control 
shipments and to encourage exporting countries to conserve their bat 
populations. All subspecies of P. mariannus are now protected under 
Appendix I of CITES (50 CFR part 23).
    Generally, both import and export permits are required from 
countries before a CITES Appendix I species may be shipped, and 
Appendix I species may not be imported for primarily commercial 
purposes. CITES permits may not be issued if the export will be 
detrimental to the survival of the species or if the specimens were not 
legally acquired. However, CITES does not itself regulate take or 
domestic trade of wildlife between islands in the Mariana archipelago, 
as they are not separate countries.
    The Republic of Palau became subject to the CITES restrictions for 
trade with the Mariana Islands when it established its independence 
from the United States in October 1994. However, small numbers of fruit 
bats from Palau continue to be intercepted in the Mariana Islands (G. 
Phocas, pers. comm. 2004; J. Esselstyn, pers. comm. 2004c). Reports 
suggest that Appendix I fruit bat species continue to be smuggled into 
the Mariana Islands from points as diverse as Samoa, the Federated 
States of Micronesia, and the Philippines, although with far less 
frequency than in the 1980s. An integrated approach of regulation, 
enforcement, and outreach, began in the 1990s by the Service on Guam, 
sought out a variety of agencies and other parties. Importation records 
suggest that these efforts, along with an export inspection program in 
Palau, may have slowed a region-wide harvest of Pteropus fruit bats; 
importation into the Marianas has dropped from tens of thousands each 
year to small ``personal'' shipments (G. Phocas, pers. comm. 2004). 
Experts and Federal law enforcement personnel are concerned that the 
demand for fruit bats will remain high, and that the reduction of 
international smuggling may have increased illegal hunting pressure on 
Rota and the northern islands (Worthington and Taisacan 1995; Wiles 
1996; G. Phocas, pers. comm. 2004). Despite existing regulatory 
mechanisms for the protection of the Mariana fruit bat, illegal hunting 
and international trafficking in fruit bats continues to occur leading 
to reductions in fruit bat populations.
    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence. Military training activities in areas used by fruit bats 
could disrupt the behavior of these bats. In general, military training 
activities including live-fire exercises and aircraft overflights, in 
or near areas on any of the islands that support fruit bats, are likely 
to disrupt fruit bat behavior and may result in mortalities. A study of 
the effects of aircraft overflights on the Mariana fruit bat at 
Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, found that current levels of air traffic 
appear to be within levels that are tolerable to the colony at Pati 
Point. Higher levels of aircraft traffic, particularly low-level field 

[[Page 1208]]

landing practices (FCLPs), would have the potential to cause partial or 
complete abandonment of the Pati Point roost (Morton 1996). Nocturnal 
FLCPs and other air traffic pose an even greater risk to fruit bats 
because animals are in the air, traveling between the roost and various 
foraging areas at night; under these circumstances it is possible that 
low-flying aircraft may even strike bats (Morton 1996). An increase in 
air traffic at Andersen Air Force Base has been proposed and is 
currently under NEPA review (J. Newman, pers. comm. 2004).
    The small number of Mariana fruit bats remaining on some islands 
(e.g., Guam, Saipan, and Aguiguan) may place bats on these islands at 
risk of extirpation from natural disturbances, environmental changes, 
and other chance events to which small populations typically are 
vulnerable (Meffe and Carroll 1997). Typhoons, in particular, could 
eliminate bats on one or more of these islands, although with 
sufficient time and suitable remaining habitat, these islands could be 
recolonized by immigrants.
    Typhoons can drastically reduce or alter forested areas that 
constitute fruit bat habitat; under natural or prehistoric conditions, 
the size of fruit bat populations and the extent of forest habitat were 
sufficient for the species to coexist with this natural disturbance. 
Today, however, such storms can exacerbate the anthropogenic pressures 
on the Mariana fruit bat. In 1988, supertyphoon Roy defoliated or 
altered almost all of the forested areas on Rota (Fancy and Snetsinger 
1996). Another typhoon that hit the northern island of Maug in 1981 
also had similar devastating effects on fruit bat habitat (Lemke 
1992b). Rota was hit hard most recently by supertyphoons Pongsona 
(December 2002) and Chaba (August 2004), and the island's forest 
habitat was further damaged.
    The impacts of severe storms on fruit bat habitat can change fruit 
bat foraging and roosting behavior by temporarily modifying forest 
structure, changing tree species composition (by facilitating 
encroachment of nonnative species), and decimating important food 
resources (Lemke 1992b). The latter condition is particularly 
important, because when typical food resources are not available, fruit 
bats may seek forage in places and at times that increase their 
vulnerability to illegal hunting (Craig et al. 1994; Pierson et al. 
1996). There is no evidence that direct mortality of fruit bats caused 
by the supertyphoons Roy and Pongsona was significant (Lemke 1992b; J. 
Esselstyn, in litt. 2003). However, defoliation and other damage caused 
by storms forces bats to forage during the day in areas close to human 
habitation (Lemke 1992b). Fruit bats were illegally hunted on Rota 
after both Roy and Pongsona, contributing to an observed reduction in 
numbers (A. Palacios, in litt. 1990; J. Esselstyn, in litt. 2003, in 
litt. 2004b).
    The northern islands of the CNMI were formed by volcanic activity 
on the Mariana trench. This trench is a subduction zone, where one 
tectonic plate of the Earth's lithosphere is moving beneath another. 
The northern islands thus all have the potential for volcanic activity, 
and eruptions are another natural disturbance that may alter fruit bat 
habitat in the northern islands. Pagan last erupted in 1981 and a lava 
flow covered a part of the island. Anatahan erupted in May 2003, and 
much of the island was denuded. As described previously in ``Status of 
CNMI Northern Islands,'' the fruit bat population on Anatahan declined 
from more than 1,000 prior to the eruption to 350-450 individuals in 
December of 2003 (C. Kessler, in litt. 2003), but the population 
appeared to be recovering by March 2004, when more than 1,000 bats were 
recorded (C. Kessler, pers. comm. 2004c). Few humans have visited the 
island since the May 2003 eruption, and illegal hunting there is thus 
unlikely to have confounded the response of Anatahan's bat population 
to this natural disturbance.


    The loss of native forest, predation (on Guam and possibly on 
Saipan) by the brown treesnake, and illegal hunting (especially on 
Rota) are the most significant threats to the survival of this species. 
Feral ungulates continue to severely degrade fruit bat forest habitat 
on some of the northern islands. Few bats occur on Guam, Saipan, 
Tinian, Aguiguan, and Maug, and such small numbers are highly 
vulnerable to severe storms and other climate events that can effect 
the vital rates of a population and to biotic changes within a 
population (such as sex ratio, age structure, and other demographic 
parameters) that can affect reproduction and survival of individual 
animals (Meffe and Carroll 1997). A significant number of fruit bats 
persist on Rota, and numbers there have shown some rebound following a 
documented decline after Typhoon Pongsona. Rota's fruit bats remain at 
risk from illegal hunting and loss of forest habitat. Fruit bats from 
Rota are believed to move among the southern islands, and this 
population is considered to be critical to the long-term stability of 
fruit bats in the Mariana Islands (Wiles and Glass 1990). The brown 
treesnake adversely impacts recruitment of bats on Guam, and there have 
been a significant number of sightings of this predator on Saipan. 
Therefore, listing the Mariana fruit bat as threatened in the CNMI is 
    The evidence of interisland movement between the islands of the 
Mariana archipelago (Wiles and Glass 1990; Wiles and Johnson 2004) 
indicates that the Mariana fruit bats in the Mariana Islands be viewed 
and managed as one taxon. In developing this rule, we have assessed the 
best scientific and commercial information available regarding the 
past, present, and future threats faced by the Mariana fruit bat. Based 
on this information, we believe that it is biologically appropriate to 
consider fruit bats on each island on Guam and the CNMI as part of one 
population, and the appropriate action is to, reclassify the Mariana 
fruit bat from endangered to threatened on Guam, and list the Mariana 
fruit bat as threatened throughout its range in the CNMI.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (i) The 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at 
the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found 
those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation 
of the species, and (II) that may require special management 
considerations or protection, and (ii) specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed in 
accordance with the provisions of section 4 of the Act, upon a 
determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the 
conservation of the species. ``Conservation'' means the use of all 
methods and procedures needed to bring the species to the point at 
which protection under the Act is no longer necessary.
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424 
part 12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, 
we designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to 
be threatened or endangered. Our implementing regulations (50 CFR 
424.12(a)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent when one or both of the following situations exist: (1) The 
species is threatened by taking or other human activity, and 
identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of threat to the species, or (2) such designation of critical 
habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    On October 15, 2002, we published a proposed rule designating 

[[Page 1209]]

habitat for the Mariana fruit bat and two other species on Guam (67 FR 
63738). The final rule was published on October 28, 2004 (68 FR 62944).

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
activities. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
encourages conservation actions by Federal, State, Tribal, and local 
agencies, non-governmental conservation organizations, and private 
individuals. The Act provides for possible land acquisition and 
cooperation with States and requires that recovery actions be carried 
out for listed species. Recovery planning and implementation, the 
protection required by Federal agencies, and the prohibitions against 
certain activities involving listed animals are discussed, in part, 
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened 
species (``recovery plans''). The recovery process involves halting or 
reversing the species' decline by addressing the threats to its 
survival. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems, thus allowing delisting.
    Recovery planning, the foundation for species recovery, includes 
the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is 
listed, and later, preparation of draft and final recovery plans, and 
revision of the plan as significant new information becomes available. 
The recovery outline--the first step in recovery planning--guides the 
immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions, and describes the 
process to be used to develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan 
identifies site-specific management actions that will achieve recovery 
of the species, measurable criteria that determine when a species may 
be downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery 
progress. Recovery teams, consisting of species experts, Federal and 
State agencies, non-government organizations, and stakeholders, are 
often established to develop recovery plans. When completed, a copy of 
the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, or final recovery plan will 
be available from our Web site (http://endangered.fws.gov), or if 

unavailable or inaccessible, from our office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section). We issued a recovery plan for the fruit 
bat on Guam (Service 1990); this listing rule will trigger a new 
recovery planning process for the Mariana fruit bat.
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, states, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and 
private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private lands as many occur 
primarily or solely on private lands.
    The funding for recovery actions can come from a variety of 
sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share 
grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and non-
governmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the 
Act, we would be able to grant funds to the CNMI and Government of Guam 
for management actions that promote the protection and recovery of the 
Mariana fruit bat. Information on our grant programs that are available 
to aid species recovery can be found at: http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/index.html.
 In the event that our internet connection is 

inaccessible, please check http://www.grants.gov or check with our grant 

programs contact at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological 
Services, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181 (telephone 503/
231-6241; facsimile 503/231-6243).
    Please let us know if you are interested in participating in 
recovery efforts for the Mariana fruit bat. Additionally, we invite you 
to submit any further information on the species whenever it becomes 
available and any information you may have for recovery planning 
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, requires Federal agencies to 
evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is proposed or 
listed as endangered or threatened, and with respect to its critical 
habitat if any is being designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed 
species or to destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat if any 
has been designated. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or 
its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into 
formal consultation with us.
    Federal agency actions that may require consultation for the 
Mariana fruit bat include, but are not limited to actions within the 
jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency 
Management Agency, Federal Highways Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 
Natural Resources Conservation Service, and branches of the DOD. Parts 
of Guam, Tinian, and Farallon de Medinilla are used as, or are under 
consideration for use as, military bases or training areas by U.S. 
armed forces. Parts of Guam are federally owned by the DOD and Service, 
and three-fourths of Tinian and all of Farallon de Medinilla are leased 
by the Navy. Activities on these lands will trigger consultation under 
section 7 if they may affect the Mariana fruit bat. Federally supported 
activities that could affect the Mariana fruit bat or its habitat in 
the future include, but are not limited to, the following: Helicopter 
over-flights, bombardment and live-fire exercises, troop movements, 
agricultural projects, and construction or improvement of roads, 
airports, firebreaks, radio towers, and housing and other buildings.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered and 
threatened wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, 
implemented by 50 CFR 17.21 and 17.31 for endangered and threatened 
species, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of 
the United States to take (includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, or collect; or attempt any of these), 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 is also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, 
carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken 
illegally. Further, it is illegal for any person to attempt to commit, 
to solicit another person to commit, or to cause to be committed, any 
of these acts.

[[Page 1210]]

Certain exceptions apply to our agents and State conservation agencies.
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving threatened animal species under certain circumstances. 
Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.23. 
Such permits are available for scientific purposes, to enhance the 
propagation or survival of the species, and/or for incidental take in 
connection with otherwise lawful activities. For threatened species, 
permits are also available for zoological exhibition, educational 
purposes, or special purposes consistent with the purposes of the Act. 
Requests for copies of the regulations regarding listed wildlife and 
inquiries about permits and prohibitions may be addressed to U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Permits, 911 NE 11th Avenue, 
Portland, OR 97232-4181.
    It is our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the 
time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of this listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the species. We 
believe that, based on the best available information, that most 
scientific or recreational activities (other than capturing or hunting 
fruit bats) that do not damage habitat within forested areas that 
support Mariana fruit bats would not likely result in violations of 
section 9.
    We believe the following activities could potentially result in a 
violation of section 9, but possible violations are not limited to 
these actions alone:
    (1) Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, 
delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import 
or export across State lines and international boundaries;
    (2) Intentional introduction of exotic species that compete with or 
prey on bats, such as the introduction of the predatory brown treesnake 
to islands that support bat colonies;
    (3) Activities that disturb Mariana fruit bats at roost sites and 
feeding areas; and
    (4) Unauthorized destruction or alteration of forested areas that 
are required by the bats for foraging, roosting, breeding, or rearing 
    We do not consider these lists to be exhaustive, and provide them 
as information to the public. You should direct questions regarding 
whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 
to the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section). Requests for copies of the regulations 
concerning listed animals and general inquiries regarding prohibitions 
and permits may be addressed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Endangered Species Permits, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-
4181 (telephone 503/231-2063; facsimile 503/231-6243).

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have 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. We 
published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the 
Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from our Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR 


    The primary author of this document is Holly Freifeld, Pacific 
Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below.


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. In Sec.  17.11(h), the table entry for ``Bat, Mariana fruit'' under 
MAMMALS is revised to read as follows:

Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

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

                                                                      * * * * * * *

                                                                      * * * * * * *
Fruit Bat, Mariana (=fanihi,      Pteropus mariannus   Western Pacific     Entire............  T                      156  Guam 17.95(a)...           NA
 Mariana flying fox).              mariannus.           Ocean--U.S.A.
                                                        (GU, MP).

    Dated: December 30, 2004.
Steve Williams,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-240 Filed 1-5-05; 8:45 am]