[Federal Register: August 28, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 166)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 49245-49246]
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; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition To List the Gunnison's Prairie Dog as Threatened or 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; initiation of status review and request for new 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
opening of a public comment period regarding the status of the 
Gunnison's prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) in the contiguous United 
States. We are initiating this status review under a July 2, 2007, 
court-approved settlement agreement, in which we agreed to prepare a 
12-month finding on a petition to list the species as threatened or 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 
Through this action, we encourage all interested parties to provide us 
information regarding the status of, and any potential threats to, the 
Gunnison's prairie dog.

DATES: To be considered in the 12-month finding, comments must be 
received on or before October 29, 2007. However, we will accept new 
scientific and commercial information on the Gunnison's prairie dog 
after the official comment period closes.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to provide new information, you may submit your 
comments and materials by any one of the following methods:
    (1) You may mail or hand-deliver written comments and information 
to Gunnison's Prairie Dog Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 764 
Horizon Drive, Building B, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506-3946.
    (2) You may electronic mail (e-mail) your comments to FW6--
Gunnison's_prairie_dog@fws.gov. For directions on how to submit 
comments by e-mail, see the ``Public

[[Page 49246]]

Comments Solicited'' section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Thompson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 764 Horizon Drive, Building B, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506-
3946 (telephone 970-243-2778, extension 39).


Public Comments Solicited

    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this status 
review by one of two methods (see ADDRESSES). If you use email to 
submit your comments, please include ``Attn: Gunnison's prairie dog'' 
in your subject header, preferably with your name and return address in 
the body of your message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the 
system that we have received your e-mail message, please contact us 
directly by calling our Grand Junction Fish and Wildlife Office at 970-
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation used in the preparation of this status review will be 
available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the Grand Junction Fish and Wildlife Office, 764 Horizon 
Drive, Building B, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506-3946 (telephone 970-


    On February 23, 2004, the Service received a petition from Forest 
Guardians and 73 other organizations and individuals requesting that 
the Gunnison's prairie dog, found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and 
Utah, be listed as threatened or endangered, and that critical habitat 
be designated for the species. Action on this petition was precluded by 
court orders and settlement agreements for other listing actions that 
required nearly all of our listing funds for Fiscal Year 2004.
    On July 29, 2004, we received a 60-day notice of intent to sue for 
failure to complete a finding. On December 7, 2004, an amended 
complaint for failure to complete a finding for this and other species 
was filed. We reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs, and 
on February 7, 2006, we published a 90-day finding in the Federal 
Register (71 FR 6241) determining that the petition did not present 
substantial scientific information indicating that listing the 
Gunnison's prairie dog species may be warranted.
    On August 17, 2006, Forest Guardians and eight other organizations 
and individuals provided written notice of their intent to sue 
regarding the determination in the 90-day finding. On December 13, 
2006, the plaintiffs filed a complaint challenging the finding and 
seeking a Court order requiring issuance of a new positive 90-day 
finding, and completion of a 12-month finding on the petition to list 
the Gunnison's prairie dog. On June 29, 2007, we reached a settlement 
agreement with the plaintiffs for submittal to the Federal Register of 
a 12-month finding by February 1, 2008, and the terms and conditions of 
the agreement were adopted by the court on July 2, 2007.
    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires 
that, for any petition to revise the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants (Lists) that contains substantial scientific or 
commercial information that the petitioned action may be warranted, we 
make a finding within 12 months of the date of the receipt of the 
petition on whether the petitioned action is (a) Not warranted, (b) 
warranted, or (c) warranted, but that the immediate proposal of a 
regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other 
pending proposals to determine whether species are threatened or 
endangered, and we are making expeditious progress to add or remove 
qualified species from the Lists.
    We are opening a 60-day comment period to allow all interested 
parties an opportunity to provide information on the status of the 
Gunnison's prairie dog and potential threats to the species. We will 
base our 12-month finding on a review of the best scientific and 
commercial information available, including information received as a 
result of this notice.
    We are especially seeking any new scientific information regarding 
the taxonomic status of the Gunnison's prairie dog; the distribution, 
population, and status of the Gunnison's prairie dog in Arizona, 
Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, on both local and State-wide scales; 
and the effects and dynamics of sylvatic plague on the Gunnison's 
prairie dog, including its population responses to plague.


    The primary author of this document is staff from the Grand 
Junction, Colorado U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office.


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

    Dated: August 21, 2007.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E7-16941 Filed 8-27-07; 8:45 am]