[Federal Register: December 15, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 240)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 74284-74285]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 74284]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AU43

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition to List the Queen Charlotte Goshawk as Threatened or 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of opening of public comment period on status review.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the opening 
of a public comment period to update the 1997 status review for the 
Queen Charlotte goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi), a subspecies of 
the northern goshawk that lives in the temperate rainforests of 
Southeast Alaska and insular British Columbia. This update has been 
initiated in response to a recent Court order remanding a previous 12-
month finding with instructions to determine if Vancouver Island, 
British Columbia, Canada, is a significant portion of this goshawk's 
range and, if so, to determine whether the bird is endangered or 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. This 
public comment period will allow all interested parties an opportunity 
to provide information on the status of the subspecies throughout its 
range, thereby assisting us in evaluating the significance of the 
Vancouver Island population of the goshawk in relation to the taxon as 
a whole.

DATES: Comments must be submitted to us on or before February 13, 2006.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and 
materials by any one of the following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and information by mail to: 
Queen Charlotte Goshawk Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3000 
Vintage Blvd., Suite 201, Juneau, AK 99801-7125.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments and information to our 
Juneau Fish and Wildlife Field Office, 3000 Vintage Blvd., Room 260.
    3. You may fax your comments to (907) 586-7099.
    4. You may send your comments by electronic mail (e-mail) directly 
to the Service at QCGoshawk@fws.gov, or to the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. All submissions must include the 

identification number RIN 1018-AU43. Please include ``Attn: Queen 
Charlotte Goshawk'' in the beginning of your message, and do not use 
special characters or any form of encryption. Electronic attachments in 
standard formats (such as .pdf or .doc) are acceptable, but please name 
the software necessary to open any attachments in formats other than 
those given above. Also, please include your name and return address in 
your e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the 
system that we have received your e-mail message, please submit your 
comments in writing using one of the alternate methods described above. 
In the event that our internet connection is not functional, please 
submit your comments by the alternate methods mentioned above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Brockmann at the above address 
(telephone: (907) 780-1181; e-mail: steve_brockmann@fws.gov).


Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this updated status 
review will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, 
comments or suggestions from the public, concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party are hereby solicited.
    We are opening a 60-day comment period to allow all interested 
parties an opportunity to provide information on the status of the 
Queen Charlotte goshawk throughout its range, including:
    1. Taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection, food habits, 
population density and trends, habitat trends, and effects of forest 
management on goshawks;
    2. Any information pertinent to determining whether Vancouver 
Island may constitute a significant portion of the range of the 
subspecies, such as:
    a. Any information pertinent to whether and how the threats to 
goshawks on Vancouver Island affect the survival and persistence of 
Queen Charlotte goshawks elsewhere (Alaska, Queen Charlotte Islands);
    b. Any information concerning the historical value of the habitat 
on Vancouver Island, including the uniqueness or importance for other 
reasons (such as breeding, feeding, or suitability for population 
expansion) of the habitat on Vancouver Island to the subspecies;
    c. To what extent the habitat on Vancouver Island contributes to 
the representation, resilience, or redundancy of the subspecies as a 
    3. Information relevant to the accuracy of our 1997 status review; 
    4. Information relevant to whether or not there are any populations 
of the subspecies that may qualify as distinct population segments.
    We will base our finding on a review of the best scientific and 
commercial data available, including all information received during 
the public comment period.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home addresses from the record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would 
withhold from the record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. 
If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state 
this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not 
consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
    All comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at our Juneau 
Fish and Wildlife Field Office at the above address.


    On May 9, 1994, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a 
petition from eight conservation groups and two individuals to list the 
Queen Charlotte goshawk as endangered. Logging of old-growth forest, 
where the bird nests and forages, was the primary threat identified. On 
August 26, 1994, we published our 90-day finding that the petition 
presented substantial information indicating that listing may be 
warranted, opened a public comment period, and initiated a status 
review to determine whether listing the subspecies was warranted (59 FR 
44124). Following our status review, we determined that listing the 
subspecies under the Act was not warranted and subsequently published 
our finding in the Federal Register on June 29, 1995 (60 FR 33784). We 
expressed concern for long-term survival of the bird under the existing 
management plan for the Tongass National Forest (covering over 90 
percent of Southeast Alaska), but acknowledged that a new management

[[Page 74285]]

plan was being drafted that was expected to provide improved protection 
for the subspecies. That finding was challenged in Federal District 
Court in Washington DC, in a suit filed on November 17, 1995, by 8 of 
the original 10 petitioners, plus 2 additional conservation 
organizations and 1 additional individual. The Court granted a summary 
judgment for the plaintiffs on September 25, 1996, holding that we 
should not have relied on a draft revision of the 1979 Tongass Land 
Management Plan ``to provide sanctuary for the goshawk,'' remanded the 
decision to us, and instructed us to make a listing determination based 
on the existing Forest Plan, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 
v. Babbitt, 939 F. Supp. 2d 49 (D.D.C. 1996). The Court agreed to a 
deadline of May 31, 1997, to complete this analysis. On May 23, 1997, 
however, the Forest Service released a new plan, the Tongass Land and 
Resources Management Plan. We requested and received an extension from 
the court until August 31, 1997, to review the petitioned action and 
the status of the subspecies in light of the new plan. On September 4, 
1997, we published our new finding that listing of the subspecies under 
the Act was not warranted (62 FR 46710), confirming our previous 
determination. This finding was challenged in District Court, and a 
decision was issued July 20, 1999. The finding was remanded to us, with 
instructions to provide a more accurate and reliable population 
estimate, and to consider a 1999 revision of the 1997 Tongass Land and 
Resources Management Plan. We appealed that decision, prevailed, and 
the case was remanded back to the District Court, Southwest Center for 
Biological Diversity v. Babbitt, 215 F. 3d 58 (D.C. Cir. 2000). On July 
29, 2002, Magistrate Facciola, of the D.C. District Court, issued his 
findings and recommendations, Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 
v. Norton, 2002 WL 1733618 (D.D.C. July 29, 2002). Magistrate Facciola 
found that: (1) We had fulfilled the requirement of the Act to use the 
best scientific data available; (2) the ``not warranted'' determination 
was due deference; (3) our determination that the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk would persist in Alaska and certain Canadian islands was not 
unreasonable; (4) Vancouver Island, which constituted one-third of the 
subspecies' geographic range, was a ``significant portion'' of the 
subspecies'' range; and (5) our failure to make a specific finding as 
to conservation of the subspecies on an island which constituted one-
third of the subspecies' geographic range was material omission.
    On May 24, 2004, Judge Urbina, of the D.C. District Court, issued 
an order that adopted Magistrate Facciola's Findings and 
Recommendations in total, except for the Magistrate's finding that 
Vancouver Island constituted a significant portion of the range for 
Queen Charlotte goshawk. Instead, Judge Urbina directed us, upon 
remand, to reconsider and explain any determination regarding whether 
or not Vancouver Island is indeed a significant portion of the range, 
and assess whether the Queen Charlotte goshawk is endangered or 
threatened on Vancouver Island. This opening of the public comment 
period is consistent with Judge Urbina's order as we are re-evaluating 
the status of the subspecies in relation to Vancouver Island and as a 
taxon as a whole.


    The primary author of this document is Steve Brockmann, Fish and 
Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Juneau Fish and 
Wildlife Field Office, Juneau, Alaska.

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

    Dated: December 7, 2005.
Marshall Jones Jr.,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-24045 Filed 12-14-05; 8:45 am]