[Federal Register: October 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 199)]
[Page 60711]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 60711]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2008-N0131; 41545-1261-0000-D2]

Interagency Florida Panther Response Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: environmental assessment and finding of 
no significant impact for the Interagency Florida Panther Response 


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce our decision and 
the availability of the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding 
of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for our Interagency Florida Panther 
Response Plan. Our EA considers alternatives for managing conflicts 
between humans and the endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor 
coryi), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the EA and FONSI may be obtained by writing to: 
Layne Hamilton, Refuge Manager, Florida Panther and Ten Thousand 
Islands National Wildlife Refuges, 3860 Tollgate Boulevard, Suite 300, 
Naples, FL 34114, or Elizabeth Souheaver, Area II Supervisor, Southeast 
Regional Office, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, 
Suite 420, Atlanta, GA 30345. The EA and/or FONSI may also be accessed 
and downloaded from the Service's Internet Web site: http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Layne Hamilton, at address in 
ADDRESSES, or at 239-353-8442, extension 227 (telephone), or Ms. 
Elizabeth Souheaver, Area II Supervisor, at address in ADDRESSES, or at 
404-679-7163 (telephone).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: With this notice, we announce our decision 
and availability of the final EA and FONSI for the Interagency Florida 
Panther Response Plan in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act's (NEPA's) implementing regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6 (b). We 
released a draft of the plan to the public as a Draft EA for 
``Guidelines for Living with Florida Panther and the Interagency 
Florida Panther Response Plan,'' and requested comments in a notice in 
the Federal Register on May 25, 2006 (71 FR 30156). To improve the 
quality and credibility of the scientific information, we also 
conducted a formal peer review process for the draft plan. Responses to 
public, tribal, and peer review comments were included in the Revised 
EA appendices. On November 2, 2007, we released the Revised EA and the 
Interagency Florida Panther Response Plan to the public, requesting 
comments via a Federal Register notice (72 FR 62256). We have included 
responses to specific comments in the Final EA appendices. We have 
coordinated this proposal with the National Park Service, the Florida 
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and local Indian tribes.
    The Draft, Revised, and Final EAs identified and evaluated three 
alternatives for managing the conflicts between humans and the 
endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi). Alternative A 
(Preferred Action) manages human-panther interactions with an 
interagency response team and an established plan that prioritizes 
public safety and evaluates each situation by analyzing panther 
behavior and human activity. Alternative B (No Action) does not utilize 
an interagency team or a response plan, but responds to human-panther 
interactions on a case-by-case basis without established protocols or 
guidelines. Alternative C includes a response team and a plan that 
differs from Alternative A by providing rigid protocols based on 
frequency of panther sightings and proximity to human-occupied 
structures, without considering panther behavior or influences of human 
activity on panther behavior. The EA consists of a thorough analysis of 
the environmental, social, economic, and cultural resource 
considerations for each alternative.
    The FONSI documents the selection of Alternative A. This 
alternative was selected over the other alternatives because it 
utilizes the best available science in a consistent manner to manage 
human-panther interactions. Under this alternative, the Response Team's 
responsibility is to review information related to human-panther 
interactions, classify these situations based on the documented 
behavior of the panther, provide an action plan to the responsible 
agencies, and take approved and appropriate actions. The plan provides 
the responding officials with the flexibility to address emergency 
situations swiftly. Also, public outreach and education are an 
important element of this proposal, recognizing the importance of 
teaching people how to safely live and recreate in panther habitat. 
There are no conflicts with local, State, regional, or Federal plans or 

    Authority: We provide this notice under NEPA regulations at 40 
CFR 1506.6.

    Dated: October 6, 2008.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Deputy Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E8-24256 Filed 10-10-08; 8:45 am]