[Federal Register: November 8, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 216)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 63123-63140]
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; Response to Court 
on Significant Portion of the Range, and Evaluation of Distinct 
Population Segments, for the Queen Charlotte Goshawk (Accipiter 
gentilis laingi)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Response to court on significant portion of the range, and 
evaluation of distinct population segments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our 
response to the May 24, 2004, order of the United States District Court 
for the District of Columbia in Southwest Center for Biological 
Diversity, et al. v. Norton, et al. (Civil Action No. 98-0934 (RMU)), 
directing the Service, on remand, to determine whether Vancouver Island 
constitutes a significant portion of the range of the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi) and whether the goshawk should be 
listed as threatened or endangered on Vancouver Island, in connection 
with our 1997 finding on a petition to list the Queen Charlotte Goshawk 
as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (Act). After a thorough review of the best scientific and 
commercial data available, we conclude that Vancouver Island is a 
significant portion of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's range and that 
listing the subspecies on Vancouver Island is warranted.
    In addition to addressing the court's remand, we have assessed 
whether listing is warranted for the Queen Charlotte goshawk beyond 
Vancouver Island. Our review has indicated that the subspecies' 
populations in British Columbia and Alaska each constitute distinct 
population segments (DPSs) of the Queen Charlotte goshawk. Based on 
differences in forest management, with substantially greater existing 
and anticipated habitat loss in British Columbia than in Alaska, we 
find that we have sufficient information about biological vulnerability 
and threats to the goshawk to determine that the entire British 
Columbia DPS warrants listing as threatened or endangered. We find that 
the best available information on biological vulnerability and threats 
to the goshawk does not support listing the Alaska DPS as threatened or 
endangered at this time. Pursuant to section 4(b)(3)(B)(ii) we will 
promptly publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule to list the 
British Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte goshawk. In that proposed 
rule we will indicate whether the British Columbia DPS and the 
Vancouver Island portion of the range should be listed as either 
endangered or threatened.

DATES: The finding in this document was made on November 8, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Submit data, information, comments, or questions regarding 
this finding to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Juneau Fish and Wildlife Field Office, 3000 Vintage Blvd., Suite 201, 
Juneau, AK 99801-7125.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bruce Halstead, Field Supervisor, U.S.

[[Page 63124]]

Fish and Wildlife Service, Juneau Fish and Wildlife Field Office, 3000 
Vintage Blvd., Suite 201, Juneau, AK 99801-7125; telephone 907-780-
1161; facsimile 907-586-7154. If you use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) 
at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The supporting file for this finding is 
available for inspection, by appointment during normal business hours, 
at the street address listed in the ADDRESSES section. The April 25, 
2007, status review for the Queen Charlotte goshawk, upon which much of 
this finding is based, and a list of all references cited in this 
finding are available online at http://alaska.fws.gov/.

Petition History and Previous Federal Actions

    On May 9, 1994, the Service received a petition from eight 
conservation groups and two individuals to list the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk as endangered and to designate critical habitat. 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 Queen 
Charlotte goshawk as threatened or endangered under the Act was not 
warranted and published our finding in the Federal Register on June 29, 
1995 (60 FR 33784). We expressed concern for long-term viability of the 
bird under the existing management plan for the Tongass National Forest 
(covering about 80 percent of Southeast Alaska), but we acknowledged 
that a new management plan was being drafted, and the new plan was 
expected to provide improved protection for the subspecies. The June 
1995 ``not warranted'' finding was challenged in the U.S. District 
Court for the District of Columbia, 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 district 
court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on September 25, 
1996, holding that the Service should not have relied on ``possible 
future actions'' described in a draft revision to the 1979 Tongass Land 
Management Plan (TLMP) ``to provide sanctuary for the goshawk.'' The 
decision was remanded to the Service with instructions to make a 
listing determination based on the existing 1979 TLMP (Southwest Center 
for Biological Diversity v. Babbitt, 939 F. Supp. 49 (D.D.C. 1996)). 
The district court established a deadline of May 31, 1997, for us to 
complete this analysis.
    On May 23, 1997, the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) released 
a new land management plan. Therefore, we requested and received an 
extension from the district court of August 31, 1997, to review the 
petitioned action and the status of the subspecies in light of the new 
plan. On August 28, 1997, we published our new finding that listing the 
Queen Charlotte goshawk as threatened or endangered was not warranted 
(62 FR 46710). In 1998, this finding was challenged in the same 
district court, and on 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 TLMP. We appealed 
the district court's decision to the Court of Appeals for the District 
of Columbia. The court of appeals agreed with the Service and remanded 
the case back to the district court (Southwest Center for Biological 
Diversity v. Babbitt, 215 F. 3d 58 (DC. Cir. 2000)).
    On July 29, 2002, a district court magistrate issued recommended 
findings that: (1) We had fulfilled our requirement to use the best 
scientific data available; (2) the ``not warranted'' determination was 
entitled to deference; (3) our determination that the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk would persist in Alaska and the Queen Charlotte 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 
the conservation status of the subspecies on Vancouver Island was a 
material omission. The magistrate recommended a remand to the Service 
to make a finding as to whether the Queen Charlotte goshawk should be 
listed based on its conservation status on Vancouver Island (Southwest 
Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, No. 98-934, 2002 U.S. Dist. 
LEXIS 13661, (D.D.C. July 29, 2002)).
    On May 24, 2004, a district court judge issued an order that 
adopted the magistrate's recommendations, except for the magistrate's 
finding that Vancouver Island constituted a significant portion of the 
range for the Queen Charlotte goshawk. Instead, the district court 
directed the Service upon remand to reconsider and explain any 
determination as to whether or not Vancouver Island is a significant 
portion of the subspecies' range, and assess whether the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk is endangered or threatened on Vancouver Island 
(Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, No. 98-0934 
(D.D.C. May 24, 2004)).
    In the ten years since the Service's 1997 determination on the 
petition to list the Queen Charlotte goshawk, the Service has obtained 
a substantial amount of new information and data relevant to the 
subspecies. Therefore, we updated our 1997 rangewide status review for 
the Queen Charlotte goshawk, to allow an evaluation of Vancouver 
Island's significance in the context of current knowledge of the 
subspecies' biology, habitat, and population status throughout its 
entire range. The updated status review (USFWS 2007) incorporates data 
and information on goshawks and forest management from a variety of 
sources including peer-reviewed scientific journals, agency reports, 
agency Web sites, public comments, and personal communications. 
Additional detail on many of the topics discussed below is available in 
the April 25, 2007, updated status review.
    In October 2005, we hosted a workshop of goshawk experts who 
presented recent findings and suggested updates for portions of the 
1997 status review. We also solicited input from the public through a 
December 15, 2005, notice in the Federal Register (70 FR 74284). We 
received and have evaluated information from 31 parties who commented 
during the 2005 notice's 60-day comment period. Comments were submitted 
by wildlife agencies in Alaska and British Columbia, several falconers 
and falconry groups, two conservation groups (including one of the 
plaintiffs), a forest industry group, and several private citizens. 
Peer reviews of an updated draft of our status review by experts at 
Brigham Young University, the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of 
Fish and Game, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, and the 
British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range helped us improve the 
status review.
    Below, we summarize the Service's analysis of the best available 
data on the status of the Queen Charlotte goshawk. As directed by the 
court, we have evaluated whether Vancouver Island represents a 
significant portion of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's entire range, and 
whether listing the subspecies as threatened or endangered is warranted 
for Vancouver Island.
    We have also, of our own initiative, evaluated new information and 

[[Page 63125]]

relevant to the subspecies rangewide (described in the April 25, 2007, 
updated status review (USFWS 2007)) to determine whether listing is 
warranted. We conclude that there are two DPSs with different 
conservation status. As such, our finding includes a determination of 
the DPSs, and an evaluation of whether we have sufficient information 
on the biological vulnerability and threats to the subspecies to 
support listing the goshawk as threatened or endangered in all or a 
significant portion of the range of the DPSs.

Species Description

    The Queen Charlotte goshawk is a comparatively small, dark 
subspecies of northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) that lives in the 
temperate rainforest archipelagos of Southeast Alaska and British 
Columbia. Adults have blue-gray to nearly black backs and tails, and 
gray bellies and chests that are finely marked with dark gray bars and 
streaks. A bold white stripe above the eye accents the vivid orange to 
bright scarlet eye. Females are larger than males; a sample of male 
goshawks trapped in Southeast Alaska averaged 29 ounces (827 grams), 
and females averaged 38 ounces (1074 grams) (Titus et al. 1994, p. 46), 
while males on Vancouver Island averaged 25 ounces (710 grams) and 
females 34 ounces (952 grams) (McClaren 2003, p. 39). Variation in 
color (Taverner 1940, pp. 158-159; Webster 1988, pp. 46-47; Flatten and 
McClaren 2003, p. 40) and size (Beebe 1974, p. 54; Titus et al. 1994, 
pp. 10-12; Flatten and McClaren 2003, p. 40; Flatten et al. 2002, p. 2) 
has been noted across the range of the subspecies, with birds averaging 
largest in the northern portion of their range (Titus et al. 1994, p. 

Taxonomy and Distribution

    The Queen Charlotte goshawk was initially described and proposed as 
a subspecies by Taverner (1940, pp. 158-160) based on its darker 
coloration and geographic discreteness (Queen Charlotte and Vancouver 
Islands, British Columbia). The proposed subspecies was accepted by the 
American Ornithologists' Union in 1957 (AOU 1957, p. 103). Subsequent 
analyses added Southeast Alaska to the range of the subspecies (Beebe 
1974, p. 54; Webster 1988, pp. 46-47) and established that the 
subspecies was smaller than goshawks elsewhere in North America, 
including those on the nearby British Columbia mainland (Johnson 1989, 
p. 638; Whaley and White 1994, pp. 179-181). Taxonomic treatments and 
reviews have generally accepted the Queen Charlotte goshawk (A. g. 
laingi) as distinct from the subspecies found across most of North 
America (A. g. atricapillus) (reviewed in USFWS 2007, pp. 11-13).
    Preliminary results of an investigation of genetic relationships 
among goshawks from within and around the reported range of the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk suggest that the birds on the Queen Charlotte Islands 
may be distinct from goshawks elsewhere (Talbot et al. 2005, p. 3), and 
that those on Vancouver Island are genetically closer to atricapillus 
than laingi (Talbot 2006, p. 1). To date, these potentially significant 
genetic data have not been reviewed by qualified taxonomists, and there 
have been no scientific publications or other reports proposing 
modification of currently accepted taxonomy for the species or 
subspecies. Accordingly, we continue to treat the birds on the Queen 
Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island, and Southeast Alaska as within the 
range of the laingi subspecies.
    We interpret the morphological and genetic variation found on 
Vancouver Island and in Southeast Alaska as ``stable hybrid zones'' 
(Haig et al. 2006, p. 7), where the laingi subspecies contacts the 
larger, lighter-colored atricapillus subspecies that inhabits most of 
North America. Flatten et al. (2002, p. 2) found that most adult 
goshawks in Southeast Alaska and on Vancouver Island showed at least 
partial expression of the darker laingi form. While this suggests an 
indefinite boundary, for purposes of this decision we include the 
mainland and islands of Southeast Alaska south of the international 
border between Mount Fairweather and Mount Foster, and Vancouver Island 
and the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, but not the 
British Columbia mainland (USFWS 2007, p. 14-21). This definition 
differs slightly from that used in our 1997 listing decision (62 FR 
46710) as it incorporates nests in northern Southeast Alaska reported 
in 1999 and 2001.
    For purposes of this finding, the term ``Southeast Alaska'' 
hereafter refers to the mainland and islands of Southeast Alaska south 
of the international border between Mount Fairweather and Mount Foster. 
``Vancouver Island'' refers to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and 
the smaller islands surrounding it. ``Queen Charlotte Islands'' refers 
to the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, also known by the 
Haida (First Nation) name of Haida Gwaii.
    Some biologists believe that goshawks on the British Columbia 
coastal mainland, on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, and in the 
Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon may be Queen Charlotte goshawks, 
based on proximity of similar habitat (USFWS 2007, pp. 17-21). No 
taxonomists or goshawk researchers, however, have included these areas 
within published range descriptions for the subspecies since Jewett et 
al. (1953, p. 162) included ``the Pacific slopes'' of Washington and 
Oregon in the range of the subspecies. Subsequent authors have not 
accepted Jewett et al.'s (1953, p. 162) range extension, which was 
based on isolated museum specimens believed to represent rare incursion 
migrants (Whaley 1988, p. 47). We recognize that some goshawks on the 
coastal mainland of British Columbia and the Olympic Peninsula may 
exhibit laingi characteristics, because similar rainforest habitat 
exists there and is close enough for birds from Vancouver Island to 
reach. The only examinations of these birds that we are aware of, 
however, indicate that coastal mainland birds are larger than those on 
Vancouver Island (Johnson 1989, pp. 637-638; Whaley and White 1994, pp. 
180-181; Flatten et al. 2002, p. 2). No analyses of plumage 
characteristics are available. Until data are available to demonstrate 
otherwise, we consider mainland British Columbia, Washington, and 
Oregon outside the range of the laingi subspecies.

Conservation Designations

    In Canada, the laingi subspecies has been federally listed as 
``Threatened'' under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) since 2002 (51 
Eliz. II, Ch. 29), following listings by the Committee on the Status of 
Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as ``Vulnerable'' in 1995 and 
``Threatened'' in 2000 (Cooper and Chytyk 2000, p. 23; COSEWIC 2005, p. 
1). British Columbia has included the subspecies on its ``Red List,'' 
indicating imperiled status, since 1998. In 2004, British Columbia 
designated the bird a Schedule 1 species at risk, indicating 
vulnerability to forest management and a need for protection beyond 
that provided by general forest management regulations (BCMSRM 2002, 
pp. 1-2; Barisoff 2004, p. 2; USFWS 2007, pp. 11-12).
    The State of Alaska designated the bird a ``species of concern'' in 
1998 due to threats to its nesting and foraging habitat, and the Forest 
Service designated it a ``sensitive species'' in 1994 (ADF&G 1998, pp. 
1-2; USDA Forest Service 1997, p. 3/232). State, Provincial, and 
international heritage programs (which maintain data on species of 
concern) list the Queen Charlotte goshawk as ``imperiled'' State- and 
Province-wide, nationally, and globally (NatureServe 2005, p. 1).

[[Page 63126]]


    Queen Charlotte goshawks nest and forage in dense, wet, coastal 
rainforests. Goshawks in Southeast Alaska preferentially use medium and 
high volume forests for foraging and other daily activities and avoid 
non-forested and clear-cut areas. Young stands of regenerating forest 
(also called ``second growth'' or ``second-growth forest'') are 
avoided, probably because they are too dense for goshawks to 
effectively hunt.
    Second-growth stands reach economic maturity as their growth rates 
begin to slow. Typically, trees of this age have not reached maximum 
size and the canopy of these stands is usually uniformly dense. There 
is usually little understory unless the stand has been thinned. In this 
finding, we refer to such stands as ``mature'' or ``mature second 
growth''. Goshawks use such stands in proportion to their availability 
(Titus et al. 1994, pp. 19-24; Iverson et al. 1996, pp. 27-40), and may 
nest in mature stands where old growth is limited.
    ``Old growth'' or ``old forest'' refers to a structural stage of 
forest characterized by several age classes of trees, including 
dominant trees that have reached the maximum size typical for the site, 
accumulations of dead, dying, and decaying trees and logs, and younger 
trees growing in gaps between the dominant trees. Such stands are 
typically over 250 years old within the range of the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk, and have not been previously harvested.
    The term ``productive forest'' typically describes forest land 
capable of producing stands of trees large enough to support commercial 
timber harvest. Productive forest may be of any age, from young second 
growth to old forest. Non-productive or ``scrub'' forest is land that 
supports over 10 percent cover by trees that are too small to be of 
commercial value. For purposes of this document, we use ``productive 
forest'', as defined by the U.S. Forest Service and the British 
Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range (USFWS 2007, pp. 32 and 139), as 
a reasonable approximation of goshawk habitat amount and distribution 
because goshawks have shown positive selection for such stands unless 
they have been converted to second growth. Low-productivity forests are 
used for foraging in proportion to their availability, indicating 
neither selection for, nor avoidance of, these habitats (Titus et al. 
1994, pp. 19-24; Iverson et al. 1996, pp. 27-40). Non-productive forest 
that has not been harvested is, by definition, old growth forest, but 
in this finding we use the terms old growth and old forest to describe 
only productive forest that has not been previously harvested.
    Nests are typically located in large trees within mature or old 
growth forest stands that have greater volume and canopy cover than the 
surrounding forest (Iverson et al. 1996, pp. 47-56; Flatten et al. 
2002, pp. 2-3; McClaren 2003, p. 12; McClaren and Pendergast 2003, pp. 
4-6; Doyle 2005, pp. 12-14; USFWS 2007, pp. 26-30). As with goshawks 
elsewhere, nesting pairs appear to be territorial, with nests spaced 
somewhat uniformly across available habitat. Thorough searches on 
Vancouver and the Queen Charlotte Islands have documented goshawk nest 
stands spaced 4 to 9 miles (7 to 15 kilometers (km)) apart, as compared 
to 2 to 5 miles (3 to 7 km) apart for goshawks outside the range of the 
Queen Charlotte subspecies (McClaren 2003, pp. 13 and 21; Doyle 2005, 
p. 15; USFWS 2007, pp. 45-47).
    Mature and old forest habitat provides productive habitat for prey 
species in a setting that goshawks can effectively hunt (see Food 
Habits). Such habitat appears to be critical in the vicinity of the 
nest (Ethier 1999, p. 31; Finn et al. 2002, pp. 270-271; McClaren 2003, 
pp. 11 and 16; Desimone and DeStefano 2005, pp. 317-318; Patla 2005, 
pp. 328-330), where it is used by fledglings learning to fly and hunt 
(Reynolds et al. 1992, pp. 15-16; Kennedy et al. 1994, p. 80; McClaren 
et al. 2005, pp. 260-261).
    Doyle (2005, p. 14) found that all 10 known nest territories on the 
Queen Charlotte Islands had at least 41 percent mature and old growth 
forest, and successful nest territories had at least 60 percent mature-
old growth forest, suggesting that about half of the territory must be 
mature or old forest to support nesting goshawks.

Food Habits

    Goshawks hunt primarily by flying between perches and launching 
attacks from those perches. They take a variety of medium-sized prey, 
depending largely on local availability (Squires and Reynolds 1997, p. 
1), which varies markedly among the islands in the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk's range. Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and sooty 
grouse (Dendragopus fuliginosis) (formerly blue grouse, D. obscurus) 
form the bulk of the diet in many locations (although neither occur on 
Prince of Wales and nearby islands in southern Southeast Alaska), with 
thrushes, jays, crows, ptarmigan, and woodpeckers frequently taken as 
well (Ethier 1999, pp. 21-22 and 32-47; Lewis 2001, pp. 81-107; Lewis 
et al. 2004, pp. 378-382; Doyle 2005, pp. 30-31). During winter, many 
avian prey species migrate from the region, reducing the variety and 
abundance of prey available. Rabbits and hares are frequently taken by 
goshawks during winter elsewhere, but within the range of the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk, rabbits and hares are limited to portions of the 
mainland, Vancouver Island (BC), and Douglas Island (AK) (Ethier 1999, 
p. 22; MacDonald and Cook 1999, pp. 23-24; Nagorsen 2002, pp. 92-97; 
Doyle 2005, p. 31).
    Prey availability is defined by both prey abundance and suitability 
of habitat for successful hunting. Timber harvest typically results in 
prey declines because few potential prey species adapted to open and 
edge habitats exist within the range of the Queen Charlotte goshawk 
(Iverson et al. 1996, pp. 59-61; Doyle and Mahon 2003, p. 39; USFWS 
2007, pp. 42-45). Goshawks hunt from perches and have limited ability 
to take prey far from forest cover (i.e., in large openings created by 
logging). Potential prey animals that use dense second-growth stands 
(which typically follow logging) are likely to be unavailable, because 
these stands do not offer adequate flight space for goshawks (DeStefano 
and McCloskey 1997, p. 38; Beier and Drennan 1997, p. 570; Greenwald et 
al. 2005, pp. 125-126; USFWS 2007, pp. 62-67).

Home Range and Seasonal Movements

    Breeding-season home ranges average about 11,000 acres (ac) (4,500 
hectares (ha)) for females and 15,000 ac (6,000 ha) for males. During 
winter, Queen Charlotte goshawks typically shift their activity centers 
and range farther, but remain in the region. Females often move more 
than males during winter, when use areas average about 84,000 ac 
(34,000 ha) for females and 47,000 ac (19,000 ha) for males. Males 
apparently remain within or near their nesting home ranges during 
winter, while some females leave their nesting areas altogether to 
winter elsewhere in the region (Flatten et al. 2001, pp. 9-11; Lewis 
and Flatten 2004, pp. 2-3; McClaren 2004, p. 6). Following winter, some 
females and apparently all surviving males return to their previously 
used nesting areas, while some females move to new nesting areas and 
pair with new mates (Flatten et al. 2001, p. 9-11).


    Nest occupancy (percentage of nest areas with adult goshawks 
present) and nesting activity (percentage of nest areas with eggs laid) 
appear to vary with habitat suitability (Ethier 1999, p. 31; Finn et 
al. 2002, pp. 270-271; McClaren 2003, pp. 11 and 16; Desimone and

[[Page 63127]]

DeStefano 2005, pp. 317-318; Patla 2005, pp. 328-330), prey 
availability (Doyle and Smith 1994, p. 126; McClaren et al. 2002, p. 
350; Ethier 1999, p. 36; Salafsky et al. 2005, pp. 242-244), and 
weather (Patla 1997, pp. 34-35; Finn et al. 1998, p. 1; McClaren et al. 
2002, p. 350; Fairhurst and Bechard 2005, pp. 231-232), with greater 
occupancy or activity in areas with less fragmented forest habitat and 
in years with higher prey abundance and with warmer, drier weather.
    Individual nests are frequently not used in subsequent years as 
pairs often move to an alternate nest. Most alternate nests are 
clustered within a few hundred hectares (McClaren 2003, p. 13; Flatten 
et al. 2001, p. 9), although females have been documented leaving the 
nesting area altogether and nesting in subsequent years with a new mate 
in a different territory up to 95 miles (152 km) away. Males have been 
documented moving up to 2 miles (3.2 km) between subsequent nests, but 
apparently remain in their nesting area in subsequent years (Flatten et 
al. 2001, pp. 9-10).
    When prey availability and weather are suitable and nesting is 
initiated, nest success (percent of active nests that fledge at least 
one young) is typically high (87 percent rangewide, 1991 to 2004), as 
is productivity (1.6 to 2.0 fledglings per active nest) (USFWS 2007, p. 
54), although Ethier (1999, p. 31) found higher productivity in 
contiguous old and mature second growth forests than in fragmented 
    Fledglings typically spend about 6 weeks within several hundred 
yards of their nests, in an area of 570 ac (230 ha) or less (average 
146 ac (59 ha)) learning flight and hunting skills before dispersing 
(McClaren et al. 2005, p. 257). Retention of mature forest structure 
near the nest is believed to be important for supporting this 
developmental stage (Reynolds et al. 1992, pp. 15-16; Kennedy et al. 
1994, p. 80; McClaren et al. 2005, pp. 260-261). Adults continue to 
feed the young and protect them from predators during this period. In 
Southeast Alaska, juveniles moved up to 100 miles (160 km) (some 
possibly farther as their radio-telemetry signals were lost) to areas 
where they either spent the winter or died (Iverson et al. 1996, p. 

Survival Rates

    Annual survival rates for adult goshawks in Southeast Alaska were 
low for males (0.59) and for females that wintered in the same area 
where they nested (0.57), but high for females that left their breeding 
areas during the winter (0.96), with most mortality occurring in winter 
(Flatten et al. 2002, p. 3; Titus et al. 2002, p. 1; McClaren 2003, p. 
    Life-table calculations using vital rates observed and inferred 
from Southeast Alaska suggest that juvenile survival must approach 50 
percent and a high proportion of adults must breed if goshawk 
populations are to remain stable in the region (USFWS 2007, pp. 58-59). 
Population viability analyses for goshawks on the Queen Charlotte 
Islands (approximately 12 percent of the subspecies' geographic range) 
estimate the probability of long-term population survival to be between 
0 and 31 percent, due primarily to stochastic effects on the small 
population likely to remain after projected logging occurs (Doyle and 
Holt 2005, p. 7). Data on juvenile survival, age at first breeding, and 
percent of adults breeding, however, are lacking for Queen Charlotte 
goshawks. Therefore, these demographic models are necessarily 
speculative, and of limited reliability.

Population Estimates

    Goshawk populations are difficult to census, but breeding pair 
populations have been estimated by adjusting habitat capability (number 
of potential territories) to reflect observed nest area occupancy 
rates. Marquis et al. (2005, pp. 22-26) calculated habitat capability 
for Vancouver Island by extrapolating mean nest spacing (4.3 mi (7 km) 
between adjacent nests) to determine that up to 126 territories could 
fit on the island. Potential territories were ranked by the percentage 
of suitable habitat (defined by stand age, tree species, biogeoclimatic 
subzone, and canopy closure). Only 103 territories had more than 25 
percent suitable habitat, 44 had more than 50 percent suitable habitat, 
and 6 had more than 75 percent suitable habitat.
    It is not known how much suitable habitat is required within a 
territory, and the amount probably varies depending on the prey 
community present in the area, but Doyle (2005, p. 14) found that all 
10 known nest territories (25,000-ac (10,000-ha) circles centered on 
the nests) on the Queen Charlotte Islands had at least 41 percent 
mature and old growth forest, and successful nests had at least 60 
percent mature-old growth forest. Iverson et al. (1996, p. 55) 
documented an average of 51 percent coverage by productive mature and 
old forest in 10,000-acre (4,000 ha) circles surrounding nests in 
Southeast Alaska, although coverage by productive forest ranged from 22 
to 89 percent. These observations suggest that territories composed of 
50 percent or more productive mature and old forest provide the best 
habitat, although some pairs will use territories with lesser amounts 
of this preferred habitat. We therefore conclude that Vancouver Island 
may support about 44 to 100 viable territories. Given recent nest 
occupancy rates of 55 percent on Vancouver Island (McClaren 2006, p. 
8), there may be only 24 to 45 breeding pairs on average. In years with 
abundant prey and good weather, nest activity is likely to be higher, 
but based on territory spacing, it seems unlikely that there could be 
more than about 100 pairs on Vancouver Island.
    McClaren (2006, p. 8) applied the observed 55 percent nest 
occupancy rate to Cooper and Chytyk's (2000, p. 19) less sophisticated 
estimate that Vancouver Island might have space for up to 300 
territories, to calculate an average of 165 breeding pairs on Vancouver 
    Marquis et al. (2005, pp. 27-28) plotted 53 potential nesting areas 
on the Queen Charlotte Islands, 47 of which contained more than 25 
percent suitable habitat and 9 of which contained more than 50 percent 
suitable habitat. Recent nest occupancy rates of 43 percent on the 
Queen Charlotte Islands (McClaren 2006, p. 8) suggest there may be only 
4 to 20 pairs on the Queen Charlotte Islands in average years.
    Doyle and Holt (2005, p. 4) plotted 61 potential territories on the 
Queen Charlotte Islands, 24 to 43 of which were thought to be viable 
based on the percentage of mature and old forest cover. McClaren (2006, 
p. 8) adjusted that estimate with recent nest area occupancy rates from 
the Queen Charlotte Islands (43 percent) to estimate that there may be 
10 to 18 breeding pairs. Doyle (2005, pp. 13-18) plotted 58 potential 
territories on the Queen Charlotte Islands, but only 10 to 25 had 
adequate habitat to support nesting. Doyle (2005, p. 18) used nest 
activity rates to estimate that 4 to 13 of those territories might 
support breeding. Cooper and Chytyk (2000, p. 20) estimated that the 
Queen Charlotte Islands might support 50 pairs, based on their analysis 
of relative size and perceived habitat quality compared to Vancouver 
Island. Doyle (2007, p. 6) documented 6 active nests on the Queen 
Charlotte Islands in 2006.
    An interagency modeling effort using observed home range sizes 
estimated that the Tongass National Forest (76 percent of the total 
area and 85 percent of the productive forest in Southeast Alaska) could 
hold 580 to 747 nesting territories, depending on how suitable habitat 
is defined (Schempf and Woods 2000, pp. 1-8; Schempf 2000, p. 1). 
Adjustment to reflect 45 percent territory occupancy observed in

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Southeast Alaska, 1991 to 1999 (Flatten et al. 2001, p. 7) suggests 261 
to 336 breeding pairs on the Tongass National Forest. Extrapolation of 
this number suggests 300 to 400 pairs across Southeast Alaska. An 
earlier habitat capability model based on home range sizes suggested 
that Southeast Alaska may hold between 100 and 200 breeding pairs 
(Crocker-Bedford 1994, p. 4).
    We consider the habitat capability estimates by Marquis et al. 
(2005, pp. 22-28) to represent the best available data for Vancouver 
Island, those of Doyle and Holt (2005, p. 4) to be the best available 
for the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the interagency effort described 
by Schempf and Woods (2000, pp. 1-8) to be the best available for 
Southeast Alaska. These estimates are judged better than other 
available estimates because they were based on evaluation of territory-
sized arrangement of habitat, rather than region-wide estimates of 
habitat (e.g., Crocker-Bedford 1994, Cooper and Chytyk 200, p. 19). We 
favor Doyle and Holt's (2005, p. 4) estimate for the Queen Charlotte 
Islands over Marquis et al.'s (2005, p. 27-28) estimates for those 
islands because of Doyle's field experience with goshawks on those 
islands (which Marquis et al. lacked). Doyle and Holt's (2005, p. 4) 
effort represented a refinement of Doyle's (2005, p. 18) estimates, so 
we favor the former. None of the models have been verified, and we 
consider all to be of low precision. Based on these models, a review of 
the range of estimates available, and discussions with goshawk 
biologists, we estimate that Vancouver Island may have about 50 to 100 
pairs, the Queen Charlotte Islands 8 to 15 pairs, and Southeast Alaska 
300 to 400 pairs. We believe the rangewide population is approximately 
350 to 500 pairs, plus an unknown number of non-breeding juveniles and 
    Populations are believed to have declined, primarily due to timber 
harvest since the mid 1900s, although direct measures of goshawk 
populations and population trends are not available. Habitat models 
suggest that habitat capability has declined 30 percent in Southeast 
Alaska, 50 percent rangewide (Crocker-Bedford 1990, pp. 6-7), and by 57 
to 81 percent on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Doyle 2005, pp. 15-16). 
Further declines are projected on the Queen Charlotte Islands through 
year 2050 (Doyle and Holt 2005, p. 4). Habitat capability projections 
are not available for Vancouver Island.

Response to the District Court's Question on Vancouver Island

    In its May 24, 2004 order, the D.C. District Court directed the 
Service in connection with its 1997 12-month finding under 16 U.S.C. 
1533(b)(3)(B), to reconsider and explain a determination as to whether 
or not Vancouver Island is a ``significant portion'' of the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk's entire range, and to assess whether the subspecies 
is endangered or threatened on Vancouver Island (Southwest Center for 
Biological Diversity v. Norton, No. 98-934, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 
13661, (D.D.C. July 29, 2002).
    The Act defines an endangered species as one ``in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range'', and 
a threatened species as one ``likely to become an endangered species 
within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range.'' The term ``significant portion of its range'' is not 
defined by the statute.
    For purposes of this finding, a significant portion of a species' 
(or subspecies') range is an area that is important to the conservation 
of the species because it contributes meaningfully to the 
representation, resiliency, or redundancy of the species. Adequate 
representation insures conserving the breadth of the genetic makeup of 
the species needed to conserve its adaptive capabilities. Populations 
in peripheral areas, for example, may be important in this aspect. 
Resilience refers to the ability of a species to recover from periodic 
disturbances or environmental variability. In general, a species is 
usually most resilient in highest quality habitat. Redundancy of 
populations is needed to provide a margin of safety for the species to 
withstand catastrophic events. The contribution of the range portion 
must be at a level such that its loss would result in a decrease in the 
ability to conserve the species. It does not mean however, that if such 
portion of the range were lost, the species as a whole would be in 
danger of extinction immediately or in the foreseeable future; rather, 
that the ability to conserve the species would be compromised.
    We estimate that Vancouver Island once held approximately 37 
percent of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's habitat, yet due to 
disproportionate logging, now contains about 27 percent (USFWS 2007, 
pp. 99-101). Population estimates are uncertain, but there are probably 
only several hundred breeding pairs of Queen Charlotte goshawks 
throughout the entire range of the subspecies. Vancouver Island may 
support 50 to 100 breeding pairs, or about 15 to 20 percent of the 
rangewide population. Given the apparently low numbers of breeding 
pairs rangewide, loss of the Vancouver Island population would result 
in a meaningful decrease in redundancy and resilience of the rangewide 
goshawk population, and increase rangewide demographic vulnerability.
    Preliminary genetic results suggest that goshawks on Vancouver 
Island may be genetically distinct from goshawks on the Queen Charlotte 
Islands and in Southeast Alaska (Talbot et al. 2005, pp. 2-3; Talbot 
2006, p. 1). These potentially significant findings, if confirmed by 
peer review and/or corroborated by additional work, may provide 
additional indication of the significance of the Vancouver Island 
population because loss of genetic variability found there could reduce 
both representation and resilience of the subspecies, as defined above. 
This genetic diversity, for example, may help allow the subspecies to 
respond and adapt to future environmental changes, particularly as 
warmer-adapted forest communities move northward in response to climate 
    In summary, the Queen Charlotte goshawk population on Vancouver 
Island contributes to the redundancy of the subspecies rangewide, as 
this area historically provided a significant amount of goshawk 
habitat, and continues to do so by supporting a significant proportion 
of the rangewide population. We therefore conclude that Vancouver 
Island is a significant portion of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's entire 
range. Further, genetic variation present in the goshawk population on 
Vancouver Island may be important to the long-term conservation of the 
species, and potentially provides additional (although unconfirmed at 
this time) support for Vancouver Island as a significant portion of the 
subspecies' range.
    The goshawk population on Vancouver Island lies within the British 
Columbia DPS, which we discuss in the next section (see Distinct 
Population Segments). As such, threats to the goshawk on Vancouver 
Island and elsewhere within the British Columbia DPS are evaluated in 
detail below (see British Columbia Distinct Population Segment). The 
court's question of whether listing is warranted for the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk on Vancouver Island, is addressed following our 
analysis of threats within the British Columbia DPS (see Significant 
Portions of the British Columbia DPS's Range).
    We ultimately conclude that we have sufficient information to 
support listing the subspecies as threatened or

[[Page 63129]]

endangered in the British Columbia DPS, which includes the Vancouver 
Island SPR (See British Columbia DPS Finding). Because this 
determination covers all of the Vancouver Island SPR, a separate 
listing determination for the Vancouver Island SPR is not needed at 
this time. As we formally propose to list the British Columbia DPS of 
the Queen Charlotte goshawk, we will make a separate determination of 
listing status for the Vancouver Island SPR.

Distinct Population Segments

    Section 2(16) of the Act defines ``species'' to include ``any 
distinct population segment of vertebrate fish or wildlife which 
interbreeds when mature.'' To interpret and implement the DPS 
provisions of the Act and Congressional guidance, the Service and the 
National Marine Fisheries Service published a Policy Regarding the 
Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments in the Federal 
Register (DPS Policy) on February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722). Under the DPS 
policy, three factors are considered in a decision concerning the 
establishment and classification of a possible DPS. These are applied 
similarly for additions to the list of endangered and threatened 
species. The first two factors--discreteness of the population segment 
in relation to the remainder of the taxon and the significance of the 
population segment to the taxon to which it belongs--bear on whether 
the population segment is a valid DPS. If a population meets both 
tests, it is a DPS and then the third factor is applied--the population 
segment's conservation status in relation to the ESA's standards for 
listing, delisting or reclassification (i.e., is the population segment 
endangered or threatened).

Discreteness Analysis

    Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon 
may be considered discrete if it satisfies either of the following 
conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the 
same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation; or (2) it is 
delimited by international governmental boundaries within which 
differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of Section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.
    Queen Charlotte goshawks in British Columbia (on the Queen 
Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island) are separated from those in 
Southeast Alaska by an international border. The subspecies is listed 
as Threatened under the SARA by the Canadian Federal Government, and as 
a Species at Risk by the British Columbia Provincial Government. 
Management of habitat and the mechanisms that regulate that management 
differ substantially, with greater levels of habitat loss from logging 
in British Columbia than in Southeast Alaska. In Southeast Alaska, 
approximately 13 percent (880,000 ac (356,000 ha)) of the 6.4 million 
ac (2.6 million ha) of productive forest has been harvested to date, 
with another 15 percent (929,000 ac (376,000 ha)) expected to be 
harvested over the next 50 to 100 years (USFWS 2007, pp. 96-98, and 
Appendix A, Table A-9). In British Columbia, 45 percent (3.7 million ac 
(1.5 million ha)) of the 8.4 million ac (3.4 million ha) of productive 
forest has been harvested to date, with another 14 percent (1.2 million 
ac (480,000 ha)) expected to be harvested over the next 40 years (USFWS 
2007, pp. 96-98, and Appendix A, Table A-9). Designated parks, 
reserves, and other non-development designations protect about 55 
percent (3.5 million ac (1.4 million ha)) of the productive forest in 
Southeast Alaska and about 9 percent (776,000 ac (314,000 ha)) in 
British Columbia (USFWS 2007, pp. 96-98, and Appendix A, Table A-9).
    Based on the differences in conservation status, habitat 
management, and regulatory mechanisms (discreteness criteria 2), we 
conclude that the ``British Columbia'' population and the ``Southeast 
Alaska'' populations are each discrete.

Significance Analysis

    If a population segment is considered discrete under one or more of 
the conditions described in our DPS policy, its biological and 
ecological significance is to be considered in light of Congressional 
guidance that the authority to list DPSs be used ``sparingly'' while 
encouraging the conservation of genetic diversity. In carrying out this 
examination, we consider available scientific evidence of the 
population segment's importance to the taxon to which it belongs. This 
consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) Its persistence 
in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence 
that its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the 
taxon; (3) evidence that it is the only surviving natural occurrence of 
a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population 
outside its historic range; or (4)evidence that the discrete population 
segment differs markedly from other populations of the species in its 
genetic characteristics. A population segment needs to satisfy only one 
of these criteria to be considered significant. Furthermore, the list 
of criteria is not exhaustive; other criteria may be used, as 
appropriate. Below, we consider the biological and ecological 
significance of the Southeast Alaska DPS, followed by the British 
Columbia DPS.
    Southeast Alaska: The ecological setting in Southeast Alaska 
encompasses the northernmost occurrences of the subspecies, where it 
confronts colder temperatures year-round and more snow at low elevation 
during winter, especially in the northern portion of the range. Loss of 
this segment would result in a significant gap in the subspecies 
distribution, as approximately two-thirds of the land area and about 60 
percent of the remaining habitat for the subspecies is in Southeast 
Alaska (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Tables A-9 and A-12). Southeast Alaska 
formerly held 52 percent of the rangewide habitat for Queen Charlotte 
goshawks, but now has 61 percent and is projected to have 66 percent by 
2100 (USFWS 2007, pp. 99-101). This area supports most of the world's 
population of Queen Charlotte goshawks, without which the subspecies 
would be restricted to the heavily impacted and vulnerable forests of 
coastal British Columbia. Therefore, we conclude that the Southeast 
Alaska population of the Queen Charlotte goshawk is significant to the 
taxon to which it belongs.
    British Columbia: Loss of the Queen Charlotte goshawk from British 
Columbia would result in a significant gap in the subspecies' 
distribution, as approximately one-third of the land area and half of 
the productive forest (much of which has been harvested) is in British 
Columbia (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Tables A-9 and A-12). As a result, we 
conclude that the British Columbia population of the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk is significant to the taxon to which it belongs. Further, 
preliminary genetic results additionally suggest that goshawks on the 
Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island may be distinct from those 
in Southeast Alaska (Talbot et al. 2005, pp. 2-3; Talbot 2006, p.1), 
and appear to encompass much of the genetic diversity present in the 
taxa. These potentially significant findings, if confirmed by peer 
review and/or corroborated by additional work, may provide additional 
indication of the significance of the British Columbia population 

[[Page 63130]]

    Summary: As a result of the analysis described above, we find that 
the Southeast Alaska and British Columbia populations of Queen 
Charlotte goshawks are each discrete, as well as significant in 
relation to the remainder of the taxon; thus, are two separate, valid 

Factors Affecting Distinct Population Segments

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
(50 CFR 424) describe procedures for adding species to the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 
4(a), we may list a species on the basis of any of five factors: (A) 
The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of 
its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or 
manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
    An endangered species is defined by the Act, with exception, as 
``any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range.'' A threatened species is defined as 
``any species which is likely to become an endangered species within 
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' A species is defined by the Act to include ``any subspecies of 
fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any 
species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.''
    Since we have identified Southeast Alaska and British Columbia as 
two separate, valid DPSs, we next evaluate each DPS with regard to its 
potential threatened or endangered status using the five listing 
factors enumerated in section 4(a) of the Act. Additional detail on our 
analyses of these factors is available in our updated status review 
dated April 25, 2007 (USFWS 2007, pp. 102-121).

Southeast Alaska Distinct Population Segment

    On May 24, 2004, the U.S. District Court ruled that the Service's 
1997 decision to not list the Queen Charlotte goshawk as endangered or 
threatened based on its status in Southeast Alaska was neither 
arbitrary nor capricious, and the court showed deference to the agency 
on the technical and scientific conclusions in this case (Southwest 
Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, No. 98-0934 (D.D.C. May 24, 
2004)). Below, we provide an updated analysis of factors affecting the 
subspecies in Southeast Alaska.

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of the Species' Habitat or Range

    Mature and old forest provides nesting and foraging habitat for 
goshawks, and supports populations of preferred prey (see Habitat and 
Food Habits sections, above). Logging within and near nest stands has 
been implicated in nest site abandonment, although effects of such 
logging on productivity have varied (Crocker-Bedford 1990, pp. 263-266; 
Penteriani and Faivre 2001, p. 213; Doyle and Mahon 2003, p. 39; Mahon 
and Doyle 2005, pp. 338-340; Doyle 2006, pp. 138-139). Clearcut logging 
also reduces prey populations (USFWS 2007, pp. 62-64) and negatively 
impacts foraging habitat by removing perches and hunting cover, 
creating openings and dense second-growth stands that are avoided by 
goshawks in Southeast Alaska (Iverson et al. 1996, p. 36).
    Timber harvest began in Southeast Alaska in the early 1900s and 
peaked in the 1970s. Since then, harvests have declined dramatically 
due primarily to declining market demand and other economic conditions 
(Brackley et al. 2006, pp. 11-15; USFWS 2007, p. 73). Approximately 13 
percent (880,000 ac (356,000 ha)) of the 6.4 million ac (2.6 million 
ha) of productive forest within the range of the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk in Alaska has been harvested to date, with another 15 percent 
(929,000 ac (376,000 ha)) expected to be harvested over the next 50 to 
100 years (USFWS 2007, pp. 96-98, and Appendix A, Table A-9). 
Designated parks, reserves, and other non-development designations 
protect about 55 percent (3.5 million ac (1.4 million ha)) of the 
productive forest. Some productive forest outside designated reserves 
will be retained on either inoperable ground (e.g., too steep, 
unstable, or wet; 9 percent of the productive forest) or in retention 
areas designed to protect other resources (e.g., beach and stream 
buffers; 7 percent of the productive forest) on lands otherwise 
available for timber production (USFWS 2007, pp. 96-98, and Appendix A, 
Table A-9).
    Approximately 85 percent of the 6.4 million ac (2.6 million ha) of 
productive forest in Southeast Alaska is managed by the U.S. Forest 
Service (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-9) under the terms of the 
TLMP, which includes a conservation strategy intended to reduce impacts 
of forest management on vulnerable species. Included are old growth 
reserves and other Forest Service non-development land use designations 
(such as Wilderness, Remote Recreation, Municipal Watershed, etc.), 
corridors of unharvested forest linking reserves, goshawk nest buffers, 
canopy retention in harvest units on part of one island, and pre-
project goshawk surveys to locate nests prior to timber harvest.
    Details of the conservation strategy were developed collaboratively 
by a planning team consisting of managers, research scientists, and 
resource specialists from the Forest Service, Service, and 
Environmental Protection Agency (Everest 2005, p. 21). The Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game was also closely involved. During 
development of the conservation strategy, the Forest Service published 
a conservation assessment for goshawks in Southeast Alaska (Iverson et 
al. 1996, pp. 1-101), and hosted goshawk risk assessment panels in 1995 
and 1997 (Shaw 1999, p. 18). Biologists from the Forest Service, 
Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game were involved with 
the conservation assessment and the risk assessment panels.
    Existing standards and guidelines within the TLMP are projected to 
maintain approximately 66 percent of the 2 million ac (807,000 ha) of 
productive old growth forest in areas open to commercial timber harvest 
on the Tongass National Forest (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-9). 
Under the current TLMP, operability standards that define the physical 
limitations of timber harvest due to factors such as slope and soil 
stability are projected to protect 35 percent of the remaining old 
growth in areas otherwise available for harvest. Areas with such 
limitations are termed ``inoperable''. Retention of forest stands to 
protect non-timber resources (such as fish-bearing streams, marine 
shorelines, eagle nests, wolf dens, caves, and cultural sites) is 
expected to protect an additional 31 percent of the old growth in areas 
open to timber harvest (USFWS 2007, p. 72, Table 9).
    Small Old Growth Reserves or land use designations that prohibit 
timber harvest protect at least 16 percent of the land and at least 8 
percent of the productive forest in each Value Comparison Unit (VCU) 
open for timber harvest. VCUs vary from about 1,000 acres (400 ha) to 
nearly 9,000 acres (3,600 ha), and generally follow the boundaries of 
medium-order watersheds. Designation of Small Old Growth Reserves and 
other non-development designations in VCUs open to timber harvest is in 
addition to whatever inoperable and retention areas

[[Page 63131]]

exist within the timber production designation.
    There are approximately 3.7 million acres (1.5 million ha) open to 
logging on the Tongass National Forest (USDA Forest Service 1997, ROD 
p. 7), but only 2.0 million acres (0.8 million ha) support productive 
forest (USFWS 2007, Table A-9, p. 129); that is, lands open to logging 
are 54 percent forested. Retention of 66 percent of the productive old 
forest within the area open to timber harvest will therefore result in 
a landscape with an average of about 36 percent cover by old forest. 
Old Growth Reserves protect an additional 8 percent or more of the 
productive forest within each watershed otherwise open for timber 
harvest, and maturing second growth will provide additional habitat. We 
therefore expect that approximately 45 percent of the harvested 
landscape will support productive old or mature forest, once all forest 
available for harvest is converted to second growth.
    Across all ownerships in Southeast Alaska, approximately 41 percent 
of the vegetated landscape (i.e., ice, bare rock, water, and other non-
vegetated areas that are not goshawk habitat excluded) is covered by 
productive mature and old forest (Albert 2007, p. 2).
    Doyle (2005, p. 14) found that nest territories on the Queen 
Charlotte Islands had at least 41 percent mature and old forest, and 
successful nests had at least 60 percent mature and old forest in the 
25,000 ac (10,000 ha) surrounding the nest. Productive old and mature 
forest covered an average of 51 percent of each 10,000 ac (4,000 ha) 
circle surrounding 34 nests in Southeast Alaska (Iverson et al. 1996, 
p. 55). These observations lead us to believe that retention of 66 
percent of the existing productive old forest within the otherwise 
harvested matrix of the Tongass National Forest, in addition to Small 
Old Growth Reserves in every watershed open to logging, and larger 
reserves outside the harvested matrix, will provide adequate nesting 
and foraging habitat for goshawks on the Tongass National Forest.
    Nest trees discovered on the Tongass National Forest during pre-
project surveys are protected from harvest and disturbance with 100-ac 
(40-ha) buffers (USDA Forest Service 1997, pp. 4-89). Because goshawks 
are sometimes secretive at their nests and may not be detected during 
pre-project surveys (Boyce et al. 2005, pp. 296-302), we expect that 
some nest stands will be inadvertently harvested. We expect this to be 
a relatively rare event that would usually lead to reproductive failure 
for the affected pair that year. Occasional nest failures occur 
naturally for various reasons, and a small number of such failures 
resulting from timber harvest is not likely to jeopardize the 
population if suitable alternate nest sites are available for 
subsequent nesting seasons. In most cases we expect that suitable 
alternative nest stands will be available in nearby reserves, retention 
areas, or on inoperable lands. Thus, while we believe that surveys for 
Queen Charlotte goshawk nests prior to timber harvest are important to 
the conservation of the subspecies, we do not consider occasional 
failure of such surveys to detect goshawks that are present to be a 
significant threat to the continued existence of the Queen Charlotte 
    In 1954, prior to large-scale industrial timber harvest, the 
Tongass National Forest had 416 watersheds (as approximated by VCUs) 
with greater than 48 percent mature and old forest. By 1995, logging 
had reduced this number to 347, a 17 percent decline. Projections of 
logging on the Tongass National Forest done in 1997, based on full 
implementation of the 1997 TLMP, predicted that watersheds with greater 
than 48 percent mature and old forest would decline to 294 by 2055 (a 
15% decrease from 1995 levels) and recover somewhat, to 338 by 2095 (3% 
decline from 1995) as second-growth matured (USFWS 2007, pp. 75-78). 
Since 1997, far less timber has been harvested than anticipated (30 to 
50 million board feet annually, rather than the 267 million board feet 
annually used in the projections), so we expect impacts to goshawk 
territories to be much lower than predicted in 1997. Current 
projections of timber harvests are quite uncertain, with estimates of 
annual demand ranging from 48 to 370 million board feet (Brackley et 
al. 2006, p. 2). Unless new processing facilities are developed, timber 
harvests on National Forest lands are likely to remain well below 267 
million board feet, as allowed under the TLMP (Brackley et al. 2006, 
pp. 24-27).
    Most or all of the Queen Charlotte goshawk territories in which 
timber harvest will occur will likely remain viable territories because 
the conservation strategy within the TLMP ensures adequate amounts of 
mature and old forest will be available to support nesting and 
foraging. Reduced demand for wood from the Tongass National Forest, as 
compared to the 50 years prior to 1997 when now-defunct pulp mills were 
operating, is expected to result in lower impacts than previously 
believed. Therefore, we believe that the conservation strategy 
contained in the TLMP will substantially reduce the impact of future 
harvest on the Queen Charlotte goshawks on the Tongass National Forest, 
as compared to timber harvest done without consideration for goshawk 
    Approximately one-third of the timber harvested to date in 
Southeast Alaska has been on private land owned by Alaska Native 
corporations. Corporate lands, which cover only 3 percent of the total 
area of Southeast Alaska but include 7 percent of the region's 6.4 
million ac (2.6 million ha) of productive forest, are distributed 
throughout Southeast Alaska, with concentrations on and near Prince of 
Wales Island in southern Southeast Alaska. Approximately 285,000 ac 
(116,000 ha) of productive forest have been harvested on corporate 
lands to date, with another 104,000 ac (42,000 ha) likely to be 
harvested over the next few decades (USFWS 2007, pp. 81-82, and 
Appendix A, Table A-8 and A-9).
    Intensive logging on corporate lands has probably eliminated 
goshawk nesting and foraging habitat, and may have affected territories 
roughly in proportion to the percentage of region-wide productive 
forest that has been harvested. That is, we estimate that logging by 
native corporations has probably reduced the number of potential 
nesting territories by approximately 4 percent across Southeast Alaska. 
Future harvest on corporate lands may affect another 2 percent of the 
breeding territories. We believe that this proportionate relationship 
is reasonable because native logging has been concentrated rather than 
dispersed across the landscape thereby minimizing the number of 
potential territories affected. However, this logging has probably 
reduced mature and old forest representation to far below 50 percent in 
most of the territories affected, thus rendering such territories poor 
    Loss of territories is potentially of concern to long-term 
population resilience. However, population-level impacts from the loss 
of 4 to 6 percent of potential goshawk territories to native logging in 
Southeast Alaska may affect population growth by a smaller increment 
than suggested by number of impacted territories because (1) in some 
cases, adults in impacted territories may establish new territories in 
otherwise vacant territories, and (2) impacted territories in the 
southern portion of Southeast Alaska (Prince of Wales and vicinity) 
where Native Corporation lands are concentrated, naturally lack key 
prey and have probably always had relatively low reproductive success 
compared to territories elsewhere in the

[[Page 63132]]

range of the Queen Charlotte goshawk. Surveys across the range of the 
goshawk have consistently documented a significant percentage of 
unoccupied territories (55 percent in Southeast Alaska, 21 to 46 
percent elsewhere in North America) (USFWS 2007, p. 48), suggesting 
that vacant territories are probably available for at least some 
displaced pairs.
    A variety of federal agencies, the State of Alaska, municipalities, 
and private owners other than the Forest Service and native 
corporations manage 8 percent of the productive forest in Southeast 
Alaska (USFWS 2007, pp. 81-82 and 128). Some of these lands are 
protected from harvest while other lands are available for various 
forms of development. We expect Queen Charlotte goshawks to continue to 
use many of these lands, because with minor exceptions, timber harvest 
and clearing for other purposes tends to be less intensive on these 
lands than on lands designated by the Forest Service for timber 
production, or on native corporation lands.
    To evaluate trends in habitat conditions across Southeast Alaska, 
the Service has developed a habitat value model using discount factors 
to award full habitat value to protected, productive forest and lower 
habitat value for second growth, fragmented, and vulnerable stands 
(USFWS 2007, pp. 99-101 and Appendix A, Tables A-10 to A-15). This 
model suggests that approximately 92 percent of the historical goshawk 
habitat value remains in Southeast Alaska. Future logging is projected 
to leave approximately 80 percent of the historical habitat value and 
88 percent of the current habitat value if logging proceeds at the 
maximum pace allowed by TLMP which, as discussed above, is unlikely 
(USFWS 2007, Appendix A Table A-13). Slower rates of harvest than 
modeled are likely to result in retention of greater than 80 percent of 
the historic habitat value.
    Intensive logging has the potential to modify habitat to such a 
degree that Queen Charlotte goshawks could be excluded from large 
portions of their range, leading to extinction of the subspecies from 
Southeast Alaska. We believe this outcome is unlikely because the 
conservation strategy of the TLMP, which covers 85 percent of the 
productive forest in Southeast Alaska, combined with habitat remaining 
on other ownerships in Southeast Alaska, is expected to retain adequate 
habitat within the vast majority of goshawk territories, with only a 
small number of territories likely to be harvested to a degree that 
would exclude goshawks. Therefore, we conclude that destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of habitat does not currently put the 
Queen Charlotte goshawk at risk of extinction in Southeast Alaska, nor 
is it likely to do so in the foreseeable future.

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

    We do not believe that the Queen Charlotte goshawk is subject to 
frequent shooting or other illegal take, although occasional shootings 
may occur. Most of its range is very sparsely inhabited by humans and 
contacts with humans are relatively rare. Take of Queen Charlotte 
goshawks for falconry is extremely limited, with one known instance in 
Alaska since 1990 (USFWS 2007, p. 107). Overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is not believed to be 
a significant risk in Southeast Alaska and is therefore not expected to 
contribute to population declines or extinction risk.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    Squires and Reynolds (1997, p. 20), Squires and Kennedy (2006, pp. 
39-40), and Reynolds et al. (2006, pp. 269-270) summarized information 
on diseases and parasites affecting northern goshawks, including 
tuberculosis, trichomoniasis, erysipelas, Aspergillus, lice, West Nile 
virus, heart failure caused by Chlamydia tsittaci and Escherichia coli, 
and various blood parasites as potential infectious agents in goshawk 
populations. Although there has been little or no investigation in this 
area, we have no indication that Queen Charlotte goshawks have 
experienced any significant problems with disease.
    Squires and Reynolds (1997, p. 20) cite instances of predation on 
northern goshawks by great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), bald eagle 
(Halieetus leucocephalus), marten (Martes americana), and wolverine 
(Gulo gulo). All of these predators are present in Southeast Alaska. 
Wiens et al. (2006, p. 411) documented predation as a leading cause of 
mortality (along with starvation) among fledgling goshawks in Arizona. 
Data on predation are not available for the Queen Charlotte goshawk, 
but we expect that predators do take young and occasionally adult Queen 
Charlotte goshawks.
    Disease and predation can contribute to population declines, 
especially in the presence of other stress factors such as prey 
shortages. Either threat can also suppress the recovery of small 
populations that have been depressed by other factors such as 
overharvest or habitat loss, even after the initial cause of the 
population decline has been removed.
    The goshawk population in Southeast Alaska is spread over many 
islands covering 20 million ac (8 million ha). Predator and prey 
communities vary among island groups across the southeast region of 
Alaska, so the effects of predation are likely to vary accordingly. 
There is no indication that Queen Charlotte goshawks have experienced 
any significant problems with disease or predation in Alaska, and 
neither appear to place the Queen Charlotte goshawk in danger of 
extinction, now or in the foreseeable future.

Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Regulatory mechanisms in Alaska protect both goshawks and their 
habitat. Goshawks, their nests, eggs, and young are protected from take 
by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, except as permitted by 
regulations governing scientific research, falconry, and similar 
activities (16 U.S.C. 703). The State of Alaska allows take of goshawks 
only by permitted falconers (5 AAC 92.037), and only one goshawk has 
been taken for permitted falconry since 1990 in Southeast Alaska.
    Goshawk habitat is protected by a variety of regulatory mechanisms. 
Protected lands in Southeast Alaska include Congressionally designated 
National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, and roadless land designations 
within the Tongass National Forest (31 percent of the productive forest 
in Southeast Alaska); Forest Service land use designations such as 
Remote Recreation and Old Growth Habitat (23 percent of the region-wide 
productive forest); and National Parks (13 percent of the land base but 
less than 1 percent of the productive forest) (USFWS 2007, pp. 72 and 
81, and Appendix A, Tables A-8 and A-9). About 69,000 ac (28,000 ha) 
are protected in State Parks, and 54,000 ac (22,000 ha) are protected 
in parks and various conservation agreements on municipal and private 
lands (together less than 1 percent of the total area and productive 
forest of Southeast Alaska) (Albert and Schoen 2006, p. 19). 
Designations that prohibit timber harvest collectively cover 
approximately 3.5 million ac (1.4 million ha) (55 percent) of the 6.4 
million ac (2.6 million ha) of productive forest in Southeast Alaska 
(USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-9).
    The conservation strategy of the 1997 TLMP, which covers 76 percent 
of the land area and 85 percent of the productive forest in Southeast 
Alaska, incorporates several elements to reduce

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impacts of timber harvest on goshawks, as discussed above under Factor 
A. Included are large, medium and small old growth reserves and other 
Forest Service non-development land use designations, nest buffers, 
canopy retention in harvest units on heavily-harvested portions of 
Prince of Wales Island, and pre-project goshawk surveys to locate nests 
prior to timber harvest. Each of these elements is discussed below.
    Small old growth reserves on the Tongass National Forest protect a 
minimum of 16 percent of the total National Forest land and 8 percent 
of the productive old growth forest in each watershed that is 
designated for timber harvest, in addition to retention areas such as 
stream and beach buffers, and inoperable lands. This arrangement, which 
maintains significant amounts of unharvested forest within timber 
harvest areas is particularly appropriate for goshawks, which space 
their nests fairly uniformly across the landscape (about 4 to 9 miles 
(7 to 14 km) apart in British Columbia, unmeasured in Alaska) (McClaren 
2003, pp.13 and 21; Doyle 2005, p. 15; USFWS 2007, pp. 45-47). Large 
reserves are approximately 40,000 ac (16,000 ha), with at least 20,000 
ac (8,000 ha) of productive old growth forest, and medium reserves are 
approximately 10,000 ac (4,000 ha) with at least 5,000 ac (2,000 ha) of 
productive old growth forest. Large and medium reserves protect several 
adjacent watersheds, and are linked by corridors of old growth forest 
retained primarily along streams and marine shorelines (USDA Forest 
Service 1997, TLMP Appendix K). These corridors are expected to benefit 
several prey species, such as squirrels, grouse, and passerines. The 
Forest Service has worked in partnership with the Service and the 
Alaska Department of Fish and Game to improve the location and 
composition of many small old growth reserves following the guidelines 
specified in Appendix K of the TLMP. Among the Appendix K guidelines 
designed for goshawk conservation are those that specify that reserves 
should maximize interior forest conditions, minimize early seral stages 
and include the largest remaining blocks of contiguous old growth 
within the watershed and known or suspected goshawk nesting habitat.
    Buffers of 100 ac (40 ha) of productive old growth forest are 
required around confirmed and probable nests (occupied or not), where 
(1) timber harvest is not allowed; (2) new road construction is allowed 
only if no other reasonable alternative exists; and (3) continuous 
disturbance is prohibited during the nesting period. Surveys for 
nesting goshawks are required during project evaluations, and retention 
of 30 percent canopy closure is required in heavily-harvested areas on 
Prince of Wales Island in the southern Tongass National Forest, where 
key prey (red squirrels and sooty grouse) are naturally lacking.
    As discussed above under Factor A, existing standards and 
guidelines within the TLMP are projected to maintain approximately 66 
percent of the 1.4 million ac (582,000 ha) of productive old growth 
forest in areas open to commercial timber harvest on the Tongass 
National Forest (USFWS 2007, p. 72, Table 9). Parks and various non-
development designations protect essentially all of the 3.5 million ac 
(1.4 million ha) of productive forest outside the areas open to timber 
    Concerns have been expressed over effectiveness of both the design 
of the conservation strategy contained in the TLMP (e.g., Powell et al. 
1997, pp 2-10), and its implementation (Greenwald and Bosman 2005, pp. 
9-17). Specific issues include: (1) Reserves are too small and are 
inadequately linked by corridors (primarily stream and beach buffers) 
that are too narrow to provide interior forest conditions and withstand 
windstorms; (2) most of the largest old growth blocks are vulnerable to 
fragmentation by roads and logging as the highest-volume stands 
continue to be disproportionately harvested, primarily by large-scale 
clearcutting, a method that neither mimics natural disturbance patterns 
in the rainforest nor maintains old-forest habitat; (3) harvest 
rotations averaging 105 years as planned (USDA Forest Service 1997, 
FEIS pp. 3-299) will not regenerate old growth characteristics in 
harvested stands (Powell et al 1997, p. 9); (4) the 100-ac (40-ha) nest 
buffers for goshawk are inadequate to protect foraging habitat within 
the home range of nesting birds (Greenwald and Bosman 2006), alternate 
nests (Flatten et al. 2001, pp. ii and 16-17), and post-fledging areas 
(USFWS 2007, p. 110); (5) old growth reserve designations have been 
inadequate; (6) timber harvest and other developments have been 
permitted in old growth reserves; and (7) pre-project goshawk surveys 
have been inconsistent and ineffective (Greenwald and Bosman 2006, pp. 
9-17). Our responses to these (numbered) concerns are discussed in the 
following (correspondingly-numbered) paragraphs.
    (1) We agree that goshawks would benefit from greater retention of 
large blocks of structurally diverse old growth, particularly in 
heavily harvested areas. However, in addition to old growth reserves, 
many other designations on the Tongass National Forest, such as 
Wilderness, National Monument, Research Natural Area, Special Interest 
Area, Remote Recreation, and Municipal Watershed, contribute to habitat 
protection for goshawks. Old Growth Reserves are not intended to supply 
all the habitat necessary for goshawk conservation. Rather, they are 
intended to strategically supplement the other non-development 
designations in a way that together the combination of protected lands 
and the corridors linking them provide adequate habitat for the entire 
suite of old-growth-dependent wildlife on the Tongass National Forest. 
We believe that the system as implemented provides adequate habitat for 
Queen Charlotte goshawks on the Tongass National Forest because large 
reserves outside the harvested areas will provide suitable habitat for 
most of the breeding pairs in Southeast Alaska while significant blocks 
of old growth forest will remain in areas otherwise subject to timber 
harvest. We expect only a small percentage (probably less than 5 
percent) of the watersheds that currently provide adequate nesting 
habitat to be rendered unsuitable by logging, especially given current 
and reasonably foreseeable demand for timber from the Tongass National 
Forest (see discussion under Factor A, above).
    Connectivity among forest patches is unlikely to be problematic for 
goshawks directly because they can fly between forest patches, but it 
is probably critical to some of their prey such as red squirrels. 
DeSanto et al. (2006, pp. 6-10) reported that several avian prey 
species (e.g., red-breasted sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber), hairy 
woodpecker (Picoides villosus), hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus), and 
varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius)) nested successfully in 1,000-foot 
(305-meter) wide beach buffers, but were less successful in narrower 
beach buffers. Based on these results, we believe that 1,000 ft (305 
m), as specified in the TLMP, is a reasonable minimum width for 
corridors. Goshawks probably forage in the beach and stream buffers 
that connect old growth reserves, but these remnants should not be 
considered prime nesting habitat, as they lack interior conditions 
apparently favored by goshawks.
    (2) Fragmentation by roads, rock pits and timber harvest (including 
salvage and thinning) may have degraded some reserves. Minor 
fragmentation is unlikely to adversely affect goshawks, as they forage 
over large areas of heterogeneous habitat. Forest habitat in some parts 
of Southeast Alaska has been, or will be, fragmented to a much

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greater degree (USFWS 2007, pp. 71-78). Queen Charlotte goshawks appear 
to be sensitive to timber harvest when it reduces mature and old growth 
forest to less than approximately 50 percent of a bird's home range 
(Doyle 2005, p. 14). Across all areas available for timber harvest, 
however, the Forest Service estimates that approximately 66 to 69 
percent of the productive old growth forest will be retained in various 
buffers (e.g., riparian, beach, and estuary buffers) or inoperable 
areas (e.g., wet, steep, or unstable areas) (USDA Forest Service 1997, 
ROD p. 7; USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-9). These buffers and other 
unharvested areas are interspersed throughout the otherwise harvested 
matrix lands, with retention required in every watershed. Few of the 
watersheds that currently offer suitable habitat are likely to be 
reduced below critical levels on National Forest lands, and most of 
those are likely to recover as second growth matures and harvest shifts 
away from old growth forest and onto second growth. We therefore 
believe that adequate habitat will remain in most goshawk territories 
on the Tongass National Forest.
    Harvest regimes that create smaller openings, such as single-tree 
and group selections would favor goshawk conservation by avoiding 
creation of extensive blocks of dense second growth that goshawks 
cannot penetrate. Partial harvests such as shelterwood cuts or 
retention of patches of trees within harvest units, could provide 
perches and hunting cover for several years before second growth stands 
filled the understory. Overstory retained in such systems, if windfirm 
and left unharvested, might also provide nesting structures as the 
surrounding second growth approached maturity. Such retention is 
currently required on Tongass National Forest lands on Prince of Wales 
Island for goshawks, and in a few other heavily harvested areas to help 
reduce impacts on American marten. Clearcuts up to 100 acres (40 ha) 
remain the primary means of timber harvest across most of the Tongass 
National Forest (USDA Forest Service 1997, ROD p. 5), but retention of 
various buffers and reserves between harvest units should provide 
adequate foraging habitat in most areas, as approximately 72 percent of 
the productive forest in Southeast Alaska will not be logged (USFWS 
2007, pp. 98 and 129), and 66 to 69 percent of the productive old 
growth in areas of commercial harvest will be retained (USDA Forest 
Service 1997, ROD p. 7). Although mature and old forest cover is likely 
to be reduced to below 50 percent in some watersheds, the number of 
watersheds so affected is likely to be much lower than projected in 
1997 because timber harvests since then have taken only about 15 
percent of the volume expected at that time.
    (3) Harvest rotations averaging 105 years in even-aged stands, as 
specified in the current TLMP, will provide a decade or two at the end 
of each rotation when goshawks will be able to use the regenerating 
forests. While these areas provide some habitat value for part of the 
rotation, unharvested areas are far more important because they cover a 
much greater area and they will remain interspersed among harvested 
stands, protecting over half of the productive forest in most of the 
goshawk territories on the Tongass National Forest.
    (4) Nest buffers of 100 ac (40 ha) of productive old growth, as 
specified in the TLMP, are intended to protect individual nests from 
disturbance. Larger buffers would likely enhance goshawk conservation 
by providing better habitat for fledglings in the immediate vicinity of 
the nest, but lack of larger buffers is not expected to reduce 
fecundity or survival to an unsustainable level because old growth 
reserves, which typically protect much larger patches of old growth 
forest, and other retained forest patches are reserved in each 
watershed, and we expect goshawks to nest in these reserves as the 
forest around them is increasingly harvested. In some cases, suitable 
nesting habitat in nearby reserves may already be occupied by nesting 
pairs, but the territoriality of goshawks is likely to prevent this in 
most cases.
    (5) and (6) As stated above, we agree that goshawks would benefit 
from greater retention of large blocks of structurally diverse old 
growth, particularly in heavily harvested areas, and that fragmentation 
by roads, rock pits and timber harvest (including salvage and thinning) 
may have degraded some reserves. However, many designations in addition 
to old growth reserves contribute to habitat protection for goshawks 
(discussed under (1), above), and we believe that the full complement 
of protected habitat is sufficient to maintain goshawk populations in 
Southeast Alaska because large and small blocks of unharvested 
productive forest will remain interspersed among the harvested units, 
retaining over 50 percent of the productive forest in most goshawk 
territories which, as discussed above under Factor A, should provide 
suitable nesting and foraging habitat.
    (7) Current standards for pre-project goshawk surveys in project 
areas where there is no previous history of goshawk activity rely 
largely on incidental observation of goshawks followed by a more 
focused survey effort where evidence of goshawks is reported. Forest 
Service records document pre-project surveys for goshawks at 6,356 
sites, resulting in 260 goshawk detections (Rose 2006, p. 2). We 
believe that active surveys for nesting goshawks prior to timber 
harvest or other projects that could affect nesting habitat are a 
valuable tool for minimizing impacts to goshawks. Reliance on 
inadequate or inconsistent surveys can lead to erroneous conclusions 
about goshawk presence. Therefore, consistent implementation of 
adequate surveys is important.
    In spite of the shortcomings discussed above, we find that the full 
suite of standards, guidelines, and land designations contained in the 
1997 TLMP are likely to provide adequate habitat protection to sustain 
goshawks in Southeast Alaska into the foreseeable future, largely 
because adequate amounts of old and mature productive forest will be 
protected in reserves, retention areas, and inoperable stands, in large 
and small patches, throughout the harvested matrix. Protection of nest 
stands remains an important element of the conservation strategy for 
goshawks because nest stands typically support several alternate nests 
(some of which may remain undetected) and frequently support active 
nesting after one or more years of nest inactivity. Nest inactivity is 
often due to inclement spring weather or low prey populations (USFWS 
1997, pp. 41 and 53), but where suitable habitat remains intact in the 
surrounding landscape, nest stands are likely to be re-used by nesting 
goshawks. Surveys to identify nests increase the likelihood that nest 
stands are discovered and protected.
    The TLMP and its conservation strategy are currently being 
reviewed, with a range of alternatives under consideration. We have 
been instructed by the court, in this case, to base our decision on the 
management plan(s) in place at the time of our decision. We believe the 
current TLMP provides adequate protection to the goshawk and its 
habitat, and that it will continue to do so unless the protections 
relevant to goshawk conservation are substantively reduced or weakened.
    Goshawk habitat receives less protection on State-managed and 
Native corporation lands, and we expect that goshawk nesting 
territories will be eliminated from some of those lands. For the 
reasons discussed above, we believe that adequate habitat will remain 
on National Forest and other

[[Page 63135]]

lands to sustain goshawks into the foreseeable future in Southeast 
Alaska, in spite of modest declines in habitat (and possibly goshawk 
populations) over the next 70 to 80 years. Therefore, we do not believe 
that inadequate regulatory mechanisms in Southeast Alaska currently 
contribute to extinction risk, nor do we believe that they will in the 
foreseeable future, unless protections are substantially weakened in an 
amended TLMP.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' 
Continued Existence Competition

    Several species of hawks, owls, and mammals have diets that overlap 
that of the goshawk. Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), barred owls 
(Strix varia), and great-horned owls occur in Southeast Alaska and prey 
on some of the same species as goshawks. These raptors typically make 
greater use of open habitats than goshawks and could be favored where 
timber harvest reduces forest cover and increases fragmentation (La 
Sorte et al. 2004, pp. 311-316; Mazur and James 2000, pp. 1-5; Preston 
and Beane 1993, pp 5-6; Houston et al. 1998, pp. 2-7). Mammalian 
predators such as wolverines (Gulo gulo), raccoons (Procyon lotor), 
lynx (Lynx canadensis), and marten (Martes americana) take some of the 
same prey as goshawks, notably grouse and squirrels, and could have 
competitive effects when prey are at low numbers. Marten are the most 
widespread and probably the most abundant of these predators in 
Southeast Alaska. Wolverines are found at low densities on the mainland 
and several of the near-shore islands, lynx are found in a few 
locations on the mainland, and (introduced) raccoons are found only on 
a few islands in southern Southeast Alaska (McDonald and Cook 2007, pp. 
68, 85, and 98).
    Competition among predators for limited prey may influence goshawk 
nesting effort during periods of low prey abundance where logging has 
fragmented the forest to favor species that use more open habitat when 
foraging. This effect would vary geographically, depending on local 
conditions, and may act, along with other factors, to reduce fecundity 
or survival in some areas. We are aware of no documentation of such 
competitive effects, though, so this potential threat must be 
considered hypothetical at this time. Accordingly, we are not aware, 
nor do we believe, that food competition places the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk in danger of extinction in Southeast Alaska, nor is it likely 
to in the foreseeable future.
    Other species of birds use nest trees similar to those of the 
goshawk (e.g., red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, great blue heron 
(Ardea herodias)). Trees used for nesting must have adequate limb or 
top structures to support a large nest. Modern forestry practices 
usually retain significant numbers of such trees, enabling a wide range 
of species to have adequate nesting trees. Thus, we do not believe that 
availability of nest sites limits or reduces goshawk populations, nor 
is it likely to in the foreseeable future.
    Contaminants: Goshawks have historically had low levels of 
organochlorine pesticides compared to other raptors (Snyder et al. 
1973, pp. 300-304; Elliot and Martin 1994, pp. 189-198). Large-scale 
application of pesticides to control forest pests could have effects on 
goshawks, either directly or through their prey, but regulation of 
pesticides is intended to minimize such effects. We are not aware of 
any current threats to goshawk survival due to contaminants. We do not 
believe that contaminants place the Queen Charlotte goshawk in danger 
of extinction throughout all of its range, nor are they likely to in 
the foreseeable future.
    Natural Disasters: Windstorms, landslides, avalanches, earthquakes, 
tsunamis, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions could affect localized 
areas of the subspecies range. These events would only affect small 
numbers of goshawks and thus are not believed to pose population-level 
threats, either now or in the foreseeable future.
    Climate Change: Global climate change is expected to affect forest 
species composition and distribution over the next several decades as 
warmer-adapted tree species such as Douglas-fir and red-cedar expand 
northward and cool-adapted coastal hemlock (Tsuga spp.) forest invades 
alpine tundra (Hamann and Wang 2006, pp. 2781-2782, Bachelet et al., p. 
2251). These changes should be positive for goshawks, as the area of 
productive forest is likely to increase, although atricapillus goshawks 
dispersing from surrounding areas could become more numerous within the 
existing range of laingi goshawks, exerting a greater competitive 
influence in the warmer forests. However, this effect could be offset 
by expansion of laingi range northward in Alaska toward Yakutat, where 
we presume the laingi phenotype would retain a competitive advantage 
because it is presumably better adapted to coastal rainforest.
    Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity 
of forest fires across much of Alaska, but the effects on fire 
frequency in Southeast Alaska are not clear as they will depend largely 
on how precipitation is affected (Bachelet et al. 2005, pp. 2244-2245). 
Insect infestations or tree diseases might also increase (Bachelet et 
al. 2005, p. 2248), although we are not aware of any projections 
quantifying such changes. We lack sufficient information on the effects 
of climate change to conclude that climate change places the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk at risk in Southeast Alaska.
    Genetic and Demographic Risks: The Queen Charlotte goshawk is 
believed to freely interbreed throughout Southeast Alaska, and it does 
not appear to be genetically isolated from adjacent goshawk 
populations, except that there has apparently been little or no recent 
genetic interchange between Southeast Alaska and the Queen Charlotte 
Islands to the south (Gust et al. 2003, p. 22; Talbot et al. 2005, pp. 
2-3; Robus 2006, p. 2; USFWS 2007, pp. 117-118). Isolated populations 
are typically at greater risk of extinction or genetic problems such as 
inbreeding depression, hybridization, and loss of genetic diversity, 
particularly where populations are small (Lande 1988, pp. 1456-1457; 
Frankham et al. 2002, pp. 312-317).
    The best population estimates of the Queen Charlotte goshawk in 
Southeast Alaska place the breeding population at a few hundred pairs, 
plus an unknown component of non-breeding birds. Studies of northern 
goshawk populations in Europe have estimated that one-third to one-half 
of the adults are non-breeders (Squires and Kennedy 2006, p. 38). With 
a similar proportion of non-breeders, the Alaska population of Queen 
Charlotte goshawks would still probably be less than 1,000 individuals. 
Small populations such as this are at greater risk than larger 
populations from stochastic events such as disease epidemics, prey 
population crashes, or environmental catastrophes.
    The International Union for the Conservation of Nature uses 
estimates of population size (i.e., < 50, 250, 1,000, 2,500 or 10,000 
mature individuals), alone or with indications of population declines 
or geographic range fragmentation, constriction or contraction, as 
indicators of extinction vulnerability in their Red List evaluations 
(IUCN 2006, pp. 8-10). No such absolute criteria for minimum population 
size exist for listing under the Act. Population estimates and 
demographic modeling for Queen Charlotte goshawks are believed to be of 
low precision and unknown reliability, necessitating reliance on 
additional indications of vulnerability.

[[Page 63136]]

    Queen Charlotte goshawk populations are relatively small and 
therefore at risk from genetic effects and stochastic events; yet 
demographic rates are not well enough known to allow reliable 
quantitative estimation of viability prospects. We currently have no 
indication that genetic factors such as inbreeding depression, 
hybridization, or loss of genetic diversity place the subspecies at 
risk in Alaska.
    Prey Availability: Prey availability appears to limit Queen 
Charlotte goshawk populations in some parts of Southeast Alaska. 
Because of the fragmented nature of the island habitat it inhabits, 
prey species distributions vary. Researchers have identified food 
stress as a limitation for goshawks on Prince of Wales Island and 
surrounding islands in southern Southeast Alaska, which naturally lack 
both red squirrels and sooty grouse, important primary prey elsewhere 
(Lewis 2001, pp. 80, 100, and 111-112). Areas of extensive timber 
harvest also appear to lack sufficient prey, as few species of adequate 
size adapted to open habitats exist over much of the range of the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk. Prey availability is particularly limited in winter 
when many avian species migrate.
    Annual fluctuations in prey abundance appear to affect goshawk 
breeding effort (Doyle and Smith 1994, p. 126; Ethier 1999, pp. 35-40; 
Doyle 2003, pp. 24-25; Salafsky 2004, pp. 16-19; Salafsky et al. 2005, 
pp. 242-243; Keane et al. 2006, pp. 93-96; Reynolds et al. 2006, pp. 
267-268; Doyle 2007, p. 2). Fluctuations in conifer cone crops 
influence squirrel populations (Smith et al. 2003, p. 176; Keane et al. 
2006 p. 93) and could contribute to goshawk population declines.
    Queen Charlotte goshawks presumably evolved in coastal rainforests 
characterized by variable but limited prey communities, as compared to 
northern goshawk populations elsewhere. The typically smaller size of 
the subspecies may be an adaptation to the limited prey base. The 
naturally fragmented environment with different prey communities on 
different islands probably allows goshawks in some parts of the range 
to successfully reproduce while goshawks elsewhere in the range avoid 
nesting during some years.
    Although natural and manmade factors could potentially affect Queen 
Charlotte goshawk populations in some parts of Southeast Alaska, such 
factors are either not well enough understood or limited, with effects 
that vary among the islands and mainland of the region. Therefore, we 
do not believe that competition, contaminants, natural disasters, 
climate change, genetic or demographic risks, or prey availability 
place the Queen Charlotte goshawk in danger of extinction in Alaska, 
now or in the foreseeable future.

Foreseeable Future

    The principal difference between an ``endangered'' and a 
``threatened'' species under the Act is whether the species is 
currently in danger of extinction, or if it is likely to become so 
``within the foreseeable future.'' The Act does not define the term 
``foreseeable future.''
    Threats facing the Queen Charlotte goshawk are primarily related to 
loss of nesting and foraging habitat and declines in prey populations 
due to timber harvest. In evaluating habitat threats, we relied largely 
on analyses of lands available for, and protected from, timber harvest. 
Projections of timber harvest and forest growth rates indicate that 
most of remaining old growth forest available for harvest on the 
Tongass National Forest will be harvested within 70 years (USDA Forest 
Service 1997, p. 3-299 to 3-303). Such projections are not available 
for other ownerships.
    Habitat destruction that causes or contributes to reduced survival 
or fecundity can have a delayed effect on species dependent on that 
habitat, with extinction resulting several generations after the 
habitat loss has occurred, as the affected species reach equilibrium 
with their habitat (Tilman et al. 1994, pp. 65-66). Current data and 
monitoring techniques are inadequate to allow prediction of the 
extinction threshold (in terms of habitat requirements) for Queen 
Charlotte goshawks, and existing estimates of survival, fecundity, and 
population resilience are too imprecise to allow us to detect declining 
trends, if they exist. We recognize, however, that goshawk populations 
may continue to decline for several years after logging of old growth 
forests has ceased and timber harvest is restricted to second-growth 
stands because it is likely to take several generations for the 
populations to equilibrate with their modified environments. Goshawks 
are sexually mature and may breed at age 2 or 3, where vacant 
territories with suitable habitat are available (Squires and Reynolds 
1997). A generation is therefore defined as 2 to 3 years.
    We expect goshawk habitat quantity and quality to decline as timber 
harvest converts the remaining available old growth (that is, old 
growth not protected by reserves, retention or its location in an 
inoperable area) to second growth, after which, habitat capability 
would begin to stabilize. However, goshawk populations will most likely 
continue to decline for another 10 years (about 3 to 5 generations) 
following conversion of old growth to second growth forest, as the 
population reaches equilibrium with the reduced amount and distribution 
of habitat. Therefore, combining conversion rates above with 10 years 
for population equilibrium, we use 60 years to define foreseeable 
future for the Queen Charlotte goshawk in British Columbia, and 80 
years in Southeast Alaska.

Southeast Alaska DPS Finding

    Based on our analyses of threats to the Queen Charlotte goshawk 

within the Southeast Alaska DPS, and our evaluation of current 
management by the U.S. Forest Service and other land managers in 
Southeast Alaska, we find that the Southeast Alaska DPS of the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk is not in danger of extinction, nor is it likely to 
become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future, given the 
current management regime. The TLMP provides relatively large reserves 
where timber harvest is not allowed, and adequate protection of habitat 
within areas open to timber harvest to ensure that most goshawk 
territories will remain suitable habitat. No information suggests that 
disease, predation, or overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes contributes to goshawk population 
declines in Southeast Alaska. Also, potential effects of other natural 
and manmade factors are limited across the landscape and not expected 
to have population-level impacts on the subspecies. Therefore, we find 
that the best available information on biological vulnerability and 
threats to the goshawk does not support listing the Southeast Alaska 
DPS of the Queen Charlotte goshawk as threatened or endangered.

Significant Portions of the Alaska DPS's Range

    Threats to the Queen Charlotte goshawk in Southeast Alaska are 
greatest on Prince of Wales Island and the surrounding smaller islands 
at the southern end of the DPS. Timber harvest on both the Tongass 
National Forest and native corporation lands has been intensive in some 
parts of this area. Approximately 26 percent of the productive forest 
on Prince of Wales and the surrounding islands has been harvested, 
including some of the most productive forest lands in Southeast Alaska 
(Albert and Schoen 2006, pp. 15-18). Key prey (especially red squirrels 
and sooty grouse) are naturally lacking, resulting in comparatively low 
goshawk nesting densities and lower reproductive success than elsewhere 

[[Page 63137]]

the DPS (USFWS 2007, pp. 39-42 and pp. 74-78). We therefore focus on 
this portion of the Southeast Alaska DPS, to determine if it is a 
significant portion and whether the best available information on the 
biological vulnerability and threats to the goshawk support listing the 
subspecies as threatened or endangered on Prince of Wales Island.
    The four biogeographic provinces that cover this area (North Prince 
of Wales, South Prince of Wales, Outside Islands, and Dall Island 
Complex) contain approximately 1.4 million ac (560,000 ha) of 
productive forest, or about 22 percent of the productive forest habitat 
across the entire DPS (Albert and Schoen 2006, p. 16). This area is 
likely to provide important redundancy for the DPS, as defined above, 
because it probably supports nearly one-fifth of the small population. 
Goshawks from this area tend to be smaller than those from the northern 
portion of the DPS (Titus et al. 1994, pp. 10-12), suggesting a 
possible adaptation to a prey-poor environment, perhaps providing 
important genetic representation. Based on these observations, we 
conclude that loss of the goshawk population on Prince of Wales and the 
surrounding smaller islands would significantly reduce redundancy and 
representation of the Queen Charlotte goshawk within Southeast Alaska, 
and would compromise conservation of the subspecies in the Southeast 
Alaska DPS. We conclude that Prince of Wales Island and the surrounding 
islands constitute a significant portion of the Alaska DPS's range.
    Management protections of the TLMP conservation strategy, as 
discussed above under Factor D, apply throughout the Southeast Alaska 
DPS, with special provisions in VCUs on Prince of Wales Island, where 
over 33 percent of the productive forest had been harvested as of 1997. 
Within those VCUs, timber harvest on National Forest lands must be 
designed to retain an average of 30 percent canopy cover, with at least 
8 large trees per ac (20 per ha) and 3 large dead or dying trees per ac 
(7 per ha) in harvest units over 0.8 ha (2 ac). Harvest units smaller 
than 0.8 ha (2 ac) may not collectively remove more than 25 percent of 
any stand in any 50-year period (USDA Forest Service 1997, pp. 4-91). 
These standards are intended to protect important features of forest 
stand structure. We believe that these measures of the TLMP will 
provide improved foraging opportunities for goshawks for the first 10 
to 20 years following timber harvest, and provide improved nesting 
habitat as the second-growth stand approaches maturity. Goshawks may 
use some of these partially-harvested stands while the second-growth is 
middle-aged and typically too dense for efficient foraging, but this 
possibility is less certain.
    We conclude that threats within the Prince of Wales area appear to 
be adequately managed, and thus do not support listing this SPR at this 
time. We have not identified any other significant portions of the 
Alaska DPS that meet the definition of threatened or endangered.

British Columbia Distinct Population Segment

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of the Species' Habitat or Range

    Timber harvest impacts goshawk nesting habitat, abundance of key 
prey species, and foraging habitat. These impacts are discussed above 
under Southeast Alaska Distinct Population Segment.
    Industrial-scale logging began in the coastal rainforests of 
British Columbia in the early 1900s and peaked in the 1980s. Unlike in 
Alaska, however, harvests have remained relatively high since then 
(USFWS 2007, pp. 89-90). Timber harvest has converted approximately 3.7 
million ac (1.5 million ha) (45 percent) of the 6.4 million ac (2.6 
million ha) of productive forest on the coastal islands of British 
Columbia to second growth. This represents a loss in habitat value of 
38 percent, compared to pre-logging conditions (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, 
Tables A-9 and A-13). Continued logging is projected to convert another 
1.2 million ac (480,000 ha) (26 percent) of the remaining productive 
old growth forest to second growth over the next 50 years, representing 
a decline in current habitat value of 28 percent (USFWS 2007, Appendix 
A, Tables A-9 and A-15).
    Retention of productive forest to protect various non-timber 
resources, such as riparian areas and important wildlife habitat, is 
expected to protect about 11 percent of the productive forest within 
the DPS. Inoperable areas cover 21 percent of the unharvested 
productive forest, although changes in technology and methods may allow 
future harvest of some of these stands. Designated parks and other such 
reserves protect about 9 percent of the productive forest within the 
DPS. Altogether we expect about 41 percent of the productive forest in 
the DPS to remain after all available old growth is converted to second 
growth forest over the next 50 years (USFWS 2007, pp. 82-90 and 
Appendix A, Tables A-1 and A-9). Loss of 59 percent of the 
historically-available old growth is projected to result in a 55 
percent decline in habitat value, as regeneration of harvested stands 
will provide some suitable habitat for a decade or two as the second 
growth stands approach economic maturity (USFWS 2007, pp. 99-101 and 
Appendix A, Table A-13).
    High-quality nesting territories appear to contain at least 50 
percent mature and old forest (Doyle 2005, p. 14; USFWS 2007, pp. 75-
78), although goshawks may use areas with lower proportions of old 
forest where prey adapted to more open habitats is abundant (Iverson et 
al. 1996, p. 55; USFWS 2007, p. 36). On the Queen Charlotte Islands, 
where there are few prey available in non-forested areas, at least 50 
percent mature and old forest cover appears to be crucial to goshawk 
nesting (Doyle 2005, p. 14). Vancouver Island supports hares and 
cottontail rabbits, so goshawks there are likely to successfully nest 
in areas with a somewhat lower percentage of mature and old forest. 
Given these observations, we consider landscapes with greater than 50 
percent cover by mature and old forest to be high-quality habitat, 
those with less than 50 percent lower-quality habitat, and those with 
less than 30 percent poor-quality habitat (discussed above, under 
Southeast Alaska Distinct Population Segment, and in USFWS 2007, pp. 
    Loss of 59 percent of the old forest cover across the British 
Columbia DPS is likely to result in very poor goshawk habitat. Although 
1.6 to 1.7 million ac (650,000 to 680,000 ha) are protected by 
provincial and national parks within the British Columbia DPS, only 34 
to 60 percent of those lands are forested (depending on how productive 
forest is defined) (USFWS 2007, pp. 82-84). On the Queen Charlotte 
Islands, as little as 26 percent of the protected lands may be forested 
(USFWS 2007, p. 84), offering poor habitat.
    Within the areas open to timber harvest, only 35 percent of the 
productive old forest will remain in retention and inoperable areas 
(USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-9). Since the area open to timber 
harvest was only 69 to 83 percent forested to begin with (USFWS 2007, 
pp. 82-84), we expect that only about 25 to 30 percent of the harvested 
landscapes will have productive old forest cover. Mature second growth 
will provide additional habitat (approximately 15 percent of the 
harvested areas), so approximately 35 to 40 percent of the landscape is 
likely to be mature and old forest. This habitat is likely to be 
distributed unevenly, with relatively few areas supporting higher

[[Page 63138]]

levels of productive mature and old forest (and reproducing goshawks), 
and relatively large areas with more dispersed patches of mature and 
old forest habitat. In general, we expect continued decline in the 
quality of the habitat within the range of the British Columbia DPS as 
the old growth forest available for harvest is converted to second 
growth. Ultimately, most of the landscape is likely to be low-quality 
or poor-quality habitat. Based on these analyses, we conclude that 
habitat loss is likely to contribute substantially to the long-term 
viability of Queen Charlotte goshawks.

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

    In British Columbia, the subspecies has been protected from harvest 
since becoming Red-listed in 1994 (Cooper and Stevens 2000, p. 14). 
Birds may be taken illegally on occasion, but we have no indication 
that such activity is common, or that it poses any threat to the 
subspecies. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, 
or educational purposes is not believed to be a significant risk, and 
is not expected to contribute to population declines or extinction risk 
of the Queen Charlotte goshawk in British Columbia.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    Disease and predation associated with Queen Charlotte goshawks are 
not well documented, but small populations such as those on Vancouver 
Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands can be vulnerable to diseases, 
particularly when simultaneously stressed by other factors such as prey 
shortages. Predation can also suppress small populations, leaving them 
vulnerable to other population stress factors. Goshawk predators within 
the British Columbia DPS include great horned owl, bald eagle, American 
marten, wolverine, and black bear. Raccoons, which could take eggs or 
nestlings, have also been introduced on the Queen Charlotte Islands. No 
information suggests that disease and predation currently put Queen 
Charlotte goshawks in danger of extinction in the British Columbia DPS, 
but either disease or predation may contribute to extinction risk in 
the foreseeable future if their effects are exacerbated by other 
population stressors such as prey shortages, habitat limitations, or 
unfavorable weather (which affects nesting effort).

Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Direct Take: Throughout Canada, the SARA protects the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk from direct harm, harassment, and take on Federal 
lands. The birds, their eggs, and occupied nests are protected on all 
jurisdictions in British Columbia under the provincial Wildlife Act 
(RSBC 1996, section 34). Possession and trade in the subspecies is 
forbidden throughout Canada, as is destruction of nests. Based on the 
available information, regulation of direct take appears to be adequate 
throughout the range of the goshawk.
    Habitat Protection: Two mechanisms exist to protect habitat under 
the SARA in Canada: (1) Identification of critical habitat which may 
not be destroyed, and (2) conservation agreements which may be 
negotiated with any entity or individual. The SARA requires development 
of a recovery strategy, which identifies the scientific framework for 
recovery, as well as development of a recovery action plan, which 
outlines specific measures to implement the recovery strategy. Although 
a recovery team is currently developing a Queen Charlotte goshawk 
recovery strategy and action plan, which would identify areas that need 
protection, neither critical habitat nor conservation agreements exist 
at this time.
    Land use planning is the primary method identified by the British 
Columbia Provincial Government for establishing protected areas and 
limits on development to conserve biodiversity across the Province. On 
Vancouver Island, where a land use plan was approved in 2000, 13 
percent of the landscape is in protected status, but much of it is at 
high elevation and on low-productivity sites. Eight percent of the 
landscape is in ``Special Management'' zones where timber harvest is 
allowed but non-timber values such as wildlife and recreation are given 
additional consideration. An approved land use plan is not yet 
available for the Queen Charlotte Islands, but 23 percent of the land 
base has been protected in parks and other reserves. Depending on how 
productive forest is defined, as little as 26 percent of the protected 
land on the Queen Charlotte Islands may support productive forest, 
however, offering poor goshawk habitat. Altogether, protected areas 
cover approximately 9 percent of the productive forest within the range 
of the British Columbia DPS, most of which is probably low-quality 
habitat (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-9).
    Logging on Crown (Provincial) lands open to timber harvest, which 
cover 84 percent of the productive forest on Vancouver and the Queen 
Charlotte Islands (USFWS 2007, Appendix A, Table A-6), is regulated by 
the Forest and Range Practices Act. This act and its companion 
regulations set objectives for many resources, and require timber 
harvest plans describing how each objective will be met. Integrated 
with the Forest and Range Practices Regulations is the Identified 
Wildlife Management Strategy (IWM Strategy), which was developed by the 
British Columbia Government to provide additional protection for 
species requiring specific measures beyond the ``coarse filter'' system 
of protected areas and the various regulations governing timber harvest 
generally. The IWM Strategy provides for establishment of Wildlife 
Habitat Areas around known goshawk nests, and allows prescription of 
management measures within those areas (BCMWLAP 2004, pp. 1-4). Timber 
harvest is not allowed in a core area of approximately 500 ac (200 ha) 
around designated nests to protect the active nest, alternate nests, 
and post-fledging habitat. A management plan must be developed for 
timber harvesting and road construction in the surrounding management 
zone of about 5,000 ac (2,000 ha) to protect foraging habitat. Non-
binding recommendations have been developed to help guide these 
management plans (McClaren 2004, pp. 10-11). To date, 28 Wildlife 
Habitat Areas covering 36,470 ac (14,765 ha) have been designated for 
laingi goshawks in British Columbia (USFWS 2007, p. 113).
    Provincial policy limits the amount of land that may be protected 
under the IWM Strategy to one percent of the short-term timber supply 
in each Forest District, for all Identified Wildlife species combined. 
This limitation may be waived with adequate justification, and does not 
have legal force of law, but is considered a goal of government 
(BCMWLAP 2004, p. 4; FPB 2004, pp. 7-8). Because the 1 percent cap is 
on impacts to the ``short-term'' timber supply, rather than the long-
term supply, calculations must be based on mature forest stands. In the 
South Island Forest District (which covers southern Vancouver Island), 
less than one-third of the productive forest is at or near economic 
maturity, so Wildlife Habitat Areas and other such retentions for 
Identified Wildlife are limited to approximately one-third of 1 percent 
of the productive forest in the Timber Harvesting Land Base. Similar 
situations exist wherever past harvest is extensive, yet these are the 
areas with the greatest need for conservation (FPB 2004, pp. 7-8).
    The 1 percent cap is likely to interfere with meaningful 
conservation for goshawks in areas with high numbers of

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other at-risk species and continuing threats to those species (Wood and 
Flahr 2004, pp. 394-395). Southern Vancouver Island, for example, is a 
biodiversity ``hot spot,'' with a large number of rare and endemic 
species (Scudder 2003). Some of these species have habitat needs that 
differ from those of the goshawk, yet their legitimate conservation 
needs must be accommodated along with the goshawk within the 1 percent 
limit. In the South Island Forest District, Wildlife Habitat Areas are 
approaching, and may have already exceeded, the 1 percent cap (Wood et 
al. 2003, p. 53).
    In 2004, the British Columbia Ministry of Sustainable Resource 
Management established ``Provincial Non-Spatial Old Growth Objectives'' 
that must be addressed in Forest Stewardship Plans (Abbott 2004, pp. 1-
6). The order established ``Landscape Units'' and old growth forest 
retention objectives for each of those units. Individual Landscape 
Units are assigned to low, intermediate, or high biodiversity emphasis, 
with lower percentages of old growth retention identified for lower-
emphasis units. The exact amount of old growth that must be retained 
depends on the forest type (biogeoclimatic zone) and the ``natural 
disturbance regime'' identified for each biogeoclimatic zone variant. 
Within the Coastal Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) Zone, old 
growth retention objectives range from 9 to 13 percent; in the Mountain 
Hemlock (T. mertensiana) Zone, objectives range from 19 to 28 percent; 
and in the Coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Zone, 9 to 13 
percent. The objectives are termed ``non-spatial'' because they 
describe amounts but not specific areas to be retained, unlike other 
orders that establish protection of specified areas. In order to meet 
the non-spatial old growth objectives, tenure-holders and Timber Supply 
Area managers can rely on existing protected areas such as Wildlife 
Habitat Areas, riparian reserves, inoperable lands, and other 
designations that result in retention of old growth stands.
    The Wildlife Amendment Act, which was passed in 2004 but has not 
yet taken effect, is expected to enhance the ability of Provincial 
Governments to list and protect species and populations. At this time, 
however, we are unaware of specific conservation efforts or other 
proposals relative to Queen Charlotte goshawks under the Wildlife 
Amendment Act.
    There is no program, mechanism, or requirement to provide for 
recovery at the provincial level (Wood and Flahr 2004). At the Federal 
level, SARA does require recovery planning, and a team is currently 
evaluating conservation needs of the subspecies under the authority of 
the Federal law. The ``Canadian Northern Goshawk A. g. laingi Recovery 
Team'' includes experts from provincial and Federal (U.S. and Canadian) 
government agencies, private consultants, non-government organizations, 
industry and First Nations (McClaren 2006). The work of this group is 
confidential until a recovery strategy is completed and released 

publicly, so little is known about conservation efforts that may be 
included in the strategy. The focus of the SARA, however, is on Federal 
lands (Smallwood 2003). For the Queen Charlotte goshawk, this means one 
park (with a small percentage of productive forest) in the southern 
portion of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and another small park on the 
southwest coast of Vancouver Island.
    Although regulatory mechanisms exist in British Columbia to 
conserve biodiversity and protect natural resources, at present, we are 
unaware of conservation actions or plans that specifically target the 
Queen Charlotte goshawk at the provincial level. The Province's 
Protected Area Strategy protects only 9 percent of the productive 
forest across all ownerships on Vancouver Island, which is probably 
inadequate to support a viable population of goshawks. The Province's 
Identified Wildlife Management Strategy, which allows for designation 
and protection of Wildlife Habitat Areas around goshawk nests, is 
limited by a policy-level cap of 1 percent of the short-term timber 
supply. Further, resource protection provided at the Federal level only 
relates to a small percentage of productive forest on Vancouver Island 
and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Overall, we conclude that existing 
regulatory mechanisms may be inadequate to eliminate the risk of 
extinction for the British Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte goshawk.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' 
Continued Existence

    We are not aware of current population-level threats to Queen 
Charlotte goshawks due to competition for either prey or nest sites. 
Competition among herbivores has been implicated in grouse declines on 
the Queen Charlotte Islands, though, where introduced deer have 
reportedly overbrowsed blueberries and other important grouse foods, 
resulting in grouse population declines (Golumbia et al. 2003, pp. 10-
11; Doyle 2004, pp. 15-16). This has probably reduced goshawk nesting 
effort (number of pairs attempting to nest) on the Queen Charlotte 
Islands during periods of low squirrel density, when goshawks might 
otherwise have nested if grouse had been more abundant.
    We know of no contaminants that pose current or potential future 
threats to goshawks within the British Columbia DPS.
    Natural disasters such as windstorms, landslides, avalanches, 
earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions could affect localized 
areas within the British Columbia DPS, but are not believed to pose 
population-level threats, either now or in the foreseeable future. 
Large, landscape-altering forest fires, insect infestations, or tree 
diseases could pose population-level threats to Queen Charlotte 
goshawks in the British Columbia DPS if they affect major portions of 
either Vancouver Island or the Queen Charlotte Islands, both of which 
support contiguous blocks of forest habitat on one or two large 
islands, rather than many islands as in the Southeast Alaska DPS. 
Global climate change could increase the frequency and severity of 
large fires, forest pests, or forest diseases (Bachelet et al. 2005, 
pp. 2244-2248), but we do not know how likely such events might be. 
Increases in forest cover, as cool-adapted species invade alpine areas, 
is likely to increase the amount of habitat available to goshawks in 
the British Columbia DPS. We conclude that although the possibility 
exists that landscape-level changes due to climate change could 
negatively affect the British Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk, these threats do not currently place the DPS in danger of 
extinction. Because of inadequate information, we do not know if these 
threats pose a threat in the future, so we conclude that within the 
foreseeable future, the British Columbia DPS is not likely to become in 
danger of extinction due to climate-change-induced landscape 
    The small goshawk population on the Queen Charlotte Islands appears 
to be genetically distinct from goshawks elsewhere and may be 
genetically isolated. Populations on Vancouver Island and in Southeast 
Alaska apparently interbreed with atricapillus goshawks from the 
mainland, which seems likely given the proximity of Vancouver Island to 
the mainland (Gust et al. 2003, p. 22; Talbot et al. 2005, pp. 2-3; 
Talbot 2006, p. 1). Isolated populations such as the one on the Queen 
Charlotte Island are typically at greater risk of extinction or genetic 
problems such as inbreeding depression, hybridization, and loss of

[[Page 63140]]

genetic diversity, particularly where populations are small (Lande 
1988, pp. 1456-1457; Frankham et al. 2002, pp. 312-317). The breeding 
population across the British Columbia DPS appears to be about 58 to 
115 breeding pairs. In addition to genetic problems, small populations 
such as this are at greater risk than larger populations from 
stochastic events such as disease epidemics, prey population crashes, 
or environmental catastrophes. We conclude, therefore, that the British 
Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte goshawk is not currently in danger 
of extinction due to natural and manmade factors such as competition, 
contaminants, natural disasters, climate change, or genetic problems, 
but due to its small population size, may be vulnerable to prey 
fluctuations, hybridization (on Vancouver Island), or inbreeding 
depression (on the Queen Charlotte Islands) in the foreseeable future.

British Columbia DPS Finding

    Based on our analyses of threats to the Queen Charlotte goshawk 
within the British Columbia DPS, we find that the British Columbia DPS 
of the Queen Charlotte goshawk is in danger of extinction or likely to 
become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future due to 
modification and destruction of habitat; inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms; and vulnerability to disease, predation, prey 
fluctuations, or genetic risks as a result of small population sizes on 
Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Therefore, we find 
that the biological vulnerability and threats to the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk support issuing a proposed rule to list the entire British 
Columbia DPS as threatened or endangered. As we develop the proposal to 
list the British Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte goshawk, we will 
determine whether the status is endangered or threatened.

Significant Portions of the British Columbia DPS's Range

    Vancouver Island is part of the British Columbia DPS, and is 
subject to the same threats that affect goshawks throughout the DPS. 
Listing is, therefore, warranted for goshawks on Vancouver Island. As 
we propose to list the British Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte 
goshawk, we will consider whether threats differ substantially enough 
between Vancouver Island and the remainder of the DPS to require a 
separate listing for the Vancouver Island SPR (that is, endangered if 
the DPS is otherwise listed as threatened). We will also determine 
whether there are other significant portions of the DPS where separate 
listings are warranted.


    After a thorough review of the best scientific and commercial data 
available, we conclude that Vancouver Island is a significant portion 
of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's range. Further, our review has 
indicated that the subspecies' populations in British Columbia and 
Alaska each constitute distinct population segments (DPSs) of the Queen 
Charlotte goshawk. We have sufficient information about biological 
vulnerability and threats to the goshawk to determine that the entire 
British Columbia DPS, which includes the Vancouver Island SPR, warrants 
listing as threatened or endangered. Pursuant to section 4(b)(3)(B)(ii) 
we will promptly publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule to 
list the British Columbia DPS of the Queen Charlotte goshawk. In that 
proposed rule we will indicate whether the British Columbia DPS and the 
Vancouver Island portion of the range should be listed as either 
endangered or threatened.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Field Supervisor at the Juneau Fish and Wildlife Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES).


    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 (see ADDRESSES).


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

    Dated: November 1, 2007.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E7-21902 Filed 11-7-07; 8:45 am]