[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 31 (Thursday, February 15, 2007)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 7381-7382]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 07-723]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AV19


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Petition 
Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as 
Threatened Throughout Its Range

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of public informational meetings and 
public hearings.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
locations and times of combined public meetings that have been 
scheduled to: (1) Provide information on the 12-month petition finding 
and proposed rule to list the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as 
threatened throughout its range, and (2) Receive verbal public comments 
on that proposal.

DATES: The meeting dates are:
    1. March 1, 2007, 7 to 10 p.m., Anchorage, AK.
    2. March 5, 2007, 6 to 9 p.m., Washington, DC.
    3. March 7, 2007, 5 to 10 p.m., Barrow, AK.
    We will accept written comments until April 9, 2007. If you wish to 
submit written comments, follow the directions in our January 9, 2007, 
proposed regulation (72 FR 1064).

ADDRESSES: The meeting locations are:
    1. Anchorage--Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library, 3600 
Denali Street, Anchorage, AK 99503.
    2. Washington, DC--Department of the Interior (Sidney Yates 
Auditorium), 1849 C St., NW., Washington, DC 20240.
    3. Barrow--Inupiat Heritage Center (Multipurpose Room), Barrow, AK 
99723.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cathy Rezabeck, Regional Outreach 
Coordinator, 1011 East Tudor Rd., MS-101, Anchorage, AK 99503 
(telephone 907/786-3351). Persons who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For 
information concerning the Washington, D.C., meeting, please contact 
Valerie Fellows, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240 (telephone 202/208-
5634).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We will hold a combined public informational 
meeting and public hearing at the following locations: Anchorage, 
Alaska; Barrow, Alaska; and Washington, DC. In each location, the 
public informational meeting will precede the public hearing. All 
meetings will include a 30-minute presentation on the Service's status 
review of the polar bear followed by a 30-minute question and answer 
period on the status review. We invite the public to provide oral 
testimony during the public hearing.

Background

    On January 9, 2007, we published a proposed rule (72 FR 1064) to 
list the polar bear as threatened on the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife in 50 CFR 17.11(h). Because of the wide geographic 
scope of the proposal and heightened public interest, we have scheduled 
public informational meetings and public hearings at three locations.
    Our purpose for holding these public informational meetings is to 
provide additional opportunities for the public to gain information and 
ask questions about our proposal. These informational sessions should 
assist interested parties in preparing substantive comments, which we 
will accept until close of business (5 p.m.) Alaska Local Time on April 
9, 2007. The public hearings will be the only method for the public to 
verbally present comments and data for entry into the public record of 
this rulemaking and for our consideration during our final decision. 
Anyone wishing to make an oral comment or statement for the record at a 
public hearing listed above is encouraged (but not required) to also 
provide a written copy of the statement and present it to us at the 
hearing. Oral and written statements receive equal consideration. In 
the event there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral 
statements may be limited.
    Comments and data can also be submitted in writing or 
electronically, as described in the January 9, 2007, proposal, and at: 
http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/issues.htm.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from the proposed rule 
will be

[[Page 7382]]

as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning the proposed rule. We particularly seek comments 
concerning:
    (1) Information on taxonomy, distribution, habitat selection 
(especially denning habitat), food habits, population density and 
trends, habitat trends, and effects of management on polar bears;
    (2) Information on the effects of sea ice change on the 
distribution and abundance of polar bears and their principal prey over 
the short and long term;
    (3) Information on the effects of other potential listing factors, 
including oil and gas development, contaminants, ecotourism, hunting, 
and poaching, on the distribution and abundance of polar bears and 
their principal prey over the short and long term;
    (4) Information on regulatory mechanisms and management programs 
for polar bear conservation, including mitigation measures related to 
oil and gas exploration and development, hunting conservation programs, 
anti-poaching programs, and any other private, tribal, or governmental 
conservation programs that benefit polar bears;
    (5) The specific physical and biological features to consider, and 
specific areas that may meet the definition of critical habitat and 
that should or should not be considered for a proposed critical habitat 
designation as provided by section 4 of the Endangered Species Act;
    (6) Information relevant to whether any populations of the species 
may qualify as distinct population segments; and
    (7) The data and studies referred to within the proposal.

Author

    The author of this notice is Charles S. Hamilton, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

Authority

    The authority for this notice is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: February 2, 2007.
Mamie A. Parker,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 07-723 Filed 2-13-07; 11:21 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P