Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
We will post all information received on
When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial information indicating that reclassifying a species may be warranted, we are required to promptly review the status of the species (status review). For the status review to be complete and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we request information on the straight-horned markhor from the public, governmental agencies, Tribal communities, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We seek information on:
(1) The straight-horned markhor's biology, range, and population trends, including:
(a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
(b) Genetics and taxonomy on
(c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns;
(d) Intermountain movement;
(e) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and
(f) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its habitat, or both.
(g) Information on the straight-horned markhor subspecies for the purpose of determining if the markhor in the Torghar Hills constitutes a distinct vertebrate population segment (DPS; see Evaluation of Listable Entities).
(2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing/delisting/downlisting determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531
(a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(c) Disease or predation;
(d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
(3) Information on whether changing climatic conditions are affecting the subspecies or its habitat.
Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
We will base our status review on the best scientific and commercial information available, including all information we receive during the public comment period. Please note that comments merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.” At the conclusion of the status review, we will issue the 12-month finding on the petition, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.
You may submit your information concerning this status review by one of the methods listed in the
Information and supporting documentation that we received and used in preparing this finding will be available for you to review at
Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the
Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day petition finding is “that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted” (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species, which will be subsequently summarized in our 12-month finding.
On August 18, 2010, we received a petition dated August 17, 2010, from John Jackson of Conservation Force, on behalf Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida, The Conklin Foundation, Grand Slam Club/Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, Jerry Brenner, Steve Hornaday, Alan Sackman, and Barbara Lee Sackman, requesting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) downlist the Torghar Hills population of the Suleiman markhor (
On June 14, 1976, we published in the
Later, the straight-horned markhor and the Kabul markhor were considered by many authorities to be the single subspecies
Under section 3(16) of the Act, we may consider for listing any species, including subspecies, of fish, wildlife, or plants, or any DPS of vertebrate fish or wildlife that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Such entities are considered eligible for listing under the Act (and, therefore referred to as listable entities) should we determine that they meet the definition of an endangered or threatened species. In this case, the petitioners have requested that the straight-horned markhor in the Torghar Hills of Pakistan be considered a DPS and reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Act.
Under the Service's “Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act” (61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), three elements are considered in the decision concerning the establishment and classification of a possible DPS. These elements, which are applied similarly for additions to, reclassifications of status under, or removal from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, include:
(1) The discreteness of a population in relation to the remainder of the species to which it belongs;
(2) The significance of the population segment to the species to which it belongs; and
(3) The population segment's conservation status in relation to the Act's standards for listing, delisting, or reclassification (
Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions:
(1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation.
(2) It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist
Desert mountain ranges of Balochistan Province are more or less isolated from one another by intervening valley bottoms. The Torghar Hills, within the Toba Kakar Range, are geographically isolated by broad valleys (Frisina
The degree to which disjunct populations of markhor interact is unknown because dispersal capability is unknown. However, interaction between populations is assumed to be limited because of the tendency of markhor to restrict themselves to the steeper, cliff-like areas (Frisina
In summary, the petition and other documents in our files present substantial information indicating that the Torghar Hills population of the straight-horned markhor in Pakistan may meet at least one of the criteria for discreteness under the DPS policy based on marked physical separateness.
Under our DPS Policy, in addition to our consideration that a population segment is discrete, we consider its biological and ecological significance to the taxon to which it belongs. This consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) Evidence of the persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting that is unique or unusual for the taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon; (3) evidence that the population segment represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historical range; and (4) evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly from other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics (61 FR 4721; February 7, 1996).
The Torghar Hills population of straight-horned markhor is protected by a private conservation program, the Torghar Conservation Project (TCP). In 1986, the TCP was instituted and run informally by the local Tribal ruling family. The goals of the TCP were to conserve local populations of the Suleiman markhor and the Afghan urial (
Since the TCP was instituted in 1986, the markhor population in the Torghar Hills has been growing steadily from the brink of extinction to a thriving population and is considered “viable” for both population and genetic processes (Johnson 1997, pp. 14-15; Frisina
In summary, information in the petition and our files may support the significance of a DPS in the Torghar Hills of Pakistan because the loss of this DPS would result in the loss of, perhaps, the most important population for the subspecies' survival, resulting in a significant gap in the range of the subspecies.
As stated above, the markhor was originally listed as endangered under the Act due to declining numbers and concern over the species' high commercial importance. The outbreak of the Afghanistan war in the late 1970s made weapons and cheap ammunition more readily available and hunters killed females and young indiscriminately (Ahmed
The petitioners assert that since the TCP was established and poaching essentially eliminated (Woodford
In general, markhor are threatened with fragmentation and loss of habitat, competition with domestic livestock, and illegal hunting (CITES 2007, unpaginated). The petitioners assert that the habitat within the core protected area of the TCP is not threatened by grazing of domestic sheep and goats or otherwise at risk of being destroyed, modified, or curtailed. The petitioners also assert that the local people are aware of the potential problems with having excess livestock and are interested in formulating and implementing range management plans (Woodford
The petitioners further assert that the laws of Pakistan, regulations on hunting imposed by the TCP, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) quota and nondetriment determination are more than adequate to protect the straight-horned markhor. Lastly, the petitioners assert that the listing as an endangered species under the Act prevents hunters from bringing hunting trophies home to the United States, creates a disincentive for American hunters to participate in the TCP, and reduces the number of hunts and keeps the price of hunting permits artificially low.
On the basis of information provided in the petition we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that reclassifying the Torghar Hills population of the straight-horned markhor may be warranted. Therefore, we will initiate a status review to determine if reclassifying the Torghar Hills population of the straight-horned markhor is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this subspecies (see Information Solicited).
It is important to note that the “substantial information” standard for a 90-day finding is in contrast to the Act's “best scientific and commercial data” standard that applies to a 12-month finding as to whether a petitioned action is warranted. A 90-day finding is not a status assessment of the species and does not constitute a status review under the Act. Our final determination as to whether a petitioned action is warranted is not made until we have completed a thorough review of the status of the species, which is conducted following a substantial 90-day finding. Because the Act's standards for 90-day and 12-month findings are different, as described above, a substantial 90-day finding does not mean that the 12-month finding will result in a warranted finding.
A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at
The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the Branch of Foreign Species (see
The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531