[Federal Register: October 11, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 196)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 59711-59714]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised 12-Month 
Finding for the Beaver Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus major)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of revised 12-month petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our 
revised 12-month finding for a petition to list the Beaver Cave beetle 
(Pseudanophthalmus major) under the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 
1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). After a review of the best available 
scientific and commercial information, we conclude that this species is 
not likely to become an endangered or threatened species within the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range. Therefore, we find that proposing a rule to list the species is 
not warranted, and we no longer consider it to be a candidate species 
for listing. However, the Service will continue to seek new information 
on the taxonomy, biology, and ecology of this species, as well as 
potential threats to its continued existence.

DATES: This finding was made on October 11, 2006. Although no further 
action will result from this finding, we request that you submit new 
information concerning the taxonomy, biology, ecology, and status of 
the Beaver Cave beetle, as well as potential threats to its continued 
existence, whenever such information becomes available.

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

Ecological Services Field Office at the address listed above, by 
telephone at 502-695-0468, by facsimile at 502-695-1024, or by e-mail 
at mike_floyd@fws.gov.



    The Act provides two mechanisms for considering species for 
listing. One method allows the Secretary, on his own initiative, to 
identify species for listing under the standards of section 4(a)(1). We 
implement this through an assessment process to identify species that 
are candidates for listing, which means we have on file sufficient 
information on biological vulnerability and threats to support a 
proposal to list the species as endangered or threatened, but for which 
preparation and publication of a proposal is precluded by higher-
priority listing actions. Using this process, we identified the Beaver 
Cave beetle as a candidate for listing in 2001 and included it in the 
Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR) published in the Federal Register on 
October 30, 2001 (66 FR 54808). In subsequent CNORs that we published 
on June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40657), May 4, 2004 (69 FR 24875), and May 11, 
2005 (70 FR 24870), we continued to recognize this

[[Page 59712]]

species as a candidate for listing based on updated assessments of its 
status. We also published a CNOR on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53755), 
which maintained the species as a candidate for listing because we had 
not yet finalized this, our most current review of the species.
    A second mechanism that the Act provides for considering species 
for listing is for the public to petition us to add a species to the 
Federal Lists of Threatened or Endangered Species (Lists) found at 50 
CFR 17.11 (animals) and Sec.  17.12 (plants). Under section 4(b)(3)(A), 
when we receive such a petition, we must determine within 90 days, to 
the extent practicable, whether the petition presents substantial 
scientific or commercial information that listing may be warranted (a 
``90-day finding''). If we make a positive 90-day finding, we must 
promptly commence a status review of the species and under section 
4(b)(3)(B), we must make and publish one of three possible findings 
within 12 months of receipt of such a petition (a ``12-month 
    1. The petitioned action is not warranted;
    2. The petitioned action is warranted (in which case we are to 
promptly publish a proposed regulation to implement the petitioned 
action); or
    3. The petitioned action is warranted but (a) the immediate 
proposal of a regulation and final promulgation of a regulation 
implementing the petitioned action is precluded by pending proposals, 
and (b) expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to 
the Lists (i.e., a ``warranted but precluded'' 12-month petition 
finding). Our standard for making a species a candidate through our own 
initiative is identical to the standard for making a ``warranted but 
precluded'' 12-month petition finding.
    On May 11, 2004, the Service received a petition from the Center 
for Biological Diversity to list 225 species we previously had 
identified as candidates for listing, including the Beaver Cave beetle. 
Pursuant to requirements in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, the CNOR and 
Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions published by the Service on 
May 11, 2005 (70 FR 24870) included a finding that the immediate 
issuance of a proposed listing rule and the timely promulgation of a 
final rule for each of these petitioned species, including the Beaver 
Cave beetle, was warranted but precluded by higher priority listing 
actions, and that expeditious progress was being made to add qualified 
species to the Lists.
    Section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act directs that when we make a 
``warranted but precluded'' finding on a petition, we are to treat the 
petition as being one that is resubmitted annually on the date of the 
finding; thus the Act requires us to reassess the petitioned actions 
and to publish a finding on the resubmitted petition on an annual 
basis. We included a ``warranted but precluded'' finding on the 
resubmitted petition on the Beaver Cave beetle in the CNOR and Notice 
of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions published in the Federal Register 
on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53755). The resubmitted petition finding 
was based on an assessment of the Beaver Cave beetle that covered 
information available as of October 2005. Although we typically make 
the annual finding for petitioned candidate species through the CNOR, 
we are not required to wait a full year to reassess the status of such 
species and may publish a revised petition finding separately from the 
CNOR. That is what we are doing in this situation.
    As a result of new information regarding conservation efforts for 
the Beaver Cave beetle, we have completed a reassessment of its status 
(FWS 2006a). The updated assessment document is available from our 
Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES, above). This 
resubmitted 12-month finding evaluates new information, as described in 
the species assessment and related documents referenced in it, and re-
evaluates previously-acquired information.

Species Information

    The Beaver Cave beetle (Pseudanophthalmus major) was described by 
Krekeler (1973) from 3 specimens collected from Beaver Cave, Harrison 
County, Kentucky by T.C. Barr and J.R. Holsinger in 1966. Cave beetles 
in the genus Pseudanophthalmus are small, eyeless, reddish-brown 
insects that belong to the predatory ground beetle family Carabidae. 
Like most other insects, they have six legs and a body that consists of 
a head, thorax, and abdomen. Body length is generally from 3.0 to 8.0 
millimeters (mm) (0.12 to 0.32 inches), depending upon the species. 
Maximum body length for the Beaver Cave beetle is 8 mm. According to 
Barr (1996), the genus Pseudanophthalmus is represented by 
approximately 255 species. The different species within the genus are 
differentiated by differences in the shape and size of the various body 
parts, especially the shape of the male appendages used during 
reproduction. Most members of the genus are cave dependent 
(troglobites) and are not found outside the cave environment. All are 
predatory and feed upon small cave invertebrates such as spiders, 
mites, millipedes, and diplurans, while the larger Pseudanophthalmus 
species also feed on cave cricket eggs (Barr 1996). Members of this 
genus vary in rarity from fairly common, widespread species that are 
found in many caves to species that are extremely rare and restricted 
to only one cave, such as the Beaver Cave beetle.
    Little detailed life history information is available for the 
rarest of the cave beetles, including the Beaver Cave beetle. However, 
the generalized summary that follows is accurate for the more common 
and more easily studied species and is believed to also apply to the 
rarer species (Barr 1998). Cave beetles copulate in the fall, and the 
eggs are deposited in the cave soil during late fall. The eggs hatch 
and larvae appear in late fall through early winter. Pupation occurs in 
late winter to early summer with the adult beetles emerging in early 
summer (Barr 1996).
    The limestone caves in which these cave beetles are found provide a 
unique and fragile environment that supports a variety of species that 
have evolved to survive and reproduce under the demanding conditions 
found in cave ecosystems. No photosynthesis takes place within the dark 
zone of a cave. Therefore, all organisms that are adapted to life 
within a cave are dependent upon energy from the surface. This energy 
can be in the form of leaf litter, woody debris or small bits of 
organic matter that is washed or falls into the cave, or guano 
deposited by cave-dependent bats that feed on the surface and return to 
the cave to roost (Barr 1996).
    The Beaver Cave beetle is restricted to Beaver Cave, a limestone 
cave located in the Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky. There are no 
other caves in the vicinity of Beaver Cave, and the Beaver cave beetle 
has not been found at any other locations. The only known entrance to 
Beaver Cave is located in an open pasture and hillside of a dairy farm 
in eastern Harrison County. The cave generally trends northeastward 
from its entrance for approximately 350 meters before terminating in a 
breakdown (i.e., a portion of the cave where the ceiling has collapsed) 
(Laudermilk 2006). Most of Beaver Cave is comprised of a simple, narrow 
passage approximately 1 meter wide and 2.5 meters high. However, there 
are several larger rooms present, and there are multiple levels in a 
few places (Laudermilk 2006). A more extensive description of the cave 
can be found in Barr (1996).

[[Page 59713]]

Conservation Efforts

    The Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife (Partners) Program 
(Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office) began working with the 
owner of the Beaver Cave property in 2002, and other partners (Kentucky 
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), Natural Resource 
Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Kentucky State 
Nature Preserves Commission, and Kentucky Division of Forestry) soon 
thereafter, to implement projects that would conserve Beaver Cave and 
the species that occupy it and in order to eliminate the threats to the 
Beaver Cave beetle and its habitat or reduce them to the point that 
listing was no longer warranted. The Partners Program coordinated 
several conservation efforts that were planned and implemented through 
five inter-related agreements/contracts between the landowner and the 
agencies listed above: (a) A Partners Program 15-year Wildlife Habitat 
Enhancement Agreement; (b) a Continuous Conservation Reserve Program 
(CCRP) 15-year contract through FSA; (c) a Wildlife Habitat Incentives 
Program (WHIP) 15-year contract through NRCS; and (d) two Landowner 
Incentive Program (LIP) 10-year agreements through KDFWR. These 
projects were initiated in the summer of 2003 and fully implemented by 
fall of 2005. Collectively, these agreements and contracts encompassed 
three general conservation efforts: (1) Maintain Beaver Cave and the 
landowner's surrounding property in a manner that (a) reduces or 
eliminates sediment and animal waste within the cave's watershed by 
excluding cattle from the cave entrance with fencing, developing and 
implementing a rotational grazing program, and installing hardened 
stream crossings and heavy use areas, and (b) establishes and maintains 
a forested buffer around the entrance to Beaver Cave; (2) construct and 
maintain the metal gate at the entrance to Beaver Cave; and (3) control 
and limit access to Beaver Cave and the landowner's surrounding 
    Many aspects of the conservation efforts identified in the five 
inter-related agreements are on-going, such as maintenance of the gate 
and control of access into the cave, and others have already been 
implemented (e.g., exclusion of cattle, construction of the cave gate, 
tree plantings, hardened stream crossings). Based on our evaluation of 
each of the three conservation efforts using the criteria provided in 
the Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing 
Decisions (PECE) (68 FR 15100), we have determined that each of the 
three efforts is sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective 
so as to have contributed to the elimination or reduction of threats to 
the species (FWS 2006b). Therefore, the Service can consider these 
conservation efforts in making a determination as to whether the Beaver 
Cave beetle meets the Service's definition of a threatened or 
endangered species.

Discussion of Listing Factors

    Section 4 of the Act and implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 
424 set forth procedures for adding species to the Lists. A species may 
be determined to be an endangered or threatened species based on the 
applicability of one or more of the five factors described in section 
4(a)(1). These factors and their application to the Beaver Cave beetle 
are summarized below.

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

    In our initial assessment of the Beaver Cave beetle in 2001, we 
identified this species as a candidate for listing due to the present 
and threatened destruction and modification of its habitat (66 FR 
54800). The activities contributing to this threat factor have now been 
addressed, as summarized below.
    In our initial 2001 assessment and subsequent CNORs and petition 
findings, we identified and recognized a potential risk of destruction 
or modification of the cave environment (the species' habitat) which 
could occur as a result of (1) polluted runoff from the farm operation, 
specifically animal waste, sediment, or spills of toxic materials in 
the watershed in which the cave occurs; and (2) unauthorized human 
entry to Beaver Cave (i.e., trash dumping, vandalism, physical habitat 
disturbance, and trampling of beetles). We now have determined that the 
potential risk of polluted stormwater runoff is limited, because these 
pollutants have been significantly reduced through full implementation 
of the CCRP contracts, LIP agreement, and Partners agreement specified 
above. These contracts and agreements and subsequent conservation 
efforts have eliminated these threats or reduced them to a point that 
any negative effects are unexpected or would be insignificant to the 
point that this listing factor no longer applies. The reduction in 
threats has been accomplished through the installation of two heavy-use 
feeding areas that are away from the cave and its entrance and 
associated exclusion fencing, the development of a rotational grazing 
program that concentrates cattle away from the cave entrance and its 
watershed, and the installation of a hardened stream crossing within 
the Beaver Cave watershed. Also, these agreements and contracts 
provided funding for cattle exclusion fencing and native vegetation 
plantings surrounding the cave entrance, thereby protecting it from 
cattle disturbance and establishing a natural filter (barrier) for any 
potential non-point source pollutants that could potentially enter the 
cave during storm events. Toxic material spills from external sources 
are improbable, because the Beaver Cave watershed is small and not in 
an area where toxic chemicals are produced or stored, nor is there 
likely to be transport of toxic materials in the area due to the rural 
nature of the surrounding area. A trash and debris-filled sinkhole that 
is connected to Beaver was also unclogged and cleaned, providing 
further protection against contamination of the underground drainage 
    To address the unlawful human trespass, trash dumping, vandalism, 
and habitat degradation of Beaver Cave, a bat-friendly cave gate was 
constructed just inside the cave entrance in 2004. The WHIP contract 
provided 53 percent of the funding for the cave gate construction, and 
the remaining 47 percent was obtained through a second LIP agreement. 
Under these agreements and contracts, unlawful entry to Beaver Cave is 
prevented, and the landowner has assumed responsibility for maintaining 
and inspecting the gate. This includes periodic inspections of the 
gate, taking necessary steps to repair the gate as needed, and ensuring 
the gate does not become blocked with rock or other debris that would 
block access to the cave for native bats or other species or prevent 
organic matter from entering the cave. Bat guano and other organic 
matter from the surface are important components of energy flow for the 
cave environment. Fencing has been erected around an approximate 1-acre 
area containing the entrance to Beaver Cave to promote the development 
of natural habitat around the cave entrance, provide further protection 
to the property, and control access to the cave entrance. These actions 
promote energy flow and eliminate the threats from dumping, vandalism, 
and unauthorized trespass such that this listing factor no longer 
    Many aspects of these conservation efforts are on-going, such as 
the growth and monitoring of the riparian plantings, maintenance of the 
cave gate,

[[Page 59714]]

and control of access into the cave, but all of the primary habitat 
restoration and protection efforts (e.g., cave gate construction, 
fencing and subsequent cattle exclusion, hardened feeding areas, tree 
plantings, sinkhole clean-up) have already been completed.
    Based on the information summarized above, the Beaver Cave beetle 
is not threatened by the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range.

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

    We have no evidence of overutilization of the Beaver Cave beetle in 
the past for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational 
purposes, and have no information that suggests such a threat exists in 
the foreseeable future. Under the inter-related agreements specified 
above, collection for scientific purposes would be allowed only with 
the permission of the landowner and the Service. The cave has been used 
for recreational purposes by spelunkers and by passive recreationists 
in the past, but placement of the locked metal gate across the cave 
entrance in 2004 has effectively eliminated such uses. Further, through 
maintenance of the metal gate at the cave entrance, as required by the 
LIP agreement and WHIP contract, all unauthorized access to the cave is 
prevented. Based on these considerations, overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is not a 
threat to the species.

C. Disease or Predation

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

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Although the Beaver Cave beetle is listed as endangered in Kentucky 
by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, such listings 
provide no substantive protection under the current Kentucky law. 
However, there are no foreseeable reasons why specific regulatory 
mechanisms are necessary to ensure the conservation of this species, 
because the landowner and the involved agencies have committed to and 
are implementing various conservation efforts to protect Beaver Cave 
and the Beaver Cave beetle. These include, but are not limited to, 
strictly controlling access to the cave and the property surrounding 
the cave opening and restoring and enhancing the vegetation communities 
surrounding the cave and in its watershed. The metal gate is effective 
in preventing unauthorized entry into the cave, and as described above, 
the landowner has committed to and is implementing measures to strictly 
control access to the cave. Based on these considerations, the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms is not a threat to the 

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Populations of this beetle species are restricted to Beaver Cave 
and are generally thought to be represented by a small number of 
individuals. Although this is a natural situation, their limited 
distribution and numbers make this species vulnerable to extirpation 
due to effects from various manmade factors, such as spills of toxic 
substances, non-point source pollutants, and habitat-related damage, as 
described above under Factor A. As described above, the conservation 
efforts included in the five inter-related agreements summarized above 
have removed or substantially reduced these habitat-related risks. 
Small population sizes for these species may also limit the natural 
interchange of genetic material within the population, which could 
affect long-term genetic and population viability. However, this is an 
endemic species that has persisted over time (i.e., from at least the 
time of its discovery to the present time) and under conditions that 
were worse than the current, more-protective situation despite the 
perceived risks of limited genetic interchange. For the reasons 
described above, the Beaver Cave beetle is not threatened by other 
natural or human-caused factors.

Revised Petition Finding

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


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


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


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

    Dated: September 28, 2006.
Marshall Jones,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E6-16540 Filed 10-10-06; 8:45 am]