[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 78 (Tuesday, April 23, 2013)]
[Pages 23948-23949]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09494]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2013-N017; FXES11130600000-134-FF06E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Black-Footed 
Ferret Draft Recovery Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability for review and comment.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability of a draft recovery plan for the black-footed ferret 
(Mustela nigripes). This species is federally listed as endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Service 
solicits review and comment from the public on this draft revised plan.

DATES: Comments on the draft revised recovery plan must be received on 
or before June 24, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft revised recovery plan are available by 
request from the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 190, Wellington, CO 80549; 
telephone: 970-897-2730. Submit comments on the draft recovery plan to 
the Recovery Coordinator at this same address. An electronic copy of 
the draft recovery plan is available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Recovery Coordinator, at the above 
address, or telephone 970-897-2730.



    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the Service's endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, the Service prepares recovery plans for the 
federally listed species native to the United States where a plan will 
promote the conservation of the species. Recovery plans describe site-
specific actions necessary for the conservation of the species; 
establish objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result 
in a determination that the species no longer needs the protection of 
the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and provide estimates of the time and 
cost for implementing the needed recovery measures.
    The Act requires recovery plans for listed species unless such a 
plan would not promote the conservation of a particular species. The 
original plan for the species was approved in 1978. The recovery plan 
was revised in 1988.
    Section 4(f) of the Act requires that public notice and opportunity 
for public review and comment be provided during recovery plan 
development. The Service will consider all information received during 
a public comment period when preparing each new or revised recovery 
plan for approval. The Service and other Federal agencies also will 
take these comments into consideration in the course of implementing 
approved recovery plans. It is our policy to request peer review of 
recovery plans. We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by 
the public and peer reviewers in an appendix to the approved recovery 
    The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) was historically found 
throughout the Great Plains, mountain basins, and semi-arid grasslands 
of North America wherever prairie dogs occurred. The species was listed 
as endangered in 1967 (32 FR 4001; March 11, 1967) under the Endangered 
Species Preservation Act of 1966 and again in 1970 under the Endangered 
Species Conservation Act of 1969 (35 FR 8491; June 2, 1970). On January 
4, 1974, the black-footed ferret was listed under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (39 FR 1171). The ferret's close association with 
prairie dogs was an important factor in the ferret's decline. From the 
late 1800s to approximately the 1960s, prairie dog-occupied habitat and 
prairie dog numbers were dramatically reduced by the effects of both 
temporal and permanent habitat loss caused by conversion of native 
grasslands to cropland, and poisoning and disease. The ferret 
population declined precipitously as a result.
    The recovery of the black-footed ferret will be achieved by 
establishing a number of ferret populations where appropriate habitat 
exists and by ameliorating threats impacting the species so as to allow 
the ferret's persistence. Although ferret habitat has been dramatically 
reduced from historical times, a sufficient amount remains, if its 
quality and configuration is appropriately managed. This management, 
for the most part, is likely to be conducted by State, Tribal, and 
Federal fish and wildlife and land management agencies. Additionally, 
private parties, including landowners and conservation organizations, 
are key for ferret recovery. Many partners contributing to ferret 
recovery in many places will help minimize the risk of loss of wild 
    Specifically, recovery of black-footed ferrets will depend upon: 
(1) Continued efforts of captive breeding facilities to provide 
suitable animals for release into the wild; (2) conservation of prairie 
dog habitat adequate to sustain ferrets in several populations 
distributed throughout their historical range; and (3) management of 
sylvatic plague. The single, most feasible action that would benefit 
black-footed ferret recovery is to improve prairie dog conservation. If 
efforts are undertaken to more proactively manage existing prairie dog 
habitat for ferret recovery, all other threats to the species will be 
substantially less difficult to address. Downlisting of the black-
footed ferret could be accomplished in approximately 10 years if 
conservation actions continue at existing reintroduction sites and if 
additional reintroduction sites are established. Delisting will be 
possible if more intensive reintroduction efforts are conducted of the 
black-footed ferret.

Request for Public Comments

    The Service solicits public comments on the draft revised recovery 
plan. All comments received by the date specified in DATES will be 
considered prior to approval of the plan. Written comments and 
materials regarding the plan should be addressed to the Recovery 
Coordinator (see ADDRESSES section). Comments and materials we receive, 
as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this draft 
revised recovery plan will be available, by appointment, for public 
inspection during normal business hours at the above address. If you 
submit a comment that includes personal identifying

[[Page 23949]]

information, you may request at the top of your document that we 
withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: April 3, 2013.
Matt Hogan,
Acting Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 2013-09494 Filed 4-22-13; 8:45 am]