[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 125 (Monday, June 30, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 36698-36699]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-15213]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY98

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 6-Month Extension 
of Final Determination on the Proposed Endangered Status for the 
Northern Long-Eared Bat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of the comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
6-month extension of the final determination of whether to list the 
northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered. We also 
reopen the comment period on the proposed rule to list the species. We 
are taking this action based on substantial disagreement regarding the 
sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to our 
determination regarding the proposed listing, making it necessary to 
solicit additional information by reopening the comment period for 60 
days. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they are 
already incorporated into the public record and will be fully 
considered in the final rule. We will publish a listing determination 
on or before April 2, 2015.

DATES: The comment period end date is August 29, 2014. If you comment 
using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES), you must submit 
your comments by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-
2011-0024, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the 
Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type 
heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You 
may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!'' If your comments 
will fit in the provided comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our comment review 
procedures. If you attach your comments as a separate document, our 
preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple 
comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet 
in Microsoft Excel.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Information Requested 
section, below, for more details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Mandell, Deputy Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Twin Cities Ecological Services Office, 
4101 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN 55425; telephone (612) 725-
3548, ext. 2201; or facsimile (612) 725-3609. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.



    On October 2, 2013, we published a proposed rule to list the 
northern long-eared bat as an endangered species (78 FR 61046) under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). That proposal had a 60-day comment period, ending December 2, 
2013. On December 2, 2013, we extended the proposal's comment period 
for an additional 30 days, ending January 2, 2014 (78 FR 72058). For a 
description of previous Federal actions concerning the northern long-
eared bat, please refer to the October 2, 2013, proposed listing rule. 
We also solicited and received independent scientific review of the 
information contained in the proposed rule from peer reviewers with 
expertise in the northern long-eared bat or similar species biology, in 
accordance with our July 1, 1994, peer review policy (59 FR 34270).
    Section 4(b)(6) of the Act and its implementing regulations at 50 
CFR 424.17(a) require that we take one of three actions within 1 year 
of a proposed listing and concurrent proposed designation of critical 
habitat: (1) Finalize the proposed rule; (2) withdraw the proposed 
rule; or (3) extend the final determination by not more than 6 months, 
if there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or 
accuracy of the available data relevant to the determination.
    Since the publication of the October 2, 2013, proposed listing 
rule, there has been substantial disagreement regarding the best 
available science as it relates to the northern long-eared bat's 
current and predicted population trends and threats. Differing 
interpretations of the accuracy and sufficiency of the existing 
information on white-nose syndrome, which has been identified as the 
primary threat to the species, have led to disagreement regarding the 
current status of the species. In particular, some commenters raised 
questions regarding the certainty of scientific information used in the 
proposed listing rule. For example, some raised questions about: The 
probability and likely rate of white-nose syndrome spreading to 
currently unaffected areas; how or whether the disease will impact the 
northern long-eared bat in currently unaffected or recently affected 
areas within its range; or how existing scientific models predict such 
factors. Some commenters stated that some portions of the species' 
range where white-nose syndrome has been present in hibernacula for 
several years have yet to see declines in the species' numbers similar 
to what was observed in the Northeast.
    There is substantial scientific uncertainty and disagreement about 
the Service's analysis or interpretation of the data, specifically in 
how and to what extent white-nose syndrome will spread and affect the 
northern-long eared bat across its range, which has a bearing on our 
listing determination. As a result of these comments, we find that 
there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy 
of the available data relevant to our listing determination. Therefore, 
in consideration of these disagreements, we have determined that a 6-
month extension of the final determination for this rulemaking is 
necessary, and we are hereby extending the final determination for 6 
months in order to solicit and consider information that will help to 
clarify these issues and to fully analyze information regarding 
available data that are relevant to our

[[Page 36699]]

final listing determination. With this 6-month extension, we will make 
a final determination on the proposed rule no later than April 2, 2015.

Information Requested

    We will accept written comments and information during this 
reopened comment period on our proposed listing for the northern long-
eared bat that was published in the Federal Register on October 2, 2013 
(78 FR 61046). We will consider information and recommendations from 
all interested parties. We intend that any final action resulting from 
the proposal be as accurate as possible and based on the best available 
scientific and commercial data.
    In consideration of the scientific disagreements about the data 
used to support the proposed rulemaking, we are particularly interested 
in new information and comment regarding:
    (1) Whether we have appropriately interpreted the scientific 
studies cited in the proposed rule, and whether there is additional 
scientific information not considered in the proposal.
    (2) Northern long-eared bat population trends in each State or 
    (3) Information pertaining to white-nose syndrome, specifically:
    (a) The predicted probability that white-nose syndrome will spread 
to currently unaffected areas;
    (b) The predicted rate of white-nose syndrome spreading to 
currently unaffected areas;
    (c) The magnitude of impacts specifically to the northern long-
eared bat from white-nose syndrome, both in affected and currently 
unaffected areas; and
    (d) The timeframe of response to white-nose syndrome in recently 
affected or currently unaffected areas.
    (4) Conservation efforts for the northern long-eared bat that are 
planned or currently being implemented that were not already stated in 
comments submitted during the previous comment period.
    If you previously submitted comments or information on the proposed 
rule, please do not resubmit them. We have incorporated previously 
submitted comments into the public record, and we will fully consider 
them in the preparation of our final determination. Our final 
determination concerning the proposed listing will take into 
consideration all written comments and any additional information we 
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section above. We 
request that you send comments only by the methods described in the 
ADDRESSES section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying 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. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing the proposed rule, will be available 
for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, 
during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Twin Cities Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). You may obtain copies of the proposed rule on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024. Copies of 
the proposed rule are also available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/nlba/index.html.


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

    Dated: June 19, 2014.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-15213 Filed 6-27-14; 8:45 am]