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Wildlife Services; Availability of Environmental Assessment

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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.




We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment for oral rabies vaccination programs in several States. The environmental assessment analyzes the potential environmental effects of a proposal to continue and expand the Agency's involvement in programs to stop the spread of certain wildlife-borne rabies strains in the States of New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia, and examines similar efforts that may be conducted in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Alabama. We are making this environmental assessment available to the public for review and comment prior to an Agency decision.


We will consider all comments that we receive by June 18, 2001.


Please send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to: Docket No. 01-009-2, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. 01-009-2.

To obtain a copy of the environmental assessment, contact Elizabeth Harris, Operational Support Staff, Wildlife Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 87, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234; phone (301) 734-7921, fax (301)734-5157, or e-mail: You may also read the environmental assessment and any comments we receive on this notice of availability in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.

APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at​ppd/​rad/​webrepor.html.

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Dennis Slate, Rabies Program Coordinator, Wildlife Services, APHIS, 59 Chennell Drive, Suite 7, Concord, NH 03301-8548; phone (603) 223-6832.

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The Wildlife Services (WS) program in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) cooperates with Federal agencies, State and local governments, and private individuals to research and implement the best methods of managing conflicts between wildlife and human health and safety, agriculture, property, and natural resources. Wildlife-borne diseases that can affect domestic animals and humans are among the types of conflicts that APHIS-WS addresses. Wildlife is the dominant reservoir of rabies in the United States.

On December 7, 2000, a notice was published in the Federal Register (65 FR 76606-76607, Docket No. 00-045-1) in which the Secretary of Agriculture declared an emergency and transferred funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to APHIS-WS for the continuation and expansion of oral rabies vaccination (ORV) programs to address rabies in the States of Ohio, New York, Vermont, Texas, and West Virginia.

On March 7, 2001, we published a notice in the Federal Register (66 FR 13697-13700, Docket No. 01-009-1) to solicit public involvement in the planning of a proposed cooperative program to stop the spread of rabies in the States of New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia. The notice also stated that a small portion of northeastern New Hampshire and the western counties in Pennsylvania that border Ohio could also be included in these control efforts, and discussed the possibility of APHIS-WS cooperating in smaller-scale ORV projects in the States of Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Alabama. The March 2001 notice contained detailed information about the history of the problems with raccoon rabies in eastern States and with gray fox and coyote rabies in Texas, along with information about previous and ongoing efforts using ORV baits in programs to prevent the spread of the rabies strains of concern.

To provide the public with documentation of APHIS' review and analysis of the environmental impacts associated with the proposed rabies control programs discussed in the March 2001 notice, we have prepared an environmental assessment (EA). The EA was prepared in accordance with: (1) The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), (2) regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1b), and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372).

This EA reflects our review and consideration of the comments received in response to the March 2001 notice, as well as a number of issues and alternatives identified during the preparation of previous EA's covering ORV use in earlier, State-level ORV programs. The EA is now available for public review and comment prior to an Agency decision.

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Done in Washington, DC, this 11th day of May 2001.

Richard L. Dunkle,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-12430 Filed 5-16-01; 8:45 am]