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Rule

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reinstatement of Protections for the Gray Wolf in the Western Great Lakes in Compliance With Settlement Agreement and Court Order

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing this final rule to comply with a court order that has the effect of reinstating the regulatory protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the western Great Lakes. This rule corrects the gray wolf listing in our regulations which will reinstate the listing of gray wolves in all of Wisconsin and Michigan, the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota, the northern half of Iowa, the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana, and the northwestern portion of Ohio as endangered, and reinstate the listing of wolves in Minnesota as threatened. This rule also reinstates the former designated critical habitat for gray wolves in Minnesota and Michigan and special regulations for gray wolves in Minnesota.

DATES:

This action is effective September 16, 2009.

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ADDRESSES:

This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. It will also be available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111. Call 612-713-5350 to make arrangements.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For information on wolves in the western Great Lakes, contact Laura Ragan, Regional Listing Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at our Fort Snelling, Minnesota, Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) or telephone 612-713-5350. Individuals who are hearing-impaired or speech-impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8337 for TTY assistance.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Information about the life history of the gray wolf and previous Federal actions can be found in our February 8, 2007 (72 FR 6052), final rule for the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (WGL DPS) of the gray wolf.

On June 15, 2009, five parties filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (Department) and the Service, challenging the Service's April 2, 2009 (74 FR 15070), final rule for the WGL DPS. On July 1, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signed a stipulated settlement agreement and order (Humane Society of the United States v. Salazar, 1:09-CV-1092-PLF (D.D.C.)). In the settlement, the Service agrees to withdraw the 2009 final rule and, if we republish another rule, to open a minimum 60-day public comment period.

Administrative Procedure

This rulemaking is necessary to comply with the July 1, 2009, settlement agreement and order. Therefore, under these circumstances, the Director has determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are impractical and unnecessary. The Director has further determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d), that the agency has good cause to make this rule effective upon publication.

Effects of the Rule

As of the filing of the respective court orders, any and all gray wolves in the western Great Lakes, except in Minnesota, are listed as an endangered species under the ESA. Any and all wolves in Minnesota are listed as a threatened species under the ESA. The reinstated regulations found at 50 CFR 17.95 designate critical habitat for gray wolves in Minnesota and Michigan, and the reinstated special regulations in 50 CFR 17.40(d) govern the regulation of gray wolves in Minnesota. The provisions of these regulations are the same as those in the regulations that were removed per our February 8, 2007, final delisting rule (72 FR 6052).

This means that wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, are hereby listed as endangered (50 CFR 17.11(h)). Wolves in Minnesota are listed as threatened (50 CFR 17.11(h)).

This rule will not affect the status of the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes under State laws or suspend any other legal protections provided by State law. This rule will not affect the gray wolf's Appendix II status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Additionally, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, we are able to grant available funds to the States for management actions promoting the protection of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes.

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List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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Regulation Promulgation

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Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the CFR, as set forth below:

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PART 17—[AMENDED]

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1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

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2. Amend § 17.11 by revising the entry in the table at paragraph (h) for “Wolf, gray” as follows:

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[Amended]
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SpeciesHistoric rangeVertebrate population where endangered or threatenedStatusWhen listedCritical habitatSpecial rules
Common nameScientific Name
MAMMALS
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Wolf, grayCanis lupusHolarcticU.S.A., conterminous (lower 48) States, except (1) Where listed as an experimental population below; (2) Minnesota; and (3) MT, ID, WY (however, see experimental population designation below), eastern WA (that portion of WA east of the centerline of Highway 97 and Highway 17 north of Mesa and that portion of WA east of the centerline of Highway 395 south of Mesa), eastern OR (that portion of OR east of the centerline of Highway 395 and Highway 78 north of Burns Junction and that portion of OR east of the centerline of Highway 95 south of Burns Junction), and north central UT (that portion of UT east of the centerline of Highway 84 and north of Highway 80). Mexico.E1, 6, 13, 15, 3517.95(a)N/A
Do......do......doU.S.A. (MN)T3517.95(a)17.40(d)
Do......do......doU.S.A. (portions of AZ, NM, and TX—see § 17.84(k))XN631N/A17.84(k)
Wolf, gray [Northern Rocky Mountain DPS]Canis lupusU.S.A. (MT, ID, WY, eastern WA, eastern OR, and north central UT).U.S.A. (WY—see § 17.84(i) and § 17.84(n))XN561, 562N/A17.84(i) 17.84(n)
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3. Amend § 17.40 by adding paragraph (d) as set forth below:

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Special rules—mammals.
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(d) Gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Minnesota.

(1) Zones. For purposes of these regulations, the State of Minnesota is divided into the following five zones:

(i) Zone 1—4,488 square miles. Beginning at the point of intersection of United States and Canadian boundaries in Section 22, Township 71 North, Range 22 West, in Rainy Lake, then proceeding along the west side of Sections 22, 27, and 34 in said Township and Sections 3, 10, 15, 22, 27 and 34 in Township 70 North, Range 22 West and Sections 3 and 10 in Township 69 North, Range 22 West; then east along the south boundaries of Sections 10, 11, and 12 in said Township; then south along the Koochiching and St. Louis counties line to Highway 53; thence southeasterly along State Highway 53 to the junction with County Route 765; thence easterly along County Route 765 to the junction with Kabetogama Lake in Ash River Bay; thence along the south boundary of Section 33 in Township 69 North, Range 19 West, to the junction with the Moose River; thence southeasterly along the Moose River to Moose Lake; thence along the western shore of Moose Lake to the river between Moose Lake and Long Lake; thence along the said river to Long Lake; thence along the east shore of Long Lake to the drainage on the southeast side of Long Lake in NE\1/4\, Section 18, Township 67 North, Range 18 West; thence along the said drainage southeasterly and subsequently northeasterly to Marion Lake, the drainage being in Sections 17 and 18, Township 67 North, Range 18 West; thence along the west shoreline of Marion Lake proceeding southeasterly to the Moose Creek; thence along Moose Creek to Flap Creek; thence southeasterly along Flap Creek to the Vermilion River; thence southerly along the Vermilion River to Vermilion Lake; thence along the Superior National Forest boundary in a southeasterly direction through Vermilion Lake passing these points: Oak Narrows, Muskrat Channel, South of Pine Island, to Hoodo Point and the junction with County Route 697; thence southeasterly on County Route 697 to the junction with State Highway 169; thence easterly along State Highway 169 to the junction with State Highway 1; thence easterly along State Highway 1 to the junction with the Erie Railroad tracks at Murphy City; thence easterly along the Erie Railroad tracks to the junction with Lake Superior at Taconite Harbor; thence northeasterly along the North Shore of Lake Superior to the Canadian Border; thence westerly along the Canadian Border to the point of beginning in Rainy Lake.

(ii) Zone 2—1,856 square miles. Beginning at the intersection of the Erie Mining Co. Railroad and State Highway 1 (Murphy City); thence southeasterly on State Highway 1 to the junction with County Road 4; thence southwesterly on County Road 4 to the State Snowmobile Trail (formerly the Alger-Smith Railroad); thence southwesterly to the intersection of the Old Railroad Grade and Reserve Mining Co. Railroad in Section 33 of Township 56 North, Range 9 West; thence northwesterly along the Railroad to Forest Road 107; thence westerly along Forest Road 107 to Forest Road 203; thence westerly along Forest Road 203 to the junction with County Route 2; thence in a northerly direction on County Route 2 to the junction with Forest Road 122; thence in a westerly direction along Forest Road 122 to the junction with the Duluth, Missable and Iron Range Railroad; thence in a southwesterly direction along the said railroad tracks to the junction with County Route 14; thence in a northwesterly direction along County Route 14 to the junction with County Route 55; thence in a westerly direction along County Route 55 to the junction with County Route 44; thence in a southerly direction along County Route 44 to the junction with County Route 266; thence in a southeasterly direction along County Route 266 and subsequently in a westerly direction to the junction with County Road 44; thence in a northerly direction on County Road 44 to the junction with Township Road 2815; thence westerly along Township Road 2815 to Alden Lake; thence northwesterly across Alden Lake to the inlet of the Cloquet River; thence northerly along the Cloquet River to the junction with Carrol Trail-State Forestry Road; thence west along the Carrol Trail to the junction with County Route 4 and County Route 49; thence west along County Route 49 to the junction with the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railroad; thence in a northerly direction along said Railroad to the junction with the Whiteface River; thence in a northeasterly direction along the Whiteface River to the Whiteface Reservoir; thence along the western shore of the Whiteface Reservoir to the junction with County Route 340; thence north along County Route 340 to the junction with County Route 16; thence east along County Route 16 to the junction with County Route 346; thence in a northerly direction along County Route 346 to the junction with County Route 569; thence along County Route 569 to the junction with County Route 565; thence in a westerly direction along County Route 565 to the junction with County Route 110; thence in a westerly direction along County Route 110 to the junction with County Route 100; thence in a north and subsequent west direction along County Route 100 to the junction with State Highway 135; thence in a northerly direction along State Highway 135 to the junction with State Highway 169 at Tower; thence in an easterly direction along the southern boundary of Zone 1 to the point of beginning of Zone 2 at the junction of the Erie Railroad Tracks and State Highway 1.

(iii) Zone 3—3,501 square miles. Beginning at the junction of State Highway 11 and State Highway 65; thence southeasterly along State Highway 65 to the junction with State Highway 1; thence westerly along State Highway 1 to the junction with State Highway 72; thence north along State Highway 72 to the junction with an un-numbered township road beginning in the northeast corner of Section 25, Township 155 North, Range 31 West; thence westerly along the said road for approximately seven (7) miles to the junction with SFR 95: thence westerly along SFR 95 and continuing west through the southern boundary of Sections 36 through 31, Township 155 North, Range 33 West, through Sections 36 through 31, Township 155 North, Range 34 West, through Sections 36 through 31, Township 155 North, Range 35 West, through Sections 36 and 35, Township 155 North, Range 36 West to the junction with State Highway 89, thence northwesterly along State Highway 89 to the junction with County Route 44; thence northerly along County Route 44 to the junction with County Route 704; thence northerly along County 704 to the junction with SFR 49; thence northerly along SFR 49 to the junction with SFR 57; thence easterly along SFR 57 to the junction with SFR 63: thence south along SFR 63 to the junction with SFR 70; thence easterly along SFR 70 to the junction with County Route 87; thence easterly along County Route 87 to the junction with County Route 1; thence south along County Route 1 to the junction with County Route 16; thence easterly along County Route 16 to the junction with State Highway 72; thence south on State Highway 72 to the junction with a gravel road (un-numbered County District Road) on the north side of Section 31, Township 158 North, Range Start Printed Page 4748730 West; thence east on said District Road to the junction with SFR 62; thence easterly on SFR 62 to the junction with SFR 175; thence south on SFR 175 to the junction with County Route 101; thence easterly on County Route 101 to the junction with County Route 11; thence easterly on County Route 11 to the junction with State Highway 11; thence easterly on State Highway 11 to the junction with State Highway 65, the point of beginning.

(iv) Zone 4—20,883 square miles. Excluding Zones 1, 2 and 3, all that part of Minnesota north and east of a line beginning on State Trunk Highway 48 at the eastern boundary of the State; thence westerly along Highway 48 to Interstate Highway 35; thence northerly on I-35 to State Highway 23, thence west one-half mile on Highway 23 to State Trunk Highway 18; thence westerly along Highway 18 to State Trunk Highway 65, thence northerly on Highway 65 to State Trunk Highway 210; thence westerly along Highway 210 to State Trunk Highway 6; thence northerly on State Trunk Highway 6 to Emily; thence westerly along County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1, Crow Wing County, to CSAH 2, Cass County; thence westerly along CSAH 2 to Pine River; thence northwesterly along State Trunk Highway 371 to Backus; thence westerly along State Trunk Highway 87 to U.S. Highway 71; thence northerly along U.S. 71 to State Trunk Highway 200; thence northwesterly along Highway 200, to County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 2, Clearwater County; thence northerly along CSAH 2 to Shevlin; thence along U.S. Highway 2 to Bagley; thence northerly along State Trunk Highway 92 to Gully; thence northerly along CSAH 2, Polk County, to CSAH 27, Pennington County; thence along CSAH 27 to State Trunk Highway 1; thence easterly on Highway 1 to CSAH 28, Pennington County; thence northerly along CSAH 28 to CSAH 54, Marshall County, thence northerly along CSAH 54 to Grygla; thence west and northerly along Highway 89 to Roseau; thence northerly along State Truck Highway 310 to the Canadian border.

(v) Zone 5—54,603 square miles. All that part of Minnesota south and west of the line described as the south and west border of Zone 4.

(vi) Map of regulatory zones follows:

(2) Prohibitions. The following prohibitions apply to the gray wolf in Minnesota.

(i) Taking. Except as provided in this paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section, no person may take a gray wolf in Minnesota.

(A) Any person may take a gray wolf in Minnesota in defense of his own life or the lives of others.

(B) Any employee or agent of the Service, any other Federal land management agency, or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who is designated by his/her agency for such purposes, may, when acting in the course of his or her official duties, take a gray wolf in Minnesota without a permit if such action is necessary to:

(1) Aid a sick, injured or orphaned specimen; or

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(3) Salvage a dead specimen that may be useful for scientific study.

(4) Designated employees or agents of the Service or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources may take a gray wolf without a permit in Minnesota, in zones 2, 3, 4, and 5, as delineated in paragraph (d)(l) of this section, in response to depredations by a gray wolf on lawfully present domestic animals: Provided, that such taking must occur within one-half mile of the place where such depredation occurred and must be performed in a humane manner: And provided further, that any young of the year taken on or before August 1 of that year must be released.

(C) Any employee or agent of the Service or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, when operating under a Cooperative Agreement with the Service signed in accordance with section 6(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, who is designated by the Service or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for such purposes, may, when acting in the course of his or her official duties, take a gray wolf in Minnesota to carry out scientific research or conservation programs.

(ii) Export and commercial transactions. Except as may be authorized by a permit issued under § 17.32, no person may sell or offer for sale in interstate commerce, import or export, or in the course of a commercial activity transport, ship, carry, deliver, or receive any Minnesota gray wolf.

(iii) Unlawfully taken wolves. No person may possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship, by any means whatsoever, a gray wolf taken unlawfully in Minnesota, except that an employee or agent of the Service, or any other Federal land management agency, or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who is designated by his/her agency for such purposes, may, when acting in the course of his official duties, possess, deliver, carry, transport, or ship a gray wolf taken unlawfully in Minnesota.

(3) Permits. All permits available under § 17.32 (General Permits—Threatened Wildlife) are available with regard to the gray wolf in Minnesota. All the terms and provisions of § 17.32 apply to such permits issued under the authority of this paragraph (d)(3).

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4. Amend paragraph (a) of § 17.95 by adding an entry for “Gray Wolf

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Critical habitat—fish and wildlife.

(a) Mammals.

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Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

Michigan. Isle Royale National Park.

Minnesota. Areas of land, water, and airspace in Beltrami, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Roseau, and St. Louis Counties, with boundaries (4th and 5th Principal meridians) identical to those of zones 1, 2, and 3, as delineated in 50 CFR 17.40(d)(l).

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Dated: August 31, 2009.

Sam D. Hamilton,

Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.

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[FR Doc. E9-22256 Filed 9-15-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-55-P