[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 127 (Thursday, July 2, 2015)]
[Pages 38226-38228]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-16292]
Fish and Wildlife Service
[FWS-R2-ES-2014-N233; FXES11130200000C2-112-FF02ENEH00]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Sonoran Pronghorn

Draft Recovery Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comment.
SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our draft recovery plan, second revision, for the 
Sonoran pronghorn, which is listed as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This pronghorn is currently 
found in southwestern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, Mexico. The 
draft recovery plan
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includes specific recovery objectives and criteria to be met to enable 
us to remove this species from the list of endangered and threatened 
wildlife and plants. We request review and comment on this plan from 
local, State, and Federal agencies; Tribes; and the public. We will 
also accept any new information on the status of the Sonoran pronghorn 
throughout its range to assist in finalizing the recovery plan.
DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive written comments on or 
before August 3, 2015. However, we will accept information about any 
species at any time.
ADDRESSES: If you wish to review the draft recovery plan, you may 
obtain a copy by any one of the following methods:
    Internet: Access the file at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/Documents/SpeciesDocs/SonoranPronghorn/SonoranPronghorn_DraftRecoveryPlan_Final_December2014.pdf;
    U.S. mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1611 North Second 
Avenue, Ajo, AZ 85321; or
    Telephone: (520) 387-6483.
    If you wish to comment on the draft recovery plan, you may submit 
your comments in writing by any one of the following methods:
     U.S. mail: Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Coordinator, at the 
Ajo, AZ, address;
     Hand-delivery: Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, at 
the Ajo, AZ, address;
     Fax: (520) 387-5359; or
     Email: James_Atkinson@fws.gov.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see the 
``Request for Public Comments'' section in this notice.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Atkinson, Sonoran Pronghorn 
Recovery Coordinator, at the above address and phone number, or by 
email at James_Atkinson@fws.gov.
    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals and plants to the 
point where they are again secure, self-sustaining members of their 
ecosystems is a primary goal of our endangered species program and the 
Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Recovery means improvement of the status 
of listed species to the point at which listing is no longer 
appropriate under the criteria set out in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. 
The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed species, 
unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a particular 
species. A recovery plan for the Sonoran pronghorn was first completed 
in 1982 and was then revised in 1998. A supplement and amendment to the 
1998 plan was completed in 2002.
Species History
    The Sonoran pronghorn subspecies is recognized by a number of 
Federal, State, and international lists. The subspecies was first 
included on the first list of endangered species on March 11, 1967 (32 
FR 4001), under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of October 15, 
1966, a predecessor of the Act. The subspecies is currently listed as 
an endangered species throughout its range under the Act. The species' 
current recovery priority number is 3, indicating the subspecies has a 
high degree of threat and a high potential for recovery.
    In addition to the listing under the Act, the pronghorn is listed 
as endangered in Mexico by the Secretar[iacute]a de Medio Ambiente y 
Recursos Naturales, or Federal Ministry of the Environment and Natural 
Resource (SEMARNAT 2010). This listing is for the entire species and 
includes all subspecies within Mexico. All subspecies of Antilocapra 
americana are listed on the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, but only populations in 
Mexico are included (Convention on International Trade in Endangered 
Species of Wild Flora and Fauna 2014). Sonoran pronghorn in Arizona are 
also on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's list of ``Species of 
Greatest Conservation Need.''
    Pronghorn have slightly curved horns; the males usually have a 
single prong projecting forward. The horns have a straight bony core 
and sheaths of fused hairs, which are shed and replaced annually 
(Hoffmeister 1986). Coat color varies from yellowish to tan, with some 
white markings, except for black on the top of the nose (Hoffmeister 
1986). Pronghorns are the only artiodactyls with pronged horns and horn 
sheaths that are shed annually (Hoffmeister 1986).
    Pronghorn are endemic to western North America (O'Gara 1978) and 
are placed within the Family Antilocapridae in Order Artiodactyla, the 
even-toed ungulates. The Family Antilocapridae, found only in North 
America, contains only one genus, Antilocapra, which in turn contains 
only one species, the pronghorn. The Sonoran pronghorn is one of four 
extant subspecies of pronghorn (Stephen et al. 2005). Sonoran pronghorn 
historically occurred throughout most of southwestern Arizona, 
northwestern Sonora, and portions of southeastern California and 
northeastern Baja California. Four wild populations of the Sonoran 
pronghorn are now extant and occupy about 8 percent of their historical 
range; two of these occur in southwestern Arizona and two occur in 
northwestern Sonora. Threats to the species include barriers (e.g., 
highways, fences, railroads, development, canals) that limit 
distribution and movement; dewatering of rivers; loss, fragmentation, 
and degradation of habitat; human-caused disturbance; and periods of 
prolonged drought.
    The recovery strategy is to secure a sufficient number of Sonoran 
pronghorn populations that are viable under appropriate management 
scenarios within select areas throughout their historical range. In 
recognition of the binational distribution of the species, and the 
unique challenges and opportunities this presents, two conservation 
units (CU) for the species have been designated, one in the United 
States and one in Mexico. The U.S. CU is located in Arizona and 
California and includes the historical range of Sonoran pronghorn in 
the United States. The Mexico CU includes the historical range of 
Sonoran pronghorn in Mexico. Within these CUs there are management 
units (MU), including the Cabeza, Arizona Reintroduction, and 
California Reintroduction MUs in Arizona and California, and the 
Pinacate, Quitovac, and Sonora Reintroduction MUs in Sonora.
Recovery Plan Goals
    The recovery goal is to conserve and protect the Sonoran pronghorn 
and its habitat so that its long-term survival is secured, and it can 
be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species 
(delisted). To achieve this goal, this draft recovery plan identifies 
the following objectives:
    1. Ensure multiple viable populations of Sonoran pronghorn 
    2. Ensure that there is adequate quantity, quality, and 
connectivity of Sonoran pronghorn habitat to support populations.
    3. Minimize and mitigate the effects of human disturbance on 
Sonoran pronghorn.
    4. Identify and address priority monitoring needs.
    5. Identify and address priority research needs.
    6. Maintain existing partnerships and develop new partnerships to 
support Sonoran pronghorn recovery.
    7. Secure adequate funding to implement recovery actions for 
Sonoran pronghorn.
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    8. Practice adaptive management, in which recovery is monitored and 
recovery tasks are revised by the Service in coordination with the 
Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Team as new information becomes available.
    The draft recovery plan contains recovery criteria based on 
increasing and protecting current populations and establishing at least 
one new population, as well as reducing threats to the species. To 
achieve recovery criteria, various management actions are needed. When 
the status of Sonoran pronghorn meets these criteria, the species will 
no longer meet the conditions of being endangered throughout a 
significant portion of its range and will no longer warrant listing.
Request for Public Comments
    Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide public notice and an 
opportunity for public review and comment during recovery plan 
development. It is also our policy to request peer review of recovery 
plans (July 1, 1994; 59 FR 34270). We will summarize and respond to the 
issues raised by the public and peer reviewers and post our responses 
on our Web site. Substantive comments may or may not result in changes 
to the recovery plan; comments regarding recovery plan implementation 
will be forwarded as appropriate to Federal or other entities so that 
they can be taken into account during the course of implementing 
recovery actions. Responses to individual commenters will not be 
provided, but we will provide a summary of how we addressed substantive 
comments in an appendix to the approved recovery plan.
    We invite written comments on the draft recovery plan. In 
particular, we are interested in additional information regarding the 
current threats to the species and the costs associated with 
implementing the recommended recovery actions.
    Before we approve our final recovery plan, we will consider all 
comments we receive by the date specified in DATES. Methods of 
submitting comments are in the ADDRESSES section.
Public Availability of Comments
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive will be available, by 
appointment, for public inspection during normal business hours at our 
office (see ADDRESSES).
References Cited
    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Recovery 
    We developed our draft recovery plan under the authority of section 
4(f) of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f). We publish this notice under 
section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    Dated: May 20, 2015.
Joy E. Nicholopoulos,
Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-16292 Filed 7-1-15; 8:45 am]