[Federal Register: February 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 29)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 7497-7499]
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; 90-Day Finding for 
a Petition To List the Island Marble Butterfly as Threatened or 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list the island marble butterfly 
(Euchloe ausonides insulanus) as an endangered species under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that the 
petition presents substantial scientific information indicating that 
listing the island marble butterfly may be warranted. Therefore, with 
the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of 
the species, and we will issue a 12-month finding to determine if the 
petitioned action is warranted. To assist and ensure that the review is 
comprehensive, we are soliciting information and data regarding this 

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DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on February 13, 
2006. To be considered in the 12-month finding for this petition, data, 
information, and comments must be submitted to us by April 14, 2006.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this finding is available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Western 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
510 Desmond Drive, SE., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503. Please submit any 
new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this 
species or this finding to the above address, or via electronic mail at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Berg, Manager, at the above 
address (see ADDRESSES section above), by telephone (360-753-4327), or 
by facsimile (360-753-9405). For more information, go to http://www.fts.gsa.gov/frs



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific information to indicate that the petitioned 
action may be warranted. To the maximum extent practicable, this 
finding is to be made within 90 days of receipt of the petition, and 
the finding is to be published promptly in the Federal Register.
    This finding is based on information included in the petition and 
information readily available to us at the time of the petition review. 
Our review of a 90-day finding under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and 
section 424.14(b) of our regulations is limited to a determination of 
whether the information in the petition meets the ``substantial 
scientific information'' threshold. Our standard for substantial 
scientific information with regard to a 90-day listing petition finding 
is ``that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to 
believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted'' 
(50 CFR 424.14(b)).
    We have to satisfy the Act's requirement that we use the best 
available science to make our decisions. However, we do not conduct 
additional research at this point, nor do we subject the petition to 
rigorous critical review. Rather, at the 90-day finding stage, we 
accept the petitioner's sources and characterizations of the 
information, to the extent that they appear to be based on accepted 
scientific principles (such as citing published and peer reviewed 
articles, or studies done in accordance with valid methodologies), 
unless we have specific information to the contrary. Our finding 
considers whether the petition states a reasonable case for listing on 
its face. Thus, our 90-day finding expresses no view as to the ultimate 
issue of whether the species should be listed.


    On December 11, 2002, we received a petition dated December 10, 
2002, requesting that we list the island marble butterfly (Euchloe 
ausonides insulanus) as an endangered species, and that critical 
habitat be designated concurrently with the listing. The petition, 
submitted by the Xerces Society, Center for Biological Diversity, 
Friends of the San Juans, and Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, was clearly 
identified as a petition for a listing rule, and contained the names, 
signatures, and addresses of the requesting parties. Included in the 
petition was supporting information regarding the species' taxonomy and 
ecology, historical and current distribution, present status, and 
potential causes of decline and active imminent threats. We sent a 
letter, acknowledging receipt of the petition, to the Xerces Society on 
January 22, 2003. In our response we advised the petitioners that we 
had insufficient funds to respond to the petition at that time and that 
we would not be able to begin processing the petition in a timely 
    On April 5, 2004, we received a 60-day notice of intent to sue for 
three butterfly species, the Taylor's checkerspot (Euphydryas editha 
taylori), the mardon skipper (Polites mardon), and the island marble. 
On October 18, 2004, a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief 
was filed by the plaintiffs that specifically addressed conservation 
actions needed for the island marble butterfly. We negotiated a 
stipulated settlement agreement, dated February 28, 2005, to work 
cooperatively with our conservation partners to conduct surveys and to 
assess the ecological needs of the island marble during 2005. We also 
agreed to submit the petition finding to the Federal Register by 
February 5, 2006, and if the 90-day finding was found to be 
substantial, to submit a 12-month finding by November 5, 2006. This 
notice constitutes our 90-day finding for the petition to list the 
island marble butterfly.

Species Information

    The island marble butterfly (island marble) is a member of the 
Pieridae family, subfamily Pirinae, primarily consisting of white and 
yellow butterflies. Prior to its rediscovery in 1998, at American Camp, 
a 1,223-acre (ac) (495-hectare (ha)) unit of the San Juan Island 
National Historic Park in Washington State, the last observation of the 
island marble was on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, in 1908. Island 
marble larvae are known to feed on two types of plants: (1) Nonnative 
annual mustards such as Brassica campestris (field mustard) and 
Sisymbrium altissimum (tall tumble-mustard) in the uplands and (2) 
Lepidium virginicum var. menziesii (native tall peppergrass) found at 
the edge of coastal lagoons just above the marine shoreline of San Juan 
Channel, north of American Camp (Lambert 2005a; Miskelly 2005).
    Between April 13 and July 13, 2005, WDNR, the Service, and the 
Xerces Society conducted more than 225 surveys for the island marble at 
110 sites in 6 counties of northwest Washington. Sites were selected 
based on proximity to known island marble occurrences and the presence 
of grassland vegetation containing host plants. Adult butterflies were 
observed from April 21 to June 6, eggs were observed from April 25 to 
June 14, and larvae were observed from May 8 to July 1 (Miskelly 2005). 
Based on the distribution of sites where island marble butterflies were 
found and the habitat linkages or barriers between these sites, it is 
believed that there are four populations of island marble butterflies, 
two on San Juan Island and two on Lopez Island (Miskelly 2005). At 
three of the four populations fewer than 10 adults were observed 
(Miskelly 2005). The largest and most concentrated population of island 
marbles was observed on the grasslands of American Camp and the 
adjacent Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), owned 
by the WDNR, on San Juan Island. Pyle (2004) observed ``at least 100 
individuals'' at American Camp in 2003, based on five site visits. 
Lambert (2005a, 2005b, 2005c) reported total transect counts at 
American Camp of 270 adults and 194 adults in 2004 and 2005, 


    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 424) 
set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal list of 
endangered and threatened species. 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) of the Act. The five listing factors are: 
(1) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial,

[[Page 7499]]

recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or 
predation; (4) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and 
(5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
    The Service believes that substantial information exists that 
threats to the species exist under one or more of the five listing 
factors. Because so few populations and individuals exist, the species 
may be especially vulnerable to random natural events.
    The petitioners state that many, if not most, insect populations 
normally experience large fluctuations in size (Ehrlich 1992; Schultz 
1998) with weather, predation, and disease potentially causing annual 
changes in butterfly numbers of an order of magnitude or more. They go 
on to state that normal population fluctuations, coupled with habitat 
alteration or loss can result in population extirpations (Hanski et al. 
1995). Based on this, the petitioners conclude that, with only one 
known population, this butterfly is extremely vulnerable to extinction.
    At the time the petition was written, American Camp was the only 
area known to be occupied by island marbles. Extensive surveys 
conducted after the petition was submitted revealed 3 additional areas 
that were occupied (Miskelly 2005). Fewer than 10 adults were observed 
in each of these areas (Miskelly 2005). Miskelly (2005) suggests that 
the three satellite populations found in 2005 may not be self 
sustaining, and that conservation of the island marble is largely 
dependent on having a viable population at American Camp.


    On the basis of our review, we find that the petition and 
information in our files presents substantial information indicating 
that listing of the island marble butterfly may be warranted. The small 
number of individuals remaining and their limited distribution 
increases extinction risk and makes the species especially vulnerable 
to threats that may exist under one or more of the five listing 

Public Information Solicited

    When we make a finding that substantial information is presented to 
indicate that listing a species may be warranted, we are required to 
promptly commence a review of the status of the species. To ensure that 
the status review is complete and based on the best available science 
and commercial information, we are soliciting additional information on 
the island marble butterfly. We are requesting additional information, 
comments, and suggestions concerning the status of the island marble 
butterfly from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties. We are seeking information regarding the 
species' historical and current status and distribution, its biology 
and ecology, ongoing conservation measures for the species and its 
habitat, and threats to the species and its habitat.
    If you wish to comment or provide information, you may submit your 
comments and materials concerning this finding to our Western 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section above).
    Our practice is to make comments and materials provided, including 
names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review 
during regular business hours. Respondents may request that we withhold 
a respondent's identity, to the extent allowable by law. If you wish us 
to withhold your name or address, you must state this request 
prominently at the beginning of your submission. However, we will not 
consider anonymous comments. To the extent consistent with applicable 
law, 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. Comments and materials received will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
above address (see ADDRESSES section above).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited is available, upon request, 
from our Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 
section above).


    The primary author of this notice is Ted Thomas, Western Washington 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES section above).


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

    Dated: February 3, 2006.
Marshall P. Jones,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E6-1930 Filed 2-10-06; 8:45 am]