[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 218 (Tuesday, November 13, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Page 63874]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-22092]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No: APHIS-2007-0118]


Imported Fire Ant; Availability of an Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that a draft environmental 
assessment has been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection 
Service relative to the proposed release into areas quarantined for 
imported fire ant of five additional species of phorid flies for use as 
biological control agents. We are making the environmental assessment 
available to the public for review and comment.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
December 13, 2007.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov, select ``Animal and Plant Health Inspection 
Service'' from the agency drop-down menu, then click ``Submit.'' In the 
Docket ID column, select APHIS-2007-0118 to submit or view public 
comments and to view supporting and related materials available 
electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including 
instructions for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing 
the docket after the close of the comment period, is available through 
the site's ``User Tips'' link.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies 
of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. APHIS-
2007-0118, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-
03.8, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your 
comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2007-0118.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the 
environmental assessment in our reading room. The reading room is 
located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure 
someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.
    Other information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Charles L. Brown, Imported Fire 
Ant Quarantine Program Manager, Pest Detection and Management Programs, 
PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 134, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 
734-4838.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren, Solenopsis 
richteri Forel, and hybrids of these species) is an aggressive, 
stinging insect that, in large numbers, can seriously injure and even 
kill livestock, pets, and humans. The imported fire ant, which is not 
native to the United States, feeds on crops and builds large, hard 
mounds that damage farm and field machinery. The imported fire ant 
regulations (contained in 7 CFR 301.81 through 301.81-10 and referred 
to below as the regulations) are intended to prevent the imported fire 
ant from spreading throughout its ecological range within the country. 
The regulations quarantine infested States or infested areas within 
States and restrict the interstate movement of regulated articles to 
prevent the artificial spread of the imported fire ant.
    In addition to the movement restrictions in the regulations, the 
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and its State 
cooperators release phorid flies (Pseudacteon species), a natural enemy 
of the imported fire ant, into quarantined areas. These flies 
parasitize the imported fire ant, killing those that are parasitized. 
Those ants that are not parasitized are affected behaviorally by the 
presence of the flies because their presence reduces fire ant foraging. 
A decrease in foraging activity facilitates competition from native 
fire ants that might otherwise be excluded from food sources in fire 
ant territory.
    Currently, APHIS uses three species of phorid flies (Pseudacteon 
curvatus, P. litoralis, and P. tricuspis) as biological control agents. 
We are now proposing to release five more species (P. cultellatus, P. 
nocens, P. nudicornis, P. obtusus, and P. sp. near obtusus) into areas 
quarantined for imported fire ant within the Commonwealth of Puerto 
Rico and the following States: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, 
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, 
South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
    To provide the public with documentation of APHIS' review and 
analysis of the potential environmental impacts associated with 
releasing these additional species of phorid flies into the 
environment, we have prepared a draft environmental assessment entitled 
``Field Release of Phorid Flies (Pseudacteon species) for the 
Biological Control of Imported Fire Ants'' (July 2007).
    The environmental assessment has been prepared in accordance with: 
(1) The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), (2) regulations of the Council on 
Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural provisions of 
NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA 
(7 CFR part 1), and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 
372).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 7th day of November 2007.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E7-22092 Filed 11-9-07; 8:45 am]
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