Department of the Interior by wanghonghx


									                                                                                                             Vol. 76                           Wednesday,
                                                                                                             No. 81                            April 27, 2011

                                                                                                             Part II

                                                                                                             Department of the Interior

                                                                                                             Fish and Wildlife Service

                                                                                                             50 CFR Part 17
                                                                                                             Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a
                                                                                                             Petition and Proposed Rule To Remove the Morelet’s Crocodile From the
                                                                                                             Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00001   Fmt 4717   Sfmt 4717   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23650                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR                              Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive,               geographic range of the Morelet’s
                                                                                                               Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.                        crocodile that may affect or benefit the
                                                       Fish and Wildlife Service                                 We will not accept comments by e-                    species.
                                                                                                               mail or fax. We will post all comments                    (6) New information and data
                                                       50 CFR Part 17                                          on This                    concerning captive breeding operations
                                                                                                               generally means that we will post any                  in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
                                                       [Docket No. FWS–R9–ES–2010–0030;                        personal information you provide us                       (7) New information and data on the
                                                       92210–1113–0000–C6]                                     (see the Public Comments section below                 Morelet’s crocodile in Guatemala that
                                                                                                               for more information).                                 would enhance our analysis of whether
                                                       RIN 1018–AV22                                                                                                  this population qualifies as a Distinct
                                                                                                               FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
                                                                                                               Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of                    Population Segment under the Act (16
                                                       Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
                                                                                                               Foreign Species, Endangered Species                    U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and whether this
                                                       and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a
                                                                                                               Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,               population warrants continued
                                                       Petition and Proposed Rule To
                                                                                                               4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 420,                    protection under the Act.
                                                       Remove the Morelet’s Crocodile From                                                                               (8) Information and data concerning
                                                       the Federal List of Endangered and                      Arlington, VA 22203, U.S.A.; telephone
                                                                                                                                                                      the status and results of monitoring
                                                       Threatened Wildlife                                     703–358–2171; facsimile 703–358–1735.
                                                                                                                                                                      actions for the Morelet’s crocodile,
                                                                                                               Individuals who are hearing-impaired or                including those implemented under the
                                                       AGENCY:   Fish and Wildlife Service,                    speech-impaired may call the Federal
                                                       Interior.                                                                                                      Convention on International Trade in
                                                                                                               Information Relay Service at 800–877–                  Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
                                                       ACTION: Proposed rule.                                  8339 for TTY assistance 24 hours a day,                Flora (CITES), the Belize-Guatemala-
                                                                                                               7 days a week.                                         Mexico Tri-national Strategy for the
                                                       SUMMARY:   Under the authority of the
                                                                                                               SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:                             Conservation and Sustainable Use of
                                                       Endangered Species Act of 1973, as
                                                       amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and                    Public Comments                                        Morelet’s Crocodile, and the Belizean
                                                       Wildlife Service (Service), announce a                                                                         monitoring plan that are discussed
                                                                                                                 Any final action resulting from this                 under the Post-Delisting Monitoring
                                                       12-month finding on a petition and a
                                                                                                               proposed rule will be based on the best                section below.
                                                       proposed rule to remove the Morelet’s
                                                                                                               scientific and commercial data available                  (9) Information pertaining to Belize’s
                                                       crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)
                                                                                                               and be as accurate and effective as                    efforts to fully enact national legislation
                                                       throughout its range from the Federal
                                                                                                               possible. Therefore, we request                        and/or their efforts to ensure Belize’s
                                                       List of Endangered and Threatened
                                                                                                               comments or information from other                     compliance with CITES.
                                                       Wildlife due to recovery. This action is
                                                                                                               concerned government agencies, the                        Please note that submissions merely
                                                       based on a thorough review of the best
                                                                                                               scientific community, industry, or other               stating support for or opposition to the
                                                       available scientific and commercial
                                                                                                               interested parties concerning this                     action under consideration without
                                                       data, including new information that
                                                                                                               proposed rule. The comments that will                  providing supporting information,
                                                       became available after we received the
                                                                                                               be most useful and likely to influence                 although noted, will not be considered
                                                       petition, which indicates that the
                                                                                                               our decisions are those supported by                   in making a determination, as section
                                                       species’ status had improved to the
                                                                                                               data or peer-reviewed studies and those                4(b)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species
                                                       point that the Morelet’s crocodile is not
                                                                                                               that include citations to, and analyses                Act of 1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C.
                                                       likely to become threatened within the
                                                                                                               of, applicable laws and regulations.                   1531 et seq.) directs that a
                                                       foreseeable future throughout all or a
                                                                                                               Please make your comments as specific                  determination as to whether any species
                                                       significant portion of its range. If this
                                                                                                               as possible and explain the basis for                  is an endangered or threatened species
                                                       proposed rule is finalized, the Morelet’s
                                                                                                               them. In addition, please include                      must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the
                                                       crocodile will remain protected under
                                                                                                               sufficient information with your                       best scientific and commercial data
                                                       the provisions of the Convention on
                                                                                                               comments to allow us to authenticate                   available.’’
                                                       International Trade in Endangered
                                                                                                               any scientific or commercial data you                     Prior to issuing a final rule on this
                                                       Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. We
                                                                                                               reference or provide. In particular, we                proposed action, we will take into
                                                       are seeking information, data, and
                                                                                                               seek comments concerning the                           consideration all comments and any
                                                       comments from the public on this
                                                                                                               following:                                             additional information we receive. Such
                                                       proposed rule.                                            (1) New biological, trade, or other                  information may lead to a final rule that
                                                       DATES: To ensure that we are able to                    relevant information and data                          differs from this proposal. All comments
                                                       consider your comments on this                          concerning any threat (or lack thereof)                and recommendations, including names
                                                       proposed rule, they must be received or                 to the Morelet’s crocodile.                            and addresses, will become part of the
                                                       postmarked on or before June 27, 2011.                    (2) New information and data on                      administrative record.
                                                       We must receive requests for public                     whether or not climate change is a                        You may submit your comments and
                                                       hearings, in writing, at the address                    threat to the Morelet’s crocodile, what                materials concerning this proposed rule
                                                       shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION                    regional climate change models are                     by one of the methods listed in the
                                                       CONTACT section below by June 13, 2011.                 available, and whether they are reliable               ADDRESSES section. We will not
                                                       ADDRESSES: You may submit comments                      and credible to use as step-down models                consider comments sent by e-mail or fax

                                                       by one of the following methods:                        for assessing the effect of climate change             or to an address not listed in the
                                                          • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://                on the species and its habitat.                        ADDRESSES section. If you submit a
                                              Search for docket                    (3) The location of any additional                   comment via http://
                                                       number FWS–R9–ES–2010–0030 and                          populations of Morelet’s crocodile.          , your entire
                                                       then follow the instructions for                          (4) New information and data                         comment—including any personal
                                                       submitting comments.                                    concerning the range, distribution, and                identifying information—will be posted
                                                          • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public                 population size and population trends                  on the Web site. Please note that
                                                       Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R9–                      of the Morelet’s crocodile.                            comments posted to this Web site are
                                                       ES–2010–0030; Division of Policy and                      (5) New information and data on the                  not immediately viewable. When you
                                                       Directives Management; U.S. Fish and                    current or planned activities within the               submit a comment, the system receives

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00002   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23651

                                                       it immediately. However, the comment                    to whether a petition to list, delist, or              provided substantial information to
                                                       will not be publicly viewable until we                  reclassify a species has presented                     indicate that the requested action may
                                                       post it, which might not occur until                    substantial information indicating that                be warranted. In that finding, we
                                                       several days after submission.                          the requested action may be warranted.                 announced that we had initiated a status
                                                          If you mail or hand-deliver a                        To the maximum extent practicable, the                 review of the species as required under
                                                       hardcopy comment that includes                          finding shall be made within 90 days                   section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, and that
                                                       personal identifying information, you                   following receipt of the petition and                  we were seeking comments on the
                                                       may request at the top of your document                 published promptly in the Federal                      petition, as well as information on the
                                                       that we withhold this information from                  Register. If the 90-day finding is                     status of the species, particularly in
                                                       public review. However, we cannot                       positive—that is, the petition has                     Belize and Guatemala. The Service also
                                                       guarantee that we will be able to do so.                presented substantial information                      solicited comments or additional
                                                       To ensure that the electronic docket for                indicating that the requested action may               information from counterparts in
                                                       this rulemaking is complete and all                     be warranted—section 4(b)(3)(A) of the                 Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.
                                                       comments we receive are publicly                        Act requires the Service to commence a                   This proposed rule to delist the
                                                       available, we will post all hardcopy                    status review of the species if one has                Morelet’s crocodile throughout its range
                                                       submissions on http://                                  not already been initiated under the                   also constitutes our 12-month finding
                                                                                 Service’s internal candidate assessment                that the petitioned action is warranted.
                                                          In addition, comments and materials                  process. In addition, section 4(b)(3)(B)               Species Information
                                                       we receive, as well as supporting                       of the Act requires the Service to make
                                                       documentation used in preparing this                    a finding within 12 months following                      Three species of crocodilians occur in
                                                       proposed rule, will be available for                    receipt of the petition on whether the                 Mexico and Central America. The
                                                       public inspection in two ways:                          requested action is warranted, not                     Morelet’s crocodile and the American
                                                          (1) You can view them on http://                     warranted, or warranted but precluded                  crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) co-occur
                                              In the Enter                       by higher-priority listing actions. That               in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala
                                                       Keyword or ID box, enter FWS–R9–ES–                     finding is referred to as the ‘‘12-month               (Schmidt 1924, pp. 79 and 85; Stuart
                                                       2010–0030, which is the docket number                   finding.’’                                             1948, p. 45). While their ranges overlap,
                                                       for this rulemaking.                                                                                           the American crocodile has a much
                                                                                                               Previous Federal Actions                               larger range than the Morelet’s
                                                          (2) You can make an appointment,
                                                       during normal business hours, to view                     The Morelet’s crocodile was listed as                crocodile, and is found in the United
                                                       the comments and materials in person at                 endangered throughout its entire range                 States in the State of Florida, as well as
                                                       the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s                    under the predecessor of the Act via a                 in the Caribbean, on Pacific and Atlantic
                                                       Endangered Species Program located in                   rule published in the Federal Register                 coasts of Central America and northern
                                                       our Headquarters office (see FOR                        on June 2, 1970 (35 FR 8491). Import                   South America in Venezuela, Colombia,
                                                       FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).                           into, export from, or re-export from the               Ecuador, and northern Peru. A third
                                                                                                               United States, as well as other                        species, the common or spectacled
                                                       Public Availability of Comments                         prohibitions, including movement in                    caiman (Caiman crocodilus) occurs in
                                                         Before including your address, phone                  the course of a commercial activity and                Mexico and Guatemala, but is absent
                                                       number, e-mail address, or other                        sale in interstate or foreign commerce,                from Belize. The distribution of the
                                                       personal identifying information in your                of endangered species and their parts                  common caiman also extends into
                                                       comment, you should be aware that                       and products, are prohibited under the                 northern South America (Ross 1998, pp.
                                                       your entire comment—including your                      Act unless otherwise authorized.                       14–17; Thorbjarnarson 1992, pp. 82–85).
                                                       personal identifying information—might                  Authorizations for endangered species                  The Morelet’s crocodile was named after
                                                       be made publicly available at any time.                 can only be made for scientific purposes               a French naturalist, P.M.A. Morelet
                                                       While you can ask us in your comment                    or to enhance the propagation or                       (1809–1892), who discovered this
                                                       to withhold your personal identifying                   survival of the species. On July 1, 1975,              species in Mexico in 1850 (Britton 2008,
                                                       information from public review, we                      the Morelet’s crocodile was listed in                  p. 1). The type locality of the species
                                                       cannot guarantee that we will be able to                Appendix I of CITES. These protections                 was later restricted to ‘‘Guatemala, El
                                                       do so.                                                  were put in place because the species                  Peten, Laguna de Peten’’ when the
                                                                                                               had suffered substantial population                    species was scientifically described. In
                                                       Public Hearing                                          declines throughout its range due to                   Mexico, the Morelet’s crocodile is
                                                         Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act provides                habitat destruction and overexploitation               known as ‘‘lagarto’’ or ‘‘swamp
                                                       for one or more public hearings on this                 through the commercial crocodilian                     crocodile’’ (Rodriguez-Quivedo et al,
                                                       proposed rule, if requested. We must                    skin trade. CITES Appendix I includes                  2008).
                                                       receive requests for public hearings, in                species that are ‘‘threatened with                        The Morelet’s crocodile is a
                                                       writing, at the address shown in the FOR                extinction which are or may be affected                ‘‘relatively small species’’ that usually
                                                       FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section                     by trade.’’                                            attains a maximum length of
                                                       by the date shown in the DATES section                    On May 26, 2005, the Service received                approximately 9.8–11.5 ft (3–3.5 m
                                                       of this document. We will schedule                      a petition from the Government of                         ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Sanchez (2005, p. 4); Britton (2008, p.
                                                       public hearings on this proposal, if any                                   ´
                                                                                                               Mexico’s Comision Nacional para el                     1)), with most wild adults ranging in

                                                       are requested, and announce the dates,                  Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad                 length 6.6–8.2 ft (2–2.5 m). Hurley
                                                       times, and places of those hearings, as                 (CONABIO 2005) to remove the                           (2005, p. 2), however, reported
                                                       well as how to obtain reasonable                        Morelet’s crocodile from the List of                   specimens attaining 15.4 ft (4.7 m). Platt
                                                       accommodations, in the Federal                          Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at                  and Rainwater (2005, p. 25) stated that
                                                       Register at least 15 days before the first              50 CFR 17.11.                                          size estimates where shorter lengths
                                                       hearing.                                                  Based on the information provided,                   were documented were probably based
                                                                                                               the Service’s 90-day finding on the                    on populations that had been heavily
                                                       Background                                              petition, which was published in the                   impacted by hunting and which now
                                                         Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires                Federal Register on June 28, 2006 (71                  contained few large adults. The
                                                       the Service to make an initial finding as               FR 36743), stated that the petition                    Morelet’s crocodile is distinguished

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00003   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23652                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       from other crocodiles, particularly the                 season (April–June), are located on the                northern Guatemala (Hurley 2005, p. 1),
                                                       partially sympatric (having the same or                 shores of freshwater wetlands, as well as              with an estimated historical distribution
                                                       overlapping distribution) and somewhat                  in coastal lagoons and mangrove                        covering 173,746 mi2 (450,000 km2)
                                                       larger American crocodile, by the                       patches (Platt et al. 2008a, pp. 179–182).                               ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Sigler and Domınguez Laso 2008, pp.
                                                       number of dorsal scales in each                            An analysis based on DNA                            11–12). Based on the analyses
                                                       transverse row on its back, the number                  microsatellite data from hatchlings                    conducted for the petition,
                                                       and arrangement of nuchal scales                        collected at 10 Morelet’s crocodile nests              approximately 51 percent of the original
                                                       (located at the nape of the neck), and                  in Belize showed that progeny from five                geographic distribution in Mexico
                                                       irregular scales on the ventrolateral                   of the 10 nests were sired by at least two             remains undisturbed, while
                                                       (lower side) surface of the tail (Meerman               males (McVay et al. 2008, p. 643). These               approximately 49 percent is disturbed
                                                       1994, p. 110; Navarro Serment 2004, pp.                 data suggested that multiple paternity                 or altered. In linear terms, the amount
                                                       55–56; Platt and Rainwater 2005, p. 27;                 was a mating strategy for the Morelet’s                of undisturbed shoreline habitat
                                                       Hernandez Hurtado et al. 2006, p. 376;                  crocodile and was not an isolated event.               available in Mexico to the Morelet’s
                                                       Platt et al. 2008b, p. 294). The Morelet’s              In addition, this information may be                   crocodile is about 15,534 mi (25,000
                                                       crocodile has six nuchal scales of                      useful in the application of conservation              km) of shoreline, which is
                                                       similar size compared to other crocodile                and management techniques for the                      approximately 72 percent of the total
                                                       species, which have either four nuchal                  species.                                               undisturbed shoreline habitat available
                                                       scales or four large nuchal scales and                     The eggs of Morelet’s crocodiles hatch              throughout the species’ range.
                                                       two small ones (CITES 2010a, p.11).                     in September–October, 65–90 days after                 According to CONABIO, the amount of
                                                       Unlike most other species of                            they are laid. Females attend the nest                 undisturbed shoreline habitat available
                                                       crocodilians, the Morelet’s crocodile                   during incubation, and can assist the                  to the Morelet’s crocodile in Belize and
                                                       lacks bony plates beneath the skin                      newborns to leave the nest. Both parents               Guatemala is estimated to be 2,050 mi
                                                       (osteoderms), making their skin more                    protect juveniles against predators and                (3,300 km) and 4,163 mi (6,700 km),
                                                       valuable as leather (Hurley 2005, p. 9).                other adult crocodiles (CITES 2010a, p.                respectively, or 9 and 19 percent of the
                                                       Adults have a yellowish-olive black                     3). Nest failures due to flooding and                  total undisturbed shoreline habitat
                                                       skin, usually showing big black spots at                predation, both avian and mammalian,                   available throughout the species’ range
                                                       the tail and at the back area, which in                 are common (Platt et al. 2008a, p. 184).               (CONABIO 2005, pp. 16–19).
                                                       some adults can be entirely black. The                  Expected lifespan in the wild is 50–65                   Historical estimates of total
                                                       ventral (underside) area is light in color,             years (Hurley 2005, p. 4.) The Morelet’s               population sizes in the three range
                                                       with a creamy yellowish tone. A thick                   crocodile exhibits and shares with other               countries are unavailable or imprecise,
                                                       and soft skin has made the Morelet’s                    crocodilians many acoustic and visual                  and we were not able to find any
                                                       crocodile desirable for                                 signals that convey reproductive,                      additional data on historical, range-wide
                                                       commercialization (CITES 2010a, p. 3).                  territorial, and other types of                        population estimates for the species.
                                                          Opportunistic carnivores, juvenile                   information (Senter 2008, p. 354).                     While not quantifiable or documented
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles feed on small                         The Morelet’s crocodile occurs                      by field surveys, Lee (1996, p. 134)
                                                       invertebrates, especially insects and                   primarily in freshwater environments                   characterized the historical distribution
                                                       arachnids, while subadults eat a more                   such as lakes, swamps, and slow-                       and abundance of the Morelet’s
                                                       diverse diet including mollusks,                        moving rivers, but can temporarily                     crocodile in the Yucatan Peninsula of
                                                       crustaceans, fish, amphibians, and small                inhabit intermittent freshwater bodies,                Mexico as follows: ‘‘Throughout its
                                                       reptiles. Adult crocodiles consume                      such as flooded savannahs, and                         range, nearly every local aguada (flood)
                                                       reptiles, birds, and mammals (Platt et al.              occasionally observed in brackish                      has (or had) its lagarto, which generally
                                                       2002, p. 82; Sanchez 2005, p. 7; Platt et               coastal lagoons (Villegas 2006, p. 8).                 proves to be C. moreletii.’’ The same
                                                       al. 2006, pp. 283–285; CITES 2008, p. 9,                Floating and emergent vegetation                       probably could be said about Belize and
                                                       CITES 2010a, p. 3). This species is also                provide cover to protect young                         Guatemala.
                                                       known to exhibit necrophagy                             crocodiles from predators, including                     It has been widely reported, however,
                                                       (consumption of dead animal carcasses                   cannibalism by adult crocodiles                        that by the middle of the 20th Century,
                                                       over an extended period (several days))                    ´
                                                                                                               (Sanchez 2005, p. 7). In contrast to the               populations of Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       and interspecific kleptoparasitism                      Morelet’s crocodile, the American                      were widely depleted due primarily to
                                                       (stealing of food from an individual by                 crocodile feeds mainly on fish and                     overharvest for commercial purposes
                                                       another individual) (Platt et al. 2007, p.              occurs primarily in coastal or brackish                during the 1940s–1950s. In ‘‘Crocodiles:
                                                       310).                                                   environments, such as coastal mangrove                 An action plan for their conservation,’’
                                                          Morelet’s crocodiles attain sexual                   swamps, brackish and salt water bays,                  Thorbjarnarson (1992, p. 68 and the
                                                       maturity at about 4.9 ft (1.5 m) in length,             lagoons, marshes, tidal rivers, and                    references cited therein) characterized
                                                       at approximately 7–8 years of age. A                    brackish creeks. American crocodiles                   the Mexican populations of Morelet’s
                                                       growth rate of 0.63 inches (in) per                     can also be found in abandoned coastal                 crocodiles in the early 1990s as very
                                                       month (1.6 centimeters (cm) per month)                  canals and borrow pits and may range                   depleted in the Mexican States of
                                                       was observed in Morelet’s crocodiles                    inland into freshwater environments                    Tamaulipas and Veracruz, recovering to
                                                       during the first 3 years of life under                  preferred by the Morelet’s crocodile                   some degree and viable in northeastern
                                                       protected conditions in Mexico, while a                 such as lakes and lower reaches of large               Mexico, and severely threatened in

                                                       rate of 0.94–1.18 in per month (2.4–3.0                 rivers. American and Morelet’s                         Tabasco State and Campeche State.
                                                       cm per month) was achieved under                        crocodiles have been known to lay eggs                 However, populations of Morelet’s
                                                       farming conditions (Perez-Higareda et                   within the same nest mound as                          crocodiles were not depleted in
                                                       al. 1995, p. 173). Adult females build                  conspecifics, suggesting a more                        southern Chiapas State and eastern
                                                       nests and lay 20–40 eggs per clutch                     gregarious and tolerant demeanor (Brien                Quintana Roo State (Sian Ka’an
                                                       (Hurley 2005, p. 3; Sanchez 2005, p. 6),                et al. 2007, pp. 17–18).                               Biosphere Reserve).
                                                       with an average of 35 eggs per clutch                      The historical distribution of the                    Few historical estimates for the
                                                       (CITES 2008, p. 9, CITES 2010a, p. 3).                  Morelet’s crocodile comprised the                      Morelet’s crocodile in Belize are
                                                       Nests, usually constructed of leaf                      eastern coastal plain of Mexico, most of               available, but based on surveys during
                                                       mounds at the beginning of the wet                      the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and                     1978 and 1979, Abercrombie et al.

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00004   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23653

                                                       (1980, p. 103) reported that very few                   including approximately 19,400 adults                  10). However, as stated previously,
                                                       adults were observed in areas where                     (CONABIO 2005, pp. 17–19).                             historical estimates of range-wide
                                                       they had previously been relatively                                                                            habitat destruction for the Morelet’s
                                                                                                               Summary of Factors Affecting the
                                                       abundant. This condition was attributed                                                                        crocodile are unavailable or imprecise.
                                                       to overexploitation (i.e., commercial                                                                          We found that the data on habitat
                                                       trade in hides). Thorbjarnarson (1992, p.                  Section 4 of the Act and its                        destruction was primarily presented
                                                       55) characterized the Morelet’s                         implementing regulations, 50 CFR part                  separately for each individual country.
                                                       crocodile populations in the early 1990s                424, set forth the procedures for listing,             Therefore, the following analysis of the
                                                       as generally depleted in the northern                   reclassifying, or removing species from                potential threats to the species from
                                                       part of Belize, but relatively abundant in              the Federal Lists of Endangered and                    habitat destruction or modification first
                                                       several other areas. Abercrombie et al.                 Threatened Wildlife and Plants.                        presents the specific information
                                                       estimated the total population of                       ‘‘Species’’ is defined by the Act as                   available for the Morelet’s crocodile in
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles older than 9                       including any species or subspecies of                 each country, and then presents the
                                                       months of age in Belize at 2,200–2,500                  fish or wildlife or plants, and any                    general information that was available
                                                       individuals (Abercrombie et al. 1982, p.                distinct vertebrate population segment                 for the species as a whole.
                                                       16). Nothing was known in the scientific                of fish or wildlife that interbreeds when
                                                                                                               mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Once the                  Mexico
                                                       literature at that time about populations
                                                       in the southern part of Belize. The only                ‘‘species’’ is determined, we then                        The Morelet’s crocodile is known
                                                       available countrywide estimates for the                 evaluate whether that species may be                   historically from 10 states in Mexico
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile in Belize suggested                 endangered or threatened because of                    (from east to west): Quintana Roo,
                                                       a total population size of 25,000–30,000                one or more of the five factors described                      ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Yucatan, Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco,
                                                       individuals that was declining in                       in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. We must                 Veracruz, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, San Luis
                                                       number in 1945, was near depletion                      consider these same five factors in                           ´                     ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Potosı, and Tamaulipas (Aguilar 2005,
                                                       between 1970 and 1980, and, in                          reclassifying or delisting a species. For              p. 2). Based on available information
                                                       response to several protective measures,                species that are already listed as                     and interviews during a 1995 site visit
                                                       had undergone a slow recovery by 2000                   endangered or threatened, the analysis                 to Mexico by the IUCN Crocodile
                                                       to about 20,000 individuals (Finger et                  of threats must include an evaluation of               Specialist Group, Ross (1998, p. 13)
                                                       al. 2002, p. 199).                                      both the threats currently facing the                  suggested ‘‘with some confidence’’ that
                                                          Thorbjarnarson (1992, p. 64)                         species, and the threats that are                      the Morelet’s crocodile was widely
                                                       characterized the Guatemalan                            reasonably likely to affect the species in             distributed throughout most of its
                                                       populations in the early 1990s as                       the foreseeable future following the                   original range. At the request of the
                                                       depleted, but capable of recovery. He                   delisting or downlisting and the                       petitioner, these states were resurveyed
                                                       indicated that 75 individuals had been                  removal or reduction of the Act’s                      to assess current Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       reported at three lakes in the Peten                    protections. We may delist a species                   populations in those areas.
                                                       Region, in the northern portion of the                  according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best                 Surveys conducted between 2000 and
                                                       country, and that Morelet’s crocodiles                  available scientific and commercial data               2004 documented the widespread
                                                       were known to be common in other                        indicate that the species is neither                   distribution and relative abundance of
                                                       parts of that region.                                   endangered nor threatened for the                      wild populations of the Morelet’s
                                                          By the late 1990s, little had changed                following reasons: (1) The species is                                                 ´
                                                                                                                                                                      crocodile in Mexico (Domınguez-Laso et
                                                       with regard to our knowledge of the                     extinct; (2) the species has recovered                 al. 2005, pp. 21–30; also summarized in
                                                       distribution and abundance of the                       and is no longer endangered or                           ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Sanchez Herrera 2000, pp. 17–19;
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile. In ‘‘Crocodiles:                   threatened; and/or (3) the original                    CONABIO 2005, pp. 11–13 and Annex
                                                       Status survey and conservation action                   scientific data used at the time the                        ´                     ´
                                                                                                                                                                      5; Sanchez Herrera and Alvarez-Romero
                                                       plan (second edition),’’ Ross (1998, pp.                species was classified were in error.                                         ´
                                                                                                                                                                      2008, page 415; Garcıa et al. 2007, pp.
                                                       46–47) characterized several                                                                                                            ´
                                                                                                                                                                      31–32; Sigler and Domınguez Laso 2008,
                                                                                                               Factor A. Present or Threatened                        pp. 11–13). Surveys found Morelet’s
                                                       populations of Morelet’s crocodiles in
                                                       all three countries as depleted. In some                Destruction, Modification, or                          crocodiles at 63 sites across all 10
                                                       areas, however, including the Lacandon  ´               Curtailment of the Species’ Habitat or                 Mexican states comprising the species’
                                                       Forest (Chiapas State, Mexico) and the                  Range                                                  entire historic range in Mexico
                                                       Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (Quintana                     The overharvest for commercial                      (CONABIO 2005, p. 12). Habitat
                                                       Roo State, Mexico), healthy populations                 purposes, rather than habitat                          evaluations based on five environmental
                                                       of the Morelet’s crocodile existed. These               destruction or modification, was the                   components rated habitat quality as
                                                       findings were based on anecdotal                        primary reason for the Morelet’s                       excellent at 10 sites (24 percent), or as
                                                       reports and incidental records;                         crocodile being listed under the Act and               favorable or suitable at 24 sites (57
                                                       numerical data were not readily                         its inclusion in CITES. However, the                   percent). Furthermore, evidence of the
                                                       available.                                              Five Factor Analysis under the Act                     presence of the Morelet’s crocodile was
                                                          Based on extrapolations of habitat                   requires an analysis of current and                    found in cultivated areas and at sites
                                                       relationships (e.g., vegetation type, size              future potential impacts to the species                with ‘‘intermediate’’ quality habitats
                                                       of wetland/riverine feature, and                        based on modification or destruction of                (CONABIO 2005, p. 13). This suggested

                                                       disturbance factors; described in more                  habitat.                                               that the Morelet’s crocodile does not
                                                       detail in CONABIO 2005, pp. 16–19)                         The petition (CONABIO 2005)                         require undisturbed habitat in order to
                                                       and frequency of encounter rates                        highlights habitat degradation as a                    occupy a site. Habitat mapping resulted
                                                       (derived from country-specific field                    potential threat, especially if it involves            in an estimated minimum of 15,675 mi
                                                       research), the potential global                         lack of prey and eventual contamination                (25,227 km) of shoreline as suitable
                                                       population of free-ranging Morelet’s                    of water bodies. Currently, the extent of              Morelet’s crocodile habitat in Mexico,
                                                       crocodiles in 2004 was estimated to be                  habitat degradation is estimated to be                 which is 72 percent of the estimated
                                                       102,432 individuals (all age classes;                   moderate in Mexico and Belize, and                     suitable shoreline habitat available
                                                       79,718 individuals in Mexico, 8,803 in                  slightly higher in northern Peten,´                    throughout the species range (CONABIO
                                                       Belize, and 13,911 in Guatemala),                       Guatemala (CONABIO 2005, Annex 1, p.                   2005, pp. 14–16).

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00005   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23654                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                          Population characteristics of the                    located in areas outside of the reported               description (CITES 2010a, p. 11) and a
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico were                     range of the species, but potentially                  list (CITES 2010a, pp. 17–20) to indicate
                                                       also determined during the 2000–2004                    with appropriate habitat for this species.             that there are 11 federally protected
                                                       field surveys. All age classes were well                Concerns have been raised about these                  areas in Mexico containing Morelet’s
                                                       represented (34 percent juveniles; 47                   introductions and the potential negative               crocodile. CONABIO 2005 used a
                                                       percent subadults; and 19 percent                       impacts of this ‘‘exotic’’ or ‘‘invasive’’             narrative description (CONABIO 2005,
                                                       adults), indicating good recruitment                                                   ´
                                                                                                               species on the local biota (Alvarez                    p. 30) to indicate that there are at least
                                                       (Domınguez-Laso et al. 2005, p. 31). A                  Romero et al. 2008, pp. 415 and 417).                  12 federally protected areas in Mexico
                                                       higher proportion of males to females                   The Government of Mexico is making                     containing Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       (1.55 to 1 overall versus about 1 male                  efforts to diagnose potential threats to               (CONABIO 2005, p. 30), but did not
                                                       per female) was observed in all age                     the native American crocodile caused                   include a list of the federally protected
                                                       classes, except older subadults                         by hybridization with the introduced                   areas. Based on the information
                                                       (Domınguez-Laso et al. 2005, pp. 33–                    Morelet’s crocodile on the Pacific coast               available to the Service, we were unable
                                                       34). Mean frequency of encounter, based                 of Mexico. The goal of these efforts is to             to find any additional data to explain
                                                       on 62 localities surveyed—excluding                     generate morphological and molecular                   the difference between in the numbers
                                                       one outlier site with an atypically large               identification materials and study the                 of federally protected areas cited in
                                                       crocodile population—was 5.76                           population dynamics of the American                    these two documents. The Government
                                                       individuals per 0.62 mi (= 1 kilometer                  crocodile. It will include monitoring                  of Mexico’s 2010 CITES proposal is the
                                                       (km)) of shoreline (mode = 3.16                         and harvest of Morelet’s crocodiles and                more recent document, and we consider
                                                       individuals per km); Domınguez-Laso et                  hybrids for scientific research (CITES                 it to contain the best available scientific
                                                       al. 2005, pp. 30, 40). These frequency of               2010a, p. 6).                                          and commercial data on the number of
                                                       encounter rates were similar to those                      According to the information                        federally protected areas in Mexico.
                                                       reported for other sites, for example: (1)              presented in CONABIO 2005, the                            The Convention on Wetlands of
                                                       Sigler et al. (2002, p. 222) reported rates             Morelet’s crocodile in Mexico occupies                 International Importance especially as
                                                       of 8.33–18.5 individuals per km at                      at least 12 protected areas (CONABIO                   Waterfowl Habitat (also known as the
                                                       various sites throughout Mexico and                     2005, p. 30 and Annex 6). Part of the                  Ramsar Convention) is an
                                                                                                               Sistema Nacional de Areas Naturales                    intergovernmental treaty that provides a
                                                       commented that these were the highest
                                                       rates ever reported for that country; (2)               Protegidas (SINANP or National System                  framework for international cooperation
                                                             ˜     ´
                                                       Cedeno-Vazquez (2002, p. 353) reported                  of Protected Natural Areas, described                  for the conservation of wetland habitats.
                                                       rates of 1–2 individuals per km, when                   more fully in the Factor D section,                    CONABIO 2005 did not provide
                                                       present (22 of 40 surveys; 711                          Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory                      information on whether the Ramsar
                                                       individuals counted; all age classes                    Mechanisms), encompasses 13 percent                    Convention protects any Morelet’s
                                                       represented; hatchlings in September),                  of the species’ range and include the                  crocodile habitat in Mexico. However,
                                                       at Bahia de Chetumal and Rıo Hondo,                     following areas: Los Tuxtlas Biosphere                 this information was included in the
                                                       Mexico (n = 17 sites) and commented on                  Reserve, Pantanos de Centla Biosphere                  Government of Mexico’s 2010 CITES
                                                                                              ˜                                       ´
                                                                                                               Reserve, Laguna de Terminos Biosphere                  proposal. According to their 2010 CITES
                                                       the recovery of the species; (3) Cedeno-
                                                       Vazquez et al. (2006, p. 15) reported                   Reserve, Hampolol Wildlife                             proposal, there are 41 Ramsar sites in
                                                       rates of 7.6 and 5.3 individuals per km                 Conservation and Research Center, El                   the potential range of the Morelet’s
                                                                                                               Palmar State Preserve, Rıa Lagartos                    crocodile in Mexico, 13 of which have
                                                       at La Arriguena, Campeche State, and
                                                                                                               Biosphere Reserve, Yum Balam                           records of the species covering
                                                       commented that this suggested a healthy
                                                                                                               Biosphere Reserve, Laguna Nichupte,                    6,779,875 ac (2,743,718 ha) (CITES
                                                       population. A population estimate—
                                                                                                               Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Bahia                    2010a, pp. 11, 17–20).
                                                       based on (a) extrapolations of 3.16                                                                               According to the information
                                                                                                               Chetumal (Bay) and Rıo Hondo (River).
                                                       individuals per km, (b) 19 percent                         The Government of Mexico’s 2010                     presented in CONABIO 2005, one of the
                                                       adults, and (c) a cautious estimate of                  CITES proposal to transfer the Morelet’s               main potential threats to the Morelet’s
                                                       occupied habitat (15,675 mi (25,227 km)                 crocodile from CITES Appendix I to                     crocodile is habitat destruction and
                                                       of river habitat)—produced a result of                  CITES Appendix II provided updated                     fragmentation due to residential and
                                                       approximately 79,718 wild individuals                   information on the number of protected                 infrastructure development, such as
                                                       (all ages) in Mexico comprising 78                      areas for the Morelet’s crocodile in                   dams, roads, residential areas, and
                                                       percent of the total wild population,                   Mexico. About 77 Federal and certified                 irrigated fields (CONABIO 2005, Annex
                                                       including approximately 15,146 adults                   protected areas in Mexico provide                      2, pp. 4–5). The information presented
                                                       in Mexico (Domınguez-Laso 2005, p.                      shelter and legal protection to the                    in CONABIO 2005 indicated that land
                                                       40).                                                    Morelet’s crocodile in its potential                   reform and the ensuing colonization of
                                                          New information now available to the                 range. Of these, 11 have records of the                undeveloped areas is a potential threat
                                                       Service documents updates in the                        species covering 7,763,147 acres (ac)                  to the Morelet’s crocodile, but the
                                                       geographic distribution of the Morelet’s                (3,141,634 hectares (ha)) (CITES 2010a,                Government of Mexico has no such
                                                       crocodile in Mexico. Because of several                 pp. 11, 17–20). The Government of                      actions planned at this time (CONABIO
                                                       unauthorized introductions or escapes                   Mexico designated eight of the eleven                  2005, p. 33). This threat of habitat
                                                       from captive-breeding facilities in areas               protected areas containing Morelet’s                   degradation is ameliorated in Mexico by

                                                       outside of the reported range of the                    crocodiles as Biosphere Reserves, and                                                        ´
                                                                                                                                                                      the Ley General de Equilibrio Ecologico
                                                       species, the Morelet’s crocodile has                    the three remaining protected areas                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                      y Proteccion al Ambiente (LGEEPA;
                                                       become established in the wild at three                 containing Morelet’s crocodiles as Flora               General Ecological Equilibrium and
                                                       sites: Chacahua, Oaxaca State; Villa                    and Fauna Protection Areas. As stated                  Environmental Protection Law). This
                                                       Flores, Chiapas State; and Laguna de                    above, these protected areas are part of               1988 law has strict restrictions against
                                                       Alcuzahue, Colima State (Alvarez                        SINANP (described more fully in the                    land use changes in Mexico, especially
                                                       Romero et al. 2008, p. 415). Several                    Factor D section, Inadequacy of Existing               for undisturbed habitat such as those
                                                       captive-breeding facilities along the                   Regulatory Mechanisms).                                areas used by the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       Pacific coast in western Mexico contain                    The Government of Mexico’s 2010                     (CONABIO 2005, p. 25). This law is
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles. These facilities are              CITES proposal used both a narrative                   supported by several others in Mexico

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00006   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23655

                                                       that ensure the conservation of native                  Although moderate habitat destruction                  these states, in part, to assess Morelet’s
                                                       flora and fauna in Mexico (see                          or modification is currently affecting                 crocodile populations in those areas.
                                                       discussion in the Factor D section,                     local populations of Morelet’s                         Based on recent surveys, all six districts
                                                       Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory                       crocodiles in Mexico, and this is likely               historically known to contain Morelet’s
                                                       Mechanisms; also see CONABIO 2005,                      to continue in the foreseeable future,                 crocodiles were surveyed in a general
                                                       Annex 3).                                               these activities would not have a                      characterization of the biodiversity of
                                                          According to the information                         significant impact on the species                      Belize (Boles 2005, p. 4; Belize Forest
                                                       presented by CONABIO, even in the                       because they would be subject to                       Department 2006, p. 22; Biological-
                                                       historic context of prolonged habitat                   conservation measures under the               website 2009). At Spanish
                                                       alteration, wild populations of Morelet’s               Government of Mexico’s regulatory                      Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, in the north-
                                                       crocodiles remained abundant; so much                   framework. This framework will                         central part of the country, Meerman et
                                                       so that large, commercial exploitation of               continue to provide adequate protection                al. (2004, pp. 23–24 and 30–32)
                                                       the species was occurring up until                      to the Morelet’s crocodile and its habitat             determined that the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       Federal and international protections                   in the foreseeable future. Surveys                     was fairly common at the site (frequency
                                                       were put in place 40 years ago.                         conducted found Morelet’s crocodiles at                of encounter rate = 1.4–2.4 individuals
                                                       Alteration of Morelet’s crocodile habitat               63 sites across all 10 Mexican states                  per km). At Mayflower Bocawina
                                                       occurring since then may have                           comprising the species’ entire historic                National Park, near the coast in the
                                                       produced some additional reductions in                  range in Mexico (CONABIO 2005, p.                      southeastern part of the country,
                                                       local populations, but these reductions                 12). Given that Mexico contains more                   Meerman et al. (2003b, p. 30)
                                                       are not comparable to those of the past.                than 85 percent of the species’ natural                unexpectedly located the Morelet’s
                                                       In addition, even in areas where                        range, an estimated 78 percent of all                  crocodile at fast-flowing streams such as
                                                       changes to the original environment are                 wild individuals, that 7,763,147 ac                    Silk Grass Creek. While this specimen
                                                       not reversible, evidence points to a                    (3,141,634 ha) of habitat are protected                could have been introduced at the site,
                                                       certain degree of tolerance by Morelet’s                by the Government of Mexico, and that                  its occurrence could also be natural.
                                                       crocodiles, especially when the habitat                 6,779,875 ac (2,743,718 ha) of habitat                 Along the Macal River, in west-central
                                                       alterations are a result of agriculture or              are protected by the Ramsar Convention,                Belize, Stafford et al. (2003, pp. 18 and
                                                       low technology livestock production                     we conclude that habitat destruction or                20) located a breeding population of the
                                                       (CONABIO 2005, p. 25).                                  modification is neither a threat, nor is               Morelet’s crocodile (frequency of
                                                          Based on surveys, it appears that the                it anticipated to significantly impact the             encounter rate = 1.48 individuals per
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile in Mexico occurs in                 Morelet’s crocodile in Mexico in the                   km) (2001) and 1.25 individuals per km
                                                       all 10 states from where it traditionally               foreseeable future.                                    (2002) at a mountainous site at 1,476 ft
                                                       has been reported (CONABIO 2005, pp.                                                                           (450 m) elevation (higher than
                                                       11–19). Although approximately 49                       Belize
                                                                                                                                                                      expected). A total population size at the
                                                       percent of the original range in Mexico                   The Morelet’s crocodile was                          Macal River site was calculated to be, at
                                                       has been altered, much of the altered                   historically known from all six states in              minimum, about 94 individuals
                                                       habitat is still occupied by the Morelet’s              Belize (from north to south): Corozal,                 (Stafford et al. 2003, p. 19).
                                                       crocodile. Approximately 77,220 mi2                     Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek,                   Earlier comparisons between spotlight
                                                       (200,000 km2) of undisturbed habitat                    and Toledo (Anonymous 1998).                           surveys conducted in northern Belize in
                                                       remains in Mexico, which is equivalent                  According to information provided by                   1979–1980 and 1992–1997 also showed
                                                       to approximately 15,534 mi (25,000 km)                  CONABIO, virtually all of the country                  that Morelet’s crocodiles were widely
                                                       of shoreline. The Government of Mexico                  contained suitable habitat for the                     distributed and relatively abundant
                                                       protects habitat occupied by the                        species. The style of economic                         across several habitat types and levels of
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile in 11 areas                         development in Belize has not required                 human accessibility (Platt and
                                                       designated by the Government of                         massive alteration of the natural                      Thorbjarnarson 2000b, p. 23). In
                                                       Mexico as either Biosphere Reserves or                  environment. Thus, in general, no                      addition to an extensive system of
                                                       Flora and Fauna Protection Areas                        extensive and drastic alteration of                    nature reserves including significant
                                                       covering a total of 7,763,147 ac                        Morelet’s crocodile habitat has occurred               areas of crocodile habitat, these
                                                       (3,141,634 ha). In addition, the Ramsar                 in Belize (CONABIO 2005, p. 26). The                   researchers noted relatively high
                                                       Convention protects Morelet’s crocodile                 current amount of altered versus                       Morelet’s crocodile encounter rates in
                                                       habitat at 13 sites in Mexico covering                  unaltered current habitat for the                      wetlands surrounding sugarcane fields
                                                       6,779,875 ac (2,743,718 ha). We do not                  Morelet’s crocodile in Belize is                       in this area. Morelet’s crocodiles were
                                                       have any information or data on the                     unknown, but the petitioners estimated                 observed in canals and ditches within
                                                       amount of geographic overlap, if any,                   the current amount of potentially                      the municipal limits of Belize City and
                                                       between the areas of habitat protected                  suitable habitat to be approximately                   Orange Walk, as well as in wetlands
                                                       by the Government of Mexico versus                      2,050 mi (3,300 km) of shoreline                       easily accessible from many villages
                                                       that protected by the Ramsar                            (CONABIO 2005, pp.14–19).                              (Platt and Thorbjarnarson 2000b, p. 23).
                                                       Convention. Therefore, we considered                      While the species is widespread in                      Population characteristics of Morelet’s
                                                       these two protection mechanisms as                      the northern portion of the country, it is             crocodiles in Belize were also
                                                       providing separate, but complimentary,                  naturally limited to a narrow region of                determined during these surveys. Size

                                                       habitat protection as part of our analysis              lowlands along the coast in the southern               class distribution—25.4 percent adults
                                                       of habitat protection under this                        part of Belize, which is otherwise                     in the 1990s, compared with 5–10
                                                       proposed rule.                                          mountainous (Schmidt 1924, p. 80;                      percent in an earlier study—was
                                                          We find that the information                         Abercrombie et al. 1982, pp. 12–16;                    consistent with population recovery
                                                       presented in the petition, as well as the               Platt et al. 1999, p. 395; Platt and                   from past overexploitation (Platt and
                                                       additional information available to the                 Thorbjarnarson 2000a, pp. 25–26).                      Thorbjarnarson 2000b, p. 24). Platt and
                                                       Service, represents the best available                  Although the Government of Belize was                  Thorbjarnarson (2000b, pp. 23, 26)
                                                       scientific and commercial data on                       not a party to the petition, teams not                 reported an overall frequency of
                                                       habitat destruction or modification for                 associated with the Mexican effort to                  encounter of 1.56 individuals per km;
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico.                         delist the species recently surveyed                   encounter rates were much higher in

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00007   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23656                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       nonalluvial (8.20 individuals per km)                   extraction in these Belizean protected                 America, is home to the largest numbers
                                                       and alluvial (6.11 individuals per km)                  areas is currently or anticipated to affect            of Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala
                                                       lagoons than in rivers and creeks (0.95                 significantly the Morelet’s crocodile.                 (ParksWatch 2003, p. 1).
                                                       individuals per km) or in mangrove                        We find that the data presented by                      While information regarding the
                                                       habitats (0.24 individuals per km).                     CONABIO, and additional data available                 distribution and abundance of Morelet’s
                                                       While a significant, male-biased sex                    to the Service, represents the best                    crocodile in Guatemala is sparse,
                                                       ratio (5.3 males per 1 female versus                    available scientific and commercial data               investigations conducted in Laguna del
                                                       about 1 male per female) was identified,                on habitat destruction or modification                 Tigre National Park (date unspecified,
                                                       the reasons were unclear (Platt and                     for Morelet’s crocodiles in Belize.                    reported in 1998) estimated 4.35
                                                       Thorbjarnarson 2000a, pp. 23, 27).                      Although habitat destruction or                        individuals per km in the Sacluc River
                                                       Based on extrapolations of habitat                      modification is currently affecting some               and 2.1 individuals per km in the San
                                                       relationships in Mexico (which results                  local populations of Morelet’s                         Pedro River, with a population structure
                                                       in an estimated 2,080 mi (3,347 km) of                  crocodiles in Belize, and this is likely to                                                 ˜
                                                                                                                                                                      typical of stable populations (Castaneda
                                                       potential habitat in Belize) and an                     continue in the foreseeable future, we                                             ˜
                                                                                                                                                                      Moya 1998a, p. 13). Castaneda Moya
                                                       average frequency of encounter of 2.63                  do not have any evidence that habitat                  (1997, p. 1; 1998a, p. 521) characterized
                                                       individuals per km, CONABIO stated                      destruction or modification is currently               Morelet’s crocodile distribution in the
                                                       that these results suggested a total                    or anticipated to be a threat to the                                           ´
                                                                                                                                                                      northern State of Peten, Guatemala, as
                                                       Belize population estimate for the                      Morelet’s crocodile in Belize.                         fragmented, with the healthiest
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile of about 8,803                                                                             populations in the northern region of
                                                                                                               Guatemala                                                  ´
                                                       individuals in the wild (all age classes),                                                                     Peten, where human impact was lower.
                                                       comprising 9 percent of the total wild                    The Morelet’s crocodile was                          In a follow-up study at Laguna del Tigre
                                                                                                               historically known from the northern                                         ˜
                                                                                                                                                                      National Park Castaneda Moya et al.
                                                       population, including about 1,673
                                                                                                               portion of Guatemala (States of Peten´                 (2000, pp. 62–63) reported a mean
                                                       adults (CONABIO 2005, p. 18).
                                                                                                               and Alta Verapaz; Schmidt 1924, pp.                    frequency of encounter rate for the
                                                       Although this is not a typically
                                                                                                               79–84). According to information                       entire park of 4.3 individuals per km,
                                                       constructed population estimate, this                                                    ´
                                                                                                               provided by CONABIO, the Peten region                  with maximum values of 12.28
                                                       estimate constitutes the best available
                                                                                                               of Guatemala was scarcely populated by                 individuals per km at Flor de Luna and
                                                       scientific and commercial data for the
                                                                                                               humans before 1960 (an estimated                       11.00 individuals per km at Laguna La
                                                       nationwide abundance of Morelet’s
                                                                                                               15,000 to 21,000 inhabitants in                        Pista. The Morelet’s crocodile was more
                                                       crocodiles in Belize. Although Platt
                                                                                                               approximately 12,960 square miles                      frequently encountered in closed
                                                       suggested that these overall values for
                                                                                                               (33,566 km2) or about one third of                     aquatic systems than in open aquatic
                                                       Belize may be somewhat inflated
                                                                                                               Guatemala’s area) (CONABIO 2005). In                   systems. Juveniles were more frequently
                                                       because habitat in southern Belize is                   1961, the Government of Guatemala
                                                       less suitable for Morelet’s crocodiles                                                                         observed than were adults.
                                                                                                               started an official program to foster                     Based on extrapolations of habitat
                                                       than areas in the north (Platt 2008, pers.              colonization in the region, and this                   relationships in Mexico (which resulted
                                                       comm.), frequency of encounter values                   caused environmental alteration, as well               in an estimated 4,159.8 mi (6,694.5 km)
                                                       for Morelet’s crocodile populations and                 as increased human conflicts with                      of potential habitat in Guatemala) and
                                                       total population sizes in Belize may                    crocodiles. Slightly more than 50                      an average frequency of encounter of
                                                       have further increased due to continued                 percent of the potential habitat for the               2.078 individuals per km, CONABIO
                                                       protection for over a decade since these                Morelet’s crocodile has been altered in                stated that there is an estimated total
                                                       surveys in the 1990s. Boles (2005, p. 4)                Guatemala (CONABIO 2005, p. 26).                       Guatemalan population of Morelet’s
                                                       and Belize Forest Department (2006, p.                  While the current amount of altered                    crocodile of about 13,911 individuals in
                                                       22), based on countrywide analyses,                     versus unaltered habitat for the                       the wild (all age classes) comprising 13
                                                       both suggested that the Morelet’s                       Morelet’s crocodile in Guatemala is                    percent of the total wild population,
                                                       crocodile had ‘‘recovered’’ in Belize and               unknown, the petitioners estimated the                 including about 2,643 adults (CONABIO
                                                       could be categorized as ‘‘healthy.’’                    current amount of potentially suitable                 2005, p. 18). Although this is not a
                                                         CONABIO did not present                               habitat to be approximately 4,163 mi                   typically constructed population
                                                       information about the distribution and                  (6,700 km) of shoreline (CONABIO                       estimate, this population estimate
                                                       abundance of the Morelet’s crocodile in                 2005, pp.14–19). According to                          constitutes the best available scientific
                                                       protected areas in Belize. Other                        information provided by CONABIO,                       and commercial data for the nationwide
                                                       information obtained by the Service,                    studies on the status of Morelet’s                     abundance of Morelet’s crocodiles in
                                                       however, suggests that the species is                   crocodile habitat and population in                    Guatemala.
                                                       present in many protected areas in                      Guatemala are underway, and the                           While Guatemala has regulatory
                                                       Belize, including: Sarstoon Temash                      potential threats to the species are under             mechanisms in place to protect these
                                                       National Park (Meerman et al. 2003a, p.                 assessment (CONABIO 2005, p. 26).                      habitats, it appears that the Government
                                                       45), Mayflower Bocawina National Park                     Recent nationwide survey results are                 of Guatemala, until recently, was not
                                                       (Meerman, et al. 2003b, p. 30), and                     not available for Guatemala, but                       able to enforce them adequately.
                                                       Spanish Creek Wildlife Sanctuary                        populations appear to remain in their                  Resource extraction, drug trade, a lack
                                                       (Meerman et al. 2004, pp. 30–31).                       historical range in the northern part of               of enforcement, and financial issues

                                                       Overall, about 18–26 percent of the                     the country, especially the central                    limited protected areas’ potential
                                                       national territory of Belize is under                                              ´
                                                                                                               portion of the State of Peten, Laguna del              contribution to the conservation status
                                                       some form of protection (BERDS 2005b,                   Tigre National Park (northwestern                      of the Morelet’s crocodile (IARNA URL
                                                       p. 1; Young 2008, p. 29). In several of                                            ´          ˜
                                                                                                               portion of the State of Peten) (Castaneda              IIA 2006, pp. 88–92). For example, the
                                                       these protected areas, natural resource                 Moya et al. 2000, p.63) and the El                     Laguna del Tigre National Park, together
                                                       extraction is permitted from the site,                             ´
                                                                                                               Mirador-Rıo Azul National Park                         with the Laguna del Tigre Protected
                                                       thus potentially limiting their                         (ParksWatch, 2002, page 3). The Laguna                 Biotope, was considered critically
                                                       contribution to the conservation status                 del Tigre National Park, the largest                   threatened by drug trade, land grabs, the
                                                       of the Morelet’s crocodile. However, we                 national park in Guatemala and the                     presence of human settlements,
                                                       have no evidence that resource                          largest protected wetland in Central                   expanding agriculture and cattle

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00008   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23657

                                                       ranching, poaching, forest fires, the oil               comparatively intact eastern bloc of the               Guatemalan Archeological Institute
                                                       industry, and the almost complete lack                  Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) forest.                   (IDAEH), and the office of the Executive
                                                       of institutional control over the area                  Strategies to reduce impacts to wildlife               Secretary of the President of Guatemala
                                                       (ParksWatch 2003, p. 11.) ParksWatch                    in the MBR landscape include involving                 formed an alliance called the ‘‘Mesa
                                                       also deemed this national park, and its                 people in local communities, forest                    Multisectorial para el Area Natural y
                                                       surrounding area, would not meet its                    concessions, governments, and NGOs in                  Cultural de Mirador-Rio Azule’’. This
                                                       biological diversity objectives in the                  local conservation efforts; developing                 alliance was formed to develop
                                                       immediate future unless urgent steps                    adaptive management strategies to                      consensus among its team members
                                                       were taken (ParksWatch 2003, p. 11.)                    address tactically threats across the                  regarding the long-term protection of the
                                                       However, the following year                             landscape; and educating local                         park and provide sustained economic
                                                       ParksWatch noted major improvements                     communities on best management                         contribution to the people of the MBR
                                                       at Laguna del Tigre since their 2003                    practices across the MBR and beyond.                   and of Guatemala.
                                                       report. We have obtained information                    Since 2003, however, efforts by the                       While CONABIO estimated that
                                                       on the specific protections recently                    Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)                    slightly more than 50 percent of the
                                                       provided to Morelet’s crocodiles in the                 have reduced areas burned in the MBR                   potential habitat for the Morelet’s
                                                       conservation areas of Guatemala, and                    in Guatemala. Through educating locals                 crocodile has been altered in Guatemala,
                                                       events that reveal a commitment by the                  on best management practices,                          they gave no information indicating to
                                                       Guatemalan government to curtail                        conducting aerial flights, utilizing                   what extent (CONABIO 2005, p. 26).
                                                       illegal activities harmful to Laguna del                remote sensing to monitor changes in                   Very little information has been
                                                       Tigre National Park. We will go into                    forest cover and fire, and establishing                collected about the consequences of
                                                       detail in the Factor D section,                         and patrolling a 47-kilometer fire break,              forest fires, hunting, and habitat
                                                       Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory                       along with regularly reporting to the                  fragmentation to the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                       Mechanisms.                                             Guatemalan and provincial governments                  However, Mexico saw the presence of
                                                          Castaneda Moya et al. (2000, p. 61),                 and national media, WCS’s efforts have                 the Morelet’s crocodile in cultivated
                                                       based on historical references, cited                   resulted in a 90% reduction in areas                   areas and at sites with ‘‘intermediate’’
                                                       increased destruction of habitat due to                 burned in the Laguna del Tigre portion                 quality habitats (CONABIO 2005, p. 13)
                                                       human encroachment as having an                         of the MBR (WCS 2009).                                 and Belize noted relatively high
                                                       adverse affect on the species. Based on                    In addition, the president of                       Morelet’s crocodile encounter rates in
                                                       the research at Laguna del Tigre                        Guatemala recently deployed 250                        wetlands surrounding sugarcane fields,
                                                       National Park, Castaneda Moya et al.                    specially trained soldiers to recover                  canals and ditches within the municipal
                                                       (2000, pp. 61 and 65) indicated that                    fully all the protected zones of El Peten              limits of Belize (Platt and
                                                       sibal (sawgrass) (Cladium jamaicense)                   in Laguna del Tigre National Park. The                 Thorbjarnarson 2000b, p. 23). This
                                                       was extensively burned each year. This                  contingent, called the ‘‘green battalion’’             information suggests that the Morelet’s
                                                       burning constituted a major impact to                   will work jointly with the Guatemalan                  crocodile does not require undisturbed
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile habitat, as sibal               Attorney General’s Office. This effort is              habitat in order to occupy a site. The
                                                       habitat offered suitable insulation, food               aimed at combating drug trafficking and                current amount of altered versus
                                                       availability, nesting cover, and                        removal or destruction of natural and                  unaltered habitat for the Morelet’s
                                                       protection from predators. Furthermore,                 archeological resources in Laguna del                  crocodile in Guatemala is unknown, but
                                                       the fires facilitated the expansion of                  Tigre, El Peten region of the MBR (Latin               the petitioners estimated the current
                                                       savannahs consisting almost exclusively                 American Herald Tribune, 2010).                        amount of potentially suitable habitat to
                                                       of jimbal (Bambusa longifolia). Studies                                   ´
                                                                                                                  El Mirador-Rıo Azul National Park in
                                                                                                                                                                      be approximately 4,163 mi (6,700 km) of
                                                       on the Morelet’s crocodile in Peten´                    northeastern Guatemala is located in the
                                                                                                                                                                      shoreline (CONABIO 2005, pp.14–19).
                                                       suggest fires in jimbal groves prevent                                      ´
                                                                                                               department of Peten maintains a
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles from reproducing                   population of Morelet’s crocodiles                     Other Threats to the Species’ Habitat
                                                       since fire affects nesting sites                        (ParksWatch 2002, page 3). The park is
                                                                                                                                                                      Recreational and Educational Activities
                                                       (ParksWatch 2003, p. 13). In a more                     composed of two sections, which are
                                                       general sense, USAID (2002, pp. 19–23)                  divided by the Dos Lagunas Biotope.                      Nonconsumptive recreational or
                                                       and Ruiz Ordonez (2005, pp. 2–8)                        The western section is known as El                     educational uses in the form of
                                                       indicated several conservation threats at               Mirador and the eastern part is known                  ecotourism are ongoing and may grow
                                                       the national level in Guatemala,                              ´
                                                                                                               as Rıo Azul. This area is considered by                in magnitude in the future. While
                                                       including habitat loss, habitat                         World Resources Institute to be the last               CONABIO did not present precise
                                                       degradation, habitat fragmentation,                     pristine Guatemalan rainforest. It is also             information about the number of
                                                       overutilization of resources,                           one of the few protected areas that have               companies or sites visited by tourists, an
                                                       environmental contamination, and                        experienced little deforestation over the              informal Internet search suggested that
                                                       degradation, and the introduction of                    years. No permanent human residents                    large numbers of ecotourism companies
                                                       exotic species.                                         live within the park borders or in its                 and nature sites in all three range
                                                          For the past ten years, USAID and                    immediate surrounding areas. El                        countries were involved in this activity.
                                                       WCS having been working with other                                  ´
                                                                                                               Mirador-Rıo Azul National Park is                      At Tikal National Park in Guatemala, for
                                                       NGOs and the Guatemalan government                      considered vulnerable, by ParksWatch,                  example, the number of visitors has

                                                       to combat these issues. In their ‘‘Maya                 meaning that immediate conservation                    increased from 14,594 visitors in 1981
                                                       Biosphere Landscape Conservation                        measures are not needed at this time,                  to 141,899 visitors in 2002 (IARNA URL
                                                       Area, Guatemala, Implementation Plan                    but monitoring is necessary to ensure                  IIA 2006, p. 103). Many of these visitors
                                                       FY 2008’’ (WCS 2009, page 3) the WCS                    the protection and maintenance of its                  potentially visited Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       highlighted their central goals for                     biological diversity in the near future                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                      areas in the Peten Region that are in the
                                                       ensuring the conservation of wide-                      (ParksWatch, 2002, page 3). NGO’s such                 immediate vicinity of the park as part of
                                                       ranging target species, including the                                 ´
                                                                                                               as Asociacion Balam, WCS-Guatemala,                    their ecotourism experience.
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile, was to contain the                                 ´
                                                                                                               the Asociation of Forest Communities of                  While we cannot completely rule out
                                                       advance of the Laguna del Tigre agro-                       ´
                                                                                                               Peten (ACOFOP), the Guatemalan                         the potential for adverse effects to the
                                                       pastoral frontier and maintain the                      National Park Service (CONAP), the                     Morelet’s crocodile due to disturbance

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00009   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23658                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       from ecotourism activity in Tikal                       the Morelet’s crocodile (CONABIO                       they may have a substantial negative
                                                       National Park, we have found no                         2005, p. 28).                                          impact on local Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       evidence of such effects. Furthermore,                    There is also evidence that                          populations. Although agriculture,
                                                       we do not have any information to                       ecotourism, as well as scientific                      grazing, and infrastructure development
                                                       indicate that ecotourism is likely to                   research and wildlife conservation, are                are currently affecting local populations
                                                       become a serious problem in the future.                 compatible activities with respect to the              of Morelet’s crocodiles, and this is likely
                                                       Successful ecotourism, by its very                      Morelet’s crocodile. In Mexico, for                    to continue in the foreseeable future, we
                                                       nature, relies on the continued                         example, ecotourists accompany                         do not have any evidence that these
                                                       conservation and protection of the                      biologists associated with the Amigos de               activities are currently or anticipated to
                                                       natural resources it uses. Although the                 Sian Ka’an group as they conduct                       be a range-wide threat to the Morelet’s
                                                       number of visitors to protected areas is                surveys of the Morelet’s crocodile at                  crocodile.
                                                       increasing and the demand for                           Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, along the
                                                                                                               eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula,                Summary of Factor A
                                                       ecotourism may grow in the future, the
                                                       ecotourism industry has a significant                   Quintana Roo State (EcoColors Tours                       Although some habitat degradation
                                                       incentive to ensure that their activities               2010, pp. 1). At another site, the La                  has occurred in Mexico, this threat is
                                                       do not become a serious problem to the                  Ventanilla Eco-tourism Project in                      ameliorated by the LGEEPA. This law
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile and its habitat in the              Oaxaca State, Mexico, international                    has strict restrictions against land use
                                                       future.                                                 volunteers assist local residents and                  changes in Mexico, especially for
                                                          Mazzotti et al. (2005, p. 984),                      biologists to conserve the Morelet’s                   undisturbed habitat such as those areas
                                                       however, did identify the following                     crocodile, turtles, iguanas, and other                 used by the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       negative impacts associated with                        species of wildlife (Volunteers for                    (CONABIO 2005, p. 25). The Sistema
                                                                                                               International Partnership—Mexico                                      ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas
                                                       tourism development at Sian Ka’an
                                                       Biosphere Reserve (Mexico):                             2010, 1–4). In Belize, tourists, as well as            (SINANP) also provides significant
                                                          (1) Habitat loss;                                    wildlife researchers from the United                   habitat protection in Mexico. The
                                                          (2) Alteration of surface and                        States and their Belizean counterparts,                SINANP created designated protected
                                                       underground water flow;                                 are implementing an ecological field                   areas because these areas contain key or
                                                          (3) Ground water pollution;                          study of the Morelet’s crocodile at                    representative ecosystems or species, or
                                                          (4) Extraction of resources;                         Lamanai Outpost Lodge and Research                     ecosystems or species that are at risk
                                                          (5) Erosion and sedimentation;                       Station that eventually will lead to the               and require strict control. In Mexico, at
                                                          (6) Decrease in biodiversity; and                    development of a national management                   least 11 protected areas contain
                                                          (7) Reduced traditional and                          plan for the species (The Croc Docs                    populations of the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       recreational use for local communities.                 2010, pp. 1–6). If the biological data, in             (CITES 2010a, pp. 17–20). In Belize, at
                                                          Visual pollution, including trash, as                part collected by the ecotourists,                     least three protected areas contain
                                                       well as ‘‘jeep safaris’’ (caravans of small             support harvest, and effective                         Morelet’s crocodile populations
                                                       convertible sports utility vehicles being               enforcement regulations can be                         (Meerman et al. 2003a, p. 45; Meerman
                                                       driven through the reserve) and boat                    developed and implemented, this plan                   et al. 2003b, p. 30; and Meerman et al.
                                                       traffic, is also increasing at Sian Ka’an               may include commercial exploitation of                 2004, pp. 30–31). Mexico and Belize
                                                       Biosphere Reserve (Mazzotti et al. 2005,                the Morelet’s crocodile. In Guatemala,                 contain the majority of all wild
                                                       p. 992). While none of these factors was                scientists and ecotourists are working                 Morelet’s crocodiles (87 percent) and
                                                       specifically linked to the Morelet’s                                                    ´
                                                                                                               cooperatively with the ProPeten group                  the majority of the potentially suitable
                                                       crocodile, all could apply were the                     to undertake conservation work at the                  habitat throughout the species’ range (81
                                                       situation to deteriorate. However, we do                Scarlet Macaw Biological Station in the                percent). We find that, although habitat
                                                       not have any information to indicate                    Maya Biosphere Reserve (ProPeten                       destruction and modification is affecting
                                                       that the situation will deteriorate in the              2009, p. 1). While these activities differ             individual crocodiles locally, the overall
                                                       future. Biosphere Reserves in Mexico                    with regard to specific details, in                    level of habitat protection in Mexico
                                                       are part of the United Nations                          general they provide positive                          and Belize is currently adequate and we
                                                       Educational, Scientific, and Cultural                   conservation benefits to the Morelet’s                 anticipate that it will remain so.
                                                       Organization’s (UNESCO) ‘‘Man and the                   crocodile and demonstrate that                            Based on current information,
                                                       Biosphere’’ program and are legally                     ecotourism, as well as scientific                      Guatemala contains the remaining 13
                                                       protected under Mexican federal laws.                   research and wildlife conservation, can                percent of the wild Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       Key features of biosphere reserves are                  be compatible with respect to the                      and the remaining 19 percent of the
                                                       core zones of complete protection of key                species.                                               potentially suitable habitat throughout
                                                       resources surrounded by mixed-use                                                                              the species’ range. Although the
                                                       buffer zones. These buffer zones are                    Agriculture, Grazing, and Infrastructure               Morelet’s crocodile occupies at least two
                                                       particularly important given the                        Development                                                                                  ˜
                                                                                                                                                                      protected areas in Guatemala (Castaneda
                                                       pressures on the Sian Ka’an Biosphere                      Agriculture, grazing, and                           Moya et al. 2000, p. 63), one, the El
                                                       Reserve from tourism, and its culturally                infrastructure development (such as                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Mirador-Rıo Azul National Park has no
                                                       and archeologically significant areas                   dams, roads, residential areas, and                    permanent human presence either in or
                                                       (Mazzotti et al. 2005, p. 982).                         irrigated fields) generally are indirect               surrounding the park and contains the

                                                       Recognizing these potential negative                    impacts in that the purpose of the action              last pristine rainforest in Guatemala
                                                       factors, geographically dispersed                       is not focused on the crocodile. These                 which has experienced very little
                                                       ecotourism involving limited numbers                    activities can be either consumptive (for              deforestation. The NGO community has
                                                       of visitors under controlled conditions                 example, destruction of nests and eggs                 partnered with the President of
                                                       to observe and photograph specimens                     by machinery) or nonconsumptive (for                   Guatemala to establish a coalition to
                                                       from canoes, photographic blinds, or                    example, loss of access to traditional                 ensure long-term protection of this
                                                       hiking trails can provide relatively                    nesting or feeding sites), and are                     important national park, while
                                                       benign opportunities to local residents                 generally manifested through habitat                   providing for sustainable economic
                                                       for economic benefits that can serve as                 loss or fragmentation. Depending on the                incentives to the people of the MBR and
                                                       an alternative or disincentive to harvest               nature and extent of these activities,                 of Guatemala. The second protected

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00010   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                          23659

                                                       area, Laguna del Tigre National Park,                   the survival of the species, the                       international trade, commercial trade
                                                       has been affected by past human                         specimens in trade were legally                        was restricted to animals raised in these
                                                       encroachment, fire, deforestation,                      acquired, and the purpose of the import                closed-cycle, captive-breeding
                                                       grazing, and infrastructure                             is not for primarily commercial                        operations registered with the CITES
                                                       development. Although these factors                     purposes or the specimen meets one of                  Secretariat. In order for these closed-
                                                       may have affected local populations of                  the exemptions established under the                   cycle, captive-breeding operations to be
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles, we have no                        CITES Treaty. A more thorough                          successful, great care was given to
                                                       evidence that it has affected the species               explanation of CITES is found in the                   satisfying the biological requirements of
                                                       range-wide. The government of                           ‘‘Convention on International Trade in                 the species (Cremieux et al. 2005, p.
                                                       Guatemala and the local and                             Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and                   417; Brien et al. 2007, pp. 1–26).
                                                       international NGO community have                        Flora’’ discussion under the section                                     ´      ´
                                                                                                                                                                      According to Leon Velazquez (2004, p.
                                                       again partnered to address these issues                 Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing                       52), there were approximately 30,000
                                                       through direct interventions; including                 Regulatory Mechanisms.                                 Morelet’s crocodiles in captive-breeding
                                                       local and international community in                       Overexploitation for commercial                     facilities in Mexico in 2004. There were
                                                       conservation efforts; and educating                     purposes prior to 1970 is widely                       38,449 Morelet’s crocodiles housed in
                                                       people on the use of best management                    accepted as the primary cause of a                     19 Mexican closed-cycle captive-
                                                       practices. These efforts have resulted in               drastic, range-wide population decline                 breeding operations in 2008 (CITES
                                                       a 90% reduction in fires in Laguna del                  of Morelet’s crocodile (Platt and                      2010a, p. 24). Currently, the annual
                                                       Tigre National Park, and the successful                 Thorbjarnarson 2000b, p. 21; CONABIO                   production of Morelet’s crocodiles in
                                                       interdiction of individuals conducting                  2005, p. 27). Historically, commercial                 Mexican closed-cycle captive-breeding
                                                       unlawful activities.                                    overexploitation, through the harvest of               operations does not exceed 40,000
                                                          Despite the localized impacts in all                 adult animals from the wild, was a                     individuals (CITES 2010a, p. 8).
                                                       three countries, the current range-wide                 much greater threat to the Morelet’s                      Under Mexican law, closed-cycle
                                                       distribution of Morelet’s crocodile now                 crocodile than habitat loss. During the                captive-breeding operations wishing to
                                                       closely resembles historical range-wide                 first half of the 20th century, hundreds               make their Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       distribution. The species has existing                  of thousands of skins per year were                    available for commercial use must
                                                       available high quality habitat, healthy                 marketed (CITES 2008, pp. 17, 20). The                 demonstrate that they are able to go
                                                       population distribution, is abundant at                 precise magnitude of the trade is                      beyond the F2 generation of
                                                       known sites and it is expanding into                    unclear however, because trade data for                reproducing individuals. This
                                                       new sites. Even in the face of habitat                  the Morelet’s crocodile was recorded at                requirement supports the use of
                                                       alteration, this species has been shown                 a higher taxonomic level incorporating                 Morelet’s crocodiles that is compatible
                                                       to occupy disturbed habitat. There have                 other crocodilians. See, for example,                  with conservation of the species by
                                                       been observed increases in the relative                 Loa Loza 1998a, pp. 134–135; Arroyo-                   offsetting the demand for crocodiles
                                                       abundance of the species, and a total                   Quiroz et al. 2007, p. 933. It is reported             taken from the wild. Such facilities
                                                       population size of approximately 19,400                 that prior to 1975, hide dealers in Belize             produced a variety of items including
                                                       adults in the three range countries.                    purchased up to 12,000 skins annually,                 skins/hides, meat, live individuals as
                                                       Species experts now widely characterize                 and an unknown number of skins were                    pets, stuffed figurines, and leather
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile populations as                      exported illegally in contravention to                 products (fashion accessories) for both
                                                       healthy. Although some local factors                    Mexican law (Plat and Thorbjarnarson                   domestic and international trade.
                                                                                                               2000b, p. 21). Precise estimates of                       Based on CITES annual reports for the
                                                       continue to affect the habitat for
                                                                                                               historical trade from Mexico or                        period 1996–2005, Caldwell (2007, pp.
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile, we have no
                                                                                                               Guatemala were unavailable. Even now,                  6–7) noted relatively low levels of
                                                       information to indicate that these local
                                                                                                               the commercial market for designer                     international legal trade in products
                                                       factors are of sufficient magnitude to
                                                                                                               fashion items made from high quality                   from Mexican captive-breeding
                                                       have a range-wide impact on the species
                                                                                                               crocodile skins, such as leather belts,                operations during 1996–1999 (fewer
                                                       to the point that would cause the
                                                                                                               footwear, wallets, and handbags, is                    than 200 skins/year), but higher levels
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile to meet the
                                                                                                               highly lucrative. For example, a single                during 2000–2005 (2,430 skins in 2001;
                                                       definition of either an endangered or a
                                                                                                               pair of shoes may retail for hundreds of               1,591 skins in 2002; and below 1,000
                                                       threatened species. Therefore, we find
                                                                                                               dollars, a handbag for several thousand                skins per year during the rest of the
                                                       that the present or threatened                                                                                 period). Japan has been the main
                                                                                                               dollars, and a tote bag for tens of
                                                       destruction, modification, or                                                                                  importer of products from Mexican
                                                                                                               thousands of dollars.
                                                       curtailment of its habitat or range is not                                                                     captive-breeding operations, with lesser
                                                       likely to threaten or endanger the                      Legal Trade                                            quantities going to France, Italy, the
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile in the foreseeable                     In 1997, the Government of Mexico                   Republic of Korea, and Spain (Caldwell
                                                       future.                                                 established a system for registering,                  2007, p. 6).
                                                       Factor B. Overutilization for                           supervising, and enforcing Unidad de                      The United Nations Environment
                                                       Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or                                        ´
                                                                                                               Manejo y Administracion (UMAs;                         Programme—World Conservation
                                                       Educational Purposes                                    Conservation Management and                            Monitoring Centre (UNEP–WCMC)
                                                                                                               Administrative Units) for intensive                    manages a trade database on behalf of
                                                       Commercial Harvest (Legal and Illegal

                                                                                                               reproduction of economically valuable                  the CITES Secretariat. Each Party to
                                                       Trade)                                                  natural resources, including the captive               CITES is responsible for compiling
                                                          The Morelet’s crocodile was included                 breeding of Morelet’s crocodiles                       annual reports to the CITES Secretariat
                                                       in Appendix I of CITES on July 1, 1975.                 (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, pp. 3–5).                      regarding their country’s trade in
                                                       Species included in Appendix I are                      Commercial use of Morelet’s crocodiles                 species protected under CITES. UNEP–
                                                       species threatened with extinction that                 in Mexico for domestic trade was                       WCMC enters the data from these
                                                       are or may be affected by trade. CITES                  strictly limited to animals raised in                  annual reports into a trade database,
                                                       prohibits international trade in                        closed-cycle, captive-breeding                         which is used to analyze trade in CITES
                                                       specimens of these species unless the                   operations regulated by the Government                 specimens. Due to the time needed to
                                                       trade is found to be not detrimental to                 of Mexico under the UMA system. For                    compile the data, the most recent year

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00011   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23660                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       for which comprehensive trade statistics                23, 2010. Please see the discussion in                 15 UMAs supported exhibition, seven
                                                       are available is normally two years prior               the Factor D section, Inadequacy of                    had no commercial production, three
                                                       to the current year.                                    Existing Regulatory Mechanisms, for                    contributed to the economic support of
                                                          In general, prior to 2010, international             additional information on the change in                the local community, and one was used
                                                       legal trade consisted of small quantities               CITES designation for the Morelet’s                    for research.
                                                       of unfinished hides/skins or finished                   crocodile.                                                Three of these 19 Mexican captive-
                                                       leather products, exported primarily                       According to the 2010 CITES proposal                breeding operations were also registered
                                                       from Mexico to Japan and European                       to transfer the Morelet’s crocodile to                 with CITES, and could therefore
                                                       countries, as well as biological                        Appendix II, the UNEP–WCMC CITES                       commercially trade Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       specimens destined for research. These                  Trade Database showed that, until 2007,                products internationally, as well as
                                                       countries process the unfinished hides/                 the parts and derivatives of the                       domestically while the species was
                                                       skins into leather products such as belts,              Morelet’s crocodile most commonly                      listed under Appendix I. However, one
                                                       footwear, wallets, and handbags that in                 found in trade were skins, skin pieces                 of these CITES-registered captive
                                                       turn are sold within their own country                  and leather products, although other                   breeding operations contains only six
                                                       or re-exported for sale to other                        products include live specimens, eggs,                 individuals, and is used for exhibition
                                                       countries. Due to the listing status of the             bodies, scales, skulls and shoes were                  purposes. Only two of the three CITES-
                                                       species under the Act, the United States                also traded. The largest exporter                      registered captive breeding operations
                                                       cannot be a commercial destination for                  between 2001 and 2007 was Mexico                       commercially produce enough Morelet’s
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile skins and products.                 (8,498 skins, 750 skin pieces and 1,193                crocodile skins with the annual
                                                       It is currently illegal to import Morelet’s             leather products), followed by Belize                  production potential for international
                                                       crocodile skins and products into the                   with 116 bodies, 766 eggs and 3,124                    trade. These two captive breeding
                                                       United States, unless the import is for                 specimens for scientific purposes                      operations have the potential to produce
                                                       scientific or enhancement purposes.                     (exported to the United States). The                   an estimated 2,500 skins annually for
                                                          In 2010, the Government of Mexico                    major importing countries were Japan                   international trade (CITES 2010a, pp. 7
                                                       submitted a proposal to the 15th                        (6,170 skins), United States (3,124                    and 24, Annex 3). Please see the
                                                       Meeting of the CITES Conference of the                  specimens for scientific purposes), Italy              discussion in the Factor D section,
                                                       Parties (CoP15) to transfer the Morelet’s               (1,219 skins), the Republic of Korea (560              Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory
                                                       crocodile throughout its range to                       skins), France (375 skins) and Spain                   Mechanisms, for additional information
                                                       Appendix II of CITES with a zero quota                  (162 skins) (CITES 2010a, p. 8).                       on the three CITES-registered captive
                                                       for trade in wild specimens because the                    According to the CITES (CITES 2010a)                breeding operations.
                                                       Government of Mexico concluded that                     proposal to transfer the Morelet’s                        There are no captive-breeding
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile no longer met                   crocodile to Appendix II, the national                 facilities in Belize or Guatemala that are
                                                       the criteria for inclusion in Appendix I                harvest of animals from closed-cycle                   providing specimens or skins for trade,
                                                       (CITES 2010a, p. 1). Consistent with a                  operations authorized in Mexico                        either domestically or internationally
                                                       request from Guatemala (CITES 2010a,                    amounts to fewer than 2,000 skins per                  under the CITES captive-breeding
                                                       Annex 4, page 25), the Government of                    year since the year 2000. In the period                exception (CITES 2010c). In Belize,
                                                       Mexico amended their proposal by                        between 2000 and 2009, 119 CITES                       Morelet’s crocodiles are officially
                                                       adding the words ‘‘for commercial                       export permits were issued in Mexico                   protected from commercial harvest.
                                                       purposes’’ after ‘‘with a zero quota for                for a total of 12,276 Morelet’s crocodile              Platt and Thorbjarnarson (2000b) found
                                                       trade in wild specimens’’. In addition,                 skins. However, the total potential                    no evidence of commercial poaching of
                                                       the Government of Guatemala opposed                     production from closed-cycle captive-                  Morelet’s crocodiles for skins or meat in
                                                       the initial CITES proposal to downlist                  breeding operations was about 16,500                   Belize (Platt and Thorbjarnarson 2000b,
                                                       the species throughout its range based                  individuals and approximately 10,000                   p. 27). Reportedly, the species is not
                                                       on the lack of knowledge of the                         skins per year (CITES 2010a, p. 7).                    subject to commercial activities in
                                                       population and population trends in                        We examined the information on                      Guatemala given that Guatemala’s
                                                       Guatemala, threats to the species from                  Mexico’s closed-cycle, captive breeding                         ´               ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Comision Nacional de Areas Protegidas
                                                       deforestation and pollution in                          operations in Annex 3 of the 2010                      (CONAP; National Commission on
                                                       Guatemala, and the possibility of illegal,              CITES proposal. According to the                       Protected Areas, also known as the
                                                       cross-border trade taking place from                    information provided in the Annex,                     Guatemalan National Park Service)
                                                       Guatemala. Because of Guatemala’s                       there were 19 closed-cycle captive-                    prohibits the export and trade in wild
                                                       concerns, Mexico requested that the                     breeding operations registered as UMAs                 specimens of endangered species
                                                       vote be split, with the Mexico and                      for the Morelet’s crocodile in Mexico.                 (CITES 2010a, p. 7).
                                                       Belize populations considered                           Only four of the 19 UMAs had a captive
                                                                                                               population sufficient to support                       Illegal Trade
                                                       separately from the Guatemala’s
                                                       population. The proposal to downlist                    commercial trade, and only two of these                   According to the 2010 CITES proposal
                                                       the Mexico and Belize populations to                    four could support international                       to transfer the Morelet’s crocodile to
                                                       CITES Appendix II with a zero quota for                 commercial trade—both of which were                    Appendix II, the UNEP–WCMC CITES
                                                       wild specimens for commercial                           registered with CITES. As of 2008, the                 Trade Database showed few illegal
                                                       purposes was adopted by consensus.                      captive population in these four UMAs                  movements of parts and derivatives of

                                                       Mexico then withdrew its proposal to                    ranged from 1,237 to 28,673 individuals.               the Morelet’s crocodile between 1975
                                                       downlist the Guatemala population,                      The two UMAs that were not registered                  and 2007 from Mexico, Guatemala, and
                                                       leaving that population in CITES                        with CITES had the potential to produce                Belize, with the United States as the
                                                       Appendix I. As a result, only Morelet’s                 1,100 skins per year for local                         only destination. This suggests that
                                                       crocodiles in Mexico and Belize were                    commercial trade (CITES 2010a, Annex                   there is a very low level of illegal trade
                                                       transferred to CITES Appendix II.                       3, p. 24). The population levels for the               and that it is only with the United
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala                       remaining 15 UMAs were relatively low                  States; however, enforcement actions
                                                       remain in CITES Appendix I (CITES                       by comparison, ranging from six to 576                 are not a required field for CITES
                                                       2010b, p. 1). The new CITES                             individuals. Rather than supporting                    Annual Reports. Unlike the United
                                                       designations became effective on June                   commercial trade, four of the remaining                States, most countries do not specify the

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00012   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                          23661

                                                       action taken on imports. Thus, the fact                 (PROFEPA) has investigated illegal                     annotation, transferring the Morelet’s
                                                       that illegal trade to the United States is              trade in live animals, presumably for the              crocodile to CITES Appendix II
                                                       documented in the WCMC database                         pet trade. A potential illegal market in               precludes the trade of wild specimens
                                                       does not mean that this is the only                     live animals is under analysis, and                    for commercial purposes and therefore
                                                       illegal trade in the species. That said,                would be expected to involve the                       should not create additional pressure on
                                                       between 1982 and 2005, items found to                   Mexican cities of Guadalajara,                         wild populations in any of the range
                                                       have been ‘‘illegally’’ imported to the                 Monterrey, and Mexico City (Mexico                     states, as long as enforcement remains
                                                       United States from Mexico were mainly                   2006, p. 41). Illegal harvest or killing of            effective. As such, international
                                                       leather products (308) and shoes (419                   individuals perceived as threats to                    commercial trade in Morelet’s
                                                       pairs). It is quite possible that these U.S.            humans or livestock cannot be                          crocodiles under CITES is currently
                                                       imports derived from legal operations in                completely precluded, but enforcement                  limited to individuals from captive-
                                                       Mexico, but were precluded from                         of controls on domestic and                            breeding operations only. However,
                                                       import into the U.S. because of the                     international trade severely limit any                 once the Appendix-II status went into
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile’s endangered status                 commercial incentives. PROFEPA                         effect for Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico
                                                       under the Endangered Species Act.                       performs inspections to prevent                        and Belize, international trade of
                                                          Considering the same caveats                         laundering of wild Morelet’s crocodile                 Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico and
                                                       pertaining to WCMC data, there were                     specimens and other illegal activities.                Belize under CITES was no longer
                                                       eight records illegal trade occurring                   There was a declining trend in seizures                limited to facilities that are registered
                                                       from Guatemala (between 1989 and                        of illegal specimens and products                      with the CITES Secretariat pursuant to
                                                       1997), mainly involving pairs of shoes                  during 1998–2007. According to Mexico                  the resolution on registration of
                                                       (27), and one case in Belize, which                     (Mexico 2006, pp. 39–42), 85 specimens                 operations that breed Appendix-I
                                                       involved the export of 31 eggs in 1995.                 were confiscated in 2003, two in 2004,                 animal species for commercial purposes
                                                       Regarding Guatemala, Castaneda-Moya                     80 in 2005, and 14 in 2006 (partial                    (Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15)).
                                                       (1998) stated that illegal capture of the               results). In addition and according to                    According to the Government of
                                                       species continued in the Peten region in                Paola Mosig, Program officer for the                   Mexico’s 2010 CITES proposal, the
                                                       that year. However, he admitted that the                TRAFFIC World Wildlife Fund in                         current level of international trade in
                                                       volume of such activity had decreased                   Mexico, 20 seizures with a total of 48                 the Morelet’s crocodile is around 8,600
                                                       compared to the situation 25 years                      live specimens, as well as 25 belts and                individuals in 10 years (an average of
                                                       before (CITES 2010a, p. 8).                             two wallets were confiscated in 2007                   860 individuals per year). The Morelet’s
                                                          Recent data available on illegal trade               (Mosig 2008, pers. comm.) According to                 crocodile represents only a small
                                                       in the Morelet’s crocodile between 1975                 TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade                            fraction of the global trade in
                                                       and 2007 showed that the United States                  Monitoring Network, these seizures are                 crocodilians, far behind the market
                                                       reported illegal imports (UNEP–WCMC                     indicative of a strong enforcement                     leaders: brown spectacled caiman
                                                       CITES Trade Database 2010a). The data                   program that deters illegal trade (Mosig               (Caiman crocodilus fuscus), American
                                                       on illegal imports are based on the                     2008, pers. comm.).                                    alligator (Alligator mississippiensis),
                                                       numbers of items that were seized and                                                                          and Nile crocodile (Crocodilus
                                                       confiscated by law enforcement                          Current Trade                                          niloticus). Current trends in
                                                       personnel in both the United States and                    In accordance with Article II,                      international trade do not indicate a
                                                       in other countries. This information is                 paragraph 2(a) of CITES, and CITES                     threat to the Morelet’s crocodile in the
                                                       not included in CITES annual reports                    Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev CoP14)                      wild (CITES 2010a, p. 8). In addition,
                                                       for each country; the United States is                  Annex 1, the Government of Mexico                      the Government of Mexico’s proposal to
                                                       the exception. The majority of the illegal              submitted a proposal (CoP15 Prop.8) to                 move the Morelet’s crocodile to CITES
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile parts and                           the CoP15 to transfer the Morelet’s                    Appendix II allows only individuals
                                                       derivatives confiscated upon arrival into               crocodile throughout its range to                      from sources other than wild
                                                       the United States between 1975 and                      Appendix II of CITES with an                           populations to be exported and this
                                                       2007 came from Mexico (20 skins, 28                     annotation requiring a zero quota for                  provision remains in effect with the zero
                                                       handbags, 243 leather items, 419 pairs                  wild specimens that was further                        quota for wild specimens traded for
                                                       of shoes, 3 watch straps, 9 bodies, 10                  amended by adding the phrase, ‘‘for                    commercial purposes. The risk of
                                                       garments, 2 live animals, and 65 small                  commercial purposes’’ (CITES 2010a, p.                 laundering of wild specimens through
                                                       leather products). Again, these items                   1). The Government of Guatemala                        farms is very low, because the quality of
                                                       could have come from legal operations                   opposed Mexico’s CITES proposal as it                  skins produced in captivity is much
                                                       in Mexico, but were a violation at the                  pertains to the species in Guatemala,                  higher than wild-caught skins, and
                                                       time under the Act due to the Morelet’s                 based on the limited knowledge of the                  demand in international trade focuses
                                                       crocodile’s endangered status. A                        population and population trends in                    on high quality skins (CITES 2010a, pp.
                                                       significantly smaller number of illegal                 Guatemala; the threats to the species                  8, 23). It should be noted that there are
                                                       items originated from Guatemala (1                      from deforestation and pollution in                    a number of CITES-recognized
                                                       skin, 2 handbags, 1 leather item, 27                    Guatemala; and the possibilities of                    production methods that are not ‘‘wild’’
                                                       pairs of shoes, and 1 body) and Belize                  illegal, cross-border trade taking place               and not ‘‘bred in captivity.’’ Mexico or
                                                       (31 eggs). The majority of the illegal                  from Guatemala to Mexico. As a result,                 any other country is free to propose a

                                                       trade reportedly began in 1985, but                     the parties to CITES agreed that                       change to the annotation at the next CoP
                                                       began to decline steadily starting in                   Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico and                     removing this limitation. However,
                                                       2000. Between 2005 and 2007, there                      Belize should be transferred to CITES                  there is no indication at this time that
                                                       were only several reported illegal                      Appendix II but that Morelet’s                         a change is imminent.
                                                       imports of Morelet’s crocodile into the                 crocodiles in Guatemala remain in                         To see if our results would be
                                                       United States, and these were small                     CITES Appendix I. (CITES 2010b, p. 2).                 comparable to Mexico’s assessment, we
                                                       leather products from Mexico (UNEP–                     The change in CITES status for                         queried the UNEP–WCMC CITES Trade
                                                       WCMC CITES Trade Database 2010b).                       Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico and                     Database for the number of Morelet’s
                                                          The Government of Mexico’s Federal                   Belize became effective on June 23,                    crocodile skins legally exported
                                                       Prosecutor for Environmental Protection                 2010. Because of the zero quota                        between 1998 and 2008 and found

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00013   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23662                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       similar results for the current level of                132). Hunting and harvest techniques                   2002–2007 (ARCAS 2002, p. 3; 2003, p.
                                                       legal trade cited above by the                          were based on traditional knowledge by                 2; 2004, p. 2; 2005, p. 2; 2006, p. 3;
                                                       Government of Mexico. According to                      these people of the behavior and                       2007, p. 3). We do not have any
                                                       the UNEP–WCMC CITES Trade                               ecology of the Morelet’s crocodile                     information describing the effect of
                                                       Database, Mexico exported 8,780 skins                          ˜    ´
                                                                                                               (Cedeno-Vazquez and Zamudio Acedo                      these threats on the status of wild
                                                       between 1998 and 2008, an average of                    2005, pp. 8–9). More recently (1965–                   populations in Guatemala.
                                                       878 skins per year (UNEP–WCMC                           1980), and in response to a demand by                     Although subsistence harvest
                                                       CITES Trade Database 2010b). Two of                     outside buyers/businessmen, Maya                       continues to affect negatively some local
                                                       the previously CITES-registered captive                 hunters harvested large quantities of                  populations of the Morelet’s crocodile,
                                                       breeding operations in Mexico have the                  hides for commercial purposes, but that                the impacts appear to be very small. We
                                                       potential to produce 2,500 skins per                    activity now has largely been                          have no evidence that subsistence
                                                       year for international trade (CITES                     discontinued (Zamudio et al. 2004, p.                  harvest is currently or anticipated to
                                                       2010a, Annex 3, p. 24), which is more                   344).                                                  affect significantly the Morelet’s
                                                       than adequate to meet the current                         Indigenous and nonindigenous people                  crocodile throughout its range. The
                                                       demand for legal trade of less than 900                 in Belize, generally poor farmers, also                current range-wide distribution of the
                                                       skins per year. If this proposed rule is                engaged in large-scale, commercial                     Morelet’s crocodile closely mirrors the
                                                       finalized, then Morelet’s crocodile                     harvest of hides during the previous                   historical range-wide distribution, with
                                                       products would be able to be imported                   century, but that practice was primarily               a total population size of approximately
                                                       into the United States and the demand                   based on economic instead of cultural                  19,400 adults in the three range
                                                       for international trade may increase.                   reasons (Hope and Abercrombie 1986, p.                 countries.
                                                       However, we do not believe this                         146). Abercrombie et al. (1982, p. 19)
                                                                                                                                                                      Scientific Research
                                                       potential increase in international trade               made a distinction between master
                                                       is likely to threaten or endanger wild                  hunters in Belize, generally older men                    Scientific research in and of itself also
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles due to the adequate                who made extensive forays into the                     constitutes a use of the Morelet’s
                                                       supply of captive-bred individuals in                   forest in search of specific game species,             crocodile. Research in the three range
                                                       Mexico available for legal international                and part-time hunters, generally                       countries has mainly focused on field
                                                       commercial trade under CITES.                           younger men who made short-term,                       surveys for the occurrence of the
                                                          Besides CITES and the Act, no other                  opportunistic outings and often                        species, relative to abundance and
                                                       international measures control the                      harvested Morelet’s crocodiles. Among                  habitat quality, which do not require
                                                       cross-border movement of the Morelet’s                  other uses, the Morelet’s crocodile also               removal of specimens. Research
                                                       crocodile (CITES 2010a, p. 10). If this                 has important roles in indigenous art,                 protocols followed so far have been
                                                       proposed rule is finalized and the                      medicine, and religion (Stocker and                    those accepted worldwide and do not
                                                       prohibitions of the Act are removed,                    Armsey, 1980, p. 740; Cupul-Magana   ˜                 involve significant alteration of habitat
                                                       then Morelet’s crocodile parts and                      2003, pp. 45–48), and is used locally for              or behavior (CITES 2010a, p. 7). Several
                                                       products could be imported into the                     handicrafts, jewelry, decorations, and                 scientific research projects on the
                                                       United States for commercial purposes,                  curios (BERDS 2005a, p. 1).                            Morelet’s crocodile have focused on
                                                       provided they do not originate in                         Meerman et al. (2003a, p. 49) noted a                field surveys that involve capture,
                                                       Guatemala. However, cross-border                        relative scarcity of fish and fish                     handling, or invasive techniques to
                                                       movement of the Morelet’s crocodile                     predators such as crocodiles in the                    identify, for example, the species, sex,
                                                       throughout its range would still be                     Sarstoon Temash National Park in                       or size class of the specimen, as well as
                                                       regulated through CITES (Appendix II                    Belize. They suspected that fish                       to collect biological specimens or to
                                                       for Mexico and Belize; Appendix I in                    populations are depressed, and that                    attach an identification tag. If conducted
                                                       Guatemala).                                             over-fishing by humans must play a                     according to standard protocols, these
                                                                                                               role. People engaged in fishing along the              physical activities pose little risk of
                                                       Subsistence Harvest                                     Upper Temash River also annually                       injury or disturbance to the subject
                                                         The overharvest for commercial                        collect Morelet’s crocodile eggs from                  crocodiles. Several studies have also
                                                       purposes, rather than subsistence                       nests located along water channels for                 entailed, for example, night surveys
                                                       harvest, was the primary reason for the                 human consumption. In some years, one                                                   ˜
                                                                                                                                                                      using bright spotlights (Castaneda Moya
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile listing under the Act               or more nests escape discovery so the                  et al. 2000, p. 62), stomach flushing
                                                       and under CITES. Although subsistence                   eggs are not collected. As a result, baby              (Platt et al. 2006, p. 282), collection of
                                                       harvest has historically had an impact                  crocodiles are subsequently seen that                  small blood samples (Dever et al. 2002,
                                                       on some local populations of Morelet’s                  year. Heavy fishing also reduces the                   p. 1079), or the gathering of nonviable
                                                       crocodiles, these impacts have                          potential prey base for the Morelet’s                  eggs from nests for contaminants
                                                       diminished over time and do not                         crocodile. The heavy predation on eggs                 analyses (Rainwater et al. 2002a, p.
                                                       currently have a significant impact on                  together with the depletion of the                     320). None of these studies has cited
                                                       the species as a whole.                                 Morelet’s crocodile’s prey base may be                 any negative effects due to handling or
                                                         Indigenous cultures in Mexico, Belize,                responsible for the low crocodile count                observation on the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       and Guatemala have a long history of                    along the river (Meerman et al. 2003a,                 populations.
                                                       using the Morelet’s crocodile for                       pp. 42, 45).                                              All three range countries regulate

                                                       subsistence and cultural purposes                                ˜
                                                                                                                 Castaneda Moya (1998a, p. 521;                       scientific research and collection.
                                                       (Maimone Celorio et al. 2006, pp. 40–                   1998b, p. 13) listed illegal hunting as a              According to the UNEP–WCMC CITES
                                                       43; Zamudio 2006, pp. 5–8; Mendez-                      threat to Morelet’s crocodile in the                   Trade Database, 3,124 specimens were
                                                       Cabrera and Montiel 2007, p. 132).                          ´
                                                                                                               Peten region of Guatemala, but did not                 exported for scientific purposes from
                                                       Historically, the Maya Indians in                       provide a numerical estimate of the                    Mexico to the United States. From an
                                                       Mexico consumed small quantities of                     take. ARCAS, an animal welfare group                   administrative standpoint, a permit at
                                                       the eggs and meat of the Morelet’s                      in Guatemala, reported the rescue or                   the state or Federal level regulates the
                                                       crocodile (Maimone Celorio et al. 2006,                 recovery of 49 live individuals (about 8               collection of biological samples for
                                                       pp. 40–43; Zamudio 2006, pp. 5–8;                       per year), most likely from pet dealers                scientific purposes in Mexico. In
                                                       Mendez-Cabrera and Montiel 2007, p.                     or private individuals, during the period              Mexico, the Mexican Endangered

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00014   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23663

                                                       Species List (NOM–126–SEMARNAT–                         Summary of Factor B                                    recreational, scientific, or educational
                                                       2000) regulates the collection of                          Thus, while uncontrolled commercial                 purposes is not a significant factor
                                                       biological samples from wild species for                harvests nearly extirpated the Morelet’s               affecting the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       scientific use. In addition, the                        crocodile, the species has largely                     throughout its range, both now and for
                                                       Governments of Belize and Guatemala                     recovered because of being protected                   the foreseeable future.
                                                       regulate scientific collection and                      under CITES and the Act in the early                   Factor C. Disease or Predation
                                                       research. In Belize, this type of export                1970s, as well as the implementation of                   Inter-specific interactions, namely
                                                       is subject to strict protocols and                      CITES trade controls by all three range                disease and predation, can have
                                                       provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act               countries. All of the range countries                  significant impacts on the conservation
                                                       (CITES 2010a, p. 7).                                    currently continue to prohibit harvest of              status of a species. At the time the
                                                          With the Appendix-II designation for                 wild Morelet’s crocodiles.                             petition was submitted, disease was not
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico and                         Illegal international and domestic                  considered a significant conservation
                                                       Belize, individuals or institutions                     trade still occurs, but levels remain low.             threat to the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                       wishing to import scientific samples                    Any incidence of illegal killing that may              However, the West Nile Virus (WNV)
                                                       originating from those countries will no                have occurred has not prevented the                    has been detected in several Mexican
                                                       longer be required to obtain a CITES                    observed population increase of the                    populations of the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                       import permit. However, the CITES                       species. The potential remains for illegal                                 ´
                                                                                                                                                                      According to Farfan-Ale et al. (2006, pp.
                                                       import permit requirement would still                   cross-border trade, as well as the                     910–911), six specimens tested negative
                                                       be in effect for Guatemala and CITES                    laundering of wild specimens through                                            ´
                                                                                                                                                                      to the WNV at the Merida Zoo, Yucatan
                                                       export permits or re-export certificates,               existing captive-breeding operations in                State, Mexico, during 2003–2004, while
                                                                                                               Mexico, but enforcement in Mexico is                   six of seven specimens tested positive to
                                                       regardless of the country of origin,
                                                                                                               relatively strict. Given the increased                 the WNV at Ciudad del Carmen,
                                                       would be required. The elimination of
                                                                                                               effectiveness of law enforcement                       Campeche State, Mexico, in 2004. All
                                                       import permits, while continuing the
                                                                                                               personnel with regard to the                           crocodiles, including those not sampled,
                                                       CITES requirement for export permits
                                                                                                               implementation of CITES, the increased                 showed no signs of illness at the time
                                                       and re-export certificates, may result in
                                                                                                               supply of captive-bred Morelet’s                       of the testing or during the 3 months
                                                       additional scientific collecting and                    crocodiles in Mexico that are now
                                                       research to benefit the species while                                                                                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                      that followed (Farfan-Ale et al. (2006, p.
                                                                                                               available for commercial trade as a                    911).
                                                       ensuring that adequate protections for                  result of the Morelet’s crocodile’s                       In a separate survey conducted during
                                                       the species remain in place (see the                    transfer to CITES Appendix II, and the                                                    ´
                                                                                                                                                                      May–October 2005, Hidalgo-Martınez et
                                                       Factor D section, Inadequacy of Existing                increasing awareness of these                          al. (2008, p. 80) detected the WNV in six
                                                       Regulatory Mechanisms, below).                          regulations by the public, we anticipate               of seven Morelet’s crocodiles at
                                                          In conclusion, we are not aware of                   that illegal trade in wild Morelet’s                         ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Zoologico La Venta, Villahermosa,
                                                       any evidence that utilization of the                    crocodiles will decrease in the majority               Tabasco State, Mexico. All animals were
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile for scientific                      of the species’ range in the foreseeable               healthy at the time of serum collection,
                                                       research purposes poses anything more                   future.                                                and none had a history of WNV-like
                                                       than a low risk to the subject                             The Government of Mexico’s Federal                  illness. The presence of WNV antibodies
                                                       individuals; furthermore, risks at the                  Prosecutor for Environmental Protection                in animals from those zoos
                                                       population level are probably negligible.               (PROFEPA) performs inspections to                      demonstrated the presence of WNV in
                                                       To the contrary, these studies (surveys                 prevent laundering of wild Morelet’s                   those regions and indicated a potential
                                                       and sampling) provide useful                            crocodile specimens and other illegal                  risk of infection in animals. The
                                                       information essential to monitoring the                 activities. In Belize, the importation and             magnitude of that potential risk,
                                                       status and continued health of                          exportation of wildlife requires a permit              however, has not been determined. West
                                                       individuals as well as populations.                     and is subject to strict protocols and                 Nile Virus was responsible for a
                                                       These studies also allow ecotourists in                 provisions of the Wildlife Protection                  significant number of deaths of farmed
                                                       these countries to work with the                        Act, Hunting of Scheduled species for                  American alligators in the U.S. State of
                                                       scientific community in the collection                  scientific or educational purposes in                  Georgia during separate outbreaks in
                                                       of Morelet’s crocodile data (Volunteers                 Belize also requires a permit. There was                                       ´
                                                                                                                                                                      2001 and 2002 (Farfan-Ale et al. 2006,
                                                       for International Partnership 2009, pp.                 a declining trend in seizures of illegal               p. 908). However, we do not have any
                                                       1–4.) This provides ecotourists with an                 specimens and products from 1998–                      information to indicate that WNV
                                                       opportunity to observe the Morelet’s                    2007. According to TRAFFIC, these                      causes illness in the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                       crocodile in its native habitat and to                  seizures are indicative of a strong                    The sample sizes in the above studies
                                                       gain firsthand knowledge about the                      enforcement program that deters illegal                on Morelet’s crocodile were small, so
                                                       conservation threats that the species is                trade (Mosig 2008, pers. comm.).                       much larger studies are needed.
                                                                                                                  Other uses such as scientific research              However, the best available information
                                                                                                               are either benign or involve relatively                does not suggest that WNV is a threat or
                                                       Ranching                                                small numbers of Morelet’s crocodiles.                 likely to become a threat.
                                                                                                               In addition and given the steps that the                  Predation on Morelet’s crocodile eggs
                                                         Although the Belize-Guatemala-

                                                                                                               Government of Mexico is taking                         and juveniles is a common natural
                                                       Mexico Tri-national Strategy for the                    internally to promote the sustainable                  phenomenon, posing no risk to healthy
                                                       Conservation and Sustainable Use of                     commercial use of Morelet’s crocodiles,                populations. They are preyed upon
                                                       Morelet’s Crocodile (see the Post-                      we anticipate that commercial uses will                more frequently at the juvenile stage by
                                                       Delisting Monitoring section, below)                    increase in the foreseeable future,                    many birds and medium-sized
                                                       includes long-term plans for ranching,                  especially in Mexico, but that captive-                mammals (CITES 2010a, p. 4). Larger
                                                       none of the range countries have given                  bred specimens will be used instead of                 juveniles and subadults are less
                                                       any indication they plan to ranch                       wild individuals.                                      susceptible than small juveniles are to
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles within the                            In conclusion, we find that the                     predation, and only large carnivores
                                                       foreseeable future.                                     overutilization for commercial,                        such as jaguars (Panthera onca)

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00015   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23664                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       (Navarro Serment 2004, p. 57) pose a                    variables were used to characterize the                membership, with now 175 Parties
                                                       risk to adult crocodiles. Larger Morelet’s              health of the animals. Captive Morelet’s               (
                                                       crocodiles may prey upon the juveniles                  crocodiles evaluated for that study                       CITES works by subjecting
                                                       of their species. However, this tends to                presented significantly more injuries                  international trade in specimens of
                                                       act as an early factor promoting                        than did wild individuals. Parasitism                  selected species to certain controls.
                                                       population regulation and adult                         with nematodes (Paratrichosoma                         Trade includes any movement into or
                                                       spacing. Aggressive interactions among                  recurvum) was greater in wild                          out of a country and is not limited to
                                                       adults seem to be reduced by this                       crocodiles than in captive individuals.                commercial movement. All import,
                                                       mechanism, especially in populations                    No serious health issues were identified               export, re-export, and ‘‘introduction
                                                       with too many adults. In populations                    in individuals in either group (Padilla                from the sea’’ of species covered by the
                                                       with a steady state of age distribution,                Paz 2008, pp. 67–68).                                  Convention have to be authorized
                                                       cannibalism usually remains at a                          Individual Morelet’s crocodiles can                  through a permitting system. The
                                                       minimum (CONABIO 2005, p. 29). We                       also have physical issues that can affect              species covered by CITES are listed in
                                                       are unaware of any unnatural rates of                   their well-being. Rainwater et al.                     three Appendices, according to the
                                                       predation affecting any age class of                    (2001b, pp. 125–127) reported two                      degree of protection they need (CITES
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile, and we have no                     individuals among 642 Morelet’s                        2009c).
                                                       indication that predation will                          crocodiles captured in Belize with a                      Appendix I include species
                                                       exacerbate other threats to the species in              missing forelimb. Known in the                         threatened with extinction that are or
                                                       the future.                                             technical literature as ectromelia, this               may be affected by trade. Trade in
                                                          Other interspecific interactions can                 condition was probably the result of                   specimens of these species is permitted
                                                       also affect the conservation status of a                congenital defects and not due to an                   only in exceptional circumstances.
                                                       species. The Morelet’s crocodile and the                injury. Both individuals otherwise                     Appendix II includes species not
                                                       American crocodile co-occur and may                     appeared to be in good condition.                      necessarily threatened with extinction,
                                                       compete with each other for resources                                                                          but in which trade must be controlled
                                                       along the freshwater-saltwater interface                Summary of Factor C                                    in order to avoid utilization
                                                       in coastal Mexico and Belize. Platt and                   While the full impact of the WNV on                  incompatible with their survival.
                                                       Thorbjarnarson (2000a, p. 16; 2000b, pp.                the Morelet’s crocodile has yet to be                  Appendix III includes species that have
                                                       24–26) reported relatively higher                       determined, there is no indication at                  been unilaterally listed by a Party to
                                                       frequency of encounter rates for the                    present that WNV poses a threat to the                 assist in the implementation of the
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile at alluvial and                     species, and other interspecific                       listing Party’s national legislation to
                                                       nonalluvial lagoons, mangrove forest,                   interactions do not appear to be                       conserve and monitor trade in the listed
                                                       and rivers and creeks, collectively                     adversely affecting the Morelet’s                      species. The Conference of the Parties
                                                       characterized as inland sites, while the                crocodile. In conclusion, we find that                 (CoP), which is the decision-making
                                                       American crocodile was relatively more                  disease or predation is not a significant              body of the Convention and comprises
                                                       abundant in offshore cays and the                       factor affecting the Morelet’s crocodile               all its member countries, has agreed on
                                                       Turneffe Atoll. These differences were                  throughout its range, both now and for                 a set of biological and trade criteria to
                                                       attributed to the smaller body size of the              the foreseeable future.                                help determine whether a species
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile, as well as past                                                                           should be included in Appendices I or
                                                       exploitation patterns by hunters and                    Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing                       II (Since Appendix-III listings are a
                                                       subsequent niche expansion by this                      Regulatory Mechanisms                                  unilateral decision, Parties do not need
                                                       species (Platt and Thorbjarnarson                       Convention on International Trade in                   to abide by the same biological and
                                                       2000b, p. 26). There was no indication,                 Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and                   trade criteria adopted by the Parties.). At
                                                       however, that interspecific competition                 Flora                                                  each regular meeting of the CoP, Parties
                                                       between the Morelet’s and the American                                                                         submit proposals based on those criteria
                                                       crocodiles was a serious conservation                       The Convention on International                    to amend these two Appendices to add,
                                                       problem.                                                Trade in Endangered Species of Wild                    remove, or reclassify species (such as
                                                          Parasites have been also reported for                Fauna and Flora (CITES, the                            the Government of Mexico’s 2010
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile, but have not                   Convention, or Treaty) is an                           proposal to transfer the Morelet’s
                                                       been identified as a conservation threat.               international agreement between                        crocodile from Appendix I to Appendix
                                                       In Mexico, trematodes (parasitic                        member governments to ensure that the                  II). Parties discuss these amendment
                                                       flatworms commonly called flukes) and                   international trade in plants and                      proposals during the CoP, and then they
                                                       nematodes (unsegmented worms                            wildlife does not threaten the species’                are submitted for adoption by the
                                                       commonly called roundworms) have                        survival. It provides varying degrees of               Parties (
                                                       been reported (Moravec and Vargas-                      protection to more than 30,000 species                    A specimen of a CITES-listed species
                                                       Vazquez 1998, p. 499; Moravec 2001, p.                  of animals and plants, whether they are                may be imported into or exported (or re-
                                                       47) from the Yucatan Peninsula, but                     traded as live specimens, parts or                     exported) from a Party only if the
                                                       health problems with the crocodile                      products. Countries that have agreed to                appropriate permit or certificate has
                                                       hosts were not noted. Rainwater et al.                  be bound by the Convention (that have                  been obtained prior to the international
                                                       (2001a, p. 836) reported ticks                          ‘‘joined’’ CITES) are known as Parties.                trade and presented for clearance at the

                                                       (Amblyomma dissimile and                                Although CITES is legally binding on                   port of entry or exit.
                                                       Amblyomma sp.), but noted that                          the Parties, it does not take the place of
                                                       parasitism by ticks on the Morelet’s                    national laws. Rather, it provides a                   Regulation of Trade in Appendix-I
                                                       crocodile was rare in Belize and                        framework to be respected by each                      Specimens
                                                       elsewhere.                                              Party, which has to adopt its own                        Both an export permit or re-export
                                                          Padilla Paz (2008, p. vi) characterized              domestic legislation to ensure that                    certificate must be issued by the country
                                                       hematology, body index, and external                    CITES is implemented at the national                   of export and an import permit from the
                                                       injuries for 103 Morelet’s crocodiles                   level. For many years, CITES has been                  country of import must be obtained
                                                       from the northern wetlands of                           among the international conservation                   prior to international trade for
                                                       Campeche State, Mexico. These                           agreements with the largest                            Appendix-I species. An export permit

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00016   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                            23665

                                                       may only be issued if the country of                      Parties to CITES are required to                     the species’’ (CITES 2007b, pp. 1–2).
                                                       export determines that the export will                  monitor both the export permits granted                Under the exception in the Treaty and
                                                       not be detrimental to the survival of the               and the actual exports for Appendix II                 Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15),
                                                       species, the specimen was legally                       species. If a Party determines that the                specimens of Appendix-I species
                                                       obtained according to the animal and                    export of an Appendix-II species should                originating from CITES-registered
                                                       plant protection laws in the country of                 be limited in order to maintain that                   captive-breeding operations can be
                                                       export, live animals or plants are                      species throughout its range at a level                traded for commercial purposes, and
                                                       prepared and shipped for export to                      consistent with its role in the                        shipments only need to be accompanied
                                                       minimize any risk of injury, damage to                  ecosystems in which it occurs and well                 by an export permit issued by the
                                                       health, or cruel treatment, and an                      above the level at which the species                   exporting country. The importer is not
                                                       import permit has been granted by the                   might become eligible for inclusion as                 required to obtain an import permit
                                                       importing country. Likewise, the                        an Appendix-I species, then that Party                 because these specimens are treated as
                                                       requirements for a re-export certificate                must take suitable measures to limit the               CITES Appendix II. Countries that are
                                                       are that the country of re-export                       number of export permits granted for                   Parties to CITES should restrict their
                                                       determines that the specimen was                        that species (CITES article IV, paragraph              imports of Appendix-I captive-bred
                                                       imported into their country in                          3).                                                    specimens to those coming only from
                                                       accordance with CITES, that live                                                                               CITES-registered operations. Additional
                                                                                                               CITES Registered Captive-Breeding
                                                       animals or plants are prepared and                                                                             information on CITES-registered
                                                       shipped for re-export to minimize any                                                                          operations can be found on the CITES
                                                       risk of injury, damage to health, or cruel                 Prior to the Morelet’s crocodile in                 Web site at
                                                       treatment, and an import permit has                     Mexico and Belize being downlisted to                  resources/registers.shtml.
                                                       been granted.                                           Appendix II, it could be treated as an                    Prior to the downlisting of the species
                                                          Issuance of import permits for                       Appendix II species and internationally                in Mexico and Belize, three CITES-
                                                       Appendix-I species will also need a                     traded commercially only if the                        registered operations for Morelet’s
                                                       determination from the country of                       specimen originated from a captive-                    crocodiles were located in Mexico.
                                                       import that the import will not be for                  breeding operation registered with the                 These facilities, while no longer
                                                       purposes that are detrimental to the                    CITES Secretariat in accordance with                   registered with the CITES Secretariat,
                                                       survival of the species, the proposed                   CITES Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev.                     are still in operation (CITES 2010a, p.
                                                       recipient of live animals or plants is                  CoP15) ‘‘Guidelines for a procedure to                 24, Annex 3). The names of these
                                                       suitably equipped to house and care for                 register and monitor operations that                   operations are:
                                                       them, and the purpose of the import is                  breed Appendix-I animal species for                       (1) Cocodrilos Mexicanos (established
                                                       not for primarily commercial purposes.                  commercial purposes.’’ These captive-                  in 1989; (former) registration number A–
                                                       Thus, with few exceptions, Appendix-I                   breeding operations may only be                        MX–501) in Culiacan, Sinaloa State. In
                                                       species cannot be traded for commercial                 registered if specimens produced by that               2008, this operation contained 28,673
                                                       purposes.                                               operation qualify as ‘bred in captivity’               captive Morelet’s crocodiles for
                                                                                                               according to the provisions of                         commercial production (CITES 2010a,
                                                       Regulation of Trade in Appendix-II                      Resolution Conf. 10.16 (Rev.). To qualify              p. 24, Annex 3).
                                                       Specimens                                               as bred in captivity, specimens must be                   (2) Industrias Moreletii (established in
                                                          In contrast to the trade requirements                born in a controlled environment where                 1993; (former) registration number A–
                                                       for an Appendix-I species, CITES does                   the parents mated. In addition, breeding               MX–502) in Villahermosa, Tabasco
                                                       not require an import permit from the                   stock must be established in accordance                State. In 2008, this operation contained
                                                       destination country as a condition for                  with the provisions of CITES and                       1,237 captive Morelet’s crocodiles for
                                                       the export and re-export of an                          relevant national laws and in a manner                 commercial production (CITES 2010a,
                                                       Appendix-II species, unless it is                       not detrimental to the survival of the                 p. 24, Annex 3).
                                                       required by the destination country’s                   species in the wild. Breeding stock must                  (3) Cocodrilos de Chiapas (established
                                                       national law. However, an export permit                 also be maintained without the                         in 1989; (former) registration number A–
                                                       or re-export certificate is required from               introduction of specimens from the                     MX–503) in Tapachula, Chiapas State.
                                                       the exporting country prior to the                      wild, except for the occasional addition               In 2008, this operation contained six
                                                       international trade taking place. An                    of animals, eggs or gametes meeting                    captive Morelet’s crocodiles for
                                                       export permit may only be issued for                    certain requirements. The breeding                     exhibition purposes (CITES 2010a, p.
                                                       Appendix-II species if the country of                   stock must have produced offspring of                  24, Annex 3).
                                                       export determines that: (1) The export                  second generation (F2) in a controlled                    When the CITES Appendix-II
                                                       will not be detrimental to the survival                 environment or be able to demonstrate                  designation became effective on June 23,
                                                       of the species; (2) the specimen was                    that it is capable of reliably producing               2010, for Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico
                                                       legally obtained according to the animal                second-generation offspring in a                       and Belize, commercial international
                                                       and plant protection laws in the country                controlled environment. Resolution                     trade in captive Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       of export; and (3) live animals or plants               Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15) defines the                   was no longer limited to crocodiles
                                                       are prepared and shipped for export to                  term ‘‘bred in captivity for commercial                originating from the three operations
                                                       minimize any risk of injury, damage to                  purposes’’ as ‘‘any specimen of an                     that were registered with the CITES

                                                       health, or cruel treatment.                             animal bred to obtain economic benefit,                Secretariat. However, with the
                                                          A re-export certificate may only be                  including profit, whether in cash or                   annotated listing, no export of wild-
                                                       issued for Appendix-II species if the                   kind where the purpose is directed                     caught specimens for commercial
                                                       country of re-export determines that: (1)               toward sale, exchange, or provision of a               purposes is allowed. Thus, any
                                                       The specimen was imported into their                    service or any other form of economic                  commercial export will continue to
                                                       country in accordance with CITES and                    use or benefit’’. Countries operating                  come from sources other than wild
                                                       (2) live animals or plants are prepared                 CITES-registered operations must                       populations. There are currently 19
                                                       and shipped for re-export to minimize                   ensure that the operation ‘‘will make a                closed-cycle captive-breeding
                                                       any risk of injury, damage to health, or                continuing meaningful contribution                     operations registered with the
                                                       cruel treatment.                                        according to the conservation needs of                 Government of Mexico as UMAs for the

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00017   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23666                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       production of Morelet’s crocodile in                    Mexico’s Proposal To Transfer the                      population of Morelet’s crocodile in
                                                       Mexico. Under Mexican law, UMAs                         Morelet’s Crocodile to CITES Appendix                  captive-breeding operations to
                                                       registered with the Government of                       II                                                     Appendix II, with a zero quota for wild
                                                       Mexico must be closed-cycle and prove                      At the 2008 CITES Animals                           specimens traded for commercial
                                                       that they can produce individuals                       Committee meeting, the Government of                   purposes. In a letter from Guatemala’s
                                                       beyond the F2 generation (UMAs are                      Mexico submitted for comment and                       Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas to
                                                       described more fully below). Only four                  review a draft proposal to transfer                    the Ambassador of Mexico dated 5 June
                                                       of the 19 UMAs have a captive                           Mexico’s population of Morelet’s                       2009 (CITES 2010a, Annex 4, p. 25), the
                                                       population sufficiently large to support                crocodile from Appendix I to Appendix                  Government of Guatemala indicated that
                                                       commercial trade, and only two of these                 II based on Mexico’s belief that the                   it did not support the Government of
                                                       four UMAs currently support                             Morelet’s crocodile no longer met the                  Mexico’s 2010 CITES proposal as
                                                       international commercial trade—                         criteria for inclusion in Appendix I                   written. They recommended verifying
                                                       (Cocodrilos Mexicanos and Industrias                    (CITES 2008a, pp. 1–28; CITES 2008a, p.                that moving captive Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       Moreletii) (CITES 2010a, Annex 3, p.                                                                           in Mexico to Appendix II would not put
                                                                                                               32). Committee members were generally
                                                       24). Importing Morelet’s crocodiles from                                                                       wild Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico at
                                                                                                               favorable of the proposal, but had
                                                       Mexican captive-breeding operations no                                                                         risk. They supported Mexico’s transfer
                                                                                                               several technical questions and
                                                       longer requires a CITES import permit                                                                          of captive-bred populations of Morelet’s
                                                                                                               suggestions. The Government of Mexico
                                                       because a CITES import permit is not                                                                           crocodiles from Appendix I to
                                                                                                               subsequently revised their 2008
                                                       required for Appendix II species.                                                                              Appendix II provided the parties ensure
                                                                                                               proposal and formally submitted a 2010
                                                       However, a CITES export permit or re-                                                                          the following:
                                                                                                               CITES proposal for consideration at
                                                       export certificate is still required.                                                                             • They verify that wild populations of
                                                                                                               CoP15, held in March 2010 in Doha,
                                                       Although the two remaining UMAs                                                                                Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico will not
                                                                                                               Qatar (Government of Mexico 2010).
                                                       capable of supporting trade (Cacahuatal                                                                        be at risk as they are moved from
                                                       in Veracruz State and Punta del Este in                 The 2010 proposal was to transfer the
                                                                                                               Morelet’s crocodile throughout its range               Appendix I to II;
                                                       Campeche State) currently do not                                                                                  • If Mexico’s proposal at CoP15 is
                                                       contain enough Morelet’s crocodiles to                  to Appendix II (CoP15 Prop. 8). The
                                                                                                               CITES Secretariat reviewed the proposal                approved, then measures should be put
                                                       support international commercial trade,                                                                        in place for strict monitoring and
                                                       they do have enough potential annual                    and agreed that the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                                                                               no longer met the biological criteria for              enforcement on the Mexico-Guatemala
                                                       production to produce enough skins to                                                                          border;
                                                       support local commercial trade (CITES                   an Appendix-I species and
                                                                                                               recommended that the proposal be                          • That the marking of live animals be
                                                       2010a, Annex 3, p. 24).                                                                                        done by methods that cannot be falsified
                                                          Since the Morelet’s crocodile in                     adopted.
                                                                                                                  The Government of Mexico’s 2010                     and that skins be tagged in accordance
                                                       Guatemala is listed as an Appendix-I
                                                                                                               CITES proposal recommended                             with CITES to maintain chain of
                                                       species under CITES, the only way that
                                                                                                               transferring the Morelet’s crocodile from              custody;
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles and their parts and
                                                                                                               Appendix I to Appendix II because the                     • That the tagging methods for
                                                       products from Guatemala could legally
                                                       be traded commercially in international                 species no longer met the criteria for                 Mexican populations of Morelet’s
                                                       trade is if a captive-breeding operation                inclusion in Appendix I. Under the                     crocodile be widely circulated to range
                                                       were to be registered with the CITES                    2010 proposal, the transfer to Appendix                countries and those countries importing
                                                       Secretariat. However, since Guatemala                   II applied to all three range countries.               parts and products as well as live
                                                       does not currently have any captive                     The 2010 proposal included an                          specimens.
                                                       breeding operations that are registered                 annotation establishing a zero quota for                  Under Guatemala’s recommended
                                                       with the CITES Secretariat, the                         wild specimens. The zero quota would                   scenario, Morelet’s crocodiles in
                                                       commercial international trade in                       prohibit any international trade in wild               Mexico, and Belize would be in
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile products from                       specimens within the context of CITES,                 Appendix II, with a zero quota for wild
                                                       Guatemala remains restricted.                           thereby limiting the trade to Morelet’s                specimens traded for commercial
                                                          However, under the current listing of                crocodile and its products to those                    purposes and all Morelet’s crocodiles in
                                                       the species under the Act, it remains                   originating from sources other than wild               Guatemala would remain on Appendix
                                                       illegal to import Morelet’s crocodiles or               specimens. Although the Belize-                        I (CITES 2010a, pp. 12, 25–26). The
                                                       their parts or products into the United                 Guatemala-Mexico Tri-national Strategy                 Appendix-II designation became
                                                       States, regardless of the source, unless                for the Conservation and Sustainable                   effective on June 23, 2010. As a result,
                                                       the purpose of the import is for                        Use of Morelet’s Crocodile (see the Post-              Morelet’s crocodiles and their products
                                                       scientific research or enhancement of                   Delisting Monitoring section, below)                   from Mexico and Belize from sources
                                                       propagation or survival of the species. If              includes long-term plans for ranching,                 other than wild populations are now
                                                       this proposed rule is finalized and the                 none of the range countries have                       allowed to enter international trade for
                                                       prohibitions of the Act are removed,                    indicated they plan to ranch Morelet’s                 commercial purposes under CITES.
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile parts and products                  crocodiles within the foreseeable future.              They are, however, not currently able to
                                                       originating from sources other than wild                   The Government of Mexico consulted                  enter the United States market because
                                                       populations from Mexico and Belize                      with the Governments of Belize and                     the Act’s prohibitions remain in effect.

                                                       could be imported into the United                       Guatemala on their 2010 CITES                          The international commercial trade in
                                                       States for commercial purposes, as long                 proposal. The Government of Belize                     all wild Morelet’s crocodiles remains
                                                       as the required CITES export permit or                  supported the proposal, but did not                    restricted.
                                                       re-export certificate has been granted.                 provide documents to the CITES                            At this time, the Government of
                                                       As discussed earlier, however, an export                Secretariat to indicate their official                 Mexico intends to export products
                                                       permit will not be granted unless the                   support. According to the Government                   derived from Morelet’s crocodiles raised
                                                       exporting country finds that the export                 of Mexico’s 2010 CITES proposal, the                   in its captive-breeding operations that
                                                       will not be detrimental to the species                  Government of Guatemala supported the                  are registered with the Government of
                                                       and the specimen was lawfully                           proposal in part, but recommended                      Mexico as UMAs, and that have a
                                                       acquired.                                               transferring only the Mexican                          proven track record of producing

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00018   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                          23667

                                                       offspring beyond the F2 generation                      Belize’s progress between the proposed                 programs that contribute to the
                                                       (CITES 2008, p. 23; CITES 2010a, p. 9).                 and final rules.                                       development of wild populations
                                                          Now that the Morelet’s crocodile in                    All three countries also have                        (CITES 2010a, p. 9).
                                                       Mexico and Belize is transferred to                     protected-species and protected-areas                     According to the LGVS, alien
                                                       CITES Appendix II with an annotation                    legislation under the jurisdiction of                  specimens or populations are those
                                                       providing a zero quota for wild                         specific ministries or departments. The                occurring outside their natural range
                                                       specimens traded for commercial                         three range countries have an extensive                (such as the Morelet’s crocodiles found
                                                       purposes, if this proposed delisting rule               regulatory framework to control                        on the Pacific coast of Mexico),
                                                       under the Act is finalized, then products               activities with respect to the Morelet’s               including hybrids. Such specimens or
                                                       originating from any captive-breeding                   crocodile and its habitat. Mexico is                   populations can only be managed in
                                                       operations in Mexico (and Belize, if any)               unique among the three range countries                 captivity, and with prior approval. A
                                                       could be imported into the United                       in that the Government of Mexico also                  management plan must be in place with
                                                       States. In addition, if this proposed                   has legislation regulating captive-                    established security and contingency
                                                       delisting rule under the Act is finalized,              breeding operations.                                   measures to avoid any negative effects
                                                       then Morelet’s crocodile products                                                                              on the conservation of wild native
                                                       manufactured in other countries could                                                                          specimens and populations or their
                                                                                                                  The Government of Mexico has a                      habitat. LGVS establishes management,
                                                       also be re-exported into the United
                                                                                                               strict and comprehensive legal                         control, and remediation measures for
                                                       States if those skins originated in
                                                                                                               framework to regulate the conservation                 individuals or populations considered
                                                       Mexico or Belize and were not derived
                                                                                                               and sustainable use of the Morelet’s                   harmful. Measures may consist of
                                                       from wild populations. Live Morelet’s
                                                                                                               crocodile in Mexico:                                   capture/collection for the development
                                                       crocodiles and parts or products                           (1) Ley General de Equilibrio
                                                       originating from Guatemala will remain                                                                         of recovery, restocking and
                                                                                                                     ´               ´
                                                                                                               Ecologico y Proteccion al Ambiente                     reintroduction projects; for research or
                                                       in CITES Appendix I, with its associated                (LGEEPA; General Ecological
                                                       trade restrictions remaining in place.                                                                         environmental education activities; for
                                                                                                               Equilibrium and Environmental                          relocation of specimens (subject to prior
                                                          Through Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev.                   Protection Law)—This is the primary                    evaluation of the destination habitat and
                                                       CoP15) the Parties to CITES have                        Mexican law for environmental matters                  condition of the individuals); for
                                                       adopted a process, the National                         and is the principal legal instrument                  elimination or eradication of
                                                       Legislation Project, to evaluate whether                that regulates the Morelet’s crocodile in              individuals/populations; or of actions or
                                                       Parties have adequate domestic                          Mexico (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, p. 1).                  devices to keep the individuals away,
                                                       legislation to successfully implement                   Passed in 1988, this law applies to and                disperse them, make access difficult or
                                                       the Treaty. In reviewing a country’s                    integrates the three levels of government              reduce the damage they cause (CITES
                                                       national legislation, the Secretariat                   within the context of natural resources:               2010a, p. 9).
                                                       considers whether a Party’s domestic                    Federal, state, and municipal. With                                                      ´
                                                                                                                                                                         (3) Programa de Conservacion de la
                                                       laws designate the responsible Scientific               regard to trade in wildlife species,                   Vida Silvestre y Diversificacion´
                                                       and Management authorities, prohibit                    including the Morelet’s crocodile, the                 Productiva en el Sector Rural (Program
                                                       trade in violation of the Convention,                   LGEEPA contains the basis to regulate                  for Wildlife Conservation and
                                                       have penalty provisions in place for                    all activities, including importation,                 Productive Diversification of the Rural
                                                       illegal trade, and provide for seizure of               exportation, seizures, sustainable use,                Sector)—Launched in 2000, this
                                                       specimens that were illegally traded or                 violations, fines, animal welfare, and                 program defines the conceptual,
                                                       possessed.                                              legal possession. While forty-five                     strategic, legal and administrative
                                                          While both Guatemala and Mexico’s                    articles within the Mexican LGEEPA                     framework that governs any initiative
                                                       legislation have been determined to be                  deal with environmental contamination                  for the conservation and use of wild
                                                       sufficient to properly implement the                    (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, p. 1), we are                  species (CITES 2010a, p. 8). The goal of
                                                       Treaty, Belize’s national legislation was               not aware of any specific provisions and               this program is to establish incentives
                                                       considered lacking. As part of the                      their relevance to Morelet’s crocodile.                for private and public initiatives that
                                                       National Legislative Project, Belize has                   (2) Ley General de Vida Silvestre                   favor natural resources conservation, as
                                                       submitted a plan to revise their                        (LGVS: General Wildlife Law)—Passed                    well as provide economic opportunities
                                                       legislation to the Secretariat in March                 in 2000, this law regulates the use,                   for private entities for the sustainable
                                                       2010, but as of this proposed rule, have                conservation, and management of                        use of these resources (CONABIO 2005,
                                                       not officially enacted any revised                      domestic wild fauna and flora and their                Annex 3, pp. 2–3). Based on a biological
                                                       legislation (CITES 2010e). Although a                   habitat (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, pp.                    evaluation of the species, this program
                                                       trade suspension was put in place for                   1–2). This law is based on the principle               promotes the use and conservation of
                                                       Belize for one orchid species,                          of sustainable use. Any activity with                  priority species of plants and animals,
                                                       Myrmecophila tibicinis, the suspension                  regard to wild fauna and flora must                    including the establishment of wildlife
                                                       was in relation to the Review of                        comply with certain requirements: The                  production units and technical advisory
                                                       Significant Trade in Specimens of                       activity must be supported by an                       committees such as the COMACROM
                                                       Appendix II species (CITES 2010d) and                   approved management plan; the                                      ´ ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Subcomite Tecnico Consultivo para la
                                                       not due to Belize’s current legislation                 quantity to be harvested must be less                               ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Conservacion, Manejo y

                                                       implementing CITES. If this proposed                    than natural recruitment (replacement);                Aprovechamiento Sustentable de los
                                                       rule is finalized, CITES will continue to               and the harvest must not have negative                                    ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Crocodylia en Mexico; Technical
                                                       protect the Morelet’s crocodile                         impacts on the wild populations, their                 Advisory Subcommittee for the
                                                       throughout its range by regulating                      habitat, or biological activities. With                Conservation, Management and
                                                       international trade. However, as part of                regard to the Morelet’s crocodile,                     Sustainable Use of the Crocodilians in
                                                       this proposed rule, we are requesting                   harvest of wild populations is not                     Mexico) in the case of the Morelet’s
                                                       any information on Belize’s efforts to                  permitted, and harvest under this law                  crocodile. Created by the Government of
                                                       enact national legislation and/or their                 would only be permitted for specimens                  Mexico in 1999, COMACROM includes
                                                       efforts to ensure their compliance with                 obtained through closed-cycle, captive-                scientists, technicians, NGOs,
                                                       CITES. We will continue to monitor                      breeding operations which have                         producers, authorities and other

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00019   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23668                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       stakeholders. It participates in meetings               Morelet’s crocodile are regulated under                security tag with the UMA registration
                                                       of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group                  these provisions.                                      number, the species code, a serial
                                                       (CSG) and contributes publications to                      (6) Sistema de Unidades de Manejo                   number, and the year of production or
                                                       the CSG (CITES 2010a, p. 8).                                                 ´
                                                                                                               para la Conservacion de la Vida                        harvest. Any application for a CITES
                                                          (4) Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM–                      Silvestre (SUMA; Wildlife Conservation                 export permit must include the number
                                                       059–SEMARNAT–2001—Passed in                             Management and Administration Unit                     of the authorized specimen based on the
                                                       2001, this regulation provides legal                    System)—In 1997, the Government of                     interdigital tag and the skin’s plastic
                                                       protection to domestic endangered                       Mexico established a system for                        security tag and is used to track skins
                                                       species of fauna and flora and provides                 registering, supervising, and enforcing                and other products (CITES 2010a, p. 10).
                                                       a mechanism to evaluate extinction                      UMAs (Unidad de Manejo y                                  Approximately 50 UMAs have been
                                                       risks (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, p. 3).                                   ´
                                                                                                               Administracion; Conservation                           registered for rearing Morelet’s
                                                               ´                  ´
                                                       The Metodo de Evaluacion de Riesgo de                   Management and Administrative Units)                   crocodiles in Mexico since the 1980s,
                                                       Extincion de Especies Silvestres de                     for intensive reproduction of                          primarily for domestic commerce.
                                                       Mexico (MER; Method to Evaluate                         economically valuable natural                          Nineteen of them are still actively
                                                       Wildlife Extinction Risks in Mexico),                   resources, including captive farming of                managing the species and three were
                                                       one of the parts of this regulation, has                Morelet’s crocodiles (CONABIO 2005,                    registered with the CITES Secretariat
                                                       four categories of risk: Probably extinct               Annex 3, pp. 3–5). The goal of this                    when the species in Mexico was
                                                       in the wild, in peril, threatened, and                  regulation was to ensure that                          included in Appendix I (CITES 2010a,
                                                       subject to special protection. The                      biodiversity conservation be considered                p. 11). Only five of the nineteen UMAs
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile is included in the                  within the context of the production                   have the potential for annual
                                                       category ‘‘subject to special protection.’’             and socioeconomic needs of the                         commercial production of products
                                                       This regulation defines the category                    country. This system combined a broad                  made from Morelet’s crocodile (CITES
                                                       ‘‘subject to special protection’’ as ‘‘those            range of entities or facilities (‘‘units’’)            2010a, p. 24).
                                                                                                               under a single administrative program,                                              ´
                                                                                                                                                                         (7) Sistema Nacional de Areas
                                                       species or populations that might find
                                                                                                               including zoological and botanical                     Naturales Protegidas (SINANP; National
                                                       themselves threatened by factors that
                                                                                                               gardens, greenhouses, and animal                       System of Protected Natural Areas)—
                                                       adversely affect their viability, thus
                                                                                                               breeding centers. Through these units,                 Passed in 2000, this system is made up
                                                       determining the need to promote
                                                                                                               the Government of Mexico promotes                      of parcels identified as Protected
                                                       conservation or recovery and the
                                                                                                               natural resources uses that are                        Natural Areas (CONABIO 2005, Annex
                                                       recovery and conservation of associated
                                                                                                               responsible and planned. Extensive and                 3, p. 5). These Protected Natural Areas
                                                       species populations. (This category may
                                                                                                               intensive captive-breeding units for the               are created by Presidential decree and
                                                       include lower risk categories of the
                                                                                                               Morelet’s crocodile are covered under                  the activities on them are regulated
                                                       IUCN classification).’’
                                                                                                               this system. In exchange for the right to              under the LGEEPA, which requires that
                                                          Although the Government of Mexico                                                                           the Protected Natural Areas receive
                                                                                                               harvest the Morelet’s crocodile under
                                                       no longer classifies the Morelet’s                      controlled conditions, closed-cycle                    special protection for conservation,
                                                       crocodile as ‘‘Endangered’’ or                          captive-breeding unit operators are                    restoration and development activities.
                                                       ‘‘Threatened,’’ classification as ‘‘subject             required to develop and implement an                   The National Commission of Natural
                                                       to special protection’’ under Mexican                   approved management plan for the site,                 Protected Areas (CONANP), a
                                                       Official Law NOM–059–SEMARNAT–                          as well as to conserve the species’                    decentralized organ of the Government
                                                       2001 allows legal protection at the                     habitat and other species that use that                of Mexico’s Ministry of Environment
                                                       national level (CITES 2010a, p. 9).                     habitat. Strict animal husbandry                       and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT),
                                                       Including the Morelet’s crocodile in this               practices and welfare considerations are               currently administers 173 federal
                                                       category allows the Government of                       required under these plans.                            natural areas representing more than
                                                       Mexico to make sure it still meets the                     Legal registration of approved UMAs                 62,396,392 ac (25,250,963 ha). These
                                                       conservation needs of important species                 requires proof of captive production                   natural areas are categorized as:
                                                       from both a biologically and socio-                     beyond the F2 generation (CITES 2010a,                 Biosphere Reserves, National Parks,
                                                       economic standpoint before the species                  p. 9). For intensive UMAs, such as                     Natural Monuments, Areas of Natural
                                                       can be considered as threatened or                      captive-breeding operations in Mexico,                 Resource Protection, Areas of Protection
                                                       endangered. The petitioners                             the Government of Mexico requires the                  of Flora and Fauna, and Sanctuaries.
                                                       recommended keeping the Morelet’s                       UMAs to submit regular reports that                       These areas are protected under
                                                       crocodile in this category of ‘‘subject to              must include information on births and                 Mexican law because they contain key
                                                       special protection’’ to maintain existing               deaths, number and identification of                   or representative ecosystems or species,
                                                       measures of conservation, technical                     traded specimens, and management                       or ecosystems or species that are at risk
                                                       supervision, monitoring and                             activities (CITES 2010a, p. 10).                       and require strict control. Many
                                                       enforcement in order to avoid the                          The Government of Mexico uses three                 ecosystems or species, including the
                                                       species’ having a higher risk category in               methods to mark live Morelet’s                         Morelet’s crocodile, are protected under
                                                       the future (CONABIO 2005, p. 4 and                      crocodiles registered with the Wildlife                this system. According to the
                                                       Annex 2, p. 5).                                         Division through the corresponding                     Government of Mexico, SINANP
                                                          (5) Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM–                      inventories of UMAs. The first method                  includes at least 12 protected areas

                                                       126–SEMARNAT–2000—Passed in                             is interdigital staples on the feet. The               occupied by Morelet’s crocodile,
                                                       2000, this regulation oversees scientific               second method is the traditional method                covering an estimated 13 percent of the
                                                       research and collection by individual                   of cutting notches in the tail scales and              species’ geographic range (CONABIO
                                                       domestic and foreign researchers, as                    is only used by some operations (CITES                 2005, p. 30).
                                                       well as by institutions (CONABIO 2005,                  2010a, p. 10). These marks are registered                       ´
                                                                                                                                                                         (8) Codigo Penal Federal (Federal
                                                       Annex 3, p. 3). If a species is also                    with the Government of Mexico. The                     Penal Code)—The code contains a
                                                       regulated under CITES, the appropriate                  third method is the Universal Tagging                  special section for environmental crimes
                                                       permit or certificate must be obtained                  System required by CITES for the export                (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, pp. 5–6).
                                                       under this regulation. Scientific                       of skins (Resolution Conf. 11.12 (Rev.                 These penalties apply to those who
                                                       research or collections involving the                   CoP15), which consists of a plastic                    commit crimes against plants or

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00020   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                            23669

                                                       animals, as well as to individuals who                  produces periodic reports on these                        These laws and regulations provide
                                                       illegally use or commercialize regulated                findings (CITES 2010a, p. 10).                         legal protection to the Morelet’s
                                                       species without authorization. These                       We do not have any information on                   crocodile in Belize. We have no
                                                       penalties apply to crimes involving the                 whether the Mexican legal framework                    information on whether the Wildlife
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles.                                   specifically authorizes subsistence                    Protection Act is sufficiently enforced.
                                                          In order to implement and enforce the                hunting or cultural use of the Morelet’s               The CITES Legislation Project (CITES
                                                       laws and regulations mentioned above,                   crocodile, or on the current level of                  2010e) concluded that Belize’s national
                                                       SEMARNAT created the office of the                      enforcement, or whether the                            legislation does not meet any of the
                                                                    ´                      ´
                                                       Procuradurıa Federal de Proteccion al                   enforcement is considered adequate.                    requirements for implementing CITES.
                                                       Ambiente (PROFEPA; Federal                                                                                     However, Belize has submitted a plan
                                                                                                               Belize                                                 and draft legislation to CITES as of
                                                       Prosecutor for Environmental
                                                       Protection) and the Programa para la                       The Government of Belize also has a                 March 2010, but has not officially
                                                       Inspeccion y Vigilancia en Puertos,                     legal framework that regulates the                     enacted the legislation. In spite of this
                                                       Aeropuertos y Fronteras (Ports,                         conservation and sustainable use of the                assessment by CITES, trade data seem to
                                                       Airports, and Borders Inspection and                    Morelet’s crocodile, along with other                  indicate the threat of unregulated trade
                                                       Enforcement Program) (CONABIO 2005,                     species of birds, mammals, and reptiles                from Belize is minimal. However, as
                                                       Annex 3, p. 6). Under this program,                     (collectively known as Scheduled                       part of this rule, we are requesting from
                                                       imports and exports for key products                    species). In general terms, the Wildlife               the public any information pertaining to
                                                       regulated by SEMARNAT are inspected                     Protection Act prohibits illegal harvest               Belize’s efforts to fully enact legislation
                                                       at 65 points of entry and exit to prevent               and export in Belize (Government of                    and ensure their compliance with
                                                       laundering. Morelet’s crocodile                         Belize 2000 p. 7–9). The Forestry                      CITES.
                                                       products are regulated under this                       Department, within the Ministry of                     Guatemala
                                                       program. PROFEPA implements the                         Natural Resources and the Environment,
                                                                                                                                                                         The Government of Guatemala also
                                                       Environmental Inspection Program at                     is the relevant government agency with
                                                                                                                                                                      has a legal framework that regulates the
                                                       ports, airports, and borders, and the                   respect to the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                                                                                                                                      conservation and sustainable use of
                                                       Wildlife Inspection Program, monitoring                 Under this legislation, the Game
                                                                                                                                                                      natural resources, including the
                                                       all stages of the use of wild species and               Warden controls hunting of these
                                                                                                                                                                      Morelet’s crocodile (IIA URL FCAA
                                                       ensuring their protection. Inspection                   species. Certain activities are prohibited             IARNA 2003, pp. 67–69; IARNA URL
                                                       and enforcement programs make these                     and a license is required. For example,                                               ´
                                                                                                                                                                      IIA 2006, pp. 104–107; Republica de
                                                       Mexican laws and regulations more                       hunting of the Morelet’s crocodile is                  Guatemala 2007, pp. 3–4 and 31). In
                                                       effective, especially at airports and                   prohibited. Importation and exportation                general terms, and based on our review
                                                       border ports of entry and exit. Specific                of wildlife is subject to strict protocols             of other materials, natural resources
                                                       actions include the verification of cross-              and provisions of the Wildlife                         management is under the jurisdiction of
                                                       border movements in compliance with                     Protection Act and requires a permit.                  the Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos
                                                       CITES and other international                           Hunting of certain species for scientific              Naturales (Ministry of the Environment
                                                       agreements in coordination with                         or educational purposes also requires a                and Natural Resources; USAID 2002, pp.
                                                       customs authorities; inspection of areas                permit. The legislation also identifies                             ´
                                                                                                                                                                      44–45; Republica de Guatemala 2007,
                                                       of wildlife harvest, stockpiling,                       offenses and penalties.                                pp. 3–4 and 9). The main legislation in
                                                       distribution, and sale; surveillance of                    In addition to the Wildlife Protection                                         ´
                                                                                                                                                                      this regard is Decreto Numero 4–89 (Ley
                                                       areas of wildlife distribution and                      Act, the Government of Belize is in the                    ´
                                                                                                                                                                      de Areas Protegidas, Gobierno de
                                                       harvest; and special operations in areas                process of developing and                              Guatemala 1989, pp. 1–24; Birner et al.
                                                       of wildlife harvest, stockpiling,                       implementing a National List of Critical               2005, p. 290; Law of Protected Areas
                                                       distribution and sale, in coordination                  Species (Meerman 2005a, pp. 1–8;                       and Amendments/Revisions). This
                                                       with public law enforcement and                         Meerman 2005b, p. 38). This list is                    decree established the Comision  ´
                                                       judicial authorities (Govt. of Mexico                   based, in part, on the procedures used                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP;
                                                       2010, p. 11). Mexico has implemented                    by IUCN Red List of Threatened                         National Commission on Protected
                                                       several programs to prevent and combat                  Animals (see IUCN 2001, version 3.1, 35                Areas). CONAP has been tasked to run
                                                       illegal harvest, including the System of                pp.). Within the context of the Belize                 the Sistema Nacional de Areas´
                                                       Wildlife Management Units (SUMA)                        Protected Areas Policy and System Plan,                Protegidas (SIGAP; National System of
                                                       which is based on six key elements: (1)                 this list will serve as a basis for the                Protected Areas; IARNA URL IIA 2006,
                                                       Registration with the Wildlife Division                 Belize Red Data List. According to the                 pp. 104–107). In Guatemala, the
                                                       (DGVS Direccion General de Vida                         2005 list (Meerman 2005a, p. 8), the                   Morelet’s crocodile is included in the
                                                       Silvestre- SEMARNAT, CITES                              Morelet’s crocodile is categorized as                  Endangered Species List (Resolution No.
                                                       Management Authority); (2) proper                       ‘‘CD’’ (Conservation Dependant) in                     ALC/032–99 of CONAP) in Category 2,
                                                       habitat management; (3) monitoring of                   Belize due to the following factors:                   ‘‘Seriously Endangered,’’ which includes
                                                       wild populations of the species                         small range, hunted, economic                          species that are endangered because of
                                                       harvested; (4) controlled harvest                       importance, charismatic species                        habitat loss, trade, the very small size of
                                                       (including periodic reports and                         drawing national and international                     their populations and/or endemism

                                                       inventories on each UMA); (5)                           attention, and persecuted as perceived                 with limited distribution (CITES 2010a,
                                                       management plan approved and                            pest. Under the 2005 list, Conservation                p. 9).
                                                       registered with the Wildlife Division;                  Dependent species are taxa that are the                   In the past, threats to the Morelet’s
                                                       and (6) certificate of production and                   focus of a continuing taxon-specific or                crocodile and its habitat in Guatemala,
                                                       market/tagging methods. SEMARNAT                        habitat-specific conservation program                  compounded with the lack of funding
                                                       conducts random inspections of UMAs                     for the taxon in question, the cessation               and personnel, made it difficult for the
                                                       and, if any issues are detected in the                  of which would result in the taxon                     Government of Guatemala to adequately
                                                       management plan, carries out                            qualifying for one of the threatened                   enforce these laws and regulations.
                                                       population studies, including sampling                  categories on the list within five years               Ongoing conservation actions were
                                                       activities and species inventories and                  (Meerman 2005a, p. 3).                                 often overwhelmed by slow economic

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00021   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23670                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       development, high levels of poverty,                    management practices for sustainable                   suitable habitat (81 percent) throughout
                                                       unequal land distribution, a highly                     use of forest products. (WCS 10 year                   the species’ range. We anticipate that
                                                       segmented society, and the effects of                   report, no date given, page 6).                        these conditions will remain essentially
                                                       more than three decades of civil war                       In August 2010, the president of                    the same, both domestically and
                                                       (Birner et al. 2005, pp. 285, 292). In                  Guatemala announced that he is                         internationally in the sense of more-
                                                       2003, Laguna del Tigre National Park                    deploying 250 soldiers to recover fully                effective regulatory mechanisms, in the
                                                       was considered by ParkWatch as                                                            ´
                                                                                                               all the protected zones of El Peten in the             foreseeable future (e.g., CITES).
                                                       critically threatened due to land grabs,                Laguna del Tigre section of the MBR.                   However, we did not solely rely on
                                                       the presence of human settlements,                      This ‘‘Green Battalion’’ is being                      these future measures in finding the
                                                       expanding agriculture and cattle                        deployed specifically to protect the                   species is no longer threatened or
                                                       ranching, poaching, forest fires, the oil               Laguna del Tigre National Park and                     endangered.
                                                       industry, and an almost complete lack                   work jointly with the National Civil                      Existing regulatory mechanisms,
                                                       of institutional control over the area                  Police and the Attorney General’s Office               including CITES and domestic
                                                       (ParksWatch 2003, pp. 1, 11). However,                  to combat drug trafficking and the                     prohibitions on harvest of wild
                                                       in 2004 ParksWatch stated that the staff                illegal harvest of natural resources and               Morelet’s crocodiles, have played a vital
                                                       at Laguna del Tigre had doubled in size                 archaeological sites of that region of the             role in resurgence of Morelet’s
                                                       since their 2003 report (ParksWatch                     MBR (Latin American Herald Tribune,                    crocodiles over the last 40 years. While
                                                       2004, p, 30.) Seventy-three park rangers,               December 6, 2010).                                     some trade restrictions could be lifted in
                                                                                                                  The Government of Guatemala is also                 the future, particularly to allow
                                                       10 archeological site guards and 96
                                                                                                               participating in the Tri-national Strategy             increased trade in captive-bred
                                                       Army personnel were hired to staff the
                                                                                                               (see the Post-Delisting Monitoring                     specimens now that Morelet’s
                                                       park and since the increase in staffing,                section below) for Morelet’s crocodile,                crocodiles in Mexico and Belize have
                                                       both the park and the biotope are                       wherein specific actions directed                      been moved to CITES Appendix II with
                                                       ‘‘constantly patrolled.’’ In addition, the              toward the Morelet’s crocodile are                     a zero export quota for wild specimens
                                                       Wildlife Conservation Society and U.S.                  defined. Conservation actions in                       traded for commercial purposes, we
                                                       AID continued its ‘‘Biodiversity                        Guatemala are being developed and                      believe such lifting of restrictions would
                                                       Conservation at a Landscape Scale’’                     implemented within the context of the                  pose little risk to the species. All three
                                                       program and has provided a                              Convention on Biological Diversity and                 range countries restrict the use of wild
                                                       comprehensive plan with specific goals                  the National Biodiversity Strategy and                 specimens and the Government of
                                                       to preserve and protect wildlife in the                 Action Plan (Birner et al. 2005, p. 285).              Mexico has institutions with proven
                                                       MBR in Guatemala through conserving                     Many outstanding accomplishments                       track records to administer and enforce
                                                       wildlife species and their habitat, while               have been achieved in Guatemala in                     controls on captive-breeding operations
                                                       maintaining the economic productivity                   terms of biodiversity conservation                     and laundering of illegal specimens.
                                                       of renewable natural resources. They are                (IARNA URL IIA 2006, p. 22) and the                    Should the zero export quota for wild
                                                       fulfilling these goals by establishing                  Guatemalan government seems                            specimens traded for commercial
                                                       specific parameters. Namely, ‘‘to                       committed to ensuring that                             purposes be lifted, it may create greater
                                                       develop adaptive and participatory                      environmental management and                           enforcement challenges in all three
                                                       strategy to reduce threats to wildlife in               enforcement efforts continue.                          range countries in the foreseeable future
                                                       the MBR; to develop, implement and                                                                             because the taking of wild Morelet’s
                                                       monitor sustainable mechanisms to                       Summary of Factor D
                                                                                                                                                                      crocodiles could be authorized. If it
                                                       reduce threats to wildlife and                            Based on all three range countries                   does, the requirements of CITES
                                                       ecosystems across the MBR landscape;                    being Parties to CITES, as well as having              Appendix II will apply. The exporting
                                                       to learn and teach best management                      protected-species and protected-areas                  country will be required to determine
                                                       practices for the conservation of the                   legislation, and implementing this                     that the export is not detrimental to the
                                                       MBR and beyond; and to guide, design                    legislation, and enforcing relevant laws,              survival of the species in the wild and
                                                       and test wildlife-focused planning’’                    the current regulatory mechanisms                      specimens are legally acquired prior to
                                                       (WCS 2008, page 3). For the past nine                   appear to be adequate to conserve the                  issuing a permit authorizing the export.
                                                       years the WCS has been conducting                       Morelet’s crocodile in the majority of                 However, a change to the annotation
                                                       overflights of Laguna del Tigre Park                    the species’ range. As per the CITES                   would require approval of two-thirds of
                                                       with the Guatemalan National Park                       National Legislation Project (CITES                    the Parties voting at a CoP and cannot
                                                       Service and LightHawk (a volunteer-                     2010e), both Guatemala and Mexico’s                    be done unilaterally by any of the range
                                                       based environmental aviation                            legislation meet all the requirements for              countries. Therefore, we do not have
                                                       organization) and has used that                         implementing CITES. Belize’s national                  any indication that CITES and the
                                                       information to identify illegal                         legislation was considered not to meet                 regulatory mechanisms of the range
                                                       colonization, resulting in successfully                 any of the requirements for                            countries will be inadequate to continue
                                                       removing illegal squatters (80+ families)               implementing CITES. However, Belize                    to protect the species in the wild if this
                                                       from the area. In addition, overflights                 has submitted a plan and draft                         proposed delisting rule under the Act is
                                                       revealed marijuana clearings on the                     legislation to CITES as of March 2010,                 finalized, or if ranching is authorized in
                                                       eastern-most port of Mirador-Rıo Azule                  but has not officially enacted the                     the future.

                                                       National Park in 2007. WCS overflights                  legislation. Per decisions made during                    The reproduction and survival rates of
                                                       helped to monitor fires, locate illegal                 CoP15, the CITES protections for                       wild Morelet’s crocodiles are currently
                                                       settlements and notify the national and                 Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala will                 robust. Populations remain stable
                                                       provincial government as well as the                    remain unchanged. They will remain                     throughout most of their range, and
                                                       national media of illegal activities. As a              protected as an Appendix-I species,                    have expanded their range in some
                                                       result, the presence of fires in Laguna                 with those CITES trade restrictions                    areas. In conclusion, we find that, taken
                                                       del Tigre National Park has been                        remaining in place.                                    together, the currently existing
                                                       reduced by 90%. In addition, WCS has                      Together, Mexico and Belize contain                  protections described above are
                                                       taken an active role in educating locals                the majority of wild individuals (87                   adequate, and they will remain adequate
                                                       and concessionaires on best                             percent) and the estimated potentially                 to protect the Morelet’s crocodile and its

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00022   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23671

                                                       habitat in the majority of its range now                Environmental Contaminants                             Morelet’s crocodile, but this condition
                                                       and within the foreseeable future.                         Environmental contaminants are                      may occur in the wild in Belize; studies
                                                                                                               known to have negative impacts on                      are ongoing (Selcer et al. 2006, p. 50;
                                                       Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade                                                                             Rainwater et al. 2008, pp. 101 and 106–
                                                       Factors Affecting the Continued                         terrestrial vertebrates (Smith et al. 2007,
                                                                                                               p. 41), including crocodilians (Ross                   107).
                                                       Existence of the Species                                                                                          Mercury was detected in nonviable
                                                                                                               1998, p. 3). The primary routes through
                                                       Human-Crocodile Conflicts                                                                                      Morelet’s crocodile eggs collected from
                                                                                                               which terrestrial reptiles, including the
                                                                                                                                                                      eight nests across three localities in
                                                                                                               Morelet’s crocodile, are exposed to
                                                          The Morelet’s crocodile is known to                                                                         northern Belize in 1995 (Rainwater et al.
                                                                                                               environmental pollutants are ingestion
                                                       attack humans. While data about these                                                                          2002a, p. 320; Rainwater et al. 2002b, p.
                                                                                                               of contaminated prey, dermal contact,
                                                       conflicts are limited, anecdotal reports                                                                       190). While mercury was detected in all
                                                                                                               maternal transfer, and accumulation of
                                                       suggest that these conflicts are                                                                               eggs sampled, the mean concentration
                                                                                                               chemicals into eggs from contaminated
                                                       widespread and ongoing. In a well-                                                                             per egg was among the lowest reported
                                                                                                               nesting media (Smith et al. 2007, p. 48).
                                                       documented attack in Belize in August                                                                          values for any crocodile species. No
                                                                                                               With regard to the Morelet’s crocodile,
                                                       2001, a Morelet’s crocodile attacked a                                                                         overt signs of mercury toxicity or
                                                                                                               organochlorine contaminants have been                  evidence of a population decline was
                                                       13-year-old male and caused him to                      detected in the scutes (external scales)
                                                       drown in the Belama area of Belize City                                                                        noted for Morelet’s crocodiles at the site
                                                                                                               (DeBusk 2001, pp. viii–ix) and the                     (Rainwater et al. 2002a, pp. 321–322).
                                                       (Finger et al. 2002, p. 198).                           chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of                         All samples for studies of
                                                          More often, human-crocodile conflicts                hatched Morelet’s crocodile eggs                       organochlorine and mercury
                                                       involving the Morelet’s crocodile are                   (Pepper et al. 2004, pp. 493 and 495), as              contaminants cited above came from
                                                       more benign. In Mexico, for example,                    well as in whole contents analysis of                  Belize, and we are not aware of any
                                                       the Crocodile Museum (Chiapas State;                    nonviable crocodile eggs (Wu et al.                    similar investigations elsewhere in the
                                                       about 80 cases per year) assists local                  2000a, p. 6,416; 2000b, p. 671; Wu et al.              Morelet’s crocodile range (Mexico or
                                                       officials through the capture, rescue,                  2006, 151).                                            Guatemala). Since reproduction and
                                                       and relocation of local crocodilians (all                  The most common organochlorine                      survival rates of Morelet’s crocodiles are
                                                       three species, including the Morelet’s                  found in studies of Morelet’s crocodile                currently robust, we do not have any
                                                       crocodile) that are considered                          in Belize was DDE                                      reason to believe that environmental
                                                       potentially dangerous or, because of                    (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene),                    contaminants are currently likely to
                                                       their location (close proximity to human                detected in 100 percent of eggs collected              cause the Morelet’s crocodile to become
                                                       activities), they might be killed by local              by Wu et al. (2000b, p. 673) and 69                    in danger of extinction within the
                                                       inhabitants (Domınguez-Laso 2008, p.                    percent of CAMs sampled by Pepper et                   foreseeable future.
                                                       5). Abercrombie et al. (1982, p. 19)                    al. (2004, p. 495). Organochlorines have                  Populations currently remain stable
                                                       reported that the Morelet’s crocodile                   also been detected at additional sites                 throughout most of the species range,
                                                       was generally feared in Belize. Finger et               throughout coastal Belize and the                      and have even expanded their range in
                                                       al. (2002, p. 199) indicated that                       interior highlands (Meerman 2006a, p.                  some areas. This provides empirical
                                                       development related to human                            26; Wu et al. 2006, p. 153). Although                  evidence of the species’ intrinsic
                                                       occupation (such as residential areas                   exposure to organochlorines has been                   resilience and adaptability. There is no
                                                       and infrastructure) in Morelet’s                        linked to adverse effects on population                evidence that environmental
                                                       crocodile habitat around Belize City was                health of the American alligator in                    contaminants currently pose a threat to
                                                       generating increasing numbers of                        Florida (several studies cited by Wu et                the species. Although environmental
                                                       human-crocodile conflicts. Windsor et                   al. 2000b, p. 676), no population-level                contaminants may represent a potential
                                                       al. (2002, p. 418) also noted that the                  effects were detected in Belize                        threat, especially given the potential for
                                                       practice of feeding the Morelet’s                       (McMurry and Anderson 2000, pp. 1                      long-term bioaccumulation of
                                                       crocodile by residents and tourists was                 and 4; Wu et al. 2000b, p. 676).                       contaminants during the species’ long
                                                       becoming more common and was also                       Rainwater (2003, pp. xii and 38),                      reproductive life, given this species’
                                                       generating increasing numbers of                        however, later suggested that some of                  resiliency we do not have any data to
                                                       human-crocodile conflicts in Belize.                    the sites that had been chosen for                     indicate that it is likely to become a
                                                       According to Platt and Thorbjarnarson                   comparative purposes in fact had                       threat in the foreseeable future.
                                                       (2000a, p. 27), large Morelet’s                         similar contaminant profiles and that                     Manmade factors that could affect the
                                                       crocodiles, despite legal protections, are              some study results suggesting no                       continued existence of the Morelet’s
                                                       still perceived as threats to humans and                significant differences between sites                  crocodile, according to CONABIO
                                                       livestock, and are occasionally killed                  may be equivocal.                                      (CONABIO 2005, p. 32), were the
                                                       near residential areas in Belize. While                    Vitellogenin induction (development                 construction and operation of oil
                                                       educational programs are needed for                     of the egg yolk) in the Morelet’s                      extraction infrastructure and
                                                       local residents and visitors to deter this              crocodile, suggesting endocrine                        thermoelectric plants. The operation of
                                                       activity, it may also be necessary to                   disruption due to environmental                        chemical and manufacturing industries
                                                       develop a problem crocodile removal                     contamination when exhibited by                        could also become a threat if potentially
                                                       program to resolve these conflicts                      males, recently has become a research                  toxic residual materials are disposed of

                                                       (Windsor et al. 2002, p. 418). No                       topic in Belize. Reproductive                          improperly. These activities, however,
                                                       information was available about human-                  impairment due to endocrine-disrupting                 are highly regulated by the Ley General
                                                       crocodile conflicts in Guatemala.                       contaminants has been demonstrated                                          ´               ´
                                                                                                                                                                      de Equilibrio Ecologico y Proteccion al
                                                       Although human-crocodile conflicts are                  elsewhere in crocodilians and is                       Ambiente (LGEEPA); General Ecological
                                                       affecting local populations of Morelet’s                suspected to occur in Belize due to                    Equilibrium and Environmental
                                                       crocodiles, and this is likely to continue              known contaminant levels (Selcer et al.                Protection Law) and the Attorney
                                                       in the foreseeable future, we do not have               2006, p. 50; Rainwater et al. 2008, p.                 General for the Protection of the
                                                       any evidence that it is currently or                    101). Initial results have not                         Environment (PROFEPA). Under
                                                       anticipated to be a threat to the species               documented contaminant-induced                         LGEEPA, every new project has to fulfill
                                                       as a whole.                                             vitellogenin in blood plasma in the                    strict protocols for the assessment of

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00023   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23672                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       environmental impacts before it can be                  periodically occurred in the wild in                   their offspring for reintroduction to the
                                                       approved.                                               areas where both species are sympatric,                wild, or as breeding stock for other
                                                         As discussed above in the Factor D.,                  and that the hybridization is more                     crocodile farms in the country, no
                                                       Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory                       frequent than previously believed                      releases of captive-bred stock have
                                                       Mechanisms, section, the Government                            ˜     ´
                                                                                                               (Cedeno-Vazquez et al., 2008, p. 666–                  occurred (Mexico 2006, p. 28). No
                                                       of Guatemala opposed the Government                                ´
                                                                                                               667; Rodrıguez et al., 2008, p. 678).                  releases have occurred because the
                                                       of Mexico’s 2010 CITES proposal based,                  While the first hybrids were identified                current total population sizes of wild
                                                       in part, on threats to the species from                 in coastal areas of eastern Belize, later              populations in Mexico, according to
                                                       pollution in Guatemala (CITES 2010a, p.                 studies also located hybrids in Mexico                 Mexican officials, are sufficiently large
                                                       6). However, we do not have any                         along the eastern and northern coasts of               to render releases unnecessary (CITES
                                                       information or data on the extent of the                the Yucatan Peninsula (Ray et al. 2004,                2008, p. 23). However, accidental
                                                       impact, if any, that pollution may have                                 ˜   ´
                                                                                                               p. 449; Cedeno-Vazquez et al. 2008,                    escapes and deliberate releases of the
                                                       on the Morelet’s crocodile in Guatemala.                               ´
                                                                                                               p. 661; Rodrıguez et al. 2008, p. 674).                Morelet’s crocodile from captive
                                                                                                                  Hybridization involves several key                  rearing-units outside of the species’
                                                       Genetic Diversity and Integrity
                                                                                                               issues. First, hybridization appears to be             natural range have occurred in wetland
                                                         At least three factors have been                      bidirectional (males of one species with               habitats along the Pacific coast of
                                                       identified as potential threats with                    females of the other species, and vice                 Mexico. These wetland habitats are
                                                       respect to the Morelet’s crocodile: (1)                 versa). In addition, hybrids (confirmed                already occupied by the naturally
                                                       Genetic heterogeneity; (2) hybridization;               by laboratory tests) do not always                     occurring American crocodile, and
                                                       and (3) male-biased sex ratios.                         exhibit physical characteristics (such as              interactions between the two crocodile
                                                       Genetic Heterogeneity                                   body size, shape, or coloration) that are              species are likely (Ross 1995, p. 14).
                                                                                                               a mixture of both species, and they are                These escapes and releases of Morelet’s
                                                          Evaluation of nine microsatellite loci,              not always readily identifiable as such                crocodiles may pose risks to the genetic
                                                       highly repetitive DNA sequences, from                   in the hand. Furthermore, F2 hybrids                   integrity of naturally occurring
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles in Belize suggested                and backcrosses of hybrids to                          American crocodiles, but probably not
                                                       a high degree of genetic heterogeneity                  nonhybrids have been reported. These                   to Morelet’s crocodiles. The
                                                       within local populations, relatively high               circumstances hinder the field                         Government of Mexico is making efforts
                                                       levels of migration among populations,                  identification of potential hybrids.                   to diagnose potential threats to the
                                                       and no evidence of a major genetic                         Ray et al. (2004, p. 459) stated that               native American crocodile caused by
                                                       bottleneck due to population depletion                  further assessment of genetic contact                  hybridization with the introduced
                                                       in the mid-1900s (Dever and Densmore                    between these two species should                       Morelet’s crocodile on the Pacific coast
                                                       2001, pp. 543–544; Dever et al. 2002,                   precede reclassification of Morelet’s                  of Mexico. The goal of these efforts is to
                                                       p. 1084). Population bottlenecks are a                  under CITES, presumably because of                     generate morphological and molecular
                                                       period when a species population drops                  uncertainty regarding numbers of                       identification materials and study the
                                                       to such a low level that many genetic                   genetically pure individuals in Belize.                population dynamics of the American
                                                       lineages become extinct and genetic                     While populations of both the Morelet’s                crocodile. It will include monitoring
                                                       variation is reduced to a few                           crocodile and the American crocodile                   and harvest of Morelet’s crocodiles and
                                                       individuals, resulting in genetic                       suffered from the hunting pressures of                 hybrids for scientific research (CITES
                                                       homogeneity. If severe, it can lead to                  the 1950s and 1960s, the American                      2010a, p. 6).
                                                       inbreeding. Endangered species that do                  crocodile has been slower to recover.                    Although hybridization between
                                                       not become extinct might expand their                   Indeed, Ray et al. (2004, p. 459) noted                American and Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       populations, but with limited genetic                   that hybridization likely represents a                 continues to affect negatively some local
                                                       diversity, they may not be able to adapt                greater danger to the genetic integrity of             populations of the Morelet’s crocodile,
                                                       to changing environmental conditions.                   the larger but rarer American crocodile                the impacts appear to be very small. We
                                                       The high degree of genetic heterogeneity                than to the Morelet’s crocodile in Belize.             have no evidence that hybridization is
                                                       found in Morelet’s crocodiles was                       The Service believes this concern bears                currently or anticipated to affect
                                                       attributed to frequent migration by                     additional investigation, but is not                   significantly the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       individuals among the several adjacent                  sufficient to warrant continued                        throughout its range.
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile populations. Ray et                 endangered or threatened status under
                                                                                                               the Act for the Morelet’s crocodile.                   Male-biased Sex Ratios
                                                       al. (2004, pp. 455–457) found low levels
                                                       of genetic diversity in the mitochondrial                  One hypothetical concern about                         Another potential risk from
                                                       control region of Morelet’s crocodiles at               hybridization is that supplementation of               supplementation of wild populations
                                                       10 sites in northern Belize and at one                  wild Morelet’s crocodile populations in                with captive-bred Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       site each in northern Guatemala and                     Mexico with captive-bred crocodiles                    is that of skewed sex ratios (greater
                                                       Mexico, but these results were                          might affect the genetic integrity of wild             proportion of males in captive
                                                       inconsistent with a population                          populations. While analyses of captive-                populations). Incubation temperature
                                                       bottleneck and may be typical of                        bred populations have not been                         affects the sex ratio of crocodilian
                                                       crocodilian populations. Other studies                  published, differences in the nature and               species differently (Escobedo-Galvan ´
                                                       of the repetitive sequences in the                      extent of genetic variation of these                   2006, p. 131). Like many crocodilian

                                                       mitochondrial control are ongoing in the                populations compared with wild                         species, the Morelet’s crocodile exhibits
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile and may be a useful                 populations might be expected. It is not               temperature-dependent sex
                                                       tool for researchers investigating                      clear if these differences, if they occur,             determination. Incubation temperatures
                                                       population dynamics of this species                     would be significant or important from                 greater than about 93 °F (34 °C) or less
                                                       (Ray and Densmore 2003, p. 1012).                       a conservation standpoint. Furthermore,                than 90 °F (32 °C) produce females,
                                                                                                               this issue may be a moot point.                        while temperatures between 90–93 °F
                                                       Hybridization                                           Although agreements between captive-                   (32–34 °C) generally produce males
                                                         Data suggest that some hybridization                  breeding operations and the                                              ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Escobedo-Galvan 2006, p. 133;
                                                       between Morelet’s crocodiles and                        Government of Mexico require breeders                                  ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008, p. 2). Some
                                                       American crocodiles has always                          to make available up to 10 percent of                  wild populations of the Morelet’s

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00024   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23673

                                                       crocodile in Belize also have greater                   2–11.5 °F by the end of this century                   al. 2008, increased global temperatures
                                                       proportions of males than females (5.3                  (relative to the 1980–1999 time period)                and sea level would benefit the
                                                       males per 1 female), but seem to be                     (USGCRP 2011, p. 9). Species that are                  American crocodile by significantly
                                                       healthy (Platt and Thorbjarnarson                       dependent on specialized habitat types,                increasing its potential habitat and
                                                       2000a, p. 23). We do not have any                       limited in distribution, or occurring                  distribution. Their study predicted that
                                                       evidence that skewed sex ratios                         already at the extreme periphery of their              the current potential distribution for the
                                                       currently pose a threat to the species.                 range will be most susceptible to the                  American crocodile would expand 69
                                                       Although skewed sex ratios may                          impacts of climate change. While                       percent in 2020 and 207 percent in
                                                       represent a potential threat, especially                continued change is certain, the                       2050. This is an 81 percent increase in
                                                       given the potential for skewed sex ratios               magnitude and rate of change is                        potential distribution from 2020 to 2050
                                                       as a result of climate change, this                     unknown in many cases.                                                  ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008,
                                                       information is not sufficient to be able                   The information currently available                 presentation, pp. 9–10).
                                                       to judge the timing of this potential, i.e.,            on the effects of climate change and the                 The study also predicted that
                                                       that it will manifest within the                        available climate change models do not                 increased global temperatures would
                                                       foreseeable future. Therefore, we do not                make sufficiently accurate estimates of                have a significantly negative impact on
                                                       have any information to indicate that it                location and magnitude of effects at a                 the sex ratios of the American crocodile.
                                                       is likely to become a threat in the                     scale small enough to apply to the range               Like many other crocodilian species,
                                                       foreseeable future.                                     of the Morelet’s crocodile. We do not                  both the American and the Morelet’s
                                                                                                               have any information on the projected                  crocodile exhibit temperature-
                                                       Natural Weather Events                                  impacts to the Morelet’s crocodile                     dependent sex determination. The
                                                          Natural weather can affect the                       because of climate change, particularly                macroclimate (global climate) affects the
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile. Hurricanes or heavy                the potential impacts of shifting global               mesoclimate (the temperature outside of
                                                       seasonal rains, for example, may pose                   temperatures on sex ratios. The study by               a crocodile’s nest), which in turn affects
                                                       risks to Morelet’s crocodile eggs located                                ´
                                                                                                               Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008 regarding                  the microclimate (the temperature
                                                       in nests along water channels. Flooding                 climate change’s projected impacts to                  inside of a crocodile’s nest), which in
                                                       associated with hurricanes or rains,                    the American crocodile illustrates the                 turn determines the proportion of males
                                                       however, may also provide conservation                  possible impacts to the Morelet’s                      to females produced in the nest
                                                       benefits to the Morelet’s crocodile by                  crocodile. This study, entitled ‘‘Potential                             ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008,
                                                       facilitating movements of individuals                   effects of climate change on the sex ratio             presentation p. 4). Incubation
                                                       across the landscape, thereby promoting                                                 ´
                                                                                                               of crocodiles’’ (Escobedo-Galvan et al.                temperatures greater than about 93 °F
                                                       gene flow (CITES 2010a, p. 6).                          2008), was presented at the February                   (34 °C) or less than 90 °F (32 °C)
                                                       Furthermore, extended dry periods can                   2008 International Science Symposium:                  produce females while temperatures
                                                       result in the temporary disappearance of                Climate Change and Diversity in the                    between 90–93 °F (32–34 °C) generally
                                                       ephemeral water bodies, with                            Americas. The study selected several                                                     ´
                                                                                                                                                                      produce males (Escobedo-Galvan 2006,
                                                       concomitant increases in Morelet’s                      areas in Florida and western Mexico                                            ´
                                                                                                                                                                      p. 133; Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008, p.
                                                       crocodile densities and intraspecific                   that contain American crocodiles, and                  2). Thus, the production of males is
                                                       interactions at nearby sites that still                 used the current environmental                         entirely dependent upon a sustained
                                                       have water. There is no evidence,                       information for these areas to predict                 incubation temperature range of only
                                                       however, that natural weather                           how increased temperatures would                       three degrees. Incubation temperatures
                                                       conditions have been a problem for the                  affect the potential geographical                      greater than 97 °F (36 °C) are at the
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile, which has adapted                  distribution and sex ratios of the species             upper end of the tolerance range for
                                                       to these weather conditions. Therefore,                 in Florida, the Caribbean, and Central                 reptile eggs and result in death of
                                                       we have no reason to believe that                       America.                                               embryos and stress to the surviving
                                                       natural weather events are currently                       Based on a preliminary analysis                                                  ´
                                                                                                                                                                      hatchlings (Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008,
                                                       likely to cause the Morelet’s crocodile to              (focusing on the geographic distribution               presentation, p. 2).
                                                       become in danger of extinction within                   and sex ratios of American crocodiles in                                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                        According to Escobedo-Galvan et al.
                                                       the foreseeable future throughout all or                the present, 2020, and 2050), Escobedo-                2008, the current sex ratio of the
                                                       any significant portion of its range.                         ´
                                                                                                               Galvan et al. (2008) postulated that the               American crocodile favors females
                                                                                                               geographic distribution and sex ratios of              (based on potential species
                                                       Climate Change
                                                                                                               American crocodile populations in                      distribution): 75 percent of the potential
                                                          The Intergovernmental Panel on                       different parts of the range would                     species distribution has fewer males
                                                       Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that                    change in response to temperature and                  than females, 15 percent has an equal
                                                       warming of the climate system is                        sea level parameters. Crocodiles are                   number of males and females, and 10
                                                       unequivocal (IPCC 2007a, p. 30) and sea                 ectothermic, relying on external sources               percent has more males than females.
                                                       levels are expected to rise well into the               of heat to regulate their body                         The study predicted that by 2020, the
                                                       foreseeable future (Bates et al. 2008, pp.              temperature. They control their body                   sex ratio is expected to shift in favor of
                                                       20 and 28–29). Numerous long-term                       temperature by basking in the sun, or                  males due to increases in nest
                                                       changes have been observed including                    moving to areas with warmer or cooler                  temperature as a result of climate
                                                       changes in arctic temperatures and ice,                 air or water temperatures. Optimal                     change: 24 percent of the potential

                                                       widespread changes in precipitation                     growth in crocodilians has been found                  species distribution will have fewer
                                                       amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns,                 to occur around 88 °F (31 °C), with                    males than females, 16 percent will
                                                       and aspects of extreme weather                          appetites and effective digestion                      have an equal number of males and
                                                       including droughts, heavy precipitation,                diminishing below 84 °F (29 °C) (Brien                 females, and 60 percent will have more
                                                       heat waves, and the intensity of tropical               et al. 2007, p. 15). As the global                     males than females (Escobedo-Galvan et´
                                                       cyclones (IPCC 2007b, p. 7). Based on                   temperatures increase, areas that are                  al. 2008, presentation, pp. 11–12).
                                                       scenarios that do not assume explicit                   currently too cool to support American                 Under this scenario, the number of
                                                       climate policies to reduce greenhouse                   and Morelet’s crocodiles may become                    females produced will be reduced
                                                       gas emissions, global average                           warm enough to support them in the                     significantly by 2020, which in turn will
                                                       temperature is projected to rise by                                                           ´
                                                                                                               future. According to Escobedo-Galvan et                reduce the overall total eggs laid in each

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00025   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23674                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       breeding season. Of the eggs laid, more                 hydroelectric dam in Belize on the                     exposure to organochlorines even
                                                       are likely to become males, which in                    Macal River, an area inhabited by the                  though these contaminants have been
                                                       turn would further reduce the number                    Morelet’s crocodile (Environment News                  linked to documented adverse effects on
                                                       of breeding females produced over time.                 Service 2004, p. 1; Hogan 2008, p. 2). At              population health in a similar species,
                                                       Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008 predicted                   the national level, six main                           the American alligator.
                                                       that by 2050, American crocodiles                       environmental issues affecting natural                    Vitellogenin induction in males,
                                                       would become extinct in Florida, the                    resources have been identified for                     suggesting endocrine disruption due to
                                                       Caribbean, or Central America                           Belize: (1) High deforestation rate;                   environmental contamination, is
                                                       (Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2008,                           (2) solid and liquid waste management                  predicted in Belize, but has not been
                                                       presentation p. 13).                                    issues; (3) rising poverty rates; (4) rapid            documented. These factors do not
                                                          Although American crocodiles are                     coastal development; (5) ineffective                   appear to pose a conservation threat to
                                                       found primarily in saline and brackish                  institution and legal frameworks; and                  the Morelet’s crocodile in Belize at this
                                                       environments, they can also be found in                 (6) oil discovery (Young 2008, p. 18).                 time. Information about environmental
                                                       abandoned coastal canals and borrow                        We do not have any information to                   contaminants in Mexico and Guatemala
                                                       pits and may range inland into                          indicate the extent of the impact, if any,             with regard to the Morelet’s crocodile is
                                                       freshwater environments preferred by                    that these environmental issues may                    limited. Potential environmental
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles such as lakes and                  have on the Morelet’s crocodile in                     contaminant issues with respect to the
                                                       lower reaches of large rivers. American                 Belize. There is no evidence that these                Morelet’s crocodile probably are the
                                                       crocodiles are extremely adaptable in                   environmental issues in Belize currently               least well known in Mexico, but that
                                                       their nesting strategy, and while they                  pose a threat to the species. Although                 country has an extensive legal
                                                       mainly nest in holes, individuals will                  they may represent a potential threat,                 framework to resolve any problems that
                                                       readily build mound nests if suitable                   we do not have any data to indicate that               may develop, especially if contaminants
                                                       materials are available. American and                   it is likely to become a threat in the                 also become a public health issue. We
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles have been known                    foreseeable future                                     do not have any information to indicate
                                                       to lay eggs within the same nest mound                     There has been some information                     that environmental contaminants pose a
                                                       as conspecifics, suggesting a more                      indicating that fishing nets (for fish and             danger to the species throughout its
                                                       gregarious and tolerant demeanor (Brien                 turtles) and death by drowning as                      range. Although environmental
                                                       et al. 2007, pp. 17–18). Sea level rise                 threats to the Morelet’s crocodile in                  contaminants may represent a potential
                                                       would significantly expand the amount                   Guatemala, but we do not have                          threat, especially given the potential for
                                                       of inland saline and brackish coastal                   information regarding specific rates of                bioaccumulation of contaminants
                                                       habitat available to the American                       injury or mortality (CITES 2008a, page).               during the species’ long reproductive
                                                       crocodile, and correspondingly decrease                 CONABIO (2005, p. 27) suggested that                   life, we do not have any data to indicate
                                                       the amount of inland freshwater habitat                 the number of crocodiles accidentally                  that it is likely to become a threat to the
                                                       available to the Morelet’s crocodile. The               captured in nets in Guatemala was low,                 species in the foreseeable future.
                                                       area of available land would also be                    but the basis for this claim was unclear.                 Bycatch in fishing nets has been
                                                       reduced as a result of sea level rise,                  Platt and Thorbjarnarson (2000b, p. 27)                mentioned as a potential problem in
                                                       further increasing competition between                  noted that ‘‘a limited number of                       Guatemala. In Belize, a ‘‘limited number
                                                       the two species for terrestrial activities              crocodiles’’ drown in fish and turtle nets             of crocodiles’’ may die or be injured in
                                                       such as nesting and basking on the                      in northern Belize each year. There is no              nets (Platt and Thorbjarnarson 2000b, p.
                                                       shoreline.                                              evidence that fishing currently poses a                27), while information about the
                                                          The study by Escobedo-Galvan et al.                  threat to the species. Although it may                 potential negative effects of fishing nets
                                                       2008 did not provide any information or                 represent a potential threat, we do not                on the Morelet’s crocodile in Mexico is
                                                       data on the effects of climate change on                have any data to indicate that it is likely            limited. Overall, these local impacts do
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile. Although the                   to become a threat in the foreseeable                  not appear to have any significant
                                                       American crocodile and Morelet’s                        future.                                                impact on Morelet’s crocodiles.
                                                       crocodile have overlapping ranges,                                                                             Although it may represent a potential
                                                       similar life-history requirements, and                  Summary of Factor E                                    threat, we do not have any data to
                                                       may lay eggs in the same nest, we do not                  Few, if any, natural or manmade                      indicate that it is likely to become a
                                                       have any evidence that climate change                   factors are anticipated to affect the                  threat in the foreseeable future.
                                                       currently poses a threat to the Morelet’s               continued existence of the Morelet’s                      Genetic diversity and integrity is a
                                                       crocodile. Although climate change may                  crocodile. While natural factors such as               relatively complicated subject with
                                                       represent a potential threat to the                     hurricanes and extended dry seasons                    respect to the Morelet’s crocodile, and
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile, especially given the               (CONABIO 2005, p. 32) may affect the                   our knowledge across the three range
                                                       crocodilian requirement for temperature                 species, we believe that the species has               countries is uneven. Studies in Belize
                                                       dependent sex determination, we do not                  evolved with these kinds of events and                 suggest that wild populations in that
                                                       have any data to indicate that it is likely             they do not pose a threat to the species.              country have a high degree of genetic
                                                       to become a threat in the foreseeable                     Several phenomena are categorized                    diversity (Dever and Densmore 2001,
                                                       future. We are seeking information and                  here as other natural or manmade                       pp. 543–544; Dever et al. 2002, p. 1084).
                                                       data on the effects of climate change on                factors that were considered as                        Hybridization between the Morelet’s

                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile as part of this                 potentially affecting the conservation                 crocodile and the American crocodile
                                                       proposed rule.                                          status of the Morelet’s crocodile in the               has been documented for eastern Belize
                                                                                                               foreseeable future. Our knowledge about                and the eastern and northern coasts of
                                                       Other Potential Concerns                                these factors is incomplete and uneven                 the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (Ray et
                                                         Other information obtained by the                     among the three range countries.                                                ˜    ´
                                                                                                                                                                      al. 2004, p. 440; Cedeno-Vazquez et al.
                                                       Service, however, suggests that the                     Environmental contaminants, especially                 2008, p. 661; Rodriguez et al. 2008, p.
                                                       construction and operation of dams to                   DDE and mercury, have been widely                      674). The nature and extent of genetic
                                                       generate electricity could be a                         reported for Belize. To date, however,                 variation of captive-bred populations
                                                       conservation threat to the Morelet’s                    there is no evidence of negative effects               with respect to wild populations, as
                                                       crocodile (for example, the Chalillo                    to the Morelet’s crocodile due to                      well as male-biased sex ratios, are also

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00026   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                             23675

                                                       poorly understood issues, but                              We have identified a number of                      the specific provisions and their
                                                       potentially important in Mexico where                   potential threats to the Morelet’s                     relevance to Morelet’s crocodile. We are
                                                       captive-bred individuals may eventually                 crocodile. Some of these potential                     unaware of regulatory mechanisms
                                                       be released into the wild. There is no                  threats may directly or indirectly affect              governing activities that discharge
                                                       indication, however, that the Morelet’s                 individual Morelet’s crocodiles, while                 environmental contaminants that
                                                       crocodile suffers from any genetic                      others may affect Morelet’s crocodile                  potentially affect Morelet’s crocodile in
                                                       limitations throughout its range.                       habitat. The contributions of these                    Belize. However, we do not have any
                                                          Natural weather events do not appear                 potential threats, identified in the                   data to indicate that environmental
                                                       to have any population level impacts to                 Summary of Factors Affecting the                       contaminants are likely to become a
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile, which has                      Species sections above are discussed in                threat in the foreseeable future.
                                                       evolved to thrive in this climate. We do                approximate descending magnitude of                       (3) Although habitat loss and
                                                       not have any evidence that climate                      impact in the foreseeable future:                      degradation continues to negatively
                                                       change poses a threat to the species.                      (1) A continuation of wild harvest for              affect the habitat for some local
                                                       Although climate change may represent                   ranching may pose a threat to the                      populations of the Morelet’s crocodile,
                                                       a potential threat, especially given the                species if the countries decide to change              we do not have any information to
                                                       crocodilian requirement for temperature                 course. However, if conducted in                       indicate that it is of sufficient
                                                       dependent sex determination, we do not                  compliance with CITES, the ranching                    magnitude to have a range-wide impact
                                                       have any data to indicate that it is likely             would have to be non-detrimental for                   on the species to the point that would
                                                       to become a threat in the foreseeable                   the specimens to enter international                   cause the Morelet’s crocodile to meet
                                                       future.                                                 trade. Our assessment of the risk                      the definition of either an endangered or
                                                          Although some local factors continue                 associated with this potential threat is               a threatened species. The species’
                                                       to affect the Morelet’s crocodile, we do                based primarily on the demonstrated                    relatively wide distribution throughout
                                                       not have any information to indicate                    adverse effects of past overharvest on                 its historical range and apparent
                                                       that these factors are of sufficient                    populations. Additional monitoring                     tolerance for habitats in proximity to
                                                       magnitude to affect any population of                   programs and adequate regulatory                       agriculture, grazing, and human
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile. In conclusion,                 mechanisms would need to be                            habitation are substantial factors
                                                       we find that other natural and manmade                  established prior to legalizing ranching.              mitigating these impacts to Morelet’s
                                                       factors are not a significant factor                    Such mechanisms would be important                     crocodiles over the next several
                                                       affecting the Morelet’s crocodile                       to prevent the laundering of illegally                 decades. We anticipate that these
                                                       throughout its range, both now and for                  harvested Morelet’s crocodiles. We find                conditions will remain essentially the
                                                       the foreseeable future.                                 that, taken together, the currently                    same in the foreseeable future due to the
                                                       Conclusion of the 5-Factor Analysis                     existing protections (described above in               adequate regulatory mechanisms in
                                                                                                               the Factor D section, Inadequacy of                    place to protect suitable habitat for the
                                                          We have carefully assessed the best                  Existing Regulatory Mechanisms) are                    Morelet’s crocodile in the majority of its
                                                       scientific and commercial data available                adequate, and they will remain adequate                range (see discussion above under the
                                                       and have determined that the Morelet’s                  to protect the Morelet’s crocodile and its             Factor D., Inadequacy of Existing
                                                       crocodile is no longer endangered or                    habitat in the majority of its range now               Regulatory Mechanisms, section).
                                                       threatened throughout all of its range.                 and within the foreseeable future if this                 The Morelet’s crocodile continues to
                                                       When considering the listing status of                  proposed rule is finalized and the                     be affected by a variety of potential
                                                       the species, the first step in the analysis             protections of the Act are removed.                    residual threats. It is likely that
                                                       is to determine whether the species is in                  (2) The detection of organic and                    development, hurricanes and other
                                                       danger of extinction or likely to become                inorganic environmental contaminants                   storm events, random human
                                                       endangered throughout all of its range.                 in Morelet’s crocodile eggs in Belize                  disturbance, fishery activities, oil spills,
                                                       For instance, if the threats on a species               indicates that impacts from                            and infestation by parasites will
                                                       are acting only on a portion of its range,              concentrations of environmental                        continue to impact individual
                                                       but the effects of the threats are such                 contaminants may represent a potential                 crocodiles into the future. Although
                                                       that they do not place the entire species               threat because Morelet’s crocodiles have               these impacts are generally expected to
                                                       in danger of extinction or likely to                    a long lifespan and remain                             continue intermittently at low levels
                                                       become endangered, we would not                         reproductively active once they attain                 into the foreseeable future, we do not
                                                       retain the entire species on the list.                  sexual maturity. However, there is no                  expect these impacts to affect
                                                          In developing this proposed rule, we                 evidence that environmental                            significantly the Morelet’s crocodile to
                                                       have carefully assessed the best                        contaminants are currently affecting                   the point that it would result in declines
                                                       scientific and commercial data available                populations (numbers and reproduction                  in the range-wide status of the species.
                                                       regarding the threats facing this species,              appear to be robust). In order to                         Although some potential threats to the
                                                       as well as the ongoing conservation                     determine that environmental                           Morelet’s crocodile remain throughout
                                                       efforts by the three range countries. This              contaminants may be a threat to the                    its range, as discussed above, they are at
                                                       information indicates that numbers of                   Morelet’s crocodile in the future, their               a low enough level such that they are
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles have significantly                 presence in the environment must be                    not having a significant population level
                                                       increased over the past four decades                    occurring at a level that affects the long-            or demographic effect on Morelet’s

                                                       since being categorized as depleted by                  term population levels over at least a                 crocodile populations in Mexico and
                                                       species experts in the 1970s. In Mexico                 significant portion of the range of the                Belize, in fact, most populations are
                                                       and Belize, the species is broadly                      species. We know of no ongoing                         stable and/or increasing and still occur
                                                       distributed geographically, essentially                 monitoring of environmental                            in their historic range. Any low level
                                                       occupying the entire historical range,                  contaminants anywhere in the species’                  threats occurring in Guatemala are
                                                       and age classes reflect healthy                         range. Although 45 articles within the                 currently being addressed by the
                                                       reproduction and recruitment into a                     Mexican LGEEPA deal with                               Guatemalan national and provincial
                                                       wild breeding population of about                       environmental contamination                            governments with the help of the local
                                                       10,000–20,000 adults (Ross 2000, p. 3;                  (CONABIO 2005, Annex 3, p. 1), we                      and international NGO community. We
                                                       CONABIO 2005, p. 19).                                   have not received a detailed analysis of               do not believe, based on the best

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00027   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23676                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       available information, that the extent of               the representation, resiliency, or                     the Morelet’s crocodile’s range; the
                                                       potential threats to the species in                     redundancy of the Morelet’s crocodile                  small population size of the species in
                                                       Guatemala, even if they increase will                   species.                                               Guatemala; and the past threats that
                                                       cause the Morelet’s crocodile to become                    Resiliency of a species allows the                  affected the quality of the habitat limits
                                                       threatened or endangered in the future.                 species to recover from periodic                       Guatemala’s contribution to resiliency.
                                                       The government of Guatemala                             disturbance. A species will likely be                  Therefore, we find that the population
                                                       recognizes the importance of this and                   more resilient if large populations exist              of the Morelet’s crocodile in Guatemala
                                                       other landscape species in the                          in high-quality habitat distributed                    does not significantly contribute to the
                                                       Guatemalan Maya Biosphere and are                       throughout the range of the species in                 resiliency of the species.
                                                       implementing regulatory and                             such a way as to capture the                              Redundancy of populations may be
                                                       enforcement controls to combat human                    environmental variability found within                 needed to provide a margin of safety for
                                                       encroachment, land clearing, fires and                  the range of the species. It is likely that            the species to withstand catastrophic
                                                       other illegal activities that may pose a                the larger size of a population will help              events. This does not mean that any
                                                       threat to these species. In addition,                   contribute to the viability of the species             portion that provides redundancy is a
                                                       Guatemala’s request to keep                             overall. Thus, a portion of a range of a               significant portion of the range of the
                                                       Guatemala’s populations of Morelet’s                    species may make a meaningful                          species. The idea is to conserve enough
                                                       crocodile in Appendix I attests to their                contribution to the resiliency of the                  areas of the range such that random
                                                       commitment to ensure trade does not                     species if the area is relatively large and            perturbations in the system act on only
                                                       affect Guatemala’s wild Morelet’s                       contains particularly high-quality                     a few populations. Therefore, each area
                                                       crocodile populations.                                  habitat or if its location or                          must be examined based on whether
                                                          Having determined that the Morelet’s                 characteristics make it less susceptible               that area provides an increment of
                                                       crocodile is no longer endangered or                    to certain threats than other portions of              redundancy that is important to the
                                                       threatened throughout its range, we                     the range. When evaluating whether or                  conservation of the species.
                                                       must next determine if the threats to the               how a portion of the range contributes                    Morelet’s crocodile distribution in the
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile are non-uniformly                   to the resiliency of the species, it may                                     ´
                                                                                                                                                                      northern State of Peten, Guatemala has
                                                       distributed such that populations in one                help to evaluate the historical value of               been described as fragmented, with the
                                                       portion of its range experience higher                  the portion of the range and how                       healthiest populations in the northern
                                                       level of threats that populations in other              frequently the portion is used by the                                ´
                                                                                                                                                                      region of Peten, where human impact
                                                       portions of its range.                                  species. In addition, the range may                                      ˜
                                                                                                                                                                      was lower (Castaneda Moya 1997, p. 1;
                                                                                                               contribute to the resiliency for other                 1998a, p. 521). While Guatemala has
                                                       Significant Portion of the Range                                                                               regulatory mechanisms in place to
                                                                                                               reasons—for instance, it may contain an
                                                          Section 4(c)(1) of the Act requires the              important concentration of certain types               protect their national parks, it appears
                                                       Service to determine whether a portion                  of habitat that are necessary for the                  that the Government of Guatemala, until
                                                       of a species’ range, if not all, meets the              species to carry out its life history                  recently, was not able to enforce them
                                                       definition of endangered or threatened.                 functions, such as breeding, feeding,                  adequately. Although Guatemala has
                                                       A portion of a species’ range is                        migration, dispersal or wintering.                     conserved several areas of the Morelet’s
                                                       significant if it is part of the current                   Guatemala comprises a small portion                 crocodile’s range, past threats limited
                                                       range of the species and it contributes                 of the overall range of the Morelet’s                  their potential contribution to the
                                                       substantially to the representation,                    crocodile. The estimated number of                     conservation of the species (IARNA URL
                                                       resiliency, or redundancy of the species.               Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala is                   IIA 2006, pp. 88–92). The idea is to
                                                       The contribution must be at a level such                13% of the potential global population                 conserve enough areas of the range such
                                                       that its loss would result in a decrease                estimate. The extent of undisturbed                    that random perturbations in the system
                                                       in the ability to conserve the species. In              habitat in Guatemala is estimated to be                act on only a few populations, however,
                                                       other words, in considering                             19% of the total range estimate                        Guatemala has been unable in the past
                                                       significance, the Service asks whether                  (CONABIO 2005, pp. 16–19). Past                        to adequately conserve Morelet’s
                                                       the loss of this portion likely would                   resource extraction, drug trade, a lack of             habitat. Thus we conclude that the
                                                       eventually move the species towards                     enforcement, and financial issues                      population of the Morelet’s crocodile in
                                                       extinction, but not to the point where                  limited Guatemala’s protected areas’                   Guatemala does not significantly
                                                       the species should be listed as                         potential contribution to the                          contribute to the redundancy of the
                                                       threatened or endangered throughout all                 conservation status of the species                     species.
                                                       of its range.                                           (IARNA URL IIA 2006, pp. 88–92),                          Representation ensures that the
                                                          We evaluated the Morelet’s                           causing habitat loss, habitat                          species’ adaptive capabilities are
                                                       crocodile’s range in the context of                     degradation, habitat fragmentation,                    conserved. Specifically, the portion
                                                       whether any potential threats are                       overutilization of resources,                          should be evaluated to see how it
                                                       concentrated in a portion of its range                  environmental contamination, and the                   contributes to the genetic,
                                                       such that if there were concentrated                    introduction of exotic species. These                  morphological, physiological,
                                                       impacts, that crocodile population                      past threats may have lowered the                      behavioral, or ecological diversity of the
                                                       might be in danger of extinction. We                    quality of habitat available to Morelet’s              species. A substantial contribution to
                                                       further evaluated whether any such                      crocodile. In addition, Morelet’s                      the representation includes populations

                                                       population or complex might constitute                  crocodile habitat consists of flooded                  or portions of the range that are
                                                       a significant portion of the species                    savannahs and marshes that are typical                 markedly genetically divergent, occur in
                                                       range.                                                  of the species habitat throughout its                  a unique or unusual ecological setting,
                                                                                                               range, but are not representative of the               or have unique morphological,
                                                       Guatemala’s Contribution to                             environmental variability found within                 physiological, or behavioral
                                                       Representation, Resiliency, or                          the total range of the species. The                    characteristics. The loss of genetically
                                                       Redundancy of the Species                               species’ range, specifically Laguna del                based diversity or unique adaptations
                                                         As part of the SPR analysis, we look                  Tigre National Park, was in the past                   may substantially reduce the ability of
                                                       to see, in terms of species or habitat, if              more susceptible to certain threats. The               the species to respond and adapt to
                                                       Guatemala contributes substantially to                  small size of the Guatemalan portion of                future environmental changes. For

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00028   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                          23677

                                                       example, a peripheral population may                    January 16, 2009, memorandum                           have carefully assessed the best
                                                       contribute meaningfully to                              addressed to the Acting Director of the                available scientific and commercial data
                                                       representation if there is evidence that                Service from the Office of the Solicitor,              regarding the past, present, and future
                                                       it provides genetic diversity due to its                Department of the Interior, concluded,                 threats faced by the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                       location on the margin of the species                   ‘‘* * * as used in the [Act], Congress                 This status review found that although
                                                       habitat requirements. Morphological,                    intended the term ‘foreseeable future’ to              some localized impacts to individual
                                                       physiological, and behavioral diversity                 describe the extent to which the                       Morelet’s crocodiles still occur, such as
                                                       across the range of the species may also                Secretary can reasonably rely on                       habitat loss from agricultural
                                                       indicate adaptations to environmental                   predictions about the future in making                 development, they have been reduced
                                                       variation or genetically based                          determinations about the future                        enough so as to not impact the species
                                                       differences, and therefore should be                    conservation status of the species’’ (U.S.             on a population level. In addition to the
                                                       considered when evaluating a portion’s                  Department of the Interior 2009, page 1).              five-factor analysis, we also considered
                                                       contribution to representation.                         ‘‘Foreseeable future’’ is determined by                the progress made by the range
                                                          We could not find any data or                        the Service on a case-by-case basis,                   countries towards addressing previous
                                                       information that the Morelet’s crocodile                taking into consideration a variety of                 threats to Morelet’s crocodiles. We took
                                                       in Guatemala is ecologically unusual,                   species-specific factors such as lifespan,             into consideration the conservation
                                                       unique, or otherwise significant to the                 genetics, mating systems, demography,                  actions that have occurred, are ongoing,
                                                       species as a whole in any way (for                      threat projection timeframes, and                      and are planned. Since listing, the
                                                       example, in terms of species or habitat).               environmental variability.                             species’ status has improved because of
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile habitat consists of                    In considering the foreseeable future               the following:
                                                       flooded savannahs and marshes that are                  as it relates to the status of the Morelet’s              • National and international laws and
                                                       typical of the species habitat throughout               crocodile, we defined the ‘‘foreseeable                treaties have minimized the impacts of
                                                       its range. In addition, we have no                      future’’ to be the extent to which, given              hunting and trade in wild-caught
                                                       information indicating that the                         the amount and substance of available                  specimens.
                                                       Guatemala population is genetically                     data, events or effects can and should be                 • Morelet’s crocodile populations are
                                                       different from the remainder of the                     anticipated, or the threats reasonably                 stable or increasing.
                                                       range. We therefore conclude that the                   extrapolated. We considered the                           • Total population size is
                                                       range of the Morelet’s crocodile in                     historical data to identify any relevant               approximately 19,400 adults in the three
                                                       Guatemala does not significantly                        threats acting on the species, ongoing                 range countries.
                                                       contribute to the representation of the                 conservation efforts, data on species                     • Species experts now widely
                                                       species.                                                abundance and persistence at individual                characterize Morelet’s crocodile
                                                          Because the Morelet’s crocodile’s                    sites since the time of listing, and                   populations as healthy.
                                                       range in Guatemala does not contribute                  identifiable informational gaps and                       • The current range-wide distribution
                                                       significantly towards the resiliency,                   uncertainties regarding residual and                   of Morelet’s crocodile now closely
                                                       redundancy or representation of the                     emerging threats to the species, as well               resembles historical range-wide
                                                       species, we do not consider Guatemala                   as population status and trends. We                    distribution
                                                       to be a significant portion of the range                then looked to see if reliable predictions                • Range countries have improved
                                                       of the species.                                         about the status of the species in                     efforts to protect and manage Morelet’s
                                                                                                               response to those factors could be                     crocodile habitat.
                                                       Finding                                                                                                           • The long-term prognosis for the
                                                                                                               drawn. We considered the historical
                                                          The PVA conducted by Sanchez                         data to identify any relevant existing                 survival and genetic diversity of the
                                                       (Sanchez 2005) suggests the long-term                   trends that might allow for reliable                   Morelet’s crocodile throughout its range
                                                       prognosis for the survival and genetic                  prediction of the future, in the form of               is very good
                                                       diversity of the Morelet’s crocodile                    extrapolating the trends. We also                         In sum, the ongoing development and
                                                       throughout its range is very good,                      considered whether we could reliably                   updating of management plans, the
                                                       estimating that the average time to reach               predict any future events, not yet acting              active management of habitat, the
                                                       the quasi-extinction threshold of 500                   on the species and, therefore, not yet                 ongoing research, and the protections
                                                       individuals being 483 years (Sanchez                    manifested in a trend, that might affect               provided by laws and protected lands
                                                       2005, pp. 43–51). Under the PVA, the                    the status of the species, recognizing                 provide compelling evidence that
                                                       probability of survival of a population of              that our ability to make reliable                      recovery actions are successful.
                                                       30,000 individuals, subject to high-                    predictions into the future is limited by                 The primary factor that led to the
                                                       stress conditions is approximately 86                   the variable quantity and quality of                   listing of the Morelet’s crocodile was
                                                       percent, and maintaining their genetic                  available data. Following a range-wide                 trade. However, the trend today is
                                                       diversity is approximately 99 percent.                  threats analysis, we evaluated whether                 towards increasing population sizes,
                                                          A species is ‘‘endangered’’ for                      the Morelet’s crocodile is endangered or               with trade restricted to captive-bred
                                                       purposes of the Act if it is in danger of               threatened in any significant portion(s)               specimens only. We find that the
                                                       extinction throughout all or a significant              of its range.                                          localized impacts identified in the three
                                                       portion of its range and is ‘‘threatened’’                 As required by the Act, we considered               range countries, when combined with
                                                       if it is likely to become endangered                    the five factors in assessing whether the              the increase in population sizes,

                                                       within the foreseeable future throughout                Morelet’s crocodile is threatened or                   ongoing active research and
                                                       all or a significant portion of its range.              endangered throughout all or a                         management, and protections provided
                                                       The word ‘‘range’’ is used here to refer                significant portion of its range. We                   by range countries, those impacts are
                                                       to the range in which the species                       reviewed the petition, information                     not of sufficient imminence, intensity,
                                                       currently exists, and the word                          available in our files, comments and                   or magnitude to indicate that the
                                                       ‘‘significant’’ refers to the value of that             information received after the                         Morelet’s crocodile is threatened with
                                                       portion of the range being considered to                publication of our 90-day finding (71 FR               extinction now or in the foreseeable
                                                       the conservation of the species.                        36743), and other available published                  future. Consequently, we have
                                                          The Act does not define the term                     and unpublished information, and                       determined that Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       ‘‘foreseeable future.’’ However, in a                   consulted with recognized experts. We                  should be removed from the list of

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00029   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23678                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       endangered and threatened wildlife and                  inadequacy of existing regulatory                      differences in control of exploitation,
                                                       plants.                                                 mechanisms.                                            management of habitat, conservation
                                                                                                                  Second, if we determine that the                    status, or regulatory mechanisms exist
                                                       Distinct Vertebrate Population                          population is discrete under one or                    that are significant in light of section
                                                       Segments                                                more of the discreteness conditions,                   4(a)(1)(D) of the Act—the inadequacy of
                                                          Section 3(15) of the Act defines                     then a determination is made as to                     existing regulatory mechanisms.
                                                       ‘‘species’’ to include ‘‘any species or                 whether the population is significant to               Recognition of international boundaries
                                                       subspecies of fish and wildlife or plants,              the larger taxon to which it belongs in                when they coincide with differences in
                                                       and any distinct population segment of                  light of Congressional guidance (see                   the management, status, or exploitation
                                                       any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife              Senate Report 151, 96th Congress, 1st                  of the species under the Act is
                                                       which interbreeds when mature (16                       Session) that the authority to list DPSs               consistent with CITES, which
                                                       U.S.C. 1532(16)). After assessing                       be used ‘‘sparingly and only when the                  recognizes international boundaries for
                                                       whether or not the Morelet’s crocodile                  biological evidence indicates that such                these same reasons. CITES is
                                                       is endangered or threatened throughout                  action is warranted.’’ In carrying out this            implemented in the United States by the
                                                       its range, we next consider whether a                   examination, we consider available                     Act.
                                                       distinct vertebrate population segment                  scientific evidence of the population’s
                                                                                                               importance to the taxon to which it                    Physical, Physiological, Ecological, or
                                                       (DPS) of the Morelet’s crocodile meets                                                                         Behavioral Factors
                                                       the definition of endangered or is likely               belongs. This consideration may
                                                       to become endangered in the foreseeable                 include, but is not limited to the                        We do not have any data or
                                                       future (threatened).                                    following: (1) The persistence of the                  information to indicate that there are
                                                          To interpret and implement the DPS                   population segment in an ecological                    any physical, physiological, ecological,
                                                       provisions of the Act and congressional                 setting that is unique or unusual for the              or behavioral facts that separate any
                                                                                                               taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the                   populations of the Morelet’s crocodile.
                                                       guidance, the Service and the National
                                                                                                               population segment would result in a                   The historical distribution of the
                                                       Marine Fisheries Service (now the
                                                                                                               significant gap in the range of the taxon;             Morelet’s crocodile comprised the
                                                       National Oceanic and Atmospheric
                                                                                                               (3) evidence that the population                       eastern coastal plain of Mexico, most of
                                                       Administration—Fisheries Service),
                                                                                                               segment represents the only surviving                  the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and
                                                       published the Policy Regarding the
                                                                                                               natural occurrence of a taxon that may                 northern Guatemala (Hurley 2005, p. 1),
                                                       Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate
                                                                                                               be more abundant elsewhere as an                       with an estimated historical distribution
                                                       Population Segments (DPS Policy) in
                                                                                                               introduced population outside of its                   covering 173,746 mi2 (450,000 km2)
                                                       the Federal Register on February 7,                                                                                             ´
                                                                                                               historic range; and (4) evidence that the              (Sigler and Domınguez Laso 2008, pp.
                                                       1996 (61 FR 4722). Under the DPS
                                                                                                               discrete population segment differs                    11–12). The Morelet’s crocodile is a
                                                       Policy, we evaluate a set of elements in
                                                                                                               markedly from other populations of the                 wide-ranging species that occurs
                                                       a three-step process in order to make                                                                          primarily in freshwater environments
                                                                                                               species in its genetic characteristics
                                                       our decision concerning the                                                                                    such as lakes, swamps, and slow-
                                                                                                               from other populations of the species. A
                                                       establishment and classification of a                                                                          moving rivers. This species of crocodile
                                                                                                               population segment needs to satisfy
                                                       possible DPS. These elements are                                                                               can temporarily inhabit intermittent
                                                                                                               only one of these conditions to be
                                                       applied similarly for additions to or                                                                          freshwater bodies such as flooded
                                                                                                               considered significant.
                                                       removals from the Federal List of                          Lastly, if we determine that the                    savannahs and is occasionally observed
                                                       Endangered and Threatened Wildlife                      population is both discrete and                        in brackish coastal lagoons (Villegas
                                                       and Plants.                                             significant, then the Policy requires an               2006, p. 8).
                                                          These elements include: (1) The                      analysis of the population segment’s                      We do not have any data or
                                                       discreteness of a population in relation                conservation status in relation to the                 information to indicate that any
                                                       to the remainder of the taxon to which                  Act’s standards for listing (addition to               populations of the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       it belongs; (2) the significance of the                 the list), delisting (removal from the                 exhibit genetic or morphological
                                                       population segment to the taxon to                      list), or reclassification (i.e., is the               discontinuity that may indicate that
                                                       which it belongs; and (3) the population                population segment endangered or                       they are a separate population.
                                                       segment’s conservation status in relation               threatened).                                           Although we do not have any data or
                                                       to the Act’s standards for listing                                                                             information on the dispersal strategies
                                                       (addition to the list), delisting (removal              Discreteness
                                                                                                                                                                      for the Morelet’s crocodile that would
                                                       from the list), or reclassification (i.e., is              The first step in our DPS analysis for              indicate a population may be discrete,
                                                       the population segment endangered or                    the Morelet’s crocodile was to                         we have no evidence to suggest that
                                                       threatened).                                            determine whether there were any                       there are barriers that would prevent the
                                                          First, the Policy requires the Service               populations of the Morelet’s crocodile                 Morelet’s crocodile from dispersing
                                                       to determine that a vertebrate                          that were discrete in relation to the                  within its known range. The current
                                                       population is discrete in relation to the               remainder of the taxon to which it                     range-wide distribution of the Morelet’s
                                                       remainder of the taxon to which it                      belongs. Under the DPS Policy, a                       crocodile closely mirrors the historical
                                                       belongs. Discreteness refers to the                     population segment of a vertebrate                     range-wide distribution, and there are
                                                       ability to delineate a population                       taxon may be considered discrete if it                 large amount of high quality of habitat

                                                       segment from other members of a taxon                   satisfies either one of the following                  available. Therefore, we have no
                                                       based on either (1) Physical,                           conditions: (1) It is markedly separated               evidence suggesting that the Morelet’s
                                                       physiological, ecological, or behavioral                from other populations of the same                     crocodile is isolated in any part of its
                                                       factors, or (2) international                           taxon because of physical,                             range.
                                                       governmental boundaries that result in                  physiological, ecological, or behavioral
                                                       significant differences in control of                   factors. Quantitative measures of genetic              International Differences in Species’
                                                       exploitation, management, or habitat                    or morphological discontinuity may                     Conservation Status
                                                       conservation status, or regulatory                      provide evidence of this separation; or                  As discussed above in the Factor D
                                                       mechanisms that are significant in light                (2) it is delimited by international                   section, Inadequacy of Existing
                                                       of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act—the                    governmental boundaries within which                   Regulatory Mechanisms, all three range

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00030   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                           23679

                                                       countries are Parties to CITES. In                      presence of human settlements,                         These efforts have resulted in additional
                                                       addition, data and information available                expanding agriculture and cattle                       personnel added to parks, removal of
                                                       to the Service indicates that all three                 ranching, poaching, forest fires, the oil              settlements, consistent patrols and
                                                       range countries have Federally                          industry, and almost complete lack of                  cessation of illegal activities, and
                                                       protected-species and protected-areas                   institutional control over the area                    educating locals and concessionaires on
                                                       legislation under the jurisdiction of                   (ParksWatch 2003, pp. 1, 11). However,                 best management practices for
                                                       specific ministries or departments that                 by 2004, ParksWatch stated that the staff              sustainable use of forest products. In
                                                       control activities that affect the                      at Laguna del Tigre had doubled in size                addition, the CITES National Legislation
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile and its habitat.                    since their 2003 report. Seventy-three                 Project ( deemed
                                                       Mexico’s Federal legal framework is                     park rangers, 10 archeological site                    both Mexico and Guatemala’s national
                                                       particularly robust. The CITES National                 guards and 96 Army personnel were                      legislation as Category 1, meeting all the
                                                       Legislation Project (http://                            hired to staff the park and since the                  requirements to implement CITES, with
                                              deemed both Mexico                       increase in staffing, both the park and                Belize in Category 3 (not meeting the
                                                       and Guatemala’s national legislation as                 the biotope are ‘‘constantly patrolled.’’ In           requirements for implementing CITES),
                                                       Category 1, meeting all the requirements                addition, the WCS continued its                        but having submitted a national
                                                       to implement CITES, with Belize in                      ‘‘Biodiversity Conservation at a                       legislation plan and draft of legislation
                                                       Category 3 (not meeting the                             Landscape Scale’’ program (with USAID)                 that has not yet been adopted.
                                                       requirements for implementing CITES),                   for Guatemala and has provided a                                ˜
                                                                                                                                                                         Castaneda Moya (1998a, p. 521;
                                                       but having submitted a national                         comprehensive plan with specific goals                 1998b, p. 13) listed illegal hunting as a
                                                       legislation plan and draft of legislation               to preserve and protect wildlife in the                threat to Morelet’s crocodile in the
                                                       that has not yet been adopted.                          Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala                        ´
                                                                                                                                                                      Peten region of Guatemala (CITES
                                                          Based on current data and                            through conserving wildlife species and                2010a), but did not provide a numerical
                                                       information available to the Service, the               their habitat, while maintaining the                   estimate of the take. ARCAS, an animal
                                                       Governments of Mexico, Guatemala, and                   economic productivity of renewable                     welfare group in Guatemala, reported
                                                       Belize appear to be adequately enforcing                natural resources. They are fulfilling                 the rescue or recovery of 49 live
                                                       their respective legal frameworks, both                 these goals by establishing specific                   individuals (about 8 per year), most
                                                       at the Federal level and under CITES.                   parameters. Namely, ‘‘to develop                       likely from pet dealers or private
                                                       Mexico and Belize contain the majority                  adaptive and participatory strategy to                 individuals, during the period 2002–
                                                       of wild Morelet’s crocodiles (87 percent)               reduce threats to wildlife in the MBR; to              2007 (ARCAS 2002, p. 3; 2003, p. 2;
                                                       and the majority of the potentially                     develop, implement and monitor                         2004, p. 2; 2005, p. 2; 2006, p. 3; 2007,
                                                       suitable habitat (81 percent) throughout                sustainable mechanisms to reduce                       p. 3).
                                                       the species’ range. Because of this                                                                               The Government of Guatemala
                                                                                                               threats to wildlife and ecosystems
                                                       adequate enforcement, the majority of                                                                          acknowledged these issues when it
                                                                                                               across the MBR landscape; to learn and
                                                       the threats to the species and its habitat                                                                     opposed Mexico’s 2010 CITES proposal
                                                                                                               teach best management practices for the
                                                       have been eliminated in Mexico and                                                                             to transfer the Morelet’s crocodile from
                                                                                                               conservation of the MBR and beyond;
                                                       Belize. Although some residual threats                                                                         Appendix I to Appendix II throughout
                                                                                                               and to guide, design and test wildlife-
                                                       remain, these threats have been reduced                                                                        its range. Specifically, the Government
                                                                                                               focused planning’’ (WCS 2008, page 3).
                                                       to a low enough level that they are not                                                                        of Guatemala opposed transferring
                                                                                                               These efforts were endorsed by the
                                                       having significant population level or                                                                         Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala to
                                                                                                               president of Guatemala through his
                                                       demographic effects.                                                                                           Appendix II based on the lack of
                                                                                                               office’s attendance at the Mesa
                                                          In contrast, based on data and                                                                              knowledge of the population and
                                                                                                               Multisectorial roundtable discussion                   population trends in Guatemala, the
                                                       information available to the Service, it
                                                       appears that in the past, the Government                held in Guatemala in 2009.                             potential threats to the species from
                                                       of Guatemala was not able to enforce                       Many outstanding accomplishments                    deforestation and pollution in
                                                       adequately their legal framework to                     have been achieved in Guatemala in                     Guatemala, and the likelihood of illegal,
                                                       protect the Morelet’s crocodile and its                 terms of biodiversity conservation                     cross-border trade taking place in
                                                       habitat in Guatemala. The lack of                       (IARNA URL IIA 2006, p. 22), and                       Guatemala. Morelet’s crocodiles in
                                                       funding and personnel made                              efforts to achieve desired levels of                   Guatemala remain in CITES Appendix I
                                                       enforcement of Guatemala’s legal                        environmental management are                           (CITES 2010a, p. 2). As a result of the
                                                       framework especially challenging.                       ongoing. In August 2010, the president                 Government of Guatemala’s past
                                                       Conservation actions were often                         of Guatemala announced that he is                      inability to adequately enforce their
                                                       overwhelmed by slow economic                            deploying 250 soldiers to recover fully                legal framework, the Morelet’s crocodile
                                                       development, high levels of poverty,                    all the protected zones of El Peten in the             in Guatemala may be still subject to
                                                       unequal land distribution, a highly                     Laguna del Tigre section of the MBR.                   some illegal hunting and some
                                                       segmented society, and the effects of                   This ‘‘Green Battalion’’ is being                      destruction of habitat due to previous
                                                       more than three decades of civil war                    deployed specifically protect the Laguna               human encroachment. This constitutes a
                                                       (Birner et al. 2005, pp. 285, 292).                     del Tigre National Park and work jointly               difference in control of exploitation,
                                                          For example, per ParkWatch (2003)                    with the National Civil Police and the                 management of habitat, conservation
                                                       noted that a designation as a national                  Attorney General’s Office to combat                    status, or regulatory mechanisms that is

                                                       park or important wetland conservation                  drug trafficking and the illegal harvest               significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D)
                                                       area in Guatemala does not necessarily                  of natural resources and archaeological                of the Act.
                                                       afford protection to the Morelet’s                      sites of that region of the MBR (Latin
                                                       crocodile or its habitat. The Laguna del                American Herald Tribune, December 6,                   Conclusion on Discreteness
                                                       Tigre National Park, located in Peten´                  2010). Additional help from WCS and                      We have determined, based on the
                                                       region of Guatemala, is home to the                     USAID includes establishing over flights               best available data and information that
                                                       largest population of Morelet’s                         to monitor fires, locating illegal                     the population of Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       crocodiles in Guatemala. The park was                   settlements and notifying the national                 in Guatemala is discrete due to the
                                                       considered by ParkWatch as critically                   and provincial government of illegal                   significant difference in the control of
                                                       threatened due to land grabs, the                       activities, as well as the national media.             exploitation, management of habitat,

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00031   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23680                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       conservation status, or regulatory                      warranting conservation under the Act                  conserved several areas of the Morelet’s
                                                       mechanisms between international                        (61 FR 4724). In considering whether                   crocodile’s range, past threats limited
                                                       boundaries. Therefore, we have                          the population occupies an ecological                  this population’s contribution to the
                                                       determined that the Guatemala                           setting that is unusual or unique for the              species (IARNA URL IIA 2006, pp. 88–
                                                       population of the Morelet’s crocodile                   taxon, we evaluate whether the habitat                 92). Morelet’s crocodile habitat consists
                                                       meets the requirements of our DPS                       includes unique features not used by the               of flooded savannahs and marshes that
                                                       Policy for discreteness. We will next                   taxon elsewhere and whether the habitat                are typical of the species habitat
                                                       conduct an analysis of the Guatemala                    shares many features common to the                     throughout its range, but are not
                                                       population of the Morelet’s crocodile                   habitats of other populations. As stated               ecologically unusual, unique, or
                                                       under the significance element of the                   above, the Morelet’s crocodile is a wide-              otherwise significant to the species as a
                                                       DPS Policy.                                             ranging species that occurs primarily in               whole in any way. In addition, we
                                                                                                               freshwater environments such as lakes,                 found no information indicating that the
                                                                                                               swamps, and slow-moving rivers. This                   Guatemala population is genetically
                                                          Having determined that the                           species of crocodile can temporarily                   different from the remainder of the
                                                       population of Morelet’s crocodiles in                   inhabit intermittent freshwater bodies                 range.
                                                       Guatemala is discrete under one or more                 such as flooded savannahs and is
                                                       of the discreteness conditions described                                                                       Conclusion of Significant Gap in the
                                                                                                               occasionally observed in brackish
                                                       in the DPS Policy, we must then                                                                                Taxon’s Range
                                                                                                               coastal lagoons (Villegas 2006, p. 8). We
                                                       determine whether the population in                     do not have any evidence to indicate                     The Morelet’s crocodile in Guatemala
                                                       Guatemala is significant. We evaluate its               that the Guatemala population of the                   does not significantly contribute to the
                                                       biological and ecological significance                  Morelet’s crocodile occurs in habitat                  resiliency, redundancy or the
                                                       based on ‘‘the available scientific                     that includes unique features not used                 representation of the species or its
                                                       evidence of the discrete population                     by the taxon elsewhere in its range.                   range, including but not limited to, the
                                                       segment’s importance to the taxon to                    Morelet’s crocodile habitat in the                     size of the range, habitat quality, habitat
                                                       which it belongs’’ (61 FR 4725). We                     Laguna del Tigre National Park consists                variability, or genetic uniqueness. The
                                                       make this evaluation in light of                        of flooded savannahs and marshes that                  majority of the species range occurs in
                                                       congressional guidance that the                         are typical of the species habitat                     Mexico and Belize, which contain the
                                                       Service’s authority to list DPSs be used                throughout its range. Therefore, we                    majority of all wild Morelet’s crocodiles
                                                       ‘‘sparingly.’’ Since precise circumstances              conclude that the discrete population of               (87 percent) and the majority of the
                                                       are likely to vary considerably from case               Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala is not               potentially suitable habitat throughout
                                                       to case, the DPS Policy does not                        ‘‘significant’’ because of persistence in a            the species’ range (81 percent). Should
                                                       describe all the classes of information                 unique or unusual ecological setting.                  a discrete population segment of
                                                       that might be used in determining the                                                                          Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala
                                                       biological and ecological importance of                 Significant Gap in the Taxon’s Range                   decrease for any reason (which we have
                                                       a discrete population. However, the DPS                    As stated in the DPS Policy, the                    concluded is unlikely), then it is likely
                                                       Policy describes four possible classes of               Service believes that evidence that loss               that Morelet’s crocodiles in Mexico and
                                                       information that provide evidence of a                  of the discrete population segment                     Belize would expand their range and re-
                                                       population segment’s biological and                     would result in a significant gap in the               colonize any potential habitat in
                                                       ecological importance to the taxon to                   range of a taxon, is potentially an                    Guatemala. Thus, we feel the loss of a
                                                       which it belongs. As specified in the                   indication that a population segment                   discrete population segment in
                                                       DPS Policy (61 FR 4722), consideration                  represents a significant resource                      Guatemala would not create a
                                                       of the population segment’s significance                warranting conservation under the Act                  significant gap in the range of the
                                                       may include, but is not limited to the                  (61 FR 4724). As the Ninth Circuit has                 species, nor does it represent a
                                                       following: (1) Persistence of the                       stated, ‘‘[t]he plain language of the                  significant resource warranting
                                                       population segment in an ecological                     second significance factor does not limit              conservation under the Act.
                                                       setting that is unusual or unique for the               how a gap could be important,’’
                                                                                                                                                                      Natural Occurrence of a Taxon
                                                       taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the                    National Ass’n of Home Builders v.
                                                                                                                                                                      Abundant Elsewhere as an Introduced
                                                       population segment would result in a                    Norton, 340 F.3d 835, 846 (9th Cir.
                                                       significant gap in the range of the taxon;              2003). Thus, we considered a variety of
                                                       (3) evidence that the population                        ways in which the loss of the Guatemala                  As stated in the DPS Policy, the
                                                       segment represents the only surviving                   population of the Morelet’s crocodile                  Service believes that evidence that the
                                                       natural occurrence of a taxon that may                  might result in a significant gap in the               population segment represents the only
                                                       be more abundant elsewhere as an                        range of species. Namely, we considered                surviving natural occurrence of a taxon
                                                       introduced population outside of its                    whether Guatemala contributed to the                   that may be more abundant elsewhere as
                                                       historic range; and (4) evidence that the               resiliency, redundancy, or                             an introduced population outside of its
                                                       discrete population segment differs                     representation of the taxon’s range. As                historic range may be an indication that
                                                       markedly from other populations of the                  stated previously in the Significant                   a population segment represents a
                                                       species in its genetic characteristics. A               Portion of the Range analysis, the                     significant resource warranting
                                                       population segment needs to satisfy                     Service felt that due to the small size of             conservation under the Act (61 FR

                                                       only one of these conditions to be                      the Guatemalan portion of the Morelet’s                4724). This element does not apply to
                                                       considered significant.                                 crocodile’s range and the small                        the Morelet’s crocodile in Guatemala.
                                                                                                               population size of the species in                      The Guatemala population of the
                                                       Persistence in a Unique Ecological                      Guatemala, its overall contribution to                 Morelet’s crocodile does not represent
                                                       Setting                                                 the species was limited. While                         the only surviving natural occurrence of
                                                         As stated in the DPS Policy, the                      Guatemala has regulatory mechanisms                    the Morelet’s crocodile throughout the
                                                       Service believes that occurrence in an                  in place to protect their national parks,              range of the taxon. After the protections
                                                       unusual ecological setting may be an                    it appears that until recently, the                    of the Act and CITES were put in place
                                                       indication that a population segment                    government was unable to enforce them                  in the 1970s, populations of Morelet’s
                                                       represents a significant resource                       adequately. Although Guatemala has                     crocodiles increased and expanded their

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00032   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                            23681

                                                       range naturally over time to the point                  Conclusion of DPS Analysis                             does not affect the protection given to
                                                       that they have recovered and are now                       Based on the best available data and                the Morelet’s crocodile under CITES.
                                                       found in all areas of their historic range.             information, we conclude that the                      Delisting under the Act would allow
                                                                                                               Guatemala population of the Morelet’s                  import, re-export, and commercial
                                                       Marked Differences in Genetic                                                                                  activity in Morelet’s crocodiles and their
                                                       Characteristics                                         crocodile meets the requirements of our
                                                                                                               DPS Policy for discreteness, but does                  parts and products originating from any
                                                                                                               not meet the requirements of our DPS                   country, including the three range
                                                         As stated in the DPS Policy, the
                                                                                                               policy for significance in relation to the             countries, provided that the
                                                       Service believes that evidence that a
                                                                                                               remainder of the taxon (i.e., Morelet’s                requirements of CITES are met.
                                                       discrete population segment differs
                                                       markedly from other populations of the                  crocodiles in Mexico and Belize). The                  Post-delisting Monitoring
                                                       species in its genetic characteristics may              population of Morelet’s crocodiles in                     Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires the
                                                       be an indication that a population                      Guatemala is discrete due to the                       Secretary of Interior, through the
                                                       segment represents a significant                        significant difference in the control of               Service, to implement a system in
                                                       resource warranting conservation under                  exploitation, management of habitat,                   cooperation with the States to monitor
                                                       the Act (61 FR 4724).                                   conservation status, or regulatory                     for not less than 5 years the status of all
                                                                                                               mechanisms between international                       species that are removed from the lists
                                                         Genetic diversity and integrity is a                  boundaries. This difference is evidenced
                                                       relatively complicated subject with                                                                            of endangered and threatened wildlife
                                                                                                               by the fact that Morelet’s crocodiles in               and plants (50 CFR 17.11, 17.12) due to
                                                       respect to the Morelet’s crocodile, and                 Guatemala remain listed under
                                                       our knowledge across the three range                                                                           recovery. This monitoring requirement
                                                                                                               Appendix I of CITES, while those in                    is to ensure prevention of significant
                                                       countries is uneven. The genetic data                   Mexico and Belize were downgraded to                   risk to the well-being of recovered
                                                       we do have are with respect to                          Appendix II. The discrete population of                species.
                                                       hybridization between Morelet’s                         Morelet’s crocodiles in Guatemala does                    Species monitoring is also called for
                                                       crocodiles and American crocodiles.                     not meet the requirements of our DPS                   under CITES. CITES Resolution Conf.
                                                       Thus, we have no information                            policy for significance because it: (1)                9.24 (Rev. CoP 15), provides criteria for
                                                       indicating that the Guatemala                           Does not occur in habitat that includes                including species under CITES
                                                       population is markedly different from                   unique features not used by the taxon                  Appendices I and II. Through the
                                                       the remainder of the range.                             elsewhere in its range; (2) would not                  resolution, the parties have resolved
                                                       Conclusion on Significance                              constitute a significant gap in the range              that the status of species included in
                                                                                                               of the species due to the loss of a                    Appendices I and II should be regularly
                                                         First, we do not have any data or                     population that contributes                            reviewed by the range countries and
                                                       information to indicate that the                        substantially to the representation,                   proponents, in collaboration with the
                                                       Guatemala population of the Morelet’s                   resiliency, or redundancy of the species;              CITES Animals Committee or Plants
                                                       crocodile occurs in habitat that includes               (3) does not represent the only surviving              Committee, in order to monitor the
                                                       unique features not used by the taxon                   natural occurrence of the Morelet’s                    effectiveness of CITES protections,
                                                       elsewhere in its range. Morelet’s                       crocodile throughout the range of the                  subject to the availability of funds
                                                       crocodile habitat in the Laguna del Tigre               taxon; and (4) does not have any genetic               (CITES 2007a, p. 3).
                                                       National Park consists of flooded                       characteristics that are markedly                         At the international level, perhaps the
                                                       savannahs and marshes that are typical                  different from Morelet’s crocodiles                    most important ongoing conservation
                                                       of the species habitat throughout its                   elsewhere in the range of the taxon.                   effort for the Morelet’s crocodile is the
                                                       range. Second we conclude that loss of                  Therefore, we conclude that the                        agreement by the three range countries
                                                       Morelet’s crocodiles in 13 percent of                   population of the Morelet’s crocodile in               to develop and implement the Belize-
                                                                                                               Guatemala is not a DPS pursuant to our                 Guatemala-Mexico Tri-national Strategy
                                                       their range would not constitute a
                                                                                                               DPS Policy, and, therefore, is not a                   for the Conservation and Sustainable
                                                       significant gap in the range of the
                                                                                                               listable entity under section 3(15) of the             Management of Morelet’s Crocodile
                                                       species due to the loss of a population
                                                                                                               Act.                                                   (Crocodylus moreletii) (Estrategia Tri-
                                                       that is ecologically unusual, unique, or                                                                                                        ´
                                                                                                                                                                      nacional Belice-Guatemala-Mexico para
                                                       otherwise significant to the species as a               Effects of This Proposed Rule                                          ´
                                                                                                                                                                      la Conservacion y el Manejo Sostenible
                                                       whole in any way (for example, in terms                   This proposed rule, if made final,                   del Cocodrilo de Morelet (Crocodylus
                                                       of species or habitat) or that contributes              would revise our regulations at 50 CFR                 moreletii) (Tri-national Strategy)
                                                       substantially to the representation,                    17.11(h) by removing the Morelet’s                        ´
                                                                                                                                                                      (Sanchez 2006).
                                                       resiliency, or redundancy of the species.               crocodile throughout its range from the                   This initiative began in June 2001 at
                                                       Third, the Guatemala population of the                  Federal List of Endangered and                         Laguna del Tigre National Park, Peten, ´
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile does not represent                  Threatened Wildlife. Our regulations do                Guatemala, when representatives of the
                                                       the only surviving natural occurrence of                not authorize designating critical habitat             three countries met to discuss matters of
                                                       the Morelet’s crocodile throughout the                  in areas outside of the United States.                 mutual interest. A follow up meeting
                                                       range of the taxon. Finally, the                        Specifically, our regulations at 50 CFR                attended by about 25 species experts
                                                       Guatemala population of the Morelet’s                   424.12(h) specify that critical habitat                and government officials from all three
                                                       crocodile does not have any genetic

                                                                                                               shall not be designated within foreign                 range countries took place in April 2006
                                                       characteristics that are markedly                       countries or in other areas outside of                 (Mexico City, Mexico). Two working
                                                       different from Morelet’s crocodiles                     U.S. jurisdiction. Because no critical                 groups were formed: (1) Technical and
                                                       elsewhere in the range of the taxon.                    habitat was ever designated for this                   Scientific Matters; and (2)
                                                       Therefore, based on the information                     species, this rule would not affect 50                 Administration, Management, and Uses.
                                                       available to the Service, we conclude                   CFR 17.95.                                             Group members discussed technical
                                                       that the discrete population of Morelet’s                 The prohibitions and conservation                    issues for two days, and generated a
                                                       crocodiles in Guatemala does not meet                   measures provided by the Act,                          series of products, commitments, and
                                                       the requirements under our DPS Policy                   particularly through section 9, would no               agreements. The first group produced or
                                                       for significance.                                       longer apply. This rulemaking, however,                agreed to compile a series of documents,

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00033   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                       23682                  Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules

                                                       including distribution maps, survey                     crocodile, including the possibility of                to produce estimates of the population
                                                       techniques, scientific literature, and                  involving Belize and Guatemala. The                    and its trends in the short, medium, and
                                                       databases (e.g., geographic information                 aim is to build on the experiences and                 long term (CITES 2010a, pp. 9–10)
                                                       system). The second group agreed to                     results of the COPAN Project and the                   (CITES 2010a, p. 10). We do not have
                                                       work toward a regional assessment of                    suggestions made at the 23rd meeting of                any information on implementation
                                                       the conservation status of the Morelet’s                the CITES Animals Committee (Geneva,                   progress for the Tri-National Strategy,
                                                       crocodile, as well as development and                   April 2008, see the Animals Committee                  and are seeking this information as part
                                                       implementation of regional actions to                   summary record labeled as document                     of this proposed rule.
                                                       improve the conservation status of the                  AC23) to obtain better information about                  In Belize, Dr. Frank Mazzotti
                                                       species (institutional capacity building,               the status and trends of relevant                      (University of Florida) is collaborating
                                                       project development and                                 populations of the species and their                   with the Belize Forestry Department to
                                                       implementation, and development of a                    habitat. The program will be developed                 develop a national crocodile
                                                       regional captive-breeding program). The                 in the framework of the Tri-national                   management program (The Croc Docs
                                                       final product of the workshop was the                   Strategy (CITES 2010a, p. 9). The                      2009, pp. 1–8). This project seeks to
                                                       development of ‘‘Estrategia Regional                    Government of Mexico has established                   develop, in collaboration with the
                                                       para el Manejo y la Conservacion del                    contacts with the Governments of Belize                Lamanai Field Research Center, a
                                                       Cocodrilo de Morelet (Crocodylus                        and Guatemala as part of the Tri-                      monitoring program for these species.
                                                       moreletii) (Regional Strategy for the                   National Strategy (CITES 2008, p. 32).                 Along with the monitoring program, the
                                                       Management and Conservation of the                         Stage 1 of the project is currently                 project will develop a training program
                                                       Morelet’s Crocodile) (Regional Strategy),               under way. It aims to develop a                        for government and nongovernment
                                                       found on pp. 43–53 of the Tri-national                  preliminary design of the program,                     personnel in Belize so that the
                                                       Strategy document (Sanchez 2006). This                  considering relevant areas in the range                monitoring program can be maintained.
                                                       Regional Strategy outlines a series of                  of the species. Ideally, areas could be                This long-term program has great
                                                       objectives, products, and working                       selected in the three countries, based on              potential to provide ongoing
                                                       protocols to accomplish the goals of the                the COPAN Project and subsequent                       conservation benefits to the Morelet’s
                                                       Tri-national Strategy. As these tasks are               studies. The design will be reviewed                   crocodile in Belize. We do not have any
                                                       completed, they will significantly                      and assessed in a 2010 workshop                        information on implementation progress
                                                       enhance the conservation status of the                  involving species experts and                          for this monitoring program in Belize,
                                                       Morelet’s crocodile.                                    authorities, who will agree upon on the                and are seeking this information as part
                                                          According to Sanchez Herrera and                     most appropriate methods and define                    of this proposed rule.
                                                       Alvarez-Romero (2006), as result of this                time intervals, routes/localities and                     The Act requires the Service to
                                                       initiative, the three range countries have              variables to take into account for                     monitor the status of the species in
                                                       agreed to implement the Regional                        crocodiles and their habitat. Manuals                  cooperation with the States. The Act
                                                       Strategy, which also includes                           will be developed to ensure the                        defines the term ‘‘State’’ as ‘‘any of the
                                                       monitoring the species. The three range                 effectiveness of fieldwork and training                several States, the District of Columbia,
                                                       countries plan to implement the                         of staff. This stage will also include the             the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
                                                       Regional Strategy by:                                   design of a database where information                 American Samoa, the Virgin Islands,
                                                          (1) Conducting population surveys in                 will be organized and centralized                      Guam, and the Trust Territory of the
                                                       defined priority areas using systematic                 (CITES 2010a, p. 9).                                   Pacific Islands.’’ For species found
                                                       and coordinated monitoring, with                           To date, the preliminary design                     entirely outside of the United States and
                                                       standardized fieldwork methods and                      proposes a monitoring effort with                      therefore outside the areas defined as a
                                                       techniques.                                             biannual sampling throughout the range                 ‘‘State’’ under the Act, we must
                                                          (2) Developing a shared biological and               of the species, with observations made                 cooperate with the species’ range
                                                       geographical information system.                        in at least three routes per defined                   countries to meet the post-delisting
                                                          (3) Identifying priority areas and                   region (e.g. 12 regions in Mexico) using               monitoring requirements of the Act to
                                                       routes for conservation and                             nighttime counts. In addition, one of the              ensure that the species will maintain its
                                                       surveillance, along with those for future               three routes per region will be selected               recovered status throughout its range
                                                       potential for ranching.                                 for capture-mark-recapture of                          after the protections of Act are removed.
                                                          (4) Supporting and developing                        individuals and standard data/sample                   As the species experts, the range
                                                       educational programs and outreach                       collection, as well as nest location and               countries are best qualified to develop
                                                       materials.                                              monitoring. Information obtained will                  and implement a range-wide post-
                                                          (5) Promoting personnel training and                 make it possible to estimate relative                  delisting monitoring plan for their
                                                       experience exchange, including field                    abundance indices to detect variations                 species. If this proposed rule is finalized
                                                       techniques and surveillance.                            in the population in time, determine the               and the Morelet’s crocodile is delisted
                                                          (6) Promoting species-friendly                       sex and age ratio and the general status               under the Act, we will work with the
                                                       production projects such as close-cycle                 and activity of individuals, and obtain                range countries to monitor the status of
                                                       farms (and eventually future ranching),                 data on the reproductive effort and                    the species throughout its range via
                                                       along with the development of a legal                   success of the species, and on habitat                 their implementation of the existing
                                                       regional market and a certification                     critical for breeding (CITES 2010a, pp.                monitoring requirements under CITES,

                                                       strategy for Morelet’s crocodile                        9–10).                                                 the Tri-national Strategy, the Belizean
                                                       products.                                                  Stage 2 will be implemented once the                monitoring program discussed above,
                                                          (7) Raising funds in support of the                  monitoring program has been published.                 and any additional monitoring plans
                                                       activities and tasks outlined in the                    It will consist of implementing the                    that may be developed in the future.
                                                                    ´                     ´
                                                       Strategy (Sanchez Herrera and Alvarez-                  actions decided, including setting up
                                                       Romero 2006, p. 263).                                   and training the field teams, signing the              Peer Review
                                                          The Government of Mexico is making                   relevant cooperation agreements,                         In accordance with our joint peer
                                                       efforts to design and implement a                       carrying out field work, and developing                review policy with the National Marine
                                                       countrywide monitoring program for the                  the database. Information stored in the                Fisheries Service, ‘‘Notice of Interagency
                                                       populations and habitat of the Morelet’s                database will be periodically analyzed                 Cooperative Policy for Peer Review in

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00034   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 4702   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2
                                                                              Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 81 / Wednesday, April 27, 2011 / Proposed Rules                                                 23683

                                                       Endangered Species Act Activities,’’ that               language. This means that each rule we                 available upon request from the
                                                       was published in the Federal Register                   publish must:                                          Endangered Species Program in our
                                                       on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), and the                     (1) Be logically organized;                         Headquarters office (see FOR FURTHER
                                                       Office of Management and Budget’s                          (2) Use the active voice to address                 INFORMATION CONTACT section).
                                                       Final Information Quality Bulletin for                  readers directly;
                                                       Peer Review, dated December 16, 2004,                      (3) Use clear language rather than                  List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17
                                                       we will seek the expert opinions of at                  jargon;
                                                                                                                  (4) Be divided into short sections and                Endangered and threatened species,
                                                       least three appropriate independent                                                                            Exports, Imports, Reporting and
                                                       specialists regarding the science in this               sentences; and
                                                                                                                  (5) Use lists and tables wherever                   recordkeeping requirements,
                                                       proposed rule. The purpose of peer
                                                                                                               possible.                                              Transportation.
                                                       review is to ensure that listing,                          If you feel that we have not met these
                                                       reclassification, and delisting decisions               requirements, send us comments by one                  Proposed Regulation Promulgation
                                                       are based on scientifically sound data,                 of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES
                                                       assumptions, and analyses. We will                                                                                Accordingly, we hereby propose to
                                                                                                               section. To better help us revise the                  amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter
                                                       send copies of this proposed rule to the                rule, your comments should be as
                                                       peer reviewers immediately following                                                                           I, title 50 of the Code of Federal
                                                                                                               specific as possible. For example, you
                                                       publication in the Federal Register. We                 should tell us the numbers of the                      Regulations, as set forth below:
                                                       will invite these peer reviewers to                     sections or paragraphs that are unclearly
                                                       comment, during the public comment                                                                             PART 17—[AMENDED]
                                                                                                               written, which sections or sentences are
                                                       period, on the specific assumptions and                 too long, the sections where you feel
                                                       conclusions in this proposed delisting                                                                           1. The authority citation for part 17
                                                                                                               lists or tables would be useful, etc.                  continues to read as follows:
                                                       of the Morelet’s crocodile. We will
                                                       summarize the opinions of these                         National Environmental Policy Act                        Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361–1407; 16 U.S.C.
                                                       reviewers in the final decision                           We have determined that an                           1531–1544; 16 U.S.C. 4201–4245; Public Law
                                                       document, and we will consider their                    environmental assessments or an                        99–625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise
                                                       input and any additional information                    environmental impact statement, as                     noted.
                                                       we received as part of our process of                   defined under the authority of the
                                                       making a final decision on this                         National Environmental Policy Act of                   § 17.11   [Amended]
                                                       proposal. Such communication may                        1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not                   2. Amend § 17.11(h) by removing the
                                                       lead to a final decision that differs from              be prepared in connection with                         entry for ‘‘Crocodile, Morelet’s’’ under
                                                       this proposal.                                          regulations adopted under section 4(a)                 ‘‘REPTILES’’ from the List of Endangered
                                                                                                               of the Act. A notice outlining our                     and Threatened Wildlife.
                                                       Required Determinations
                                                                                                               reasons for this determination was
                                                       Clarity of the Rule                                     published in the Federal Register on                     Dated: April 11, 2011.
                                                                                                               October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).                        Daniel M. Ashe,
                                                         We are required by Executive Orders                                                                          Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
                                                       12866 and 12988 and by the                              References Cited
                                                                                                                                                                      [FR Doc. 2011–9836 Filed 4–26–11; 8:45 am]
                                                       Presidential Memorandum of June 1,                        A complete list of the references used
                                                                                                                                                                      BILLING CODE 4310–55–P
                                                       1998, to write all rules in plain                       to develop this proposed rule is

                                                  VerDate Mar<15>2010   14:53 Apr 26, 2011   Jkt 223001   PO 00000   Frm 00035   Fmt 4701   Sfmt 9990   E:\FR\FM\27APP2.SGM   27APP2

To top