Unified Agenda Updates 12/22/14

Below are several proposed actions that are pertinent to the Reptile Nation from the 12/22/14 semi-annual Unified Agenda. The Unified Agenda publishes significant regulatory actions that agencies expect to take in the coming year. Federal agencies are required to publish agendas of regulatory and deregulatory activities.

Constrictor Rule

Abstract: We are making a final determination on the listing of five species of large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act: Reticulated python, DeSchauensee's anaconda, green anaconda, Beni anaconda, and boa constrictor.

USARK Summary: Very similar language has been posted several times since the four species (now five species after Burmese and Indian pythons were reclassified to full species status) were listed in January of 2012. It means that the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) plans to finalize the rule, but that may or may not happen. If the rule is finalized, we may see no additional species added, some added, or all five added. FWS could have listed any of the five additional species at any time but they have not. This is most likely due to pressure from USARK, including our lawsuit.

This is serious but it is the same threat we have faced since early 2012 when the original four were listed. It is not a new threat. FWS has been posting language similar to below for over two years and they have not yet made their determination. USARK will keep you updated.

More Constrictor Rule information can be found at www.usark.org/2014-blog/constrictor-rule-1/.

Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife

Abstract: We propose to rewrite a substantial portion of our regulations for importation, exportation, and transportation of wildlife. We will propose changes to the port structure and inspection fees. We will propose to make the regulations easier to understand through the use of simpler language, format changes, and tables.

General Permit Procedures; Fees and Clarifications

Abstract: We propose to revise our general permitting regulations, primarily to propose increases in permit application fees for various programs. In addition, we propose several changes to clarify the permit application reconsideration and appeal process, to correct contact information, and to make other minor changes. We will increase the permit application fees to be more in line with OMB circular A-25. Permits to be affected are those that allow people to carry out otherwise prohibited activities under the Endangered Species Act, Lacey Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Wild Bird Conservation Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Inclusion of Four Turtle Species in Appendix III of CITES

Abstract: We propose to include the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox), smooth softshell turtle (Apalone mutica), and spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) in appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including live and dead whole specimens and all readily recognizable parts, products, and derivatives. Listing these native U.S. freshwater turtle species (including their subspecies) in appendix III of CITES is necessary to allow us to adequately monitor international trade in these species; to determine whether exports are occurring legally, with respect to State law; and to determine whether further measures under CITES or other laws are required to conserve these species.

Additional Information: www.usark.org/four-turtle-species-proposed-as-cites-iii/

Injurious Wildlife; Making Injurious Wildlife Determinations Under the Lacey Act 

Abstract: The injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act help us prevent and manage introductions of invasive species. We add species to the list of injurious wildlife to prevent their introduction into or establishment within the United States. Species listed as injurious (including their gametes and viable eggs) must not be imported into the United States or transported between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States by any means without a permit issued by the Service. We propose to revise our regulations for listing species as injurious in order to enhance the species evaluation process and enable more efficient and effective decisions that will help prevent the introduction and spread of injurious wildlife. As under current authorization, only nondomesticated species will continue to be evaluated for listing.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revising the Petition Process Regulations

Abstract: The Endangered Species Act, as amended (ESA), and its implementing regulations set forth standards for identifying what constitutes a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species under the ESA and the procedures for processing a petition. The Services (FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service) are proposing to change the regulations at 50 CFR 424.14 pertaining to the petition process, in order to provide greater clarity to the public on the petition submission process, including coordination with affected States, and also to provide expanded content requirements and guidelines, which will assist petitioners in providing complete petitions.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Determination for the Black Pine Snake 

Abstract: FWS will make a listing determination for the black pine snake, under the Endangered Species Act, as amended. The FWS is required to designate critical habitat, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, concurrent with a listing determination for the species. FWS will develop a critical habitat designation for the black pine snake, as a separate rulemaking action (RIN 1018-BA24). The black pine snake prefers xeric (extremely dry), fire-maintained longleaf pine forest with sandy, well-drained soils. The species can usually be found on hilltops and ridges, and toward the tops of slopes where there is an open canopy, a reduced midstory, and a dense herbaceous understory. The black pine snake's range includes extreme southeastern Louisiana through southern Mississippi, and into southwestern Alabama. This species has been recorded in Mobile, Clarke, and Washington Counties, Alabama, and is believed to occur in Choctaw County as well.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat Designation for the Black Pine Snake

Abstract: FWS will, if determined to be prudent and determinable, designate critical habitat for the black pine snake, under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The FWS is required to designate critical habitat, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, concurrent with a listing determination for the species. FWS will develop a listing determination for the black pine snake, as a separate rulemaking action (RIN 1018-BA03). The black pine snake prefers xeric (extremely dry), fire-maintained longleaf pine forest with sandy, well-drained soils. The species can be found usually on hilltops and ridges, and toward the tops of slopes where there is an open canopy, a reduced midstory, and a dense herbaceous understory. The black pine snake's range includes extreme southeastern Louisiana through southern Mississippi, and into southwestern Alabama. This species has been recorded in Mobile, Clarke, and Washington Counties, Alabama, and is believed to occur in Choctaw County as well.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat Designation for Two Arizona Gartersnakes

(Northern Mexican Gartersnake and Narrowheaded Gartersnake) 

Abstract: Under the Endangered Species Act, as amended, the FWS is required to designate critical habitat, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, concurrent with a listing determination for a species. FWS recently listed two Arizona gartersnakes--northern Mexican gartersnake and narrowheaded gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops and Thamnophis rufipunctatus, respectively)--as threatened species (see RIN 1018-AY23). These highly aquatic gartersnakes occur in riparian areas in portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat Designations for the Georgetown and Salado Salamanders

Abstract: FWS will publish a proposed rule to revise critical habitat for the Georgetown salamander, found in Williamson County, Texas, and the Salado salamander, found in Bell County, Texas, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, as amended.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Special Rule for the Georgetown Salamander

Abstract: FWS proposes a special rule under the authority of section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, that provides measures that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia). The Georgetown salamander occurs in Williamson County, Texas.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Sonoyta Mud Turtle

Abstract: We will make a determination regarding listing the Sonoyta mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. This turtle occur in Pima County, Arizona, and also in Mexico, and is a current candidate for listing under the ESA.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat Designation for the Oregon Spotted Frog

Abstract: FWS will designate critical habitat, if determined to be prudent and determinable, for the Oregon spotted frog, a threatened species, in the states of Washington and Oregon. FWS developed a listing determination for the Oregon spotted frog as a separate rulemaking action (see RIN 1018-AZ04).