[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 90 (Tuesday, May 9, 2000)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 26762-26771]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-11507]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE43


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final 
Determination of Threatened Status for the Koala

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Service determines threatened status for the Australian 
koala under the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) as 
amended. The eucalyptus forest and woodland ecosystems on which this 
arboreal marsupial depends have been greatly reduced. Despite several 
conservation actions by the Government of Australia and State 
governments, the limited koala habitat continues to deteriorate. The 
species also is threatened by fragmentation of the habitat that 
remains, disease, loss of genetic variation, and death by dogs and 
motor vehicles due to development. Although differences occur in the 
health status of local populations, we are not able to designate either 
the current subspecies or the koalas of particular States as distinct 
vertebrate population segments. Koalas are no longer exploited for 
their fur, and it is habitat loss and its secondary effects that now 
threaten the species. This rule extends the

[[Page 26763]]

Endangered Species Act's protection to koalas throughout Australia.

DATES: Effective June 8, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Please send correspondence concerning this rule to Chief, 
Office of Scientific Authority, ARLSQ 750; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; Washington, DC 20240; fax number 703-358-2276. Express and 
messenger deliveries should be addressed to Chief, Office of Scientific 
Authority, Room 750; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax 
Drive; Arlington, Virginia 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Lieberman, Chief, Office of 
Scientific Authority, phone 703-358-1708, fax 703-358-2276, E-mail: 
r9osa@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an arboreal mammal found only 
in Australia. It has a compact body, large head and nose, large and 
furry ears, powerful limbs, and no significant tail. Mature koalas 
weigh from 4-15 kilograms (10-35 pounds), with larger animals in 
southern Australia. The koala is a marsupial, more closely related to 
kangaroos and possums than to true bears and other placental mammals. 
Koalas carry their young in a pouch for about 6 months. They occur in 
the forests and woodlands of central and eastern Queensland, eastern 
New South Wales, Victoria, and southeastern South Australia.
    In a petition dated May 3, 1994, which we received on May 5, 1994, 
Australians for Animals (AFA) (in Australia) and the Fund for Animals 
(FFA) (in the United States) requested that the koala be classified as 
endangered in New South Wales and Victoria, and as threatened in 
Queensland. About 40 organizations in the United States and Australia 
were named as supporting the petition. The document included extensive 
data indicating that the koala has declined dramatically since European 
settlement of Australia began about 200 years ago and has lost more 
than half of its natural habitat because of human activity. Once 
numbering in the millions, the koala was intensively hunted for its fur 
up through the 1920s. It is totally dependent for food and shelter on 
certain types of trees within forests and woodlands. The destruction or 
degradation of this habitat would reduce the viability of populations, 
even if the animals were otherwise protected.
    On October 4, 1994 (59 FR 50557), we announced a 90-day finding 
that the petition presented substantial information indicating that the 
requested action may be warranted. That notice also initiated a status 
review of the koala. On February 15, 1995 (60 FR 8620), we reopened the 
comment period on the status review until April 1, 1995. We sent a 
telegram to the U.S. embassy in Australia, asking that appropriate 
authorities be notified and asked to comment. We also presented the 
review directly to numerous concerned organizations and authorities. Of 
the approximately 400 responses received, the great majority were brief 
messages in support of listing, but several responses were from persons 
or organizations providing substantive comments based on firsthand 
knowledge of the situation.
    On September 22, 1998 (63 FR 50547), we proposed the koala as 
threatened throughout its range, and we sought public comments. We 
received over 3,000 responses: The vast majority were cards with a 
printed message endorsing the comments of the International Wildlife 
Coalition and supporting threatened status for the koala, but personal 
letters also expressed support for listing the species. We also 
received letters with substantive comments on the proposal from persons 
with direct knowledge of koala biology; many of those comments came 
from persons or groups who had offered opinions and information on 
earlier notices. We also sought information from scientists on a number 
of outstanding issues.

What Were the Comments of Those Who Opposed the Proposed Listing?

    All of the Australian Federal and State authorities that commented 
on the proposal opposed it. They were joined by three other 
respondents, including two who represented zoological associations in 
Australia and the United States.
    Dr. Colin Griffiths, Director of National Parks and Wildlife, 
submitted comments for Environment Australia, the agency responsible 
for koala policy on the national level. He stated that the Australian 
Government continues to object to our proposal to list the koala as a 
threatened species under U.S. law. Noting that, under the Endangered 
Species Protection Act 1992 (ESPA) no trade in koalas or koala products 
is permitted, Dr. Griffiths said ``we have yet to see any explanation 
of how the listing of the koala in the United States would contribute 
to koala conservation.'' The submission also stated that the Endangered 
Species Scientific Subcommittee established under the ESPA has 
evaluated nominations of the koala both under ``species that are 
endangered'' and ``species that are vulnerable.'' In each instance, the 
subcommittee concluded that the koala did not meet the criteria for 
listing at a national level.
    We fully understand the view of the Australian Government on the 
status of a species that is native only within its boundaries, 
particularly where only an occasional zoo acquisition leaves the 
country. However, our Endangered Species Act (ESA) is international in 
scope, and we are compelled by law to evaluate petitions of species 
beyond U.S. boundaries.
    Dr. Griffiths made the point that the Australian Government has 
taken a number of steps in koala conservation since the listing 
proposal came to us in 1994. A scientific advisory board has reported 
to the Minister of Environment that the species is relatively abundant 
and widespread nationally and not likely to become endangered within 
the next 25 years. In 1998, the legislation of the Commonwealth and the 
States protecting koalas was integrated into the National Koala 
Conservation Strategy. The Strategy was developed by the Australian and 
New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and was included with 
the comments submitted by Environment Australia.
    Finally, the submission made the objection raised by several others 
on the listing proposal: Australians particularly object to a rule in 
which we classify the species as threatened throughout its range rather 
than assess whether the koala warrants this classification in each 
State. While the ESA does not allow us to differentiate vertebrate 
populations solely on state or provincial boundaries (whereas we can on 
national boundaries), it does allow us to make these distinctions when 
significant biological differences exist between the populations. The 
issue that predominates is whether the three subspecies that have been 
described for koalas represent distinct vertebrate population segments.
    Mr. Allan Holmes, Director of National Parks and Wildlife for the 
Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs of South 
Australia, also made the point that the status of the koala varies 
regionally, and it is not considered nationally endangered or 
vulnerable. Koalas in South Australia are protected under the National 
Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 and are listed as rare under Schedule 9. In 
providing a history of koala management in the State, Mr. Holmes 
maintained that the classification as rare is misleading as the koala 
population in South Australia was at the western edge of its range even 
prior to European settlement. By 1930, the koala was considered extinct 
in South Australia,

[[Page 26764]]

and, as a consequence, a population was established on Kangaroo Island 
and subsequently at other sites on the mainland. Koala habitat is 
patchy in South Australia, largely due to forest fragmentation caused 
by 150 years of agricultural development. Koalas introduced to these 
patches have established populations and have frequently exceeded 
carrying-capacity with consequent damage to food trees. The letter 
affirmed the commitment of the Government of South Australia to 
ensuring that koalas are conserved in the State and that they are 
managed in such a way that will sustain them and their habitat. Mr. 
Holmes concluded that the current situation in South Australia with 
local overpopulation and genetic founder effects illustrates that the 
threats to koalas are different across Australia and that a single 
classification may not best serve conservation efforts for the species.
    Mr. Michael Taylor, Secretary of the Department of Natural 
Resources and Environment for the State of Victoria, said that the 
status of the species has continuously improved from the 1920s when it 
was probably endangered, to its current status as a widespread and 
common species. The koala is protected wildlife under the provisions of 
Victoria's Wildlife Act 1975, which protects all indigenous terrestrial 
vertebrates, and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998, which seeks to 
insure that species not only survive but retain their evolutionary 
potential in the wild. Under the provisions of that law, any person or 
group can nominate a species for listing, and it will be assessed by an 
independent Scientific Advisory Committee. Victoria's submission noted 
that, while 359 taxa have been nominated, the koala has not been one of 
them. Moreover, the government of Victoria has subjected all of its 
native vertebrates to the World Conservation Union criteria (IUCN, 
1994), and, while over 200 taxa were listed as threatened at some 
level, the koala did not meet the criteria.
    The submission provides a history of koala management in Victoria, 
documenting translocations by decade, as well as an assessment of the 
current distribution of koalas in the State. While densities of koalas 
vary widely, those that exceed three to four animals per hectare 
frequently result in overbrowsing. The results provided for 3 sites 
indicate a density of 1 koala per hectare is not uncommon, and 
extrapolation to the ``broad vegetation types utilized by koala in 
Victoria'' gives a total population estimate of 52,000 animals in the 
State of Victoria alone.
    Mr. Taylor presented the specific actions that Victoria has taken 
in recent years to protect koalas and their habitat. Victoria's 
Biodiversity Strategy calls for a reversal in the decline of native 
vegetation with a goal of no net loss by 2001. The Planning and 
Environment Act of 1987 includes the objective to assist the protection 
of biodiversity, and the Land for Wildlife Program provides mechanisms 
to conserve areas of environmental significance. The view of the 
Department of Natural Resources and Environment is that Victoria has a 
strong viable koala population in the wild, and thus listing would only 
divert attention from the species that are under threat.
    Mr. Brian Gilligan, Director General of the New South Wales 
National Parks and Wildlife Service, wrote that the population there is 
intermediate in physical size between the larger southern koalas in 
Victoria and South Australia and the smaller northern koalas in 
Queensland. The population in New South Wales was decimated by hunting 
until it was estimated to contain only 1,000 koalas by 1920. 
Researchers believed the population had recovered to 5,000-10,000 
koalas by the 1970s. The koala was listed as vulnerable under the New 
South Wales Endangered Fauna Act 1991 and more recently has the 
protection of threatened species and the Threatened Species 
Conservation (TSC) Act 1995, which replaced the earlier law. Because 
the koala is an ecological specialist, it is vulnerable to local 
extinctions. The letter details several steps that New South Wales has 
taken to help koala recovery in the State. Under the State 
Environmental Planning Policy 1995, a detailed habitat assessment is 
required before approving development of greater than 1 hectare in 
local government areas where koalas are known to exist. As required of 
any vulnerable species, the TSC Act requires the National Parks and 
Wildlife Service to prepare a recovery plan within 10 years. Also, the 
New South Wales government has begun creating forest reserves under the 
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). The State government has reserved 
600,000 hectares so far, and, by their assessment, a large proportion 
of this land is koala habitat.
    Mr. Greg Gordon of Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service 
qualified his earlier comments in the proposed rule, that koalas could 
become vulnerable in the future. ``I would see this as a long-term 
possibility only, as a result of continuing land clearing, assuming 
clearing is unchecked. It is difficult to put a time frame on this but 
I would think it would be many decades away, e.g. 50-100 years.'' 
Gordon wrote that the main problem is that most koala sites have poor 
habitat protection as they occur on privately managed land, which may 
be at risk of partial or total clearing at some time in the future. He 
added that in Queensland conservation measures for private lands are 
being developed, and more effective habitat protection is likely to be 
available in the medium term.
    Mr. Mark S. Canty submitted a letter opposing the proposal. He 
contrasted the national system of ``Landcare'' groups that have been 
forming in Australia, with the RFAs being set up by the government with 
the goal of preserving 15 percent of forest types that existed in 
Australia prior to 1750. Mr. Canty said that the result of these 
preservation targets has been an increase in areas being cleared by 
landholders to avert government decrees, and he expressed his concern 
that listing the koala would have the same negative impact, with 
landholders not reporting koala sightings for fear of being told how to 
manage their property. Mr. Canty expressed the view that agriculture 
and housing developments represent a greater threat to koalas than 
forestry practices. We fully understand this viewpoint, and we are 
aware that even the perception of imposed solutions stimulated by those 
living far from the effected land can have a counterproductive effect. 
Nothing in this listing in any way limits or directs specific measures 
in Australia for the benefit of koala conservation, on either the State 
or the Federal level.
    Ms. Christine Hopkins, Executive Director of the Australian 
Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA), provided 
valuable information related to the koala from the international to the 
state level. The summary of status and legislation was developed by the 
Monotreme & Marsupial Taxon Advisory Group. Convener Gary Stator said 
that the Taxon Advisory Group could see no basis to list the species as 
endangered, and Ms. Hopkins said the ARAZPA could find no evidence in 
support of listing the species as threatened.
    Senior officials at the American Zoological Association (AZA) have 
modified the position stated in the previous submission of the AZA. Ms. 
Kristin Vehrs, Dr. Michael Hutchins, and Mr. Robert Howarth maintain 
that the data provided fail to meet the listing criteria under the Act, 
specifically that the species is threatened throughout its entire 
range. While acknowledging that certain koala populations in New South 
Wales and Queensland continue to be threatened, studies conducted in

[[Page 26765]]

Victoria and South Australia suggest that the koala has begun to 
reestablish itself there. AZA stated that while some areas may meet the 
habitat loss criterion for listing, none currently meet the 
overutilization criterion in this instance. They conclude that no 
commercial exploitation occurs, and the few koalas going to zoos for 
research and educational display do so under permits with conditions 
that are highly restrictive. AZA notes that while habitat loss has been 
extensive, the Commonwealth and each State have their own management 
plans to reverse that trend. We concur with the AZA comments that 
koalas do not face the same magnitude of threats throughout Australia. 
The criteria for a threatened species, however, is one that is likely 
to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.

What Were the Substantive Comments of Those Who Favored Listing the 
Koala as Threatened?

    Ms. Valerie Thompson, North American Koala Population Manager for 
the AZA, expressed support for listing the koala as threatened. She 
based her view on field expeditions mapping koala habitat in 
conjunction with the Australia Koala Foundation. She also submitted 
letters from other AZA member institutions, responses to a packet of 
information on the listing that she had sent out as an Executive 
Committee member of the Marsupial and Monotreme Taxon Advisory Group. 
She concluded the AZA did not have a consensus on the koala listing and 
included letters from institutions and scientists in which nine favored 
listing, four opposed, and two abstained. The letters included with Ms. 
Thompson's submission reflected divergent views of the status of koala 
within the zoo community in the United States, as was evident from the 
submissions of the scientists in Australia. To list a species, we must 
determine it meets the criteria based on information from scientists 
surveying koalas and their habitat.
    Mr. Michael Kennedy, Director of Humane Society International 
(HSI), reiterated support for the listing of the koala as threatened. 
He stated that habitat clearance, particularly in the States of New 
South Wales and Queensland, is the greatest threat to koala survival. 
HSI reviewed the legislative actions taken since the previous comment 
period. Nominations were submitted under the national ESPA 1992 to list 
the koala as ``vulnerable'' and ``endangered'' by different 
conservation groups; both of these nominations were denied, though some 
of the scientists evaluating the proposals favored them. In New South 
Wales, where four koala populations were nominated as ``endangered'' 
under the New South Wales TSC Act, 1995, HSI noted that only one of the 
nominations was successful. In 1996, the Australian Government 
published the first National State of the Environment Australia. The 
document concluded that the ``greatest pressures on biodiversity come 
from demands on natural resources by increasing populations of humans, 
their affluence and their technology.* * * Habitat modification, has 
been and remains, the most significant cause of loss of biodiversity.'' 
The HSI letter stated that the Endangered Species Scientific 
Subcommittee (ESSS) recommended that vegetation clearance be recognized 
as a key threatening process as nominated by HSI. The Federal Minister 
for the Environment rejected the ESSS recommendation on legal but not 
biological grounds.
    Ms. Deborah Tarbart, Executive Director of the Australia Koala 
Foundation (AKF), provided additional information on behalf of the 
foundation supporting the listing of the koala. The AKF has been 
actively adding areas to the Koala Habitat Atlas, and three of those 
areas were included as appendices with the submission. They demonstrate 
that a small percentage of primary koala habitat remains in particular 
areas that are associated with koalas. The AKF believes that 
overpopulation of koalas in some areas of Victoria and South Australia 
misdirects the debate, as they are atypical populations in isolated 
habitats.
    The AKF submission also included papers on population trends and 
genetics of koalas presented at the Society for Conservation Biology 
meeting in Sydney, Australia, in 1998, and submitted for publication in 
the journal of that society. ``Population trends and the conservation 
debate--issues affecting the conservation of koalas (Phascolarctos 
cinereus) in Australia'' (Phillips 1998) provides demographic trends 
over several decades in three koala populations. Studies use different 
assessment methods; a covariance analysis shows that any differences in 
the slope of decline in the three areas are statistically not 
significantly different. The paper concludes that, because of the 
uncertainty inherent in population estimates and demographic trends, 
precautionary principles should be applied in conferring conservation 
status to species such as the koala.
    The AKF appendixes also include an abstract and an unpublished 
review of koala genetics that have particular pertinence in determining 
whether State populations can be considered valid subspecies. They 
suggest that the view of koala subspecies is changing with new 
molecular data, and that information was important in the later 
discussion of subspecies as significant vertebrate population segments. 
The genetics review also provided a better understanding of the 
chlamydia that affects most koala populations. DNA analysis showed that 
the chlamydia species infecting koalas most commonly is Chlamydia 
pecorum, which also causes infections in domestic livestock (Glassick 
et al. 1966).
    Ms. Julie Zyzniewski, President of the Koala Council in Queensland, 
wrote that, while the State and local governments have adopted some 
measures to stabilize the population in southeast Queensland, habitat 
destruction in the rest of the State and elsewhere in Australia had 
worsened. The Koala Council therefore strongly supports listing in the 
belief that it will provide moral support for community-based 
organizations such as the Koala Council.
    Ms. Donna Hart and Dr. Ron Orenstein of the International Wildlife 
Coalition, based in the United States and Canada, reiterated their 
support of the listing. They maintained that the decline in eucalyptus-
dominated woodland in southeastern Australia continues, and the 
policies of the many Australian jurisdictions appear to be aimed at 
accelerating this decline rather than halting it. As this is not true 
of all areas, IWC would favor a State-by-State listing.
    Dr. Frank N. Carrick of the University of Queensland makes several 
points in support of the listing proposal. Queensland is the only State 
where the koala can be ``considered to approach a natural condition in 
terms of number, distributional range and genetic and demographic 
integrity.'' The State also has one of the world's highest rates of 
clearing of native vegetation. Moreover, the riparian or coastal and 
lower altitude forests favored by koalas are the forests most 
extensively destroyed and fragmented for agriculture, grazing, 
intensive forestry, and residential development. The high-density koala 
population in southeastern Queensland--which Dr. Carrick sees as having 
a vital role in the survival of the species over evolutionary time--is 
the area of fastest human population growth in Australia. As for the 
ability of government regulation to reverse these trends, Dr. Carrick 
expressed the view that the Queensland Nature Conservation Act has 
inherent deficiencies that have resulted in the

[[Page 26766]]

downgrading of the classification of the koala from ``permanently 
protected'' to the ``common fauna'' category.
    We concur that the State with the most robust koala population in 
Australia also has the population at most serious risk. While we 
recognize that the Queensland government has enacted a State Planning 
Policy (SPP1/95) to control land allocation processes that are 
threatening koala populations, it will take years of monitoring to 
determine whether the Policy has been effective and the trend has been 
reversed in Queensland.
    Dr. Tony Norton, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, commented 
primarily on the forestry assessments that have been undertaken since 
the proposed listing. These assessments will serve as a basis for 
setting new guidelines for land allocation, forest management, and 
forestry sawlog and woodchip quotas over the next 20 years. Dr. Norton 
found that none of the assessments that have been completed so far have 
delivered their intended goals of a world class forest conservation 
reserve system or world class forest management practices and concludes 
that the habitat of the koala in the wild is endangered. He therefore 
reasserted his support for the listing to force Australian governments 
to meet both national and international commitments from the 
preservation of the country's biodiversity.
    Mr. Robert Bertram of the South East Forests Conservation Council 
provided thorough documentation of the demise of the koala population 
in one part of New South Wales. At present 39 percent of the high-
quality koala habitat in the area is reserved in National Parks, and 
resource agreements prevent reducing the intensity of current logging 
operations in the remainder of the quality habitat. Claiming that the 
government has demonstrated disregard for the known science and the 
precautionary principle in making land-use decisions, the Council gave 
its view that the situation of the koala in the region and across New 
South Wales on public land is uncertain at best.
    Mr. D.J. Schubert writing on behalf of the original petitioners 
(AFA and FFA) expressed frustration with the delay in publishing the 
proposed rule from the petition submitted in May 1994. The AFA and FFA 
contend that conditions have only declined further since their earlier 
comments and that the koala now merits endangered status throughout its 
range. They concur with other comments that most of the habitat 
destruction is the result of timber, agriculture, mining, and 
development. Most of the clearing of eucalypt forests is for the export 
woodchip markets. The submission also points out that the Australian 
Government has redefined the forest to include woodlands, plantations, 
and other areas not regarded as native forest. The effect has been to 
increase the amount of land considered forest in Australia from 41 to 
157 million hectares (Dovers et al. 1996). The AFA-FFA submission 
documents the development of the RFAs in Victoria, where the process 
has proceeded faster than in other States, and maintains that the new 
assessment provides ``virtually no benefit'' for the koala and its 
habitat. Given the specificity of the food and habitat requirements of 
the koala, inclusion of additional areas as RFAs may give an 
artificially high estimate of the land area that constitutes potential 
koala habitat.

Why Should We Consider the Koala, a Species That Is Not Native to 
the United States and That Is Only Rarely Imported To Be Displayed 
in Zoos, for Listing Under the ESA?

    This question is one that people asked in letters from the 
Government of Australia as well as the States within the country. As 
the koala does not naturally cross national boundaries and is not in 
legal international commercial trade, why should we take the 
considerable time to consider the species as threatened?
    The ESA is not restricted to species native to the United States, 
or those subject to international trade. The Act considers national 
boundaries, but makes that consideration secondary to the concern for 
the survival of species. The Act obligates us to make a determination 
in response to a petition.
    As for the priority of such foreign species, with so many other 
important priorities in international wildlife conservation, we have 
proceeded deliberately with the listing process, sometimes to the 
dismay of the petitioners. We have found that, during listing 
consideration, with its requirements for public comment and 
consideration of those comments in developing a final decision, 
sometimes important strides have been made by the countries in the 
conservation measures that have been developed or enforced. In such 
cases, the ESA provides an important conservation benefit.

Given That Koalas Occur Over Most of Their Historic Range and Are 
Overpopulated in Some Areas, How Can the Species Be Considered 
Threatened?

    While no agreement exists on an estimate of the number of koalas in 
Australia, most scientists concur that the species is still widespread. 
Neither the petitioners nor the Australian Nature Conservation Agency 
(Phillips 1990) attempted to provide a total estimate of current koala 
numbers in Australia. Other parties have suggested overall numbers 
ranging from about 40,000 to 400,000, with the Australian Koala 
Foundation supporting the lower figure. In their comments on the 
petition, Drs. Martin and Handasyde indicated that there probably are 
tens of thousands of koalas at each of several study sites in Victoria 
alone.
    As we pointed out in the proposed rule, the actual number of koalas 
that were present at various times in the past and that may still exist 
is of much interest and helps to give some perspective but, as for many 
species, may not be the critical factor in determining whether the 
species is threatened. A low figure may reflect natural rarity of a 
population in marginal habitats. A high figure may be misleading if the 
entire habitat of the involved population faces imminent destruction.
    In this instance, a significant amount of the remaining koala 
habitat will be lost in the near future if the current trend of land 
clearance is not reversed. As koalas still exist in many of these 
areas, if land use measures are carried out to preserve the habitat 
that supports koalas and many other species, robust populations can be 
maintained. Such land use policies have been proposed in some States.

Given the Different Laws Under Which They Are Managed, Why Don't We 
Consider the Koala for Listing on a State-by-State Basis?

    We recognize the objections of the Australian Government, 
Australian State governments, and others to a blanket listing of the 
koala throughout its range. In the proposed rule, we stated that, if we 
received strong biological arguments, we would consider giving separate 
consideration to particular populations. It should be recognized, 
however, that koalas cannot be considered separate populations solely 
because they reside in different State jurisdictions.
    Our February 7, 1996, Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct 
Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act (61 FR 
4722) establishes that, while international government boundaries with 
differences in management do qualify as discrete populations, political 
boundaries within countries do not. We do not specify significant 
populations solely by State in the United States, and we cannot do this 
in Australia.

[[Page 26767]]

    However, three subspecies of koalas are currently recognized based 
on morphological differences in skins and skulls. The koala in northern 
Queensland (Phascolarctos cinereus adustus) is described as smaller and 
having a more reddish fur than the animals from New South Wales (P.c. 
cinereus), while the subspecies native to Victoria and South Australia 
(P.c. victor) is larger than the koalas of New South Wales, with a more 
uniformly brown coat color. The subspecies boundaries have been equated 
with the State borders, although there are no major geographical 
barriers separating the States of Queensland, New South Wales and 
Victoria. Scientists suggest that these differences represent variation 
along a cline and reflect adaptation to climate differences over the 
extensive range of the species. (Lee and Martin, 1988). What was 
necessary in this case was to determine whether these subspecies 
represent evolutionarily significant units--a geographically discrete 
set of historical populations (Ryder, 1986) that coincided with state 
borders.

Do the Three Koala Subspecies Qualify as Distinct Vertebrate 
Population Segments?

    Our Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate 
Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act (61 FR 4722) 
requires that a population meet the dual criteria of discreteness and 
significance. In evaluating whether the koala subspecies meet the 
discreteness criterion, we reviewed a recently published study in which 
Australian scientists addressed this question (Houlden et al. 1999). A 
recent study of koala mitochondrial DNA from 200 koalas in 16 
populations across their range showed that, while there are significant 
differences between local populations, those differences are not 
reflected in further differentiation consistent with the current 
subspecies designations. The authors conclude: ``There was no support 
for a delineation between the P.c. cinereus and the P.c. victor 
subspecies. In addition, there is evidence to the contrary for the 
delineation between the P.c. adustus and P.c. cinereus at the 
Queensland /New South Wales border.''
    This conclusion is supported by recent genetic analyses of captive 
koalas as well (Takami, 1998). The current subspecies, dividing 
populations at State borders, do not constitute evolutionarily 
significant units nor do they meet the criteria for discrete vertebrate 
population segments.
    While using the subspecies taxonomy may have been expedient, given 
the difference in management between States, we agree with views 
expressed by the scientists in Australia that ``clearly the existing 
subspecific taxonomic classification of koalas may not adequately 
reflect actual levels of genetic diversity, and conservation priorities 
set on the basis of the currently recognized subspecies may be 
deficient'' (Sherwin et al. 1998). Therefore, we cannot separate koala 
subspecies into distinct vertebrate population segments for purposes of 
listing under the Act.

What Is the Status of the Koala in Regard to the Five ESA Listing 
Factors?

    Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA and regulations (50 CFR part 424) 
promulgated to implement the listing provisions of the Act set forth 
the procedures for adding species to the Federal lists. A species may 
be determined to be endangered or threatened due to one or more of the 
following factors described in section 4(a)(1). These factors and their 
application to the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) are as follows.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    The known historical range of the koala covered an extensive band 
of forest and woodland in eastern and central Queensland, eastern New 
South Wales, most of Victoria, and extreme southeastern South 
Australia. The government, the petitioners, and independent scientific 
authorities agree that the primary cause of the decline of the koala is 
destruction of its habitat. This situation is exacerbated by the 
species' high degree of specialization. Koalas favor particular species 
of eucalyptus, and populations tend to be concentrated at certain 
favorable sites. The reproductive rate is relatively low, the maturity 
rate is slow, and many of the young must disperse.
    With human disruption of suitable eucalyptus forests and woodlands, 
the koala has disappeared from much of its original range. In 
designating the koala as ``potentially vulnerable,'' the IUCN/SSC 
Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group noted that the 
geographic range of the species had declined by 50 to 90 percent 
(Kennedy 1992).
    A publication of the Australian Nature Conservation Agency 
(Phillips 1990) contains the following statement: ``The expansive 
forests where koalas once lived * * * have largely gone and those which 
remain are rapidly disappearing to make way for the needs of human 
society.'' The publication cited a 1984 report by the Australian 
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) 
indicating that the total area of medium-to-tall trees in the four 
States inhabited by the koala is estimated to originally have been just 
over 1,230,000 square kilometers (km2) [475,000 square miles 
(mi2)], but that just over half of those forests, 670,000 
km2 (259,000 mi2), had been removed or severely 
modified.
    The petitioners and several of those who commented provided details 
on the continued habitat loss and modification. This problem is caused 
mainly by commercial logging, clearing for agriculture and 
urbanization, as well as disease and extensive dieback of the trees on 
which the koala depends. The problem is not only removal of the large 
eucalyptus trees used for food and shelter, but also elimination of 
vegetated dispersal routes, erosion, siltation of water sources, 
fragmentation through development of road networks, and other factors 
detrimental to maintenance of viable koala populations. Based on data 
compiled in the same 1984 CSIRO report cited above, the petitioners 
calculated the loss of forest during the past 200 years at 43-52 
percent in Queensland, 60-80 percent in New South Wales, 59-75 percent 
in Victoria, and 79-100 percent in South Australia. An additional 
government report in 1992 estimated that 60 percent of the remaining 
forests in Australia are composed of eucalyptus, but that only 18 
percent of these areas are unmodified by logging.
    Subsequent to receipt of the petition, the Australian Department of 
the Environment, Sport and Territories issued two new pertinent reports 
(Glanznig 1995; Graetz et al. 1995). These documents indicate that the 
primary habitat utilized by the koala originally covered as much as 
1,400,000 km2 (540,000 mi2), but that about 
890,000 km2 (340,000 mi2), or approximately 63 
percent, now has been cleared or thinned. Those figures may well be 
excessive, as the koala was not uniformly distributed throughout the 
involved region and tended to concentrate in certain favorable areas.
    In any case, the new reports support the percentages of forest loss 
cited above for each of the States involved. Perhaps most 
significantly, such land clearance is not a phenomenon of the past but 
is continuing and even intensifying. The estimated annual average 
amount of land cleared in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria 
from 1983 to 1993 was approximately 4,600 km2 (1,800 
mi2). Estimates for some recent years are approximately 
twice as great. Glanznig

[[Page 26768]]

(1995) pointed out that the amount of native vegetation cleared in 
Australia in 1990 was more than half that cleared in Brazilian 
Amazonia.
    Not all of the clearing in Queensland, New South Wales, and 
Victoria is in koala habitat, and some of the clearing involves 
reclearing of secondary growth; nonetheless, a 1993 estimate cited by 
the petitioners indicates that, if the current rate of deforestation 
continues, Australia's forests would be eliminated in less than 250 
years. Much of the forest loss is associated with the production of 
woodchips, mainly for exportation to paper mills in Japan. Therefore, 
we find that the koala is threatened in a significant portion of its 
range due to the present and threatened destruction, modification, and 
curtailment of its habitat.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Koala populations were devastated by the commercial fur trade. 
Populations may have fluctuated considerably through the 19th century 
in association with such factors as disease and the intensity of 
aboriginal hunting. It does seem evident, however, that in the early 
20th century, the number of koalas in Australia was well into the 
millions. Such a figure is based on the number of koalas killed for the 
commercial fur market during that period. In some years, the number of 
koalas taken may have exceeded 2,000,000, and, as late as 1927, 600,000 
to 1,000,000 were killed in Queensland alone. This destruction, 
possibly along with a Chlamydia epidemic (Phillips 1990), may have 
reduced koala numbers to just a few thousand. Subsequent conservation 
efforts, termination of the fur trade, and reintroduction apparently 
led to a partial recovery by the mid-20th century.
    Today overutilization is not a problem. Although some animals 
reportedly are illegally hunted, and a few koalas are exported to zoos 
for educational purposes, we conclude that overutilization is not a 
factor threatening the survival of the species.

C. Disease or Predation

    Experts have been concerned about the effects of the bacterium 
Chlamydia, which is known to occur in most koala populations. This 
disease-causing organism manifests itself in several ways, but 
especially through infections of the eyes and urinary tract. It 
apparently has long been associated with the koala and may have been 
responsible for devastating epidemics in the late 19th and early 20th 
centuries (Phillips 1990). Genetics research has shown that at least 
two species of Chlamydia infect koalas (Glassick et al. 1996). 
Chlamydia pecorum causes most of the reproductive tract disease in 
koalas, and this species also causes infections in domestic livestock 
(Jackson et al. 1997). The adverse effects of the disease are 
intensified through the stress caused by habitat loss and 
fragmentation. Chlamydia is widespread in mainland koala populations 
and evidently was responsible for recent declines at some localities, 
but it is not claimed to be an immediate threat to the overall survival 
of the species. In some areas, introduced koala populations that are 
Chlamydia-free show a higher reproductive rate requiring management to 
avoid overbrowsing of critical tree species. The koala is also subject 
to various other diseases and, particularly in areas of rapid 
development, is subject to predation and harassment by domestic dogs 
and other introduced animals. While disease and predation are 
exacerbating factors, they would not, in the absence of other factors, 
cause any koala population to be threatened.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Although State laws generally protect the koala from direct taking 
and commercial utilization, much of the petitioners' argument is based 
on a lack of regulatory mechanisms that adequately protect the habitat 
of the species. Although a significant portion of the koala's remaining 
habitat is on government land, such ownership does not preclude logging 
and other modification. Researchers have particular concern that 
deforestation for the woodchip market is proceeding without proper 
assessment of environmental impacts. Even if such impacts were taken 
into account, the petitioners argue the welfare of the koala would not 
be given adequate attention because the species is not listed pursuant 
to Australia's ESPA. We can look at the situation of the koala in each 
State to determine the adequacy of the current regulations.
    Though the koalas of Queensland are the smallest in size, the State 
has the largest koala population, and the most remaining koala habitat 
of the States. Queensland also has one of the highest rates of clearing 
of native vegetation. Under the National Forestry Policy, the rate of 
clearfelling continues to be high on private lands. According to the 
1996 assessment of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and 
Conservation Research Council, the koala population is stable in some 
areas, thinly scattered in many others, and in steep decline in some 
coastal areas. A consensus exists that the population overall is 
declining at different rates depending largely on the degree of 
development. The situation is particularly critical in southeast 
Queensland, where urbanization threatens the still substantial koala 
population. Despite legislation that includes the Nature Conservation 
Act 1992 and the State Planning Policy 1995, the major threat is poor 
habitat protection for most of the koala population.
    In New South Wales, koalas were once abundant throughout the 
eastern half of the State and driven to near extirpation by the 1920s. 
The State government estimates that the population recovered to 5,000-
10,000 by the 1970s, with the largest and most secure population in the 
northwest part of the State. The State government also is concerned 
that continued habitat fragmentation could lead to local extinctions. 
For that reason, the koala was listed as a vulnerable species under the 
NSW Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act, 1991. When that law was 
replaced by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995, the koala 
continued to be designated as vulnerable by the independent Scientific 
Committee created with the new legislation. The New South Wales 
Scientific Committee recently decided that the Hawks Nest and Tea 
Gardens koalas meet the criteria of an endangered population.
    Koalas are native to the Australia Capital Territory, although they 
were very rare by 1901. Currently the population is small and likely 
the descendants of several introductions from Victoria. Almost all of 
the koalas in Victoria represent the success of reintroduction efforts, 
as the species was extirpated in the State by the early 1900s, with the 
exception of three remnant populations (Lewis, 1934). Koalas were 
introduced to Phillip and French Islands by the 1890s, and it is from 
translocations of these populations, which began to overcrowd their 
island habitats, that the present population largely descends.
    As reported in the review of previous comments, substantial 
disagreement exists on the actual numbers of koalas and their densities 
in some sites where they are abundant. In their submission, the 
Department of Natural Resources and Environment reports that population 
censuses indicate that densities of 0.5-1 animal per ha are not 
uncommon, and they supported that contention with recent data from 
three sites where over-browsing is occurring. The Department has 
recently conducted statewide vegetation mapping and

[[Page 26769]]

concluded that although 60 percent of koala habitat has been lost since 
European settlement, 5.2 million ha remain. If there is 1 koala per 100 
ha in these habitats, the Department estimates a total population of at 
least 52,000 koalas.
    There has been criticism of this extrapolation approach to koala 
population estimation, particularly as they assume habitat homogeneity 
over broad geographic areas. (Phillips, 1998). The AKF submission 
specifically cites the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria to illustrate the 
high degree of uncertainty associated with the koala population 
estimation. Using an alternative estimation method of modeling 
population growth, Phillips (1998) gives an estimate of 5,000 for the 
area, an order magnitude lower than earlier estimates (Martin submitted 
to USFWS 1995).
    We cannot resolve the wide discrepancy in estimates of the koalas 
in Victoria, and the underlying assumption of the carrying capacity of 
certain habitat type in the State. We do recognize that a continuous 
translocation program, while necessary to avoid ecological degradation 
of some plant communities, is not the best solution. The government of 
Victoria recognizes this as well and is taking further steps in its 
Biodiversity Strategy to reverse the decline of native vegetation by 
2001. Victoria has managed its koala population to relative stability, 
albeit through intensive management.
    At the time of European settlement, koalas occurred only in 
southeast South Australia, and by the 1930s they were considered 
extinct in the State. South Australia's present koala population is 
primarily in five localities and is the result of introductions from 
other States in Australia. Because these introductions come from 
disparate provenances and are relatively recent, the population in 
South Australia should not be considered a single subspecies. The 
population in the southeast of the State, the area where there were 
koalas at the time of European settlement, is the least stable, and 
additional reintroductions are planned. In contrast, on Kangaroo Island 
high koala density has led to the sustained overbrowsing on preferred 
food species. In 1998, 2,500 koalas on Kangaroo Island were sterilized 
and 850 were relocated to the southeast part of the State.
    Land use practices vary enormously in different States, and they 
are currently undergoing evaluation and change in many jurisdictions. 
We conclude that the inadequacy of present regulations over a 
significant portion of the species' range is a factor in designating 
the koala as threatened.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    The petition and other sources indicate a number of additional 
problems confronting the koala. Perhaps most important from a long-term 
perspective is a loss of genetic variation resulting from fragmentation 
of habitat. Koalas show low levels of variation as measured at the 
protein and DNA levels. The genetic differentiation of isolated koala 
populations is becoming apparent, and in combination with high site 
philopatry and the species response to translocation, greatly increases 
the likelihood of inbreeding. This problem is further extenuated in 
populations that were founded from koalas that were maintained in a 
semi-natural environment on offshore islands. Lack of genetic 
variability could increase susceptibility to disease and other 
problems, particularly those resulting from rapidly changing Australian 
environments. Additional factors such as the increase in wildfires, 
attacks by domestic dogs, and automobile accidents all pose secondary 
threats that are the outcome of koala habitat decline.

What Are the Available Conservation Measures as a Result of This 
Listing?

    Although habitat loss was a crucial factor in the determination 
that the koala is threatened, specific critical habitat is not being 
proposed, as its designation is not applicable to foreign species.
    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the ESA include recognition, international 
cooperation, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and 
prohibitions against certain activities. Recognition through listing 
encourages conservation measures by Federal, international, and private 
agencies, groups, and individuals.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
their actions that are to be conducted within the United States or on 
the high seas with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its proposed or designated 
critical habitat (if any). Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to 
ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or to 
destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a proposed Federal 
action may affect a listed species, the responsible Federal agency must 
enter into formal consultation with the Service. We are not aware of 
such actions with respect to the species covered by this proposal, 
except as may apply to importation permit procedures.
    Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited 
financial assistance for the development and management of programs 
that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful 
for the conservation of endangered and threatened species in foreign 
countries. Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to 
encourage conservation programs for foreign endangered and threatened 
species and to provide assistance for such programs in the form of 
personnel and the training of personnel.
    Section 9 of the Act, and implementing regulations found at 50 CFR 
17.21 and 17.31, set forth a series of general prohibitions and 
exceptions that apply to all threatened wildlife. These prohibitions, 
in part, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of 
the United States to take, import or export, ship in interstate 
commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or offer for 
sale in interstate or foreign commerce any threatened wildlife. It also 
is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, transport, or ship any such 
wildlife that has been taken in violation of the Act. Certain 
exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State conservation 
agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22, 17.23, and 17.32. Permits are available for scientific purposes, 
to enhance propagation or survival, or for incidental take in 
connection with otherwise lawful activities. These permits must also be 
consistent with the purposes and policy of the Act as required by 
Section 10(d). For threatened species, we may also issue permits for 
zoological exhibition, educational purposes, or special purposes 
consistent with the purposes of the Act.
    Our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 
FR 34272), is to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time 
a species is listed those activities that would or would not constitute 
a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to 
increase public awareness of the effects of this listing on proposed or 
ongoing activities involving the species. Importations into and 
exportations from the United States, and interstate and

[[Page 26770]]

foreign commerce, of koalas (including tissues, parts, and products) 
from New South Wales and Queensland without a threatened species permit 
would be prohibited. Koalas removed from the wild or born in captivity 
prior to the date the species is listed under the Act would be 
considered ``pre-Act'' and would not require permits unless they enter 
commerce. When a specimen is sold or offered for sale, it loses its 
pre-Act status. Currently, 10 zoological institutions in the United 
States hold koalas. You can direct questions regarding permit 
requirements for U.S. activities to the Office of Management Authority, 
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 700, Arlington, Virginia 22203 (1-800-358-
2104).

Listing Priority Guidance

    The processing of this final rule conforms with our Listing 
Priority Guidance published in the Federal Register on October 22, 1999 
(64 FR 57114). The guidance clarifies the order in which we will 
process rulemakings. Highest priority is processing emergency listing 
rules for any species determined to face a significant and imminent 
risk to its well-being (Priority 1). Second priority (Priority 2) is 
processing final determinations on proposed additions to the lists of 
endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. Third priority is 
processing new proposals to add species to the lists. The processing of 
administrative petition findings (Petitions filed under section 4 of 
the Act) is the fourth priority. This final rule is a Priority 2 action 
and is being completed in accordance with the current Listing Priority 
Guidance.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that we do not need to prepare an Environmental 
Assessment, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations 
adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered Species Act, as 
amended. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this 
determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 
49244).

Required Determinations

    This rule does not require collection of information that requires 
approval by the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et 
seq. An information collection related to the rule pertaining to 
permits for endangered and threatened species has OMB approval and is 
assigned clearance number 1018-0094. An agency may not conduct or 
sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of 
information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. 
This rule does not alter that information collection requirement.

References Cited

Dovers, S.R., T.W. Norton and J.W. Handmer. 1996. Uncertainty, 
ecology, sustainability and policy. Biodiversity Conservation. 
5:1143-1167.
Glanznig, Andreas. 1995. Native Vegetation Clearance, Habitat Loss 
and Biodiversity Decline. An Overview of Recent Native Vegetation 
Clearance in Australia and Its Implications for Biodiversity. 
Australian Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 
Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 6, 46 pp.
Glassick, T., P. Giffard, and P. Timms. 1996. Outer membrane protein 
2 gene sequences indicate that Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia 
pneumoniae cause infections in koalas. Systematic and Applied 
Microbiology 19:457-464.
Graetz, R.D., M.A. Wilson, and S.K. Campbell. 1995. Landcover 
Disturbance Over the Australian Continent. A Contemporary 
Assessment. Australian Department of the Environment, Sport and 
Territories, Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 7, 86 pp.
Houlden, B.A., B.H. Costello, D. Sharkey, E.V. Fowler, A. Melzer, W. 
Ellis, F. Carrick, P.R. Baverstock, M.S. Elphinstone. 1999. 
Phylogeographic differentiation in the mitochondrial control region 
in the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817) Molecular 
Ecology 8:999-1011.
IUCN 1994. IUCN Red List Categories. IUCN Gland Switzerland.
Jackson, M.P. Giffard and P. Timms. 1997 Outer Membrane Protein A 
Gene Sequencing Demonstrates the Polyphyletic Nature of Koala 
Chlamydia pecorum isolates. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 20: 
187-200.
Kennedy, M. 1992. Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. An Action 
Plan for their Conservation. World Conservation Union, Species 
Survival Commission, Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist 
Group, Gland, Switzerland, 103 pp.
Lee, A. and R. Martin, 1988. The koala: a natural history. Australia 
Natural History Series. New South Wales University Press, Sydney, 
Australia.
Lewis, F. 1934. The koala in Victoria. Victorian Naturalist 51:73-76
Melzer, A., F. Carrick and P. Menkorst. 1998. Koala distribution and 
abundance: an overview, critical assessment, and conservation 
implications. Presented at the annual meeting Society for 
Conservation Biology, in Sydney, Australia, July, 1998. Submitted to 
Conservation Biology.
Phillips, S. 1998. Population trends and the conservation debate--
issue affecting the conservation of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) 
in Australia. Presented meeting at the Society for Conservation 
Biology in Sydney, Australia, July, 1998. Submitted to Conservation 
Biology.
Phillips, B. 1990. Koalas--the little Australians we'd all hate to 
lose. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (now Australian 
Nature Conservation Agency), Australian Government Publishing 
Service, Canberra, 104 pp.
Ryder, O.A. 1986. Species conservation and systematic: the dilemma 
of subspecies. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 1:9-10.
Sherwin, W., P. Timms and B. Houlden. 1998. Genetics of Koalas: an 
Analysis and conservation implications. Presented at the annual 
meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Sydney, 
Australia, July, 1998. Submitted to Conservation Biology.
Takami, K., M. Yoshida, Y. Yamomoto, M. Harada, and J. Furuyama. 
1998. Genetic variation of mitochondrial cytochrome b genes among 
the subspecies of koala, Phascolarctos cinereus. Journal of 
Veterinary Medical Science, 60:1161-1163.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

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

    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.


    2. Amend Sec. 17.11(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical 
order under MAMMALS, to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife:


Sec. 17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 26771]]



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Mammals
 
                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *
Koala............................  Phascolarctos         Australia..........  Australia..........  T                       698           NA           NA
                                    cinereus.
 
                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Dated: April 25, 2000.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director.
[FR Doc. 00-11507 Filed 5-8-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-U