[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 34 (Wednesday, February 20, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 9408-9433]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-2829]



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Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service



50 CFR Part 17



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Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Petition 
Finding and Proposed Rule To Remove the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus 
occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 34 / Wednesday, February 20, 2008 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R2-ES-2008-0025; 92220-1113-0000-C6]
RIN 1018-AV28


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Petition 
Finding and Proposed Rule To Remove the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus 
occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule and notice of petition finding.

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SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), 
propose to remove the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) from the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List) due to 
recovery. This action is based on a review of the best available 
scientific and commercial data, which indicates that the species is no 
longer in danger of extinction, or likely to become so within the 
foreseeable future. If this proposal is finalized, the brown pelican 
will remain protected under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act. This document also constitutes our 12-month finding on a petition 
to delist the brown pelican subspecies that occurs along the Pacific 
Coast of California and Mexico, including the Gulf of California, and a 
petition to delist the Louisiana population of the brown pelican.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
April 21, 2008. We must receive requests for public hearings, in 
writing, at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section by April 7, 
2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments and materials to us by any 
one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: RIN 1018-AV28; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, 
VA 22203.
    We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Office, 10711 
Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; telephone 512/490-0057, 
extension 248; fascimilie 512/490-0974.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend for any final action resulting from this proposal to be 
as accurate as possible. Therefore, we solicit data, comments, or 
suggestions from the public, other concerned government agencies, the 
scientific community, industry, Tribes, or any other interested party 
concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments and 
information concerning: (1) Information about any threat (or lack 
thereof) to the brown pelican; (2) additional information concerning 
the range, distribution, location of any additional populations, and 
population size of this species; (3) information on habitat destruction 
and/or preservation in relation to brown pelicans; (4) impacts to the 
species from commercial fisheries outside of the U.S.; (5) current or 
planned activities in the species' habitat and the possible impacts to 
this species; (6) data on population trends; (7) data on the status of 
brown pelicans in the West Indies; (8) data suggesting that any of the 
subspecies of brown pelican require protection; and (9) information 
pertaining to the requirement for post delisting monitoring. In 
addition, because we have received information indicating that one of 
the subspecies of brown pelican discussed in this proposal, Pelecanus 
occidentalis thagus, may be considered a full species, we request any 
additional information regarding brown pelican taxonomy. Please note 
that as we make our determination, we will note but not consider 
comments merely stating support or opposition to the actions under our 
consideration without providing supporting information because section 
4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) directs that we make 
determinations as to whether any species is a threatened or endangered 
species ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial 
data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Comments 
must be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov before midnight 
(Eastern Standard Time) on the date specified in the DATES section. We 
will not accept comments sent by e-mail or fax or to an address not 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept anonymous comments; 
your comment must include your first and last name, city, State, 
country, and postal (zip) code. Finally, we will not consider hand-
delivered comments that we do not receive, or mailed comments that are 
not postmarked, by the date specified in the DATES section.
    We will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. If you provide 
personal identifying information in addition to the required items 
specified in the previous paragraph, such as your street address, phone 
number, or e-mail address, you may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold this information from public review. However, we 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).
    The Act provides for a public hearing on this proposed delisting, 
if requested. Requests must be received within 45 days of the date of 
publication of this proposal. Such requests must be made in writing and 
addressed to Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Austin Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Background

    Currently listed brown pelican populations occur in primarily 
coastal marine and estuarine (where fresh and salt water intermingle) 
environments along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Mississippi to 
Texas; along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia, Canada, south 
through Mexico into Central and South America; and in the West Indies, 
but are occasionally sighted throughout the U.S. (Shields 2002, pp. 2-
4). Brown pelicans remain in residence throughout the breeding range, 
but some segments of many populations migrate annually after breeding 
(Shields 2002, p. 6). Overall, the brown pelican still occurs 
throughout its historical range (Shields 2002, pp. 4-5). This proposed 
rule includes relevant biological and life history information for the 
brown pelican. However, additional information about the brown 
pelican's

[[Page 9409]]

biology and life history can be found in the Birds of North America, 
No. 609 (Shields 2002, pp. 1-36).
    The species Pelecanus occidentalis is generally recognized as 
consisting of six subspecies: (1) P. o. occidentalis (Linnaeus, 1766: 
West Indies and the Caribbean Coast of South America, occasionally 
wanders to coasts of Mexico and Florida), (2) P. o. carolinensis 
(Gmelin, 1798: Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and 
Mexico; Caribbean Coast of Mexico south to Venezuela, South America; 
Pacific Coast from southern Mexico to northern Peru, South America), 
(3) P. o. californicus (Ridgeway, 1884: California south to Colima, 
Mexico, including Gulf of California), (4) P. o. urinator (Wetmore, 
1945: Galapagos Islands), (5) P. o. murphyi (Wetmore, 1945: Ecuador and 
Pacific Coast of Colombia), and (6) P. o. thagus (Molina, 1782: Peru 
and Chile). Recognition of brown pelican subspecies is based largely on 
relative size and color of plumage and soft parts (for example, the 
bill, legs, and feet). The distributional limits of the brown pelican 
subspecies are poorly known, so the geographic descriptions of their 
ranges are approximate and may not be adequate to assign subspecies 
designations. Taxonomy of the brown pelican subspecies has not been 
critically reviewed for many years, and the classification followed by 
the American Ornithological Union (AOU 1957, pp. 29-30) and by Palmer 
(1962, pp. 274-276) is based on Wetmore's (1945, pp. 577-586) review, 
which was based on few specimens from a limited portion of the range. 
This proposed delisting rule applies to the entire listed species, 
which includes all brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) subspecies.
    For a review of the brown pelican's status, see the ``Population 
Estimates'' section below. For a review of the threats in relation to 
the species status, see the ``Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species'' section below.

Previous Federal Action

    Due to population declines of brown pelicans, in 1970, we listed 
the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act 
of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-135, 83 Stat. 275). Brown pelicans were included in 
the List of Threatened and Endangered Foreign Species on June 2, 1970 
(35 FR 8495), and included in the United States list of endangered and 
threatened species on October 13, 1970 (35 FR 16047). The species was 
subsequently listed under the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    On February 4, 1985, the Service delisted the brown pelican in 
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and points 
northward along the Atlantic Coast (50 FR 4938). However, the brown 
pelican continued to be listed as endangered throughout the remainder 
of its range, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, California, 
Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies.
    On July 5, 1994, we received a petition dated February 21, 1994, 
from Joe L. Herring, Secretary, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, 
State of Louisiana, requesting the Service remove the brown pelican 
from the List in Louisiana. The petition contained information on 
successful pelican reintroductions, colony expansions, population 
numbers, and productivity in Louisiana. We were not able to act on the 
request, since the processing of delisting actions was assigned the 
lowest priority in the allocation of available funding appropriations, 
as described in the Federal Register (61 FR 64475; December 5, 1996). 
In 1999, delisting actions were moved from the Service's listing 
program to the recovery program, allowing us to address requests and 
petitions to downlist and delist species. This proposed rule 
constitutes our 90-day and 12-month findings for the Louisiana petition 
to delist the brown pelican.
    On December 14, 2005, we received a petition from Craig Harrison, 
of the law firm Hutton and Williams, representing the Endangered 
Species Recovery Council, to remove the California brown pelican, the 
subspecies of brown pelican occurring along the Pacific Coast of 
California and Mexico, including the Gulf of California, from the List. 
We note that the taxon on the List is Pelecanus occidentalis, and the 
petition is specifically for the delisting of the California brown 
pelican subspecies, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus. The petition 
contained information on population size, trends, reproduction, and 
distribution of the California brown pelican, including information on 
the status and management of the species in Mexico. It contained 
information on the elimination (e.g., banning of DDT) or management of 
threats that originally resulted in the brown pelican being listed as 
endangered. On May 24, 2006 (71 FR 29908), we published a notice 
announcing our 90-day finding for the petition, in which we concluded 
that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We 
then initiated a 12-month status review of the California brown pelican 
to determine if delisting under the Act is warranted. This proposed 
rule constitutes our 12-month finding for the petition to delist the 
California brown pelican.
    On May 24, 2006, we also published a notice announcing initiation 
of a 5-year review on the rangewide status of the brown pelican (71 FR 
29908). Under the Act, we are required to review listed species at 
least once every 5 years and determine whether or not any species 
should be removed from the List, or reclassified from endangered to 
threatened or from threatened to endangered. The conclusion of this 
review, which was based on the best available scientific information, 
indicates the currently listed brown pelican population does not meet 
the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Act 
(Service 2007a, p. 46).

Distribution and Population Estimates

    Information on population estimates below is arranged 
geographically for convenience and to present a logical organization of 
the information. These broad geographic areas do not necessarily 
represent populations or other biologically based groupings. The six 
subspecies described above are not used to organize the following 
information because distributional limits of the subspecies are poorly 
known, especially in Central and South America, and because the broad 
overlap in wintering and breeding ranges among the subspecies 
introduces considerable uncertainty in assigning subspecies 
designations in portions of the species range (Shields 2002, p.5). 
Because the brown pelican is a wide-ranging, mobile species, is 
migratory throughout much of its range, and may shift its breeding or 
wintering areas or distribution in response to local conditions, it is 
difficult to define local populations of the species. Much of the 
population estimate information below is given at the scale of 
individual countries, which may not correspond with actual biological 
populations, particularly for smaller countries that may represent only 
a fraction of the species' range. Direct comparison of all the 
estimates provided below is difficult because methods used to derive 
population estimates are not always reported, some population estimates 
are given as broad ranges, and some do not specify whether the 
estimates are for breeding birds or include non-breeding birds as well. 
However, the information does indicate the broad distribution of the 
species and reflects the large global population estimate of over 
620,000 birds, which does not include birds along the Atlantic coast of 
the U.S.,

[[Page 9410]]

Florida or Alabama (Service 2007a, pp. 44-45).

Gulf of Mexico Coast

    Mississippi--Brown pelicans are currently not known to breed in 
Mississippi, but the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) has documented 
brown pelicans annually in Mississippi since 1999 (GBBC 2007, pp. 1-9). 
In 2003 and 2004, 244 and 261 pelicans, respectively, were counted. 
There was an increase to 403 pelicans in 2005, but a large decrease to 
54 in 2006 (GBBC 2007, pp. 5-8), which coincides with Hurricane 
Katrina. However, in 2007, 334 brown pelicans were documented (GBBC 
2007, p. 9).
    Louisiana--Before 1920, brown pelicans were estimated to have 
numbered between 50,000 and 85,000 in Louisiana (King et al. 1977a, pp. 
417, 419). By 1963, the brown pelican had completely disappeared from 
Louisiana (Williams and Martin 1968, p. 130). A reintroduction program 
was conducted between 1968 and 1980. During this period, 1,276 nestling 
brown pelicans were transplanted from colonies in Florida to coastal 
Louisiana (McNease et al. 1984, p. 169). After the initiation of the 
reintroduction, the population reached a total number of 16,405 
successful nests and 34,641 young produced in 2001 (Holm et al. 2003, 
p. 432). In 2003 the number of nesting colonies increased, but numbers 
of successful nests decreased to 13,044 due to four severe storms that 
eroded portions of some nest islands and destroyed some late nests in 
various colonies (Hess and Linscombe 2003, Table 2). According to 
surveys conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 
(LDWF), the population appeared to recover from these impacts and a 
peak of 16,501 successful nests producing 39,021 fledglings was 
recorded in 2004 (LDWF 2006, p. 1; Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 13). 
However, tropical storms in 2004 resulted in the loss of three nesting 
islands east of the Mississippi River and, after storm events in late 
2005, LDWF surveys detected 25,289 fledglings (Hess and Linscombe 2006, 
p. 13). Surveys in 2006 detected 8,036 successful nests in 15 colonies, 
producing 17,566 fledglings with an average of 2.1 fledglings per 
successful nest (Hess and Linscombe 2007, p. 1, 4). Hess and Linscombe 
(2007, p. 4) concluded that the brown pelican population in Louisiana 
is maintaining sustained growth despite lower fledgling production in 
2005 and 2006. Numbers of successful nests are not directly comparable 
to numbers of individuals in historic estimates because they do not 
account for immature or non-breeding individuals or provide an index of 
population size in years when breeding success is low due to factors 
such as weather and food availability. However, numbers of successful 
nests and fledglings produced annually since 1993 (Hess and Linscombe 
2007, p. 4) do indicate continued nesting and successful fledging of 
young sufficient to sustain a viable population in Louisiana. See 
``Storm effects, weather and erosion impacts to habitat'' under Factor 
A for further discussion of effects of storms.
    Texas--Brown pelicans historically numbered around 5,000 in Texas 
but began to decline in the 1920s and 1930s, presumably due to shooting 
and destruction of nests (King et al. 1977a, p. 419). According to King 
et al. (1977a, p. 422), there were no reports of brown pelicans nesting 
in Texas in 1964 or 1966. There were two known nesting attempts in 
1965, but the success of these nests is not known. Annual aerial and 
ground surveys of traditional nesting colonies conducted in Texas 
during the period 1967 to 1974 indicated that only two to seven pairs 
attempted to breed in each of these years. Only 40 young were 
documented fledging during this entire 8-year period (King et al. 
1977a, p. 422).
    The Texas Colonial Waterbird Census has tracked population trends 
in Texas for the brown pelican since 1973 (Service 2006, p. 5). 
Although the Texas population of brown pelicans did not experience the 
total reproductive failure recorded in Louisiana, the first year (1973) 
of information from the Texas census identified only one nesting colony 
with six breeding pairs in the State. Since that time, there was a 
gradual increase through 1993 when there were 530 breeding pairs in two 
nesting colonies; in 1994, there was a substantial increase to 1,751 
breeding pairs in three nesting colonies (Service 2006, pp. 3-5). Since 
then, the overall increasing trend has continued with some year-to-year 
variation (Service 2006, p. 2-3). The highest count was in 2005 with 
4,097 breeding pairs in 12 colonies (Service 2006, p. 2). This number 
equates to 8,194 breeding birds, which is substantially greater than 
historical population estimates for Texas. Numbers declined slightly in 
2006 to 3,801 breeding pairs in six nesting colonies (7,602 breeding 
birds) (Service 2006, p. 2), possibly due to hurricanes in 2005 (see 
discussion of storm effects under Factor A), but they remained above 
historical estimates. The 2006 census numbers may be low because survey 
data appear to be missing for Sundown Island, which traditionally 
supports a large brown pelican breeding colony. There were 1,676 
breeding pairs nesting at Sundown Island in 2007 (Erfling 2007a, p. 1; 
http://www.sundownisland.org/default.htm), which is comparable to the 
number breeding there in 2005 (Service 2006, p. 2).
    Gulf Coast of Mexico--Very little information is available about 
the status of the brown pelican along the Gulf Coast in Mexico. Aerial 
surveys indicated that brown pelicans in Mexico were virtually absent 
as a breeding species along the Gulf of Mexico north of Veracruz by 
1968 (Service 1979, p. 10). An aerial survey along this same stretch of 
coast conducted in March 1986 counted 2,270 birds, down from 4,250 
birds estimated in counts conducted between December 1979 and January 
1980 (Blankinship 1987, p. 2). However, the counts in 1986 and in 1980 
differed in the areas covered and timing of counts and represent only 
two data points, so it is difficult to compare the earlier and later 
counts. No recent information for this portion of the species' range 
was found, so no conclusions on population trends of the brown pelican 
for the Mexican portion of the Gulf Coast can be drawn.
    Summary of Gulf of Mexico Coast--Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, brown 
pelican populations, while experiencing some periodic or local 
declines, have increased dramatically from a point of near 
disappearance in the 1960s and 70s. Brown pelicans were present along 
the Gulf Coast of Mexico in 1986, but we currently lack recent 
information on the status of the species in this portion of its range.

West Indies

    Van Halewyn and Norton (1984, p. 201) summarized the breeding 
distribution of brown pelicans throughout the Caribbean region and 
noted at least 23 sites where the species was reliably reported nesting 
in the islands of the West Indies at some time since 1950. Based on the 
most recent estimates available at the time, van Halewyn and Norton 
(1984, p. 201) documented more than 2,000 breeding pairs throughout the 
West Indies. More recently, Collazo et al. (2000, p. 42) estimated the 
minimum number of brown pelicans throughout the West Indies at 1,500 
breeding pairs. Raffaele et al. (1998, pp. 224-225) describe the brown 
pelican as ``A common year-round resident in the southern Bahamas, 
Greater Antilles and locally in the northern Lesser Antilles east to 
Montserrat. It is common to rare through the rest of the West Indies 
with some birds wandering between islands.

[[Page 9411]]

Migrants that breed in North America augment local numbers primarily 
from November to February.''
    In a search for additional seabird breeding colonies in the Lesser 
Antilles, Collier et al. (2003, pp. 112-113) did not find brown 
pelicans nesting on Anguilla, Saba, and Dominica. In an attempt to 
survey seabirds in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hayes (2002, p. 51) 
found brown pelicans in the central Grenadines. He notes that brown 
pelicans were once considered common in the Grenadines and suggests 
that a small nesting colony may exist there, although there is no 
historic record of nesting.
    St. Maarten--Collier et al. (2003, p. 113) reported finding two 
nesting colonies on St. Maarten Island in 2001, with a total of 64 
nesting pairs, but found no breeding pelicans at one site in 2002. 
Reasons for the lack of breeding activity in 2002 are unknown, although 
Collier et al. (2003, p. 113) suggested a disturbance event could have 
been the cause. The May 2006 newsletter for the Society for the 
Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (Society for the Conservation 
and Study of Caribbean Birds, 2006) notes that St. Maarten's proposed 
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Fort Amsterdam and Pelikan Key host 
regionally important populations of nesting brown pelicans, although 
numbers of nesting birds are not given.
    Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands--Collazo et al. (1998, pp. 63-
64) compared demographic parameters between 1980-82 and 1992-95 for 
brown pelicans in Puerto Rico. The mean number of individuals observed 
during winter aerial population surveys between 1980 and 1982 was 
2,289, while mean winter counts from 1992 to 1995 averaged only 593 
birds (Collazo et al. 1998, p. 63). Reasons for the decrease in number 
of wintering birds between the two periods are not known; however, 
migrational shifts could have contributed to the decrease in winter 
counts between survey periods (Collazo et al. 1998, p. 63). The number 
of nests observed at the selected study sites did not show such an 
appreciable decline during the same period for Puerto Rico and the 
nearby U.S. Virgin Islands, with nest counts ranging from 167 to 250 
during 1980 to 1982, compared with 222 and 256 during 1992 to 1993 
(Collazo et al. 1998, p. 64). Collazo et al. (2000, p. 42) estimated 
approximately 120-200 nesting pairs in Puerto Rico and 300-350 nesting 
pairs in the U.S. Virgin Islands. See ``Human disturbance of nesting 
pelicans'' under Factor A below for discussions of possible reasons for 
decline.
    Cuba--Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-Vald[eacute]s (2006, pp. 10, 65) 
reported that brown pelicans are a common resident species, with the 
population augmented by migrants during the winter. Brown pelicans have 
been documented nesting at five sites in the Archipi[eacute]lago 
Sabana-Camag[uuml]ey and in the Refugio de Fauna R[iacute]o 
M[aacute]ximo (Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-Vald[eacute]s 2006, pp. 32-33). 
The number of nesting pairs at Refugio de Fauna R[iacute]o 
M[aacute]ximo was estimated at 16-36 pairs during monitoring in 2001 
and 2002 (Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-Vald[eacute]s 2006, p. 33). No 
estimates were given for other nesting sites. Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-
Vald[eacute]s (2006, p. 65) estimate the population of brown pelicans 
in Cuba falls within the range on 1,000 to 4,999 birds and that the 
population trend is stable.
    Summary of West Indies--Although we do not have detailed 
information on brown pelicans throughout the islands of the West 
Indies, the distribution of current breeding colonies reported by 
Collazo et al. (2000, p. 42) is similar to that reported by van Halewyn 
and Norton (1984, pp. 174-175, 201). Estimates of number of breeding 
pairs differ between the two reports but the studies differed somewhat 
in the sites reported and neither provided detailed methods for their 
estimates. Neither Collazo et al. (2000, p. 63) nor van Halewyn and 
Norton (1984, pp.174-175, 201) provided estimates for birds nesting in 
Cuba, but Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-Vald[eacute]s (2006, p. 65) estimate 
the population in Cuba falls within the range on 1,000 to 4,999 birds.

Caribbean and Atlantic Coast of Mexico, Central and South America

    No comprehensive population estimates for the Caribbean and 
Atlantic Coasts of Central and South America are available to our 
knowledge, although some estimates for other portions of the species' 
range include birds that nest on the mainland coast or offshore islands 
(e.g., van Halewyn and Norton's estimate of 6200 pairs in the Caribbean 
included birds nesting on the mainland and offshore islands of Colombia 
and Venezuela (1984, p. 201)).
    Mexico--Isla Contoy Reserva Especial de la Biosfera off the coast 
of Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, was the site of Mexico's largest brown 
pelican nesting colony in 1986, with 300 nesting pairs (Blankinship 
1987, p. 2). By the spring of 1996, 700 to 1,000 pairs of brown 
pelicans were estimated to be nesting on Isla Contoy (Shields 2002, p. 
35). Four other colonies in this region accounted for 128 nesting pairs 
in 1986 (Blankinship 1987, p. 2).
    Belize--Miller and Miller (2006, pp. 7, 64) analyzed Christmas Bird 
Count data collected in Belize from 1969-2005 and reported that brown 
pelican numbers over this period have remained about the same. 
References compiled and summarized by Miller and Miller (pp. 144-149) 
variously report brown pelicans as: ``Common: high density, likely to 
be seen many places,'' ``Transient, present briefly as migrant,'' 
``Resident, species present all year,'' ``apparently secure in 
Belize.'' Brown pelicans are also reported in one reference as nesting 
on several cays, but no information on number of nesting birds or 
locations are given.
    Guatemala--Brown pelicans in Guatemala are considered to be a 
breeding resident (Eisermann 2006, p. 55), although locations of 
nesting sites and number of breeding pairs are not given. Eisermann 
(2006, p. 65) estimated the Caribbean slope population of brown 
pelicans in Guatemala to consist of approximately 376 birds.
    Honduras--Thorn et al (2006, p. 29) report brown pelicans nesting 
on the Caribbean coast of Honduras and offshore islands. Brown pelicans 
are reported as a common resident in Honduras, with numbers estimated 
to range between 10,000 and 25,000 birds and a stable population trend 
(Thorn et al. 2006, p. 20).
    Nicaragua--Zolotoff-Pallais and Lezama (2006, p. 74) report that 
the number of brown pelicans within Nicaragua falls within the range 
1001-5000 and is stable, although they do not indicate whether this 
estimate represents only breeding birds.
    Costa Rica--Brown pelicans are considered a resident species in 
Costa Rica, but are not reported nesting on Caribbean coast of Costa 
Rica (Quesada 2006, pp. 9, 46).
    Panama--Brown pelicans primarily nest in the Gulf of Panama on the 
Pacific coast with no nesting reported on the Caribbean coast (Angehr 
2005, pp. 15-16). However, brown pelicans do winter along the Caribbean 
coast of Panama. In 1993 in Panama, 582 brown pelicans were counted 
(Shields 2002, p. 22) along the Caribbean coast, and Angehr (2005, p. 
79) considers brown pelicans to be a ``fairly common migrant'' along 
the Caribbean coast.
    Colombia--Moreno and Buelvas (2005, p. 57) report that brown 
pelicans occur at four sites on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, with a 
good population of brown pelicans in the Humedales costeros de La 
Guajira (coastal wetlands of La Guajira). However, no estimate of 
numbers of breeding birds was given.

[[Page 9412]]

    Venezuela--Based on aerial surveys of the Venezuelan coast, Guzman 
and Schreiber (1987, p. 278) estimated a population size of 17,000 
brown pelicans in 25 colonies. Within those breeding colonies, 3,369 
nests were counted (Guzman and Schreiber 1987, p. 278). More recently, 
Rodner (2006, p. 9) confirms that there are approximately 25 brown 
pelican colonies in Venezuela. Rodner (2006, p. 9) does not give an 
overall estimate of the brown pelican population in Venezuela but notes 
more than 1700 nests have been documented in four of the largest 
breeding colonies, while another recent census of four sites resulted 
in counts of 2,097 pelicans.
    South of Venezuela, brown pelicans are reported as a non-breeding 
migrant in Guyana (Johnson 2006, p. 5), French Guiana (Delelis and 
Pracontal 2006, p. 57), Surinam (Haverschmidt 1949, p. 77; Ottema 2006, 
p. 3), and Brazil (De Luca et al. 2006, pp. 3, 40)
    Summary of the Caribbean/Atlantic Coast--In general, brown pelicans 
are broadly distributed on the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts of 
southern Mexico and Central and South America and are still present 
throughout their historic range.

California and Pacific Coast of Northern Mexico

    The most recent population estimate of the brown pelican subspecies 
that ranges from California to Mexico along the Pacific Coast is 
approximately 71,200 nesting pairs, which equates to 142,400 breeding 
birds (Henny and Anderson 2007, p. 9). They nest in four distinct 
geographic areas: (1) The Southern California Bight (SCB), which 
includes southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico; (2) 
southwest Baja California; (3) the Gulf of California, which includes 
coastlines of both Baja California and Sonora, Mexico; and (4) mainland 
Mexico further south along the Pacific coastline (including Sinaloa and 
Nayarit) (Service 1983, p. 8).
    During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the SCB population declined 
to fewer than 1,000 pairs and reproductive success was nearly zero 
(Anderson et al. 1975, p. 807). In 2006, approximately 11,695 breeding 
pairs were documented at 10 locations in the SCB: 3 locations on 
Anacapa Island, 1 on Prince Island, and 1 on Santa Barbara Island in 
California; 3 on Coronados Islands, 1 on Islas Todos Santos, and 1 on 
Isla San Mart[iacute]n in Mexico within the SCB (Henny and Anderson 
2007, p. 9; Gress 2007). The populations on Todos Santos and San 
Mart[iacute]n islands were previously extirpated in 1923 and 1974, 
respectively; however, these were recently found to be occupied (Gress 
et al. 2005, pp. 20-25). Todos Santos Island had about 65 nests in 
2004, but there were no nests in 2005. This colony is currently 
considered to be ephemeral, occurring some years and then not others 
(Gress et al. 2005, p. 28). At San Mart[iacute]n Island, 35 pairs were 
reported in 1999, a small colony was noted in 2000, and 125-200 pairs 
were seen in 2002, 2003, and 2004 (Gress et al. 2005, pp. 20-25).
    The southwest Baja California coastal population has about 3,650 
breeding pairs, the Gulf of California population is estimated at 
42,970 breeding pairs, and the mainland Mexico population has about 
12,880 breeding pairs (Anderson 2007b; Henny and Anderson 2007, p. 9). 
The Gulf of California population remained essentially the same from 
1970 to 1988 (Everett and Anderson 1991, p. 125). It is thought that 
populations in Mexico have been stable since the early 1970s (when 
long-term studies began) because of their lower exposure to DDT, 
although annual numbers at individual colonies fluctuate widely due to 
prey availability and human disturbance at colonies (Everett and 
Anderson 1991, p. 133).
    Summary of California and Pacific Coast of Northern Mexico--Henny 
and Anderson (2007, p. 1, 8) concluded that their preliminary estimates 
of nesting pairs in 2006 suggest a large and healthy total breeding 
population for California and the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Pacific Coast of Central America and South America

    As with the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts of Central and South 
America, there are no comprehensive population estimates for brown 
pelicans along this portion of their range.
    Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua--Brown pelicans are 
considered a non-breeding visitor on the Pacific slope of Guatemala 
(Eisermann 2006, p. 4) with an estimated abundance of 2,118 birds. 
About 800 brown pelicans are widely distributed along the Pacific Coast 
of El Salvador (Ibarra Portillo 2006, p. 2). However, Herrera et al. 
(2006, p. 44) reported brown pelicans to be a non-breeding visitor in 
El Salvador with numbers falling within the range 1,001-10,000 and an 
increasing trend. Brown pelicans occur on the Pacific Coast of Honduras 
but are not reported to nest there (Thorn et al. 2006, p. 26, 29). 
Zolotoff-Pallais and Lezama (2006, p. 74) report that the number of 
brown pelicans within Nicaragua falls within the range 1,001-5,000, but 
do not indicate locations or breeding status.
    Costa Rica--The Costa Rican Ministry for Environment and Energy has 
reported that several breeding colonies exist on the Pacific Coast from 
the Nicaraguan border to the Gulf of Nicoya and include the islands of 
Bola[ntilde]os and Guayabo (Service 2007a, p. 13). Shields (2002, p. 
35) estimated as many as 850 pairs in Costa Rica. However, Quesada 
(2006, p. 37) estimated the brown pelican population in Costa Rica to 
fall within the range 10,000-25,000 birds with a stable population 
trend.
    Panama--Estimates of brown pelicans in Panama have varied greatly 
over the years. In 1981 Batista and Montgomery (1982, p. 70) estimated 
that 25,500 adults and chicks were known to occur on just the Pearl 
Island Archipelago in the Gulf of Panama. In 1982 Montgomery and Murcia 
(1982, p. 69) estimated 70,000 adults occurred at 7 colonies within the 
Gulf of Panama. By 1988, 6,031 brown pelicans were known from just the 
Gulf, while in 1998, only 3,017 brown pelicans were thought to occur 
along the entire Pacific Coast of Panama, including the Gulf (Shields 
2002, p. 22). By 2005, 4,877 brown pelican nests were reported just in 
the Gulf of Panama and a total population was estimated to be about 
15,000 individuals for the entire Pacific Coast of Panama, which 
includes 1,976 nest numbers from Coiba Island (Angehr 2005, p. 6). 
Angehr (2005, p. 12) also reported that those individual colonies that 
had been studied experienced an overall increase of 70 percent in nest 
numbers from 1979 to 2005, and describes the brown pelican on the 
Pacific Coast of Panama as an ``abundant breeder.''
    Colombia--Moreno and Buelvas (2005 p. 57) list brown pelicans as 
occurring at three protected sites on the Pacific coast of Colombia: 
Malpelo Island, Gorgona Island, and Sanquianga. Naranjo et al. (2006b, 
p. 178) estimated 2,000-4,000 brown pelicans at Sanquianga on the 
mainland and 4,800-5,200 on Gorgona Island. Brown pelicans were 
considered to be one of the most abundant resident species in a 1996-
1998 assessment of waterbird populations on the Pacific Coast of 
Colombia (Naranjo et al. 2006a, p. 181). Naranjo et al. (2006b, p. 179) 
concluded that preliminary results of their waterbird monitoring 
program on the Pacific coast of Colombia indicate that populations of 
Pelecaniformes (which include brown pelicans) in the three protected 
areas are stable.
    Ecuador--On Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, Shields (2002, p. 35) 
cites reports of a few thousand pairs. Delaney and Scott (2002, p. 29) 
estimated the population on the Galapagos to be 5,000

[[Page 9413]]

birds. Santander et al. (2006, p. 44, 49) reported that brown pelicans 
in the Galapagos number less than 10,000 and are considered common 
there, while populations on the mainland range from 25,000 to 100,000. 
The Ministerio del Ambiente of Ecuador has reported that nesting brown 
pelicans are widely distributed and fairly common along the mainland 
coast of that country (Rojas 2006).
    Peru--Shields (2002, p. 22) summarizes estimates of brown pelicans 
in Peru at 420,000 adults in 1981-1982, 110,000 in 1982-1983, 620,000 
in 1985-1986, and 400,000 in 1996. Franke (2006, p. 10) reported that a 
1997 survey of guano birds counted 140,000 brown pelicans with an 
increasing population trend reported; however, it is unclear whether 
that number represents a total estimate of the brown pelican population 
in Peru or a subset of birds nesting on islands managed for guano 
production.
    Chile--The range of brown pelicans in Chile extends from the 
extreme northern city of Arica (Rodr[iacute]guez 2006) to occasionally 
as far south as Isla Chilo[eacute] (Aves de Chile 2006, p. 1). The 
total population size for Chile is unknown (Shields 2002, p. 35). The 
breeding population on Isla P[aacute]jaro Ni[ntilde]o in central Chile 
was 2,699 pairs in 1995-1996, 1,032 pairs in 1996-1997, and none during 
the 1997-1998 El Ni[ntilde]o year (Simeone and Bernal 2000, p. 453).
    Two sightings of brown pelicans in Argentina in 1993 and 1999 are 
considered ``hypothetical'' records because they are not documented by 
specimens, photographs, or other concrete evidence (Lichtschein 2006).
    Summary of Pacific Coast of Central and South America--Brown 
pelicans are abundant breeders along the Pacific coast of Central and 
South America.

Summary--Global Population Estimates

    Population estimates for various States, regions, and countries 
reviewed above are not strictly comparable because they were not made 
using any standard protocol or methodology, and in many cases the 
process by which the estimates were developed is not described. While 
in some cases these estimates may be reliable in describing local 
abundance and trends, because of their incomparability, they have 
limited value in estimating absolute size or trends in the global 
population. However, because these estimates are the best available 
information, we attempted to use some conservative assumptions in 
tabulating these data in order to make a conservative estimate of the 
global population size of the brown pelican (Service 2007a, pp. 43-45 
and 60-62). This total, or global estimate, is for the listed brown 
pelican, which does not include the Atlantic coast of the U.S., 
Florida, and Alabama. The total based on regional estimates is over 
620,000 individuals, which includes an estimated 400,000 pelicans from 
Peru (Service 2007a, pp. 43-45 and 60-62). This is likely a 
conservative estimate given that estimates for some countries given 
above (for example, estimates for Colombia and Cuba) were not readily 
available at the time we conducted our 5-year review. Other recent 
estimates yield similar numbers. Kushlan et al.'s (2002, p. 64) 
estimate for the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan area, which 
includes Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and 
Caribbean islands of Venezuela, was 191,600-193,700 breeders. Delaney 
and Scott (2002, p. 29) applied a correction factor to Kushlan et al.'s 
estimate to account for immature birds and non-breeders to estimate a 
population of 290,000 birds. Neither estimate includes birds on the 
Pacific Coast of South America. Delaney and Scott (2002, p. 29) 
additionally estimated the brown pelican population on the Galapagos to 
be about 5,000 birds, and the population on the Pacific Coast of South 
America (estimate is for the subspecies Pelecanus occidentalis thagus, 
found in Peru and Chile) to range from 100,000-1,000,000 birds. 
Shields' (2002, p. 21) population estimate of 202,600-209,000 brown 
pelicans also did not include the Peruvian subspecies. While each of 
these estimates covers slightly different areas, they are all in 
general agreement and indicate that the listed population of brown 
pelicans, excluding the Peruvian subspecies, totals 200,000 or more 
individuals, while the Peruvian subspecies numbers in the few hundred 
thousand.

Recovery Plan

    Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement 
recovery plans for listed species. While brown pelicans were listed 
throughout their range, recovery planning efforts for the brown pelican 
focused primarily on those portions of the species' range within the 
United States. We have published three recovery plans for the brown 
pelican: (1) Recovery Plan for the Eastern Brown Pelican (Service 
1979); (2) the California Brown Pelican Recovery Plan (Service 1983); 
and (3) Recovery Plan for the Brown Pelican in Puerto Rico and the U.S. 
Virgin Islands (Service 1986).
    Recovery plans are not regulatory documents and are instead 
intended to provide guidance to the Service, States, and other partners 
on methods of minimizing threats to listed species and on criteria that 
may be used to determine when recovery is achieved. There are many 
paths to accomplishing recovery of a species and recovery may be 
achieved without all criteria being fully met. For example, one or more 
criteria may have been exceeded while other criteria may not have been 
accomplished. In that instance, the Service may judge that, overall, 
the threats have been minimized sufficiently and the species is robust 
enough to justify reclassifying the species from endangered to 
threatened or perhaps delisting the species. In other cases, recovery 
opportunities may have been recognized that were not known at the time 
the recovery plan was finalized. These opportunities may be used 
instead of methods identified in the recovery plan. Likewise, 
information on the species may be learned that was not known at the 
time the recovery plan was finalized. The new information may change 
the extent that criteria need to be met for recognizing recovery of the 
species. Overall, recovery of species is a dynamic process requiring 
adaptive management. Analyzing the degree of recovery of a species is 
also an adaptive management process that may or may not fully follow 
the guidance provided in a recovery plan. The following discussion 
provides a brief review of recovery planning for the brown pelican, as 
well as an analysis of the recovery criteria and goals as they relate 
to evaluating the status of the species.
    The Recovery Plan for the Eastern Brown Pelican, which includes the 
delisted populations and the currently listed Texas, Louisiana, and 
Mississippi populations, does not identify recovery criteria because 
the causes of the species' decline were not well understood at the time 
the plan was prepared. The recovery team viewed the wide distribution 
of the species, rather than absolute numbers, as the species' major 
strength against extinction (Service 1979, p. iv). The recovery plan 
states a general objective to re-establish brown pelicans on all 
historically used nesting sites in Louisiana and Texas (Service 1979, 
p. iii). The plan identified 9 sites in Louisiana and 11 sites in 
Texas. These included historic, current (at the time of the recovery 
plan), and restored islands. As of 2005 (prior to Hurricanes Katrina 
and Rita), 11 sites in Louisiana were being used for nesting by brown 
pelicans: Brush Island, Martin Island, North Island, Pelican Point, 
West Breton Island, Baptiste Collette, Queen Bess Island, Wine Island, 
Raccoon Island, Rabbit

[[Page 9414]]

Island, and Shallow Bayou. This list includes 7 previously unknown 
sites (Hess and Linscombe 2006, pp. 1-4, 7-8). In 2006, nesting 
occurred at 15 sites that included the previously mentioned 11. 
Hurricane-caused habitat degradation forced many birds to seek out new 
nesting locations including three additional sites in the Pelican Point 
area, and one on East Queen Bess Island (Hess and Linscombe 2007, pp. 
1, 3). As of 2006, 12 sites in Texas were being used for nesting by 
brown pelicans: Marker 52 Spoil Island, North Deer Island, Evia Island, 
Sunfish Island, Shamrock Island, Deadman Islands, South Pass Islands A 
and B, Pelican Island, Sundown Island, Little Pelican Island, and 
Dressing Point (Service 2006, p. 2). The northern Gulf of Mexico coast 
is subject to frequent severe tropical storms and hurricanes, which can 
cause significant changes to brown pelican nesting habitat. Past storms 
have resulted in changes to or loss of historical nesting sites, but 
brown pelicans seem well adapted to responding to losses of breeding 
sites by moving to new locations (Hess and Durham 2002, p. 7; Wilkinson 
et al. 1994, p. 425; Williams and Martin 1968, p. 136), and the species 
has clearly shown its ability to rebound (Williams and Martin 1968, p. 
130; Holm et al. 2003, p. 432; Hess and Linscombe 2006, pp. 5, 13) (see 
``Storm effects, weather and erosion impacts to habitat'' under Factor 
A for further discussion). While nesting is not occurring on all 
historically identified sites in Texas and Louisiana, the number of 
currently used nesting sites meets or exceeds the numbers identified in 
the recovery plan and support sustainable populations of brown 
pelicans. Because brown pelicans have demonstrated the ability to move 
to new breeding locations when a nesting island is no longer suitable, 
meeting the exact number and location of nesting sites in Texas and 
Louisiana identified in the recovery plan is not necessary to achieve 
recovery for the brown pelican. As discussed further below, we also 
have considered the population's wide distribution, numbers, and 
productivity, as indicators that the threats have been reduced such 
that the population is recovered and sustainable.
    The Recovery Plan for the Brown Pelican in Puerto Rico and the U.S. 
Virgin Islands has delisting criteria solely for the area covered by 
the plan. The criteria are to maintain a 5-year observed mean level of: 
(1) 2,300 individuals during winter, and (2) 350 breeding pairs at the 
peak of the breeding season. Both recovery criteria are solely based on 
demographic characteristics and do not provide an explicit reference 
point for determining whether threats have been reduced. The levels in 
the criteria were based on studies of brown pelicans from 1980 to 1983 
(Collazo 1985). Subsequent winter counts from 1992 to 1995 in Puerto 
Rico were 74 percent lower than during 1980-1982 (2,289 compared to 593 
individuals). Although the 1992 to 1995 counts did not include the 
Virgin Islands, it appears likely that the first criterion had not been 
met as of 1995 (Collazo et al. 1998). However, reasons for lower counts 
are unknown. Collazo et al. (1998, pp. 63-64) concluded that habitat 
was not limiting and suggested that migrational shifts could have 
contributed to the decrease in numbers and that longer term monitoring 
of at least 6 to 8 years is needed to define an acceptable range of 
population parameters for brown pelicans in the Caribbean. Collazo et 
al (1998, p. 64) also concluded that contaminants are not affecting 
brown pelican reproduction. Thus, while the first criterion, based on 4 
years of data, may not be sufficient to establish a realistic figure to 
reflect recovery, it also does not address whether threats to the 
species are still present. Also, because the criterion applies to only 
a small portion of the species' range, as well as only a portion of the 
species' range in the Caribbean, we do not consider it appropriate for 
determining whether the brown pelican is recovered globally. The second 
recovery criterion is the more important of the two as it reflects 
population productivity. The number of pairs seemed to be holding 
steady between the early 1980s and the 1990s with estimates given by 
Collazo et al. (2000, p. 42) of 165 pairs for Puerto Rico and 305-345 
pairs for the U.S. Virgin Islands. While this estimate is not a 5-year 
observed mean, the estimated number is consistent with the recovery 
criterion for number of breeding pairs.
    The California Brown Pelican Recovery Plan only covers the 
California brown pelican subspecies (P. o. californicus), which 
includes the Pacific Coast of California and Mexico, including the Gulf 
of California. The primary objective of this recovery plan is to 
restore and maintain stable, self-sustaining populations throughout 
this portion of the species' range. To accomplish this objective, the 
recovery plan calls for: (1) Maintaining existing populations in 
Mexico; (2) assuring long-term protection of adequate food supplies and 
essential nesting, roosting, and offshore habitat throughout the 
subspecies' range; and (3) restoring population size and productivity 
to self-sustaining levels in the SCB at both the Anacapa and Los 
Coronados Island colonies. Existing populations appear to be stable in 
Mexico and throughout the subspecies range (Everett and Anderson 1991, 
p. 133; Henny and Anderson 2007, p. 1, 8), food supplies are assured by 
the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan, and the majority 
of essential nesting and roosting habitat throughout the species' range 
is protected (see ``Summary of Factors Affecting the Species'' below 
for further discussion). Therefore, criteria 1 and 2 of the recovery 
plan have been met.
    For population and productivity objectives, the recovery plan 
included the following additional criterion for the subspecies to be 
considered for delisting: (a) When any 5-year mean productivity for the 
SCB population reaches at least 0.7 young per nesting attempt from a 
breeding population of at least 3,000 pairs, the subspecies should be 
considered for threatened status; and (b) When any 5-year mean 
productivity for the SCB population reaches at least 0.9 young per 
nesting attempt from a breeding population of at least 3,000 pairs. 
Consideration for reclassification to threatened would require a total 
production averaging at least 2,100 fledglings per year over any 5-year 
period. Consideration for delisting would require a total production 
averaging at least 2,700 fledglings per year over any 5-year period.
    The criterion, including both productivity and population size, for 
downlisting to threatened has been met at least 10 times since 1985. 
The delisting population criterion of at least 3,000 breeding pairs has 
been exceeded every year since 1985, with the exception of 1990 and 
1992, which saw only 2,825 and 1,752 pairs, respectively. In most 
years, the nesting population far exceeds the 3,000 pair delisting 
goal; it has exceeded 6,000 pairs for 10 of the last 15 years (Gress 
2005). Additionally, the delisting criterion of at least 2,700 
fledglings per year over any 5-year period has been met at least 11 
times since 1985 (Gress 2005). However, the productivity criterion for 
delisting, while it has improved greatly since the time of listing and 
has neared the criterion for delisting a few times, has not been met, 
and the SCB population consistently has low productivity, with a mean 
of 0.63 young fledged per nesting attempt from 1985 to 2005 (Gress and 
Harvey 2004, p. 20; Gress 2005).
    Productivity is an important parameter used for evaluating 
population health; however, it is difficult to determine an objective 
and

[[Page 9415]]

appropriate minimum value. The 0.9 young per nesting attempt given in 
the recovery plan was the best estimate based on a review of brown 
pelican reproductive parameters in Florida and the Gulf of California 
(Schreiber 1979, p. 1; Anderson and Gress 1983, p. 84), because pre-DDT 
productivity for the SCB population was unknown. Despite the fact that 
this goal has not been reached, reproduction has been sufficient to 
maintain a stable population for over 20 years. Most colonies expanded 
during this interval, including the long-term colonization of Santa 
Barbara Island, which suggests that productivity has been sufficient to 
maintain a stable-to-increasing population. In conclusion, the first 
two recovery criteria for the California Brown Pelican Recovery Plan 
have been met. As discussed above, the population component of the 
third criterion has been far exceeded, while the productivity component 
has not been met. We have concluded, based on current population size 
and productivity, that the productivity component of the third 
criterion is no longer appropriate and that current productivity is 
sufficient to maintain a viable population of brown pelicans.
    Recovery Planning Summary--The three recovery plans for the brown 
pelican discussed above have not been actively used in recent years to 
guide recovery of the brown pelican because they are either outdated, 
lack recovery criteria for the entire species, or in the case of the 
eastern brown pelican, lack recovery criteria all together. No 
subsequent revisions have been made to any of these original recovery 
plans. No single recovery plan covers the entire range of the species, 
and the remainder of the range outside the U.S., including Central 
America, South America, and most of the West Indies is not covered by a 
recovery plan. Thus, these focus areas for recovery, which do not have 
formal or regulatory distinction, are outdated. Additionally, the 
recovery criteria in these plans do not specifically address the five 
threat factors used for listing, reclassifying, or delisting a species 
as outlined in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. Consequently, the recovery 
plans do not provide an explicit reference point for determining the 
appropriate legal status of the brown pelican based either on 
alleviating the specific factors that resulted in its initial listing 
as an endangered species or on addressing new risk factors that may 
have emerged since listing. As noted above, recovery is a dynamic 
process and analyzing the degree of recovery requires an adaptive 
process that includes not only evaluating recovery goals and criteria 
but also new information that has become available. Thus, while some 
recovery criteria and many of the goals in the three brown pelican 
recovery plans have been met, our evaluation of the status of the brown 
pelican in this proposal is based largely on the analysis of threats in 
our recently completed 5-year review (Service 2007a, pp. 1-66). This 
review is available at http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/
doc1039.pdf.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for listing species, reclassifying 
species, or removing species from listed status. We may determine a 
species to be an endangered or threatened species because of one or 
more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act, and 
we must consider these same five factors in delisting a species. We may 
delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best available 
scientific and commercial data indicate that the species is neither 
endangered nor threatened for the following reasons: (1) The species is 
extinct; (2) The species has recovered and is no longer endangered or 
threatened (as is the case with the brown pelican); and/or (3) The 
original scientific data used at the time the species was classified 
were in error.
    A recovered species is one that no longer meets the Act's 
definition of threatened or endangered. Determining whether a species 
is recovered requires consideration of the same five categories of 
threats specified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. For species that are 
already listed as threatened or endangered, this analysis of threats is 
an evaluation of both the threats currently facing the species and the 
threats that are reasonably likely to affect the species in the 
foreseeable future after delisting or downlisting and the removal or 
reduction of the Act's protections.
    A species is ``endangered'' for purposes of the Act if it is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a ``significant portion of its 
range'' and is ``threatened'' if it is likely to become endangered 
within the foreseeable future throughout all or a ``significant portion 
of its range.'' The word ``range'' in the ``significant portion of its 
range'' (SPR) phrase refers to the range in which the species currently 
exists. For the purposes of this analysis, we will evaluate whether the 
currently listed species, the brown pelican, should be considered 
threatened or endangered. Then we will consider whether there are any 
portions of brown pelican's range in danger of extinction or likely to 
become endangered within the foreseeable future.
    As discussed below in our analysis of factors affecting the 
species, we do not foresee any changes in the current protections for 
brown pelican. For example, we do not expect any significant changes to 
current non-Endangered Species Act habitat protections, regulations 
affecting pesticide use and licensing, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, or the global 
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. We could 
consider that many of these protections would remain in place in 
perpetuity. However, considering this as a timeframe for analysis could 
introduce a considerable level of uncertainty and it may not be 
reasonable to assume that we can project an analysis out in perpetuity. 
Therefore, for the purposes of our analysis, we considered as a lower 
bound the timeframe over which it would be reasonable to expect 
population level or demographic effects of threats to be detected and 
to put the species at risk of becoming endangered. Factors most likely 
to affect population levels and key demographic characteristics of 
brown pelicans include those that affect reproduction over a period of 
several years, and include factors such as disturbance of nest sites, 
contaminants, and availability of prey. Therefore, for the purposes of 
this proposed rule, we consider ``foreseeable future'' for the brown 
pelican at a minimum to be 30 years, since it is a reasonable timeframe 
for analysis of factors identified that could affect the species in the 
future and as they relate to brown pelican biology. While average life 
spans are not known, fewer than 2 percent are thought to live past 10 
years of age, and the oldest known individual was 43 years old 
(Schreiber and Mock 1988, p. 178). Additionally, since age at first 
nesting is generally 3 to 5 years (Shields 2002, p. 18), the average 
brown pelican breeds at 4 years of age, thereby replacing itself within 
8 years. Therefore, 30 years, which incorporates one long life cycle 
and 10 possible generations, represents a reasonable biological 
timeframe to determine if threats could be significant.
    The following analysis examines all five factors currently 
affecting, or that are likely to affect, the brown pelican distribution 
that is currently listed within the foreseeable future.

[[Page 9416]]

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

Nesting Habitat

    Brown pelicans breed annually from spring to summer above 30 
degrees north latitude, annually from winter to spring between 20 and 
30 degrees north latitude, and irregularly throughout the year on 8.5- 
to 10-month cycles below 20 degrees north latitude (Shields 2002, p. 
12). Brown pelicans usually breed on small, predator-free coastal 
islands. Brown pelicans use a wide variety of nesting substrates. Nests 
are built on the ground when vegetation is not available, but when 
built in trees, they are about 1.8 meters (m) to 12.2 m (6 to 40 feet 
(ft)) above the water's surface (McNease et al. 1992, p. 252; 
Jim[eacute]nez 2004, pp. 12-17). Along the Pacific Coast of California 
south to Baja California and in the Gulf of California, brown pelicans 
nest on dry, rocky substrates, typically on off-shore islands (Service 
1983, pp. 5-6). Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, brown pelicans mainly nest 
on coastal islands on the ground or in herbaceous plants or low shrubs 
(Shields 2002, p. 13; Wilkenson et al. 1994, pp. 421-423), but will use 
mangrove trees (Avicennia spp.) if available (Lowery 1974, p. 127; Blus 
et al. 1979a, p. 130). In some areas of the Caribbean, along the 
Pacific Coast of Mexico, and the Galapagos Islands, mangroves 
(Avicennia spp., Rhizophora spp., Launcularia spp.) are the most common 
nesting substrate, although other substrates are used as well (Collazo 
1985, pp. 106-108; Guzman and Schreiber 1987, p. 276; Service 1983, p. 
15; Shields 2002, p. 13). Various types of tropical forests, such as 
tropical thorn and humid forests, also provide nesting habitat for 
brown pelicans in southern Mexico, South and Central America, and the 
West Indies (Collazo 1985, pp. 106-108; Guzman and Schreiber 1987, p. 
2). Peruvian brown pelicans (found in Peru and Chile) nest only on the 
ground (Shields 2002, p. 13).
    Nesting habitat destruction from coastal development. Within the 
United States, the majority of brown pelican nesting sites are 
protected through land ownership and protection by conservation 
organizations and local, State, and Federal agencies. We are not aware 
of any losses of brown pelican nesting habitat to coastal development 
within the United States. In countries outside of the United States, 
some coastal and mangrove habitat used by brown pelicans has been lost 
to recreational and other coastal developments (Collazo et al. 1998, 
pp. 63). Mainland nesting colonies in Sinaloa and Nayarit, Mexico, have 
been impacted by increasing mariculture (the cultivation of marine 
life) and agriculture through habitat degradation, disturbance, and 
some removal of mangrove habitat (Anderson et al. 2003, p. 1097-1099; 
Anderson 2007a), although the extent of impacts is unknown. Van Halewyn 
and Norton (1984, p. 215) cited cutting and loss of mangrove habitat as 
a threat for seabirds, including brown pelicans, in the Caribbean. 
Aside from these limited accounts, we are not aware of any significant 
losses of brown pelican nesting habitat from coastal development 
anywhere within its range.
    Some destruction of current and potential brown pelican nesting 
habitat is likely to occur in the future. However, a large number of 
brown pelican nesting sites throughout the species' range are currently 
protected (see discussion below). In some cases, loss of mangrove 
habitat has been specifically cited. However, brown pelicans do not 
nest exclusively in mangroves, they may utilize other nesting 
substrates, and they readily colonize new nesting sites in response to 
changing habitat conditions. For example, Collazo et al. (1998, p. 63) 
documented the loss of one nesting site in Puerto Rico, but stated the 
belief that the pelicans relocated to a new nesting colony nearby (see 
also discussion of colonization of new sites under ``Storm effects, 
weather and erosion impacts to habitat''). Destruction of nesting 
habitat is likely to only affect brown pelicans on a local scale where 
nesting colonies overlap with coastal or mariculture development. In 
cases where nesting habitat destruction results in the loss of a 
nesting site, it is likely to be limited to a single season of lost 
reproduction because birds will likely disperse to other colonies or 
establish a new colony in a new location. Because numerous brown 
pelican nesting sites are protected, brown pelicans may relocate to new 
nesting sites if any unprotected sites are destroyed, and any loss of 
nesting habitat is likely to result in only limited loss of 
reproduction that will not affect population levels, we do not believe 
that habitat destruction currently threatens brown pelicans, nor do we 
believe it will it become a threat that endangers the brown pelican 
throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.
    Storm effects, weather and erosion impacts to habitat. Many nesting 
islands along the U.S. Gulf Coast have been impacted by wave action, 
storm surge erosion, and a lack of sediment deposition (McNease and 
Perry 1998, p. 9), resulting in loss or degradation of nesting habitat. 
Since 1998, nesting habitat east of the Mississippi River in Louisiana 
has undergone continual degradation or loss from tropical storms and 
hurricanes, resulting in a reduced number of successfully reared brown 
pelican young in this area (Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 4). In 2003 and 
2004, brown pelican nesting and reproduction was distributed 
approximately equally between areas east and west of the Mississippi 
River. After tropical storms in 2004, nesting habitat east of the 
Mississippi River was reduced, resulting in a shift to 95 percent of 
nesting and reproduction to west of the Mississippi River. In 2005, 
hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in approximately 349 km\2\ (217 
mi\2\) of coastal land loss (Barras 2006, p. 4). This figure represents 
total coastal land loss, including interior marshes, and while a figure 
for loss of barrier islands would be a more appropriate measure of 
impacts to brown pelicans, we are not aware of any estimates for 
barrier island loss. While Louisiana's brown pelican nesting islands 
east of the Mississippi River were reduced by over 70 percent and what 
remains is vulnerable to overwash from future storm tides, at the time, 
these islands supported only about 5 percent of the total Louisiana 
population of brown pelicans (Hess and Linscombe 2006, pp. 3, 6; Harris 
2006). Louisiana brown pelican nesting islands west of the Mississippi 
River, which accounted for 95 percent of the 2005 brown pelican 
breeding population, were degraded, but still supported the four main 
nesting colonies (Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 5) (see discussion of 
nesting in Louisiana under Distribution and Population Estimate).
    In some instances, brown pelicans have responded to losses of 
breeding sites by dispersing and using other areas (Hess and Durham 
2002, p. 7). Hess and Linscombe (2001, p. 5) believe that a shift in 
nesting from the Baptiste Collette area to Breton Island in Louisiana 
was the result of high Mississippi River levels and associated muddy 
water which limited sight feeding. Additionally, two new brown pelican 
nesting colonies were established between 2000 and 2005 on Baptiste 
Collette and Shallow Bayou (Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 5). Wilkinson 
et al. (1994, p. 425) reported the loss of large brown pelican nesting 
colonies on Deveaux Bank in South Carolina following a hurricane and 
subsequent movement and use of new nesting locations on that island and 
on Bird Key Stono. Hess and Linscombe (2001, p. 4) believe that 
tropical storm and hurricane induced habitat damage to the Chandeleur 
Islands contributed to

[[Page 9417]]

the initial dispersal of pelicans to southwest Louisiana and the 
formation of a nesting colony on newly created habitat at the Baptiste 
Collette bar channel.
    While pelicans generally exhibit nest site fidelity, in Texas and 
Louisiana they have established breeding colonies on islands 
artificially created or enhanced by material dredged by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (Corps) from nearby ship channels (Hess and 
Linscombe 2001, pp. 5-6; Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 5). For example, 
Little Pelican Island and Alligator Point in Texas are maintained by 
the disposal of dredged material (Yeargan 2007). The Corps in Louisiana 
beneficially uses approximately 8.5 million m\3\ (11.1 million yds\3\) 
of dredged material each year in the surrounding environment (Corps 
2004, p. xi). For example, dredged material was used to retard erosion 
and secure Queen Bess Island as brown pelican nesting habitat (McNease 
et al. 1994, p. 8). It was also used to restore and enhance brown 
pelican habitat on Raccoon Island in 1987 and Last Island in 1992 
following Hurricane Andrew (McNease and Perry 1998, p. 10; Hess and 
Linscombe 2001, p. 5). Use of these islands by pelicans demonstrates 
both the utility of these artificially generated habitats and the 
pelican's ability to find and establish nesting colonies on them.
    While storms in Louisiana and the U.S. Gulf Coast are expected to 
continue, there are numerous projects that are intended to protect the 
coast from this land loss. Coastal habitat protection and restoration 
have been and will continue to be priorities for Louisiana, since 
coastal land loss has much broader negative implications to the State 
economy, oil and gas production, navigation security, fisheries and 
flyways, and strategic petroleum reserves. The Coastal Wetlands 
Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act of 1990 (CWPPRA), which 
provides Federal grants to acquire, restore, and enhance wetlands of 
coastal States, is one of the first programs with Federal funds 
dedicated exclusively to the long term restoration of coastal habitat 
(104 Stat. 4779). As of April 2006, 10 CWPPRA barrier island 
restoration projects in Louisiana have been implemented (costing over 
$75.8 million), with another 9 currently under construction or awaiting 
construction. Several of these directly enhance or protect current 
brown pelican nesting habitat (for example, Raccoon Island), while the 
rest occur on islands that were historically used or could be used for 
nesting in the future (Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and 
Restoration Task Force 2006, p. 13).
    Three other plans that may be implemented are Coast 2050 and the 
Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration (LCA) Plan, both related 
to the CWPPRA, and the Draft Coastal Impact Assistance Plan. Although 
not yet implemented, Coast 2050 and the LCA plan also focus on the 
protection and restoration of Louisiana coastal areas, including 
barrier island protection and restoration. While these plans are not 
considered as existing regulatory mechanisms for the purposes of this 
proposed delisting and are not designed specifically to benefit brown 
pelicans, we are aware that they may provide opportunities for us to 
monitor and to continue to reduce and minimize the threats to brown 
pelicans from habitat loss and degradation caused by storms in the 
Louisiana Gulf Coast region after they are delisted, and demonstrate 
the level of importance State and Federal agencies place on maintaining 
and protecting those areas.
    In other portions of the species' range, storms and weather 
conditions may also remove or degrade vegetation used for nesting by 
brown pelicans. Hurricanes (category 3 or higher) such as Hugo and 
Georges have severely affected red (Rhizophora mangle) and black 
(Avicennia germinans) mangrove habitat in Puerto Rico. Other coastal 
trees such as Bursera simaruba and Pisonia subcordata, which are prime 
nesting trees for pelicans in the U.S. Virgin Islands, have also been 
completely defoliated or torn down by hurricanes (Saliva 1989). 
Mangroves and other coastal trees may either be uprooted, completely 
defoliated, or killed (through dislodging of submerged roots by strong 
wave action) and several breeding seasons may pass before those areas 
recover. Similar effects of hurricanes and storms on nesting vegetation 
would be expected in other areas where brown pelicans nest in trees 
(some areas in the Caribbean, portions of the Pacific coast of Mexico, 
and parts of Central and South America). Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, 
mangroves can be killed off by extreme cold weather (Blus et al. 1979a, 
p. 130; McNease et al. 1992, p. 225; McNease et al. 1994, p. 6). 
Coastal black mangroves (Avicennia germinans), decimated by freezes 
since the 1980s, were historically the nesting shrub of choice for 
brown pelicans in Louisiana, but now clumps of vegetation, like dense 
stands of non-woody plants or low woody shrubs, are used (McNease et 
al. 1992, p. 225; Shields et al. 2002, p. 23).
    While localized losses and degradation of nesting habitat from 
hurricanes, storms, and erosion have been documented (Wilkinson et al. 
1994, p. 425; Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 4), we believe brown pelicans 
are capable of recovering from these losses. For example, brown pelican 
nests producing young in Louisiana have generally increased from a low 
in 1993 of 5,186 to a high of 16,501 in 2004 (Hess and Linscombe 2006, 
pp. 5, 13). During this time frame, numerous tropical storms and 
hurricanes have made landfall on the Louisiana coast (Hess and 
Linscombe 2006, pp. 9-11). As of May 2006, less than a year after 
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Hess and Linscombe (2007, p. 4) noted a 
total of 8,036 nests in fifteen colonies. Additionally, brown pelicans 
have shown they are capable of dispersing from nesting sites. Examples 
of this dispersal are the natural expansion and population growth 
observed following the reintroduction program in Louisiana (McNease and 
Perry 1998, p. 1) and more recently with the establishment of a new 
nesting colony at Rabbit Island (Hess and Linscombe 2003, p. 5). It is 
reasonable to expect island erosion will continue; however, it is also 
reasonable to expect State and Federal agencies to continue active 
maintenance and restoration of barrier islands through programs such as 
the CWPPRA. We lack data on the effects of storms and erosion elsewhere 
in the range of the brown pelican. However, outside of the Gulf of 
Mexico and Caribbean, storms generally are less frequent and less 
severe. It is evident from the information on pelican responses to 
storms in the Gulf of Mexico that they are capable of successfully 
adapting to the changes that storms bring. In addition, brown pelicans 
are broadly distributed along the Gulf of Mexico, nesting at 15 sites 
in Louisiana in 2006 (LDWF 2007, pp. 1, 3) and 12 sites in Texas in 
2006 (Service 2006, p. 2). The species' broad distribution and multiple 
nesting colonies reduce the risk that any single storm would affect the 
entire Gulf coast population of brown pelicans. Therefore, we believe 
that habitat modification or destruction of brown pelican nesting 
habitat by storms or coastal erosion will not endanger the brown 
pelican throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.
    Human disturbance of nesting pelicans. Adverse effects on nesting 
pelicans from human disturbance by recreationists, scientists, 
educational groups, and fishermen have been well documented (Anderson 
1988, p. 342; Anderson and Keith 1980, pp. 68-69). Disturbance at 
nesting colonies, such as walking among or near nests, has been

[[Page 9418]]

shown to adversely affect reproductive success of pelicans, and even 
result in abandonment of nests or entire colonies (Anderson and Keith 
1980, p. 69).
    Collier et al. (2003, pp. 112-113) offer human disturbance as the 
cause of a suspension of breeding activity in a brown pelican colony on 
St. Martin in the Lesser Antilles. The colony was near a resort with 
heavy boat and jet ski use. When a jet ski passed within about 400 m 
(1,312 ft) of a colony 40 pelicans flushed, leaving their nests 
unattended and unprotected from predators, but none flushed when a 
slow-moving dive boat approached within 10 m (33 ft) of the colony.
    In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, most breeding colonies 
of brown pelicans are located within Commonwealth or Federal protected 
areas. The adverse effects of human disturbances by recreational 
vessels and fishermen have been suggested as potentially resulting in 
abandonment of pelican nests located at low elevations and close to the 
water (Jim[eacute]nez 2004, pp. 12-17). Pelicans have been seen 
flushing from nests when boats approached within 152.4 m (500 ft), and 
have been noted to leave their nests unattended for as long as humans 
remained within this proximity (Saliva 1996a; Saliva 2003). Raffaele et 
al. (1998, pp. 224-225) summarized historical records of pelicans 
nesting in Puerto Rico and noted their extirpation from at least three 
colonies and suggests boat traffic as the cause. Schreiber (1999, p. 
20) noted that one of these extirpated colonies may have moved to a 
nearby bay, hidden from boaters.
    Along Mexico's Pacific Coast, human disturbance at colonies has 
resulted in nest abandonment, predation of eggs and chicks, and total 
abandonment or relocation of individual colonies (Anderson and Keith 
1980, p. 69). Fishermen, birders, photographers, educational groups, 
and egg collectors (in past years) have occasionally disturbed the 
pelican colonies at critical times during the breeding season (Gress et 
al. 2005, p. 7). However, nesting brown pelicans are monitored annually 
as an indicator species in the Gulf of California (Godinez et al. 2004, 
p. 48), and although annual numbers fluctuate widely due to a number of 
factors, including disturbances at some colonies, the populations are 
considered stable (Everett and Anderson 1991, p. 133; Anderson and 
Palacios 2005, p. 2).
    Although the threat of human disturbance has declined in Mexico as 
a result of conservation efforts and increased protection (Luckenbach 
Trustee Council 2006, p. 82), enforcement remains limited (Anderson et 
al. 2003, pp. 1103-1104), and many colonies are still susceptible to 
disturbances (Godinez 2006). However, effects from disturbance have not 
been substantial enough to result in documented population declines in 
the last 20 years (Anderson et al. 2004, p. 37). Therefore, while these 
local impacts are still occurring, we do not believe they currently 
threaten brown pelicans or will become a threat that endangers the 
brown pelican throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.
    Future conservation actions in Mexico that are not a factor in our 
proposal to delist the brown pelican, but would benefit brown pelicans 
and reduce human disturbance if implemented, are the restoration of 
seabird colonies on five pelican nesting islands along the Pacific 
Coast of Baja California as part of the Luckenbach Restoration Plan and 
the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP) (Luckenbach Trustee 
Council 2006, pp. 74-82, 100, 106; MSRP 2005, pp. D5-11-12). Proposed 
restoration activities include reducing sources of disturbance at 
colonies by redesigning paths and walkways to manage human traffic, 
shielding light sources, and performing public outreach and education 
(Luckenbach Trustee Council 2006, pp. 20, 77).
    While human disturbance can cause brown pelicans to flush from 
their nests, there are also situations where the birds have become 
habituated to nearby intense uses (for example, aircraft activity) 
without obvious effects on breeding efforts (Schreiber et al. 1981, p. 
398). We believe the current protections provided for nest sites and to 
prevent human disturbances to U.S. nesting colonies, as well as the 
protections afforded by State laws, will adequately continue to protect 
brown pelicans throughout their range within the United States. 
Additionally, while human disturbance to brown pelican nesting colonies 
is still occurring outside of the United States, most of the countries 
in the species' range are protecting, and are expected to continue to 
protect, brown pelicans through implementation of restoration plans, 
designated biosphere reserves and parks, and land ownership and 
protection by conservation organizations and local, State, and Federal 
governments (see below for discussion of nesting habitat protections). 
These protections are implemented through various mechanisms that do 
not rely on the U.S. Endangered Species Act and therefore are expected 
to continue if the brown pelican is delisted. The current levels of 
human disturbance are not sufficient to cause population declines of 
brown pelicans, because brown pelicans may become habituated to some 
level of disturbance, may shift nesting locations (as indicated above 
in discussion of loss of nesting habitat), or may only experience a 
temporary loss of reproduction, such as for a single breeding season. 
While human disturbance of brown pelican colonies is continuing, we do 
not believe the level of disturbance is currently sufficient to result 
in population declines of brown pelicans throughout all of the species' 
range in the foreseeable future.

Nesting Habitat Protection

    A number of factors may affect the quantity and quality of brown 
pelican nesting habitat from year to year. However, almost all the U.S. 
nesting sites are protected from habitat destruction and human 
disturbance, and a significant number of nesting sites outside the 
United States are also protected. Protections include designations as 
wildlife refuges, biosphere reserves, and national parks, as well as 
land ownership and protection by conservation organizations and local, 
State, and Federal governments. Because these protections are designed 
to not only protect brown pelicans, but other resources as well, such 
as other species of colonial waterbirds, and wetland, coastal, and 
marine habitats, we do not expect these protections to change if the 
brown pelican is delisted.
    Gulf of Mexico Coast. Many of the Texas islands used by brown 
pelicans are leased, managed, and monitored by local chapters of the 
National Audubon Society (Audubon) (Audubon 2007a, p. 1). Audubon staff 
assess the conditions of brown pelican islands throughout the year in 
Texas (Yeargan 2007) and implement management actions to address issues 
such as erosion and fire ant control. Additionally, there are local 
``Bird Wardens'' that patrol the islands regularly (Audubon 2007b, p. 
1). The two largest brown pelican nesting colonies, both in Corpus 
Christi Bay, Texas (Sundown Island, owned by the Port of Corpus 
Christi, and Pelican Island, owned by the Texas General Land Office), 
are part of the Texas Audubon Society's Coastal Sanctuaries program 
(Yeargan 2007; Audubon 2007b, p. 1; Service 2007b, p. 2). Audubon also 
owns North Deer Island, which houses the most productive waterbird 
colony in Galveston Bay and is the largest natural island remaining in 
the bay (Audubon 2007c, p. 1). A third major nesting site, Little 
Pelican Island, Galveston Bay, is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers (Corps) (Yeargan 2007). Audubon, in

[[Page 9419]]

cooperation with the Corps, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and 
the Service, placed signs around Little Pelican Island advising the 
public to avoid landing on the island during the nesting season 
(Service 2007b, p. 3). Also in Galveston Bay, Evia and Midbay islands, 
owned by the Port of Houston, are important brown pelican nesting 
islands, and Alligator Point in Chocolate Bayou, owned by the Texas 
General Land Office, also supports breeding brown pelicans (Yeargan 
2007). Brown pelicans are counted annually as part of the Texas 
Colonial Waterbird Survey (Service 2006, p. 1; Erfling 2007b). Signs 
advising the public to avoid landing were posted at each island listed 
above; the sign at Alligator Point was lost due to erosion, but there 
are plans to replace the sign this year (Erfling 2007b).
    Louisiana's North Island and Breton Island, two pelican nesting 
islands within the Chandeleur Islands chain, are part of the Service's 
Breton National Wildlife Refuge system (GulfBase 2007, p. 1). Signs are 
posted at the edge of the water indicating that the site is closed to 
human intrusion during the nesting season. In addition, during the 
nesting season, law enforcement personnel patrol the islands during 
periods of high human presence, such as on weekends and holidays 
(Fuller 2007c). One of Louisiana's largest pelican nesting colonies, 
Raccoon Island, in addition to Wine Island, East Island, Trinity 
Island, and Whiskey Island, are part of the Isles Dernieres Barrier 
Islands Refuge owned and managed by the LDWF who restricts public 
access (Fuller 2007d). Additionally, there are several other small, 
intermittently used nesting colony sites, such as Martin and Brush 
islands, that are privately owned. However, these sites are remote and 
are probably only subject to occasional offshore recreational and 
commercial fishing activity.
    West Indies. The two nesting sites documented by Collier et al. 
(2003, p. 113) on St. Maarten are protected: Fort Amsterdam as a 
registered and protected historic site, and Pelikan Key as part of a 
marine park. In addition, both sites have been proposed as Important 
Bird Areas (IBAs) (Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean 
Birds 2006, pp. 11-12).
    In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, most breeding colonies 
of brown pelicans are located within Commonwealth or Federal protected 
areas. Cayo Conejo, on the south coast of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, 
is one of the two most active and largest brown pelican nesting 
colonies in Puerto Rico (Saliva 2003). The U.S. Navy began using the 
eastern portion of Vieques Island for training exercises in the early 
years of World War II, and acquired the eastern and western portions of 
the island between 1941 and 1943 (Schreiber 1999, pp. 8, 13, 18-21). 
Since that time, it has been used in varying intensities for activities 
including amphibious landings, naval gunfire support, and air-to-ground 
training (Service 2001, p. 4). In May 2003, the Navy ceased operations 
on Vieques Island via the Floyd D. Spense Defense Authorization Act of 
2001 and transferred these lands to the Service, which subsequently 
designated it as the Vieques Island National Wildlife Refuge.
    In the U.S. Virgin Islands, brown pelican colonies are fairly 
inaccessible on high cliffs or steep cays (small, low islands) (Collazo 
1985, pp. 106-108; Saliva 1996b); therefore, it is unlikely that human 
intrusion would be a major factor affecting pelican reproduction in 
those colonies.
    The six nesting sites in Cuba identified by Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-
Vald[eacute]s (2006, pp. 32-33) are within areas identified as wetlands 
of international importance under the Convention on Wetlands of 
International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. The 
convention itself does not provide specific protections of identified 
wetlands, but does commit the parties to the convention to formulate 
and implement planning for the conservation and management of wetlands 
within their countries. One of the brown pelican sites in Cuba, Refugio 
de Fauna R[iacute]o M[aacute]ximo, is additionally protected as a 
wildlife refuge (Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-Vald[eacute]s 2006, pp. 32-33).
    California and Pacific Coast of Mexico. Pelican nesting colonies in 
California occur within Channel Islands National Park and are protected 
from human disturbance and coastal development. West Anacapa Island, 
where approximately 75 percent of the SCB population nests (Gress et 
al. 2003, p. 15), is designated as a research natural area by Channel 
Islands National Park and closed to the public (NPS 2004, p. 4). To 
protect pelican nesting areas, Santa Barbara Island trails are 
seasonally closed (NPS 2006, p. 1), and Scorpion Rock is permanently 
closed to the public (NPS 2004, p. 2). In 1980, the waters adjacent to 
the Channel Islands were designated as a National Marine Sanctuary (15 
CFR 922). This designation implements restrictions which include, but 
are not limited to, (1) no tankers and other bulk carriers and barges, 
or any vessel engaged in the servicing of offshore installations within 
1.8 kilometers (km) (1.15 miles (mi)); (2) no motorized aircraft at 
altitudes less than 305 m (1,000 ft) over the waters within 1.8 km 
(1.15 mi); and (3) no exploring for, developing, or producing oil and 
gas unless authorized prior to 1981 (NOAA 2006, Appendix C).
    Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) 
designated the waters adjacent to nesting brown pelican habitat on West 
Anacapa as a Marine Reserve, increasing protections for that colony by 
prohibiting fishing and other boating activities at depths of less than 
37 m (120 ft) from January 1 to October 31 of each year (California 
Code of Regulations, Title 14, Sections 27.82, 630, and 6321). In 1999, 
commercial squid fishing boats operating offshore of West Anacapa and 
Santa Barbara islands during the pelican breeding season, presumably 
because the (non-local) fishermen were not aware of the closure during 
the breeding season, used bright lights at night to attract squid to 
the surface (Gress 1999, p. 1). Use of lights at night was associated 
with brown pelican nest abandonment, chick mortality, and very low 
productivity (Gress 1999, pp. 1-2). Squid fishing has been observed 
around the Channel Islands in recent years, although it has not 
occurred near the colonies at a noticeable level since 1999 (Whitworth 
et al. 2005, p. 19). In 2004, the California Fish and Game Commission 
adopted the requirement of light shields and a limit of 30,000 watts 
per boat operating around the Channel Islands (CDFG Regulations, 
Section 149, Title 14, CCR). Although occasional disturbances may occur 
during the breeding season, such as illegal boating within the Marine 
Sanctuary, we believe the protections and active enforcement by the 
National Park Service (NPS) and CDFG have ensured that all nesting 
colonies in California remain relatively disturbance free.
    As noted above, Mexico's nesting brown pelicans are monitored 
annually as an indicator species in the Gulf of California (Godinez et 
al. 2004, p. 48). All of the island nesting colonies and many of the 
mainland Mexico nesting colonies are protected from habitat destruction 
or modification by Mexican law because the sites are federally 
protected and designated as either Biosphere Reserve Areas for 
Protection of Flora and Fauna or National Parks (Anderson and Palacios 
2005, p. 16; Carabias-Lilio et al. 2000, p. 3).
    Caribbean Coast of Mexico, and Central and South America. Isla 
Contoy Reserva Especial de la Biosfera off the coast of Cancun, 
Quintana Roo, Mexico, is Mexico's largest brown pelican nesting colony 
on the Caribbean coast.

[[Page 9420]]

It is currently protected as a National Park within a Biosphere 
Reserve. Visitation is limited and strictly controlled to minimize 
impacts to the seabirds that nest and roost there.
    Guatemala--Eisermann (2006, p. 63) identified 12 sites where brown 
pelicans are present within Guatemala, but did not indicate whether any 
of these are nesting sites. Of these 12 sites, 10 have some level of 
conservation as either Wildlife Refuges, National Parks, Areas of 
Multiple Use, or private protected areas (Eisermann 2006, p. 13).
    Honduras--In Honduras, two of the four identified nesting sites for 
brown pelicans are currently protected, Monumento Natural Marino del 
Archipi[eacute]lago de Cayos Cochinos and Laguna de Los Micos within 
Parque Nacional Blanca Jeannette Kawas (Thorn et al. 2006, p. 8, 11, 
29). A third nesting area, the cays of Isla Utila, has been proposed 
for protection as Refugio de Vida Silvestre Cayos de Utila and Reserva 
Marina Utila (Thorn et al. 2006, p. 9).
    Nicaragua--Although Zolotoff-Pallais and Lezama (2006, p. 79) do 
not indicate any nesting sites for brown pelicans, they indicate that 
brown pelicans occur at four sites designated as wetlands of 
international importance under the Convention on Wetlands of 
International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat.
    Costa Rica--In Costa Rica, the three major brown pelican nesting 
sites reported by Quesada (2006, p. 34), Isla Guayabo, Isla Negrita, 
and Isla Pararos, are protected as Biological Reserves. A fourth site, 
Isla Verde, identified as a roosting location for brown pelicans, is 
protected as a national park (Quesada 2006, p. 34).
    Panama--Angehr (2005, pp. 23, 26, 30, 34) identifies four nesting 
sites used by brown pelicans in Panama that are on lands with some 
official protective status: (1) Isla Barca Quebrada, within Coiba 
National Park; (2) Iguana Island, within Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge; 
(3) a group of small islands mostly within the Taboga Wildlife Refuge; 
and (4) Pearl Islands, owned by the Panamanian environmental 
organization ANCON (National Association for the Conservation of 
Nature). There are many more nesting areas in Panama, but they lack 
protective status.
    Colombia--In Colombia, all seven sites where brown pelican were 
documented to occur by Moreno and Buelvas (2005, p. 11, 57) are 
included in a system of protected areas or as part of sanctuaries for 
wildlife and plants.
    Venezuela--In Venezuela, Rodner (2006, p. 28) indicates that at 
least 9 of the 25 nesting colonies for brown pelicans are protected as 
either Parques Nacional, Monumentals Natural, or Refugios de Silvestre.
    Ecuador--About 87 percent of the Galapagos Islands are a National 
Park (Exploring Ecuador 2006, p. 1), and commercial and tourist access 
to the Park is regulated by the government of Ecuador to protect 
natural resources (Service 2007a, p. 23). The resident human population 
on the Galapagos Islands has expanded in recent years, as has the 
number of tourists (Charles Darwin Foundation 2006, p. 13). The Charles 
Darwin Foundation, which works in the islands under an agreement with 
the government of Ecuador, has developed a strategic plan to address 
the management of increasing human presence in the islands (Charles 
Darwin Foundation 2006, p. 7). The plan's general objective is to 
``forge a sustainable Galapagos society in which the people who inhabit 
the islands will act as agents of conservation.''
    Peru--Proabons, an agency in Peru's Ministry of Agriculture, 
protects and manages brown pelican nesting islands, which are 
collectively referred to as guano islands (Zavalaga et al. 2002, p. 9; 
Proabonos 2006). Additionally, Franke (2006, p. 8) indicates brown 
pelicans occur at four protected sites, although it is not clear 
whether these are nesting sites as well: Santuario Nacional Los 
Manglares de Tumbes, Zona Reservada Los Pantanos de Villa, National 
Reserve Paracas, and Santuario Nacional Lagunas de Mej[iacute]a. 
Estimated increases in the brown pelican population along coastal Peru 
have been attributed to protective measures by the Peruvian government. 
The Ministry of Agriculture's Forest and Wild Fauna Management 
Authority (IRENA) lists the brown pelican as endangered, and provides 
prohibitions against take of the species without a permit (Taura 2006).
    Chile--Simeone and Bernal (2000, p. 450) reported that Isla 
P[aacute]jaro Ni[ntilde]o in Chile has been designated a Nature Reserve 
by the Chilean government for the protection of Humboldt penguins, 
brown pelicans, and other seabirds. The breakwater connecting the 
island to the mainland has controlled access, which has reduced human 
disturbance (Simeone and Bernal 2000, p. 455).
    In summary regarding nesting habitat, conservation efforts are 
continuing to positively affect nesting brown pelicans, resulting in an 
overall rangewide recovery. Although loss of nesting habitat has 
occurred on a local scale, for instance, in Puerto Rico (Collazo et al. 
1998, p. 63) and Mexico (Anderson et al. 2003, p. 1099), we have no 
evidence that nesting habitat is limiting pelican populations on a 
regional or global scale. Threats from human disturbance of nesting 
colonies throughout most of the species' range have been abated through 
protection efforts, including designation of National Parks and 
Biosphere Reserves, signage to deter people from entering colonies, and 
restricted access. While nesting habitat is lost to storms and erosion, 
particularly in the Gulf of Mexico (McNease and Perry 1998, p. 9), 
birds have been found to disperse to and colonize other natural areas 
(Hess and Durham 2002, p. 7) and manmade islands (Hess and Linscombe 
2006, pp. 3, 6; Harris 2006).

Roost Habitat

    Disturbance-free roosting habitat is essential for brown pelicans 
throughout the year, for drying and maintaining plumage, resting, 
sleeping, and conserving energy (Jaques and Anderson 1987, pp. 4-5). 
Roosts also act as information centers for social facilitation. 
Essential characteristics of roost sites include: Proximity to food 
resources; physical barriers to minimize predation and disturbance; 
sufficient size for individuals to interact normally; and protection 
from adverse environmental conditions, such as wind and surf (Jaques 
and Anderson 1987, p. 5). Communal roosts occur on offshore rocks and 
islands; on beaches at mouths of estuaries; and on breakwaters, 
pilings, jetties, sandbars, and mangrove islets (Jaques and Anderson 
1987, pp. 14, 19; Shields 2002, p. 7). Brown pelicans have two types of 
roosts, day and night roosts. Night roosts need to be larger and less 
accessible to predators and human disturbance than day roosts (Jaques 
and Anderson 1987, p. 27; Jaques and Strong 2003, p. 1). Along the 
Pacific Coast, brown pelicans use roost sites that are different from 
nest sites (Jaques and Anderson 1987, pp. 14, 19; Briggs et al. 1981, 
pp. 7-8). In other areas, brown pelicans generally also use their 
nesting grounds as roosting grounds year round (Saliva 2003; Hess and 
Durham 2002, p. 1; Hess and Linscombe 2001, p. 1; King et al. 1985, p. 
204).
    Natural roost habitat is limited along the southern California 
coast due to a lack of rocky substrate, as well as coastal development 
and wetland filling (Jaques and Strong 2003, p. 1). Most roosts in 
southern California occur on jetties and breakwaters under jurisdiction 
of the Corps, although private structures such as barges and oil 
platforms also provide significant roost habitat (Strong and Jaques 
2003, p. 20). Night roost habitat is further limited to large areas 
where disturbance is minimal, which may be causing

[[Page 9421]]

pelicans to expend unnecessary energy to fly between daytime roosting/
foraging areas along the mainland and distant night roosts in the 
Channel Islands (Jaques et al. 1996, p. 46; Jaques and Strong 2003, p. 
12).
    In California, all rocks, islands, pinnacles, and exposed reefs 
above mean high tide within 22.2 km (13.8 mi) of shore are included 
within the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM), managed by the 
U.S. Bureau of Land Management (U.S. Bureau of Land Management 2005, 
pp. 1-3). Management includes monitoring and protecting geologic 
formations and the habitat they provide for seabirds and other wildlife 
(U.S. Bureau of Land Management 2005, pp. 1-3). Many pelican roost 
sites are on protected rocks and islands within the CCNM.
    The central California coast supports an important temporal 
component of pelican roosting habitat, supporting 69 to 75 percent of 
pelicans in California in the fall (Strong and Jaques 2003, p. 28). The 
Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Monterey Bay National 
Marine Sanctuary in central California protect and support roosting 
habitat (15 CFR 922; Thayer and Sydeman 2004, p. 2; Service 2007c, p. 
1). CDFG designated the waters around the Farallon Islands as a State 
Marine Conservation Area, and the islands are part of the Gulf of the 
Farallons National Marine Sanctuary (CDFG 2007, p. 7; 15 CFR 922). The 
Marine Sanctuaries prohibit aircraft from flying below 305 m (1,000 ft) 
within their boundaries, and limit allowable uses to research, 
educational, and recreational activities. In general, commercial and 
recreational uses of marine resources are prohibited, but certain 
commercial and recreational harvests of marine resources may be 
permitted (CDFG 2007, pp. 4-5; 15 CFR 922).
    Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), in southern California, consulted 
under section 7 of the Act with the Service regarding the effects of 
low-flying test flights, and agreed to avoid flying directly over 
roosting pelicans occurring on their mainland base (Service 2003a, p. 
1). We have consulted with Vandenberg AFB multiple times regarding the 
impacts of missile launches on roosting pelicans and have determined 
that impacts are limited to a short-term startle effect (Service 1998, 
1999, 2003a). For the next 5 years, a maximum of 25 missile launches 
per year at Vandenberg AFB are estimated (Frye 2006). Therefore, 
potential impacts from missile launches are minimal because they are 
temporary in nature and will likely only occur a few times per month.
    The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, inland from San 
Diego, is also used for roosting during the post-breeding season, 
supporting and protecting up to 5,000 pelicans in the summer within its 
boundaries (Service 2007d, pp. 1-2). However, roosting habitat is 
expected to decrease after the year 2018 as a result of reductions of 
Colorado River water reaching the Salton Sea (Service 2002, p. 52), 
which could decrease the availability of forage fishes to pelicans and 
reduce the suitability of roosting habitat in this area (Service 2002, 
pp. 18, 51). The Bureau of Reclamation will compensate for this loss by 
creating new roosting habitat along the southern California coast 
(Service 2002, p. 52).
    An atlas of pelican roost sites along the central and southern 
California coast is in preparation that will allow conservation 
agencies to evaluate the overall status of roosting habitat and help 
prioritize roost sites for protection (Gorbics et al. 2004, p. 1). In 
addition, the following projects will benefit brown pelicans, 
regardless of the brown pelican listing status: American Trader 
Restoration Plan (ATTC), Command Oil Spill Restoration Plan, Torch/
Platform Irene Restoration Plan, and Montrose Settlement Restoration 
Plan (MSRP). The purpose of these plans is to restore natural 
resources, including seabirds, that were injured as a result of oil 
spills and hazardous substance releases along the California coast, and 
one component of all these plans is to reduce human disturbance at 
roost sites in central and southern California through education, 
monitoring, and enforcement (ATTC 2001, p. 16; Command Oil Spill 
Trustee Council 2004, p. 60; Torch/Platform Irene Trustee Council 2006, 
p. 33; MSRP 2005, p. D6-1). ATTC also began a pilot program in 2004 to 
create new night roosting habitat in the form of a floating platform in 
the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge salt ponds. While pelicans 
have not used the platform yet, ATTC is exploring other sites to 
enhance or create new roosts in southern California (ATTC 2006, p. 1). 
If the platform is successful, the MSRP may duplicate this effort in 
additional locations.
    While some roosting habitat in the United Sates may still be 
susceptible to human disturbance, much of the brown pelican roosting 
habitat occurs within protected areas. There are ongoing efforts to 
identify and prioritize important roost sites, reduce disturbances at 
these sites, enhance existing roosts, and create new roost habitat. 
Southern California is the only area we are aware of with potentially 
limited roost sites. Nevertheless, the limited number of existing roost 
sites has had no known impacts to the species and the population 
appears to be stable or increasing. Therefore, we do not believe that 
roost site disturbance will endanger the brown pelican throughout all 
of its range in the foreseeable future.

Prey Abundance

    Brown pelicans feed on surface-schooling fish such as menhaden 
(Brevoortia spp.), mullet (Mugil spp.), and anchovies (Engraulis spp.), 
which they catch by plunge-diving in coastal waters (Palmer 1962, p. 
279; Blus et al. 1979b, p. 175; Gress et al. 1990, p. 2; Schreiber et 
al. 1975, p. 649; Schreiber 1980, p. 744; Kushlan and Frohring 1985, p. 
92). The offshore area within 30 to 50 km (18 to 30 mi) of a colony 
during the breeding season is critical to pelicans for feeding young 
(Anderson et al. 1982, p. 28). Additionally, reproductive success is 
dependent on abundance and availability of prey within foraging 
distance of the colony (Anderson et al. 1982, pp. 23, 30; Everett and 
Anderson 1991, p. 133). Therefore, commercial harvests of pelican prey 
species have the potential to affect brown pelican population dynamics.
    Commercial fishing. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) requires management 
plans for commercial fish species to ensure optimum yield with 
guaranteed perpetuation of that resource and minimal impact to the 
ecosystem of which it is a part. Each coastal region of the U.S. is a 
member of one of eight Fishery Management Councils, each of which 
implements the local fishery management plan (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).
    The Pacific Fishery Management Council prepared the Anchovy Fishery 
Management Plan (AFMP). Amendment 8 to the AFMP, adopted December 15, 
1999 (64 FR 240), changed the name of the AFMP to the CPSFMP and added 
Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), Pacific mackerel (Scomber 
japonicus), jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus), and market squid 
(Loligo opalscens) to the fishery management unit (CPSFMP 1998, p. 1-
1). Amendment 8 divided these species into actively managed and 
monitored categories. Harvest guidelines for actively managed species, 
Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel, are based on formulas applied to 
current biomass estimates and designed to ensure that adequate forage 
is available for seabirds, marine mammals, and other fish. There are no 
harvest guidelines for the monitored species

[[Page 9422]]

(northern anchovy, jack mackerel, and market squid) because they are 
not currently intensively fished, although harvest and abundance data 
will be monitored (CPSFMP 1998, pp. 4-5). The northern anchovy fishery 
essentially ceased in 1983 due to a depressed market. The depressed 
market for northern anchovy is thought to be a long-term or possibly 
permanent condition, although this fishery continues today at a minimal 
level (CDFG 2001, pp. 303-305). A comprehensive assessment of the 
northern anchovy fishery will be conducted if the annual harvest 
approaches 25,000 metric tons (mt) (25,097 tons); however, the current 
harvest is only about 7,000 mt (6,889 tons) of an estimated biomass of 
388,000 mt (381,872 tons) (Service 1999, pp. 1-2).
    On June 10, 1999, the Service determined that Amendment 8 to the 
AFMP will not adversely affect brown pelicans in California because it 
would not decrease the availability of fish to pelicans (Service 1999, 
p. 1). The CPSFMP (1998, pp. 2-5) will continue to ensure that adequate 
forage is available to pelicans if economic conditions change and 
northern anchovies become more intensively fished. The CPFSMP will also 
ensure that other forage fishes used by pelicans, such as Pacific 
sardines and Pacific mackerel, are also managed to preserve adequate 
forage reserves (CPSFMP 1998, pp. 2-5).
    The central subpopulation of the northern anchovy extends south of 
the U.S. border along the west coast of Baja California, Mexico. 
However, there is no bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexico 
regarding the management of this subpopulation, and the Mexican fishery 
is managed independently and not restricted by a quota (CDFG 2001, p. 
304). The Coronados Islands pelican population may have suffered 
reduced breeding success during the late 1970s as a result of intensive 
commercial anchovy harvests in Mexico (Anderson and Gress 1982, p. 
130). Declines in the anchovy population in the early 1980s may have 
been caused by intensive harvesting in Mexico that far exceeded the 
California fishery (Service 1983, p. 57). Similar to the U.S. fishery, 
anchovy harvests in Mexico have decreased sharply in recent years, from 
an average 86,363 mt (85,000 tons) per year from 1962 to 1989, to an 
average of 3.65 mt (3.6 tons) from 1990 to 1999 (CDFG 2001, p. 303). 
However, if economic conditions change and anchovies become more 
intensively harvested in Mexico, availability of anchovies for pelicans 
could be reduced.
    While no brown pelican prey species appear to be currently 
regulated by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council nor the 
Caribbean Fishery Management Council (Web sites accessed: http://
www.gulfcouncil.org/, and http://www.caribbeanfmc.com/), in the U.S., 
regulations under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act are sufficient to protect prey 
abundance for brown pelicans, including brown pelican food species 
currently being commercially fished and any that may be in the future. 
Therefore, we do not believe that commercial fishing will endanger the 
brown pelican or its prey throughout the United States, Mexico, and 
Caribbean portion of its range in the foreseeable future.
    We do not have information from other countries on commercial 
fishery impacts to brown pelican prey abundance. However, we have no 
evidence to suggest that commercial fishing is limiting brown pelican 
populations. Populations of brown pelicans in Central and South America 
are generally large with stable or increasing trends, indicating that 
food resources are not limiting.
    El Ni[ntilde]o and Freeze Events. A mixture of subarctic and 
tropical waters, upwelling events, and varying depths of the Pacific 
Ocean result in seasonal, interannual (between year), and long-term 
variability in fish availability for brown pelicans (Dailey et al. 
1993, pp. 11-13). El Ni[ntilde]o events that occur periodically in the 
Pacific Ocean are characterized by warm, nutrient-poor water and 
reduced productivity (Dailey et al. 1993, p. 11; Leck 1973, p. 357; 
Duffy 1983b, p. 687), thus reducing brown pelican reproductive success 
and causing mortality in pelican chicks (Hayward 2000, p. 111). 
Pelicans have the flexibility to respond to changes in food supplies 
through variable reproductive rates, although a long-term decline in 
food abundance could have serious impacts on the pelican population 
(Anderson et al. 1982, p. 30). An incidental effect of El Ni[ntilde]o 
is movement of brown pelicans into developed areas, presumably in 
search of food, exposing them to collision hazards with structures and 
vehicles (Leck 1973, p. 357). During the 1997 El Ni[ntilde]o event, an 
increase was reported in the local pelican population from 200 to 4,000 
birds within a few weeks within the city of Arica, Chile (CNN 1997, p. 
1). El Ni[ntilde]o events are generally limited to a single breeding 
season, and are not likely to result in long-term population declines 
(Dailey et al. 1993, p. 11).
    McNease et al. (1994, p. 10) found that severe freezes in Louisiana 
limited feeding due to surface ice formation. Fish mortality related to 
freezes also negatively impacts the pelican's food supply on a short-
term basis (McNease et al. 1994, p. 10). However, these events are 
typically localized and restricted to a single season in duration.
    El Ni[ntilde]os and severe freezes may impact brown pelicans on a 
short-term, localized basis, but they do not pose a rangewide threat to 
the continued existence of the species. The pelican is a long-lived 
species that has evolved with natural phenomena such as variation in 
food resources, winter storms, and hurricanes, such that sporadic 
breeding failures have little effect on long-term population stability 
(Shields 2002, p. 23). These factors are only significant when 
population sizes are small and reproduction is limited. Because current 
populations and distribution are large and reproduction has been 
restored to a level that can compensate for normal environmental 
fluctuations, we do not believe these natural events threaten the 
species throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.

Other Habitat Protections

    U.S. laws that provide protections to brown pelican habitat are the 
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.), which 
requires equal consideration and coordination of wildlife conservation 
with other water resource developments, and the Estuary Protection Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1221 et seq.), which requires Federal agencies to assess 
impacts of commercial and industrial developments on estuaries. Section 
10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 U.S.C. 401 et seq.) regulates the 
building of any wharfs, piers, jetties, and other structures and the 
excavation or fill within navigable water. Sections 402 and 404 of the 
Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.), as 
amended by the Clean Water Act (91 Stat. 1566) and the Water Quality 
Improvement Act (101 Stat. 7), provide for the development of 
comprehensive programs for water pollution control and efficient and 
coordinated action to minimize damage from oil discharges.
    Additional environmental laws that help protect pelican habitat and 
food sources include: Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986 (100 
Stat. 3585), which authorizes the purchase of wetlands from Land & 
Water Conservation Fund monies; North American Wetlands Conservation 
Act of 1989 (103 Stat. 1968) which provides funding for wetland 
conservation

[[Page 9423]]

programs in Canada, Mexico, and the United States; Anadromous Fish 
Conservation Act of 1965 (79 Stat. 1125), which provides funds for 
conservation, development, and enhancement of anadromous fish (marine 
fish that breed in fresh water) through cooperation with States and 
other non-Federal interests; Coastal Barrier Resources Act (96 Stat. 
1653), as amended by the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990, which 
encourages conservation of hurricane-prone, biologically rich coastal 
barrier islands by restricting Federal expenditures that encourage 
development of coastal barrier islands, such as providing National 
Flood Insurance; Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451-
1464), which provides fiscal incentives for the protection, 
restoration, or enhancement of existing coastal wetlands or creating 
new coastal wetlands and assessing the cumulative effects of coastal 
development of coastal wetlands and fishery resources; Shore Protection 
Act of 1988; Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1954, as amended in 
1978 and 1985; National Ocean Pollution Planning Act of 1978; Oil 
Pollution Act of 1990; Act to Prevent Pollution From Ships of 1980; 
Marine Pollution and Research and Control Act of 1989; Ocean Dumping 
Ban Act of 1988; and Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act 
of 1988. These laws and regulations, taken collectively, help ensure 
the conservation of brown pelicans and their habitat.
    In summary, conservation efforts are continuing to positively 
affect brown pelicans, resulting in an overall rangewide recovery. 
Although loss of nesting habitat has occurred on a local scale, for 
instance in Puerto Rico (Collazo et al. 1998, p.63) and Mexico 
(Anderson et al. 2003, p. 1099), we have no evidence that nesting 
habitat loss is limiting pelican populations on a regional or global 
scale. Threats from human disturbance of nesting colonies throughout 
most of the species' range have been abated through protection efforts, 
including designation of National Parks and Biosphere Reserves, signage 
to deter people from entering colonies, and restricted access. While 
nesting habitat is lost to storms and erosion, particularly in the Gulf 
of Mexico (McNease and Perry 1998, p. 9), birds have been found to 
colonize in other natural areas (Hess and Durham 2002, p. 7) and on 
manmade islands (Hess and Linscombe 2006, pp. 3, 6; Harris 2006). The 
only area where we have determined roost sites to be limited is in 
southern California, but this has not had any known impacts to the 
population. Much of the U.S. brown pelican roosting habitat is within 
protected areas. We have no evidence to suggest that commercial fishing 
in the U.S. and elsewhere is limiting brown pelican populations by 
reducing the species' fish prey base. El Ni[ntilde]os and severe 
freezes may impact brown pelicans on a short-term, localized basis, but 
these events do not threaten the continued existence of the species. 
Although some local factors continue to affect brown pelicans, these 
factors are not of sufficient magnitude to affect any brown pelican 
populations. Therefore, we believe that the brown pelican is not 
threatened or endangered throughout all of its range within the 
foreseeable future by the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range.

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

    We are not aware of any overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational uses of brown pelicans, 
although within the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the brown 
pelican is protected from any such threats. In 1936 the Protection of 
Migratory Birds and Game Mammals Treaty was signed by the United 
States, Canada, Japan, Russia, and Mexico (50 Stat. 1311; TS 912), 
which adopted a system for the protection of certain migratory birds, 
including the brown pelican, in the United States and Mexico. This 
Treaty provides for protection from shooting and egg collection by 
establishment of closed seasons and refuge zones. Implementation of the 
treaty in the United States was accomplished by amending the Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-711; 40 Stat. 755). The 
MBTA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR Parts 20 and 21) prohibit 
take, possession, import, export, transport, selling, purchase, barter, 
or offering for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, their 
eggs, parts, and nests, except as authorized under a valid permit, and 
require that such use not adversely affect populations (50 CFR 21.11). 
The MBTA and its implementing regulations will adequately protect 
against overutilization of pelicans within the United States, Canada, 
and Mexico (see discussion of the MBTA in ``Effects of this Rule'' 
section below). We do not have any information to indicate that 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational uses is occurring within areas covered by the MBTA or 
elsewhere throughout the species' range. Therefore, we do not believe 
overutilization will endanger the brown pelican throughout all of its 
range in the foreseeable future.

C. Disease or predation

    Several diseases have been identified as causing illness and 
mortality of brown pelicans. The diatom (an algae) Pseudo-nitzchia 
australis occasionally blooms in large numbers off the California coast 
and produces the toxin domoic acid that occasionally causes mortalities 
in pelicans (USGS 2002a, p. 5). Erysipelas, caused by the bacterium 
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, caused mortality of about 350 pelicans 
off the coast of California during the winter of 1987-1988 (Shields 
2002, p. 32). This outbreak was thought to have been caused by 
unusually warm waters combined with a large number of pelicans in that 
area. Avian botulism, caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, 
has caused illness and mortality of pelicans at the Sonny Bono Salton 
Sea National Wildlife Refuge (USGS 2002b, p. 6). None of these disease 
outbreaks have had known long-term impacts on the population, and 
because occurrences are few and self-limiting, we do not believe 
impacts from disease will become a threat to brown pelicans throughout 
all of their range in the foreseeable future.
    West Nile virus is listed on the Center for Disease Control's West 
Nile Virus Web page as causing the mortality of white pelicans. 
However, according to this same Web site and the USGS, no brown pelican 
deaths due to West Nile virus have been reported, although antibodies 
for the virus have been found in captive brown pelicans (USGS 2003a, p. 
6). We do not believe impacts from West Nile virus will become a threat 
to brown pelicans throughout all of their range in the foreseeable 
future, since there is no evidence to date that it negatively impacts 
pelicans. The post-delisting monitoring plan will be designed to detect 
declines in brown pelican populations that might arise from a variety 
of threats, including West Nile virus. There is an extensive network of 
Federal and State wildlife agencies and other cooperators that monitor 
colonial nesting waterbird species, including the brown pelican (see 
``Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan'' section below).
    Ticks have been implicated as the cause of nest abandonment on both 
a Texas and Peruvian island (King et al. 1977b, p.1; Duffy 1983a, p. 
112). However, these events were localized and apparently have had no 
long term impact on population levels in these areas. Mites and liver 
flukes have also

[[Page 9424]]

been reported in brown pelicans (50 FR 4942), but have not been noted 
to cause significant health impairment in healthy birds. We have no 
evidence that mites, liver flukes, or other parasites are limiting 
brown pelican populations. Therefore, we do not believe impacts from 
parasites will become a threat to brown pelicans throughout all of 
their range in the foreseeable future.
    Brown pelicans require nesting areas in close proximity to food 
supplies and free from mammalian predators and human disturbance 
(Anderson and Keith 1980, p. 65). There is no known significant impact 
from mammalian predation on brown pelicans, particularly since they 
generally nest at sites free of mammals that could depredate eggs or 
young. Mammalian predators introduced to seabird nesting islands, such 
as domestic cats (Felis catus) and rats (Rattus spp.), can have serious 
impacts on small and medium-sized seabirds, but they appear to have 
little impact on pelicans (Anderson et al. 1989, p. 102).
    There are numerous reported avian predators of chicks and eggs: 
magnificent frigatebirds (Fregata magnificens), gulls (Larus spp.), 
red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), peregrine falcons (Falco 
peregrinus), American kestrels (Falco sparverius), short-eared owls 
(Asio flammeus), cattle egrets (Bulbulcus ibis), night herons 
(Nycticorax spp.), American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus), 
crows (Corvus spp.), and mockingbirds (Mimus gilvus) (Schreiber 1979, p 
40; Saliva and Burger 1989, p. 695; Jiminez 2004, pp. 16-17). Avian 
predators occasionally destroy unguarded pelican nests, and 
disturbances to nesting colonies may flush pelicans from nests, 
increasing the risk of predation on eggs and young (Schreiber and 
Riseborough 1972, p. 126). However, if brown pelicans are undisturbed, 
at least one member of the breeding pair usually remains close to the 
nest to protect the eggs and vulnerable nestlings (Duffy 1983a, p. 113; 
Schreiber and Riseborough 1972, p. 126; Shields 2002, p. 12). In the 
absence of other disturbances, egg and nest predation by mammals and 
other birds does not appear to impose a significant limitation on brown 
pelican reproduction. Therefore, we do not believe impacts from 
mammalian or avian predation will become a threat to brown pelicans 
throughout all of their range within the foreseeable future.
    Disease and predation generally affect only small numbers of 
individuals. In addition, many disease events are usually limited in 
area and may only affect brown pelicans for a short period of time 
(e.g., for a single breeding season). Because brown pelicans are long 
lived, sporadic breeding failures that may be caused by parasites, 
disease, or predation, especially on a local scale, have little effect 
on long-term population stability (Shields 2002, p. 23). Because 
current populations and distribution are large and reproduction has 
been restored to a level that can compensate for normal environmental 
fluctuations, we do not believe that disease, parasites, and predation 
threaten the species throughout all of its range in the foreseeable 
future.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    As discussed in each of the factors, many regulatory mechanisms 
will remain in place after delisting that ensure future threats will be 
reduced or minimized. Another Federal law not cited under the other 
factors that will continue to offer some form of protection for the 
brown pelican is the Lacey Act which helps the United States and other 
foreign countries enforce their wildlife conservation laws, including 
the protections afforded brown pelicans under MBTA. In addition to 
these laws that provide direct protection to the brown pelicans, the 
Clean Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide 
Act of 1996 (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) provide regulations 
indirectly through contamination prevention, which contributes to 
habitat protections. We believe these protections, taken together, 
provide adequate regulatory mechanisms to prevent the brown pelican 
from becoming endangered throughout all of its range in the foreseeable 
future.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Natural Factors

    This discussion addresses direct mortality of brown pelicans. See 
Factor A for impacts to habitat from natural weather events such as 
storms and El Ni[ntilde]o. Boersma (1978, p. 1482) reported El 
Ni[ntilde]o-season starvation of nestling brown pelicans in the 
Galapagos Islands. The 1982-83, 1986-87, and 1991-1994 El Ni[ntilde]o 
events may have reduced the number of nesting brown pelicans in those 
years at Cayo Conejo, Puerto Rico (Schreiber 1999, p. 12). In extreme 
cases adult mortality has resulted from El Ni[ntilde]o events (Shields 
2002, p. 32), for example, during the especially severe El Ni[ntilde]o 
(Southern Oscillation) of 1983 (Duffy 1986, p. 591). Mortality was not 
noted during the less-severe event of 1978 (Boersma 1978, p. 1482). 
Shields (2002, p. 23, and reference cited within) states that food 
shortages as a result of El Ni[ntilde]o and other climatic and 
oceanographic events may result in abandonment of nests and starvation 
of nestlings, but rarely results in adult mortality except in extreme 
events. Because brown pelicans are long lived, such short-term breeding 
failures have little impact on long-term population viability.
    Storms accompanied by severe tidal flooding can have a significant 
negative effect on brown pelican productivity (McNease et al. 1994, p. 
10). While some adults may be killed during storm events, most impacts 
result in juvenile mortality and reduced fledgling production 
(Wilkinson et al. 1994, p. 425; Hess and Linscombe 2006, p. 4). 
Additionally, eggs and nestlings may be lost due to flooding (Hess and 
Linscombe 2006, p. 23) and nests built in trees are easily dislodged 
and destroyed during strong winds or major storms (Jiminez 2004, pp. 
12-17; Saliva 1989). While McNease et al.'s (1994, p. 10) observations 
indicated a female that has produced eggs or nestlings will not nest 
again in the same season, Hess and Linscombe (2006, pp. 3, 7, 23) found 
pelicans rebuilding new nests on top of flooded and damaged nests.
    In addition to freezes in Louisiana limiting brown pelican foraging 
and resulting in fish mortality, as discussed above under Factor A, 
McNease et al. (1994, p. 10) found effects from severe freezes included 
high initial brown pelican mortality from hypothermia, prolonged 
exposure to low temperatures, and death while plunge-diving into ice-
covered water. However, severe freeze events are infrequent (McNease et 
al. 1994, p. 10) and have not precluded the Louisiana population from 
growing to large numbers since the restocking program began in the 
1960s.
    These natural factors may adversely affect brown pelicans on a 
short-term, localized basis, but do not pose a rangewide threat to the 
continued existence of the species. These factors generally affect only 
a small number of individuals, affect only a localized area, or affect 
reproductive success for a single season. The pelican is a long-lived 
species that has evolved with natural phenomena such as variation in 
food resources, winter storms, and hurricanes. These factors are only 
significant when population sizes are small and reproduction is 
limited. Because current populations and distribution are large and 
reproduction has been restored to a level that can compensate for 
normal environmental fluctuations, we do not believe that natural 
events will endanger the species

[[Page 9425]]

throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.

Manmade Factors

    Pesticides and Contaminants. During initial recovery planning for 
brown pelicans, it was recognized that organochlorine pesticides were 
the major threat to the brown pelican in the United States and these 
pesticides acted by direct toxicity (affecting all age classes) and by 
impairing reproduction (reducing recruitment into the population) 
(Hickey and Anderson 1968, p. 272; Risebrough et al. 1971, pp. 8-9; 
Blus et al. 1979b, p. 183). Impairment of reproduction was attributed 
to a physiological response to the presence of high levels of the 
organochlorine dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) (Hickey and 
Anderson 1968, p. 272). DDE is the principal metabolite of DDT, a 
synthetic organochlorine compound that was widely used as a commercial 
and agricultural pesticide from the 1950s through the early 1970s 
(Risebrough 1986, p. 401; 37 FR 13369). Brown pelicans gradually 
accumulated these toxins by eating contaminated prey (Hickey and 
Anderson 1968, p. 271). DDE interferes with calcium deposition during 
eggshell formation, resulting in the production of thin-shelled eggs 
that are easily crushed during incubation (Gress 1995, p. 10). DDE also 
causes the death of embryos in the egg, and the death or aberrant 
behavior of recently hatched young (Blus 1982, p. 26). The primary 
reason for severe declines in the brown pelican population in the 
United States, and for designating the species as endangered, was DDT 
contamination in the 1960s and early 1970s.
    In California, ocean sediments off the coast of Los Angeles were 
heavily contaminated with DDT residues from a DDT manufacturing 
facility that discharged waste into the sewage system, which entered 
the marine environment through a submarine outfall (Gress 1995, p. 10). 
This input ceased in 1970, after which DDT and DDE residues in the 
marine environment decreased sharply, and pelican reproductive success 
improved as eggshell thickness increased (Gress 1995, p. 10; Gress and 
Lewis 1988, p. 13). Reproductive declines are thought to occur when 
pelican eggshells average 15 to 20 percent thinner than normal (Gress 
1994, p. 7). Mean eggshell thickness from 1986 to 1990 was only 4.6 
percent thinner than the pre-1947 mean, a level which may contribute to 
lowered fledging rates in some birds, but is no longer causing 
population-wide reproductive impairment in brown pelicans (Gress 1995, 
p. 92).
    DDE was also found to be detrimental to the reproductive success of 
brown pelicans in both Texas and Louisiana (King et al. 1977a, p. 423) 
and was the direct cause of brown pelican deaths in Louisiana (Holm et 
al. 2003, p. 431). Since banning of the use of DDT, levels of DDE 
residues have declined. The level of DDE residues in eggs collected in 
Texas from 1975 to 1981 was about one half the level found in eggs 
collected in 1970 (King et al. 1985, p. 205; King et al. 1977a, p. 
423).
    In 1997, Mexico introduced a plan to strictly curtail and then 
phase out use of DDT by 2007 (Environmental Health Perspectives 1997, 
p. 1). Mexico used DDT for control of malaria until 1999 (Salazar-
Garc[iacute]a et al. 2004, p. 542), and then eliminated its use by 
2000, several years ahead of schedule (Gonzalez 2005, p. 1). Recent 
contaminants studies in the Gulf of California, Mexico, indicate that 
this area remains one of the least contaminated with persistent organic 
pollutants in western North America (Anderson and Palacios 2005, p. 8).
    Eggs were collected during the periods 1980 to 1982 and 1992 to 
1993 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Collazo  et al. 1998, 
pp. 62-63). Concentrations of DDE and PCBs were significantly higher in 
the Puerto Rico eggs than the U.S. Virgin Island eggs collected in the 
1980s. However, Collazo et al. (1998, p. 64) state that brown pelican 
reproduction has not been affected by contaminants in Puerto Rico and 
the U.S. Virgin Islands at least since the 1980s. Additionally, 
contaminant concentrations in the eggs collected in the 1990s were 
significantly lower than those collected in the 1980s (USGS 2002b, p. 
5).
    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of DDT in 
the U.S. in 1972 (37 FR 13369), and Canada's National Office of 
Pollution Prevention banned its use in 1985 (Canada Gazette 2005, p. 
1). The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (http://
www.pops.int/) eliminated or reduced the use of 12 persistent organic 
pollutants, including DDT, in all participating countries in 2001. All 
countries within the breeding range of the brown pelican are 
participants. In addition to the United States and Canada, Cuba and 
Costa Rica have banned its use; Belize, Columbia, Mexico, and Venezuela 
have restricted its use; and eight countries limited access in other 
ways (http://www.pesticideinfo.org). Although low-level DDE 
contamination will probably persist for many years in areas where DDT 
was used, the impact to pelican populations is now believed to be 
negligible and is expected to continue to lessen over time. Because 
regulatory mechanisms are in place to ban or strictly limit use of DDT, 
and current levels of DDE contamination are no longer causing 
population-wide reproductive impairment in brown pelicans, DDT or DDE 
will not endanger the brown pelican throughout all of its range within 
the foreseeable future.
    A number of other organochlorine pesticides have also been 
documented to have affected brown pelicans in some portions of their 
range. The organochlorine pesticide endrin is the probable cause of the 
brown pelican's rapid decline and subsequent disappearance in Louisiana 
(King et al. 1977a, p. 427). Endrin was first used in the Mississippi 
River Basin in 1952. In 1958, dead fish were reported near sugarcane 
fields where endrin was used, and die-offs of fish and other wildlife 
began to consistently occur when heavy rains produced runoffs from 
those fields (King et al. 1977a, p. 427). King et al. (1977a, p. 427) 
reported an estimated six million menhaden found dead between 1960 and 
1963. Extensive fish kills persisted in the lower Mississippi River and 
other streams in sugarcane growing parishes of Louisiana through 1964 
(King et al. 1977a, p. 427). It was concluded that endrin from both 
agricultural and industrial sources was responsible for the fish kills 
(King et al. 1977a, p. 427). Fish-eating ducks, such as mergansers, 
were also reported floating dead in streams and bayous (King et al. 
1977a, p. 427).
    According to Winn (1975, p. 127) the adverse impact of endrin on 
brown pelicans was demonstrated when more than 300 of the 465 birds 
introduced to Louisiana since 1968 died during April and May 1975. 
Brain tissue from five dead pelicans was analyzed. Chemists at 
Louisiana State University identified seven pesticides in the brain 
tissue, all chlorinated hydrocarbons widely used in agriculture. Most 
of the birds analyzed contained what experts regard as potentially 
lethal levels of endrin. In addition to endrin, residues of six other 
organochlorine pesticides (DDE, dieldrin, toxaphene, benzene 
hexachloride, hexachloro-benzene (HCB), and heptachlor epoxide) were 
found (Winn 1975, p. 127). This significant die-off demonstrated the 
vulnerability of brown pelicans to endrin and emphasized the possible 
role of pesticides in the brown pelican's decline in the eastern United 
States. Endrin is also one of the pesticides targeted for elimination 
by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (http://

[[Page 9426]]

www.pops.int/). Although it is not currently banned in the United 
States, it is not registered for use in the United States or Canada and 
is banned in Belize, Colombia, Cuba, and Peru (http://
www.pesticideinfo.org).
    Dieldrin (another organochlorine pesticide) was also detected at 
levels considered detrimental to reproductive success for brown 
pelicans in the eastern portion of the United States (Blus et al. 1974, 
p. 186; Blus et al. 1975, p. 653; Blus et al. 1979a, p. 132). There is 
only slight evidence that dieldrin thins eggshells, whereas there is 
strong evidence indicating that it adversely affects egg hatching, 
post-hatching survival, and behavior of young birds (Dahlgren and 
Linder 1974, pp. 329-330; Blus 1982, p. 27). The agricultural use of 
dieldrin in the U.S. ceased in 1970 and it was discontinued as a 
termite control in 1987 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
2005, p. 340). From 1975 through 1978, dieldrin residues collected from 
brown pelican eggs in Texas were found at levels that do not pose a 
threat to reproductive success and survival (King et al. 1985, p. 206).
    Other organochlorine insecticides, including chlordane-related 
compounds, HCB, and toxaphene, were rarely detected in brown pelican 
eggs collected in Texas from 1975 to 1978 (King et al. 1985, p. 206). 
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are chemicals that were used as 
coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other 
electrical equipment. Due to concern over the toxicity and persistence 
of PCBs, they were banned in 1978 (43 FR 33918) under authority of the 
Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.). 
Concentrations of PCBs in brown pelican eggs collected in Texas 
declined more than eight-fold between 1970 and 1981 (King et al. 1985, 
p. 206), and are now at levels not believed to be detrimental.
    Claims have been made that organochlorine pesticides are still used 
in South and Central America (NatureServe 2007, p. 2). However, we are 
not aware of any reports of pesticides affecting reproduction outside 
of the United States. Nearly every nation within the range of the brown 
pelican has signed the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic 
Pollutants (Resource Futures International 2001, p. 11). Signatories to 
the Convention agree to eliminate the production and use of DDT, 
endrin, dieldrin, chlordane, HCB, toxaphene, and PCBs, as well as other 
persistent organic pollutants, with an exemption for use of DDT for 
disease vector (an organism that transmits disease, such as mosquitoes) 
control in accordance with World Health Organization recommendations 
and guidelines and when alternatives are not available. Parties 
exercising this exemption are to periodically report their use 
(Resource Futures International 2001, p. 12). These reports are listed 
on the Convention's Web site: http://www.pops.int/. The evidence we 
have found indicates that reproduction in brown pelicans is no longer 
affected by the use of persistent organochlorine pesticides. Regulatory 
mechanisms are currently in place to eliminate or severely restrict 
their use such that they do not threaten the brown pelican throughout 
all of its range within the foreseeable future.
    While effects from other environmental contaminants were not 
thoroughly known in the 1970s and 1980s, there were indications that 
some localized contaminant-related problems still existed for the brown 
pelican. National Wildlife Health Laboratory records of brown pelican 
mortality from 1976 to 1983 documented 10 die-off incidents totaling 
over 212 birds along the U.S. Atlantic Coast (Service 2007a, p. 29). 
More recently National Wildlife Health Laboratory records from July 
1995 through June 2003 documented 13 incidents of brown pelican 
mortality for the continental U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. None of 
these records cite problems with heavy metals, and pesticides were 
implicated in just one of these cases (USGS 2003b). Two pelicans from 
Florida had moderate brain acetlycholinesterase activity depression, an 
indicator of poisoning from either organophosphorus or carbamate 
pesticides. While these currently applied, short-lived, non-
organochlorine pesticides may cause occasional mortality of individual 
pelicans, they do not accumulate within the body, nor do they persist 
in the environment; therefore, they are unlikely to result in 
widespread reproductive failure like that caused by the use of 
organochlorine pesticides.
    An important regulatory mechanism affecting brown pelicans is the 
requirement that pesticides be registered with the EPA. Under the 
authority of the FIFRA, the EPA requires environmental testing of the 
effects of all new pesticides on representative wildlife species prior 
to EPA granting a pesticide registration. The EPA evaluates pesticides 
before they can be marketed and used in the United States to ensure 
that they will not pose unreasonable adverse effects to human health 
and the environment. Pesticides that meet this test are granted a 
license or ``registration,'' which permits their distribution, sales, 
and use according to requirements set by EPA to protect human health 
and the environment. The requirement for evaluation of pesticides 
during the registration process would not be altered if the pelican was 
delisted and protection of the Act were not available.
    Efforts to ban and restrict use of persistent organic pollutants 
have reduced the contaminants that are most likely to cause widespread 
reproductive failures, and thus endangerment of the species. Other 
contaminants continue to be detected in some brown pelican populations, 
but these are generally short-lived pesticides or contaminants and 
occur only on a local scale and affect few individuals and therefore 
are unlikely to have long-term effects on brown pelican reproduction or 
numbers. Regulatory mechanisms within the United States to evaluate and 
register pesticides, as well as the international convention 
restricting use of persistent organic pollutants, ensure that 
contaminant-caused mortality and widespread reproductive failures are 
unlikely to occur in the future. Therefore, we do not believe 
pesticides and contaminants will endanger the brown pelican throughout 
all of its range within the foreseeable future.
    Commercial fishing. Commercial fishing can have a direct effect on 
pelicans through physical injury caused by trawling gear. In 1998, a 
number of live and dead brown pelicans washed up on the beach at 
Matagorda Island, Texas (Sanchez 2007). Many had obvious wing damage. 
This incident coincided with the opening of the summer shrimp season. A 
similar incident in 1999 also coincided with the summer shrimp season 
(Sanchez 2007). It is possible that the young, inexperienced birds were 
colliding with the shrimp net lines while attempting to feed on the 
bycatch (unwanted marine creatures that are caught in the nets while 
fishing for another species), resulting in incidental death. Commercial 
fishing may adversely affect individual brown pelicans on a short-term, 
localized basis, but we do not believe it poses a rangewide threat to 
the continued existence of the species. Therefore, we do not believe 
this impact will become a threat that is likely to endanger the brown 
pelican throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.
    Recreational fishing. Recreational fishing can have a direct effect 
on pelicans through physical injury caused by fishing tackle. Pelicans 
are occasionally hooked by people fishing from piers or boats (Service 
1983, p. 62). Superficially embedded hooks can often be removed without 
damage; however, a

[[Page 9427]]

small tear in the mouth pouch can hinder feeding and cause death from 
starvation (Service 1983, p. 63). Mortality is likely if a hook is 
swallowed or if there is substantial injury during hook removal 
(Service 1983, p. 63). Pelicans can become ensnared in monofilament 
fishing line which can result in serious injury, infections from cuts, 
impaired movement and flight, inability to feed, and death (Service 
1983, p. 63).
    Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, Inc., a Florida wildlife 
rehabilitator, reported that of the 200 pelicans handled in 1982, 
roughly 71 percent had fishing-related injuries. Of these, 12 (8.5 
percent) died or were permanently crippled; the remainder were 
rehabilitated. Fishing-related injuries comprised about 35 percent of 
all observed mortality (February 4, 1985; 50 FR 4943). Another seabird 
rehabilitation group reported treating some 450 brown pelicans for fish 
line or hook injuries over a 4-year period (February 4, 1985; 50 FR 
4943). However, this number of individuals affected is small in 
comparison to population numbers and is therefore unlikely to affect 
long-term population stability.
    Mortality from recreational fishing is thought to be insignificant 
to overall population dynamics, although it has been a significant 
cause of injury/mortality to newly fledged pelicans near colonies in 
California in the past (Service 1983, p. 62). Live anchovies used for 
bait and chumming (cut or ground bait dumped into the water to attract 
fish to the area where one is fishing) attract young pelicans, and they 
often swallow baited hooks that they encounter, which become embedded 
in bills or pouches (Service 1983, p. 63). The closure to vessels at 
depths of less than 37 m (120 ft) offshore of West Anacapa Island has 
provided physical separation between fishing boats and the nesting 
colony, which has greatly reduced the likelihood of these interactions 
(Gress 2006). Several educational pamphlets have been developed and 
distributed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-
Fisheries, in conjunction with the Service, NPS, and CDFG, to inform 
recreational fishermen in California about the impacts of hook and line 
injuries to pelicans and other seabirds and give step-by-step 
instructions for removing hooks and fishing lines from entangled birds.
    While injuries and deaths from recreational fishing do occur, we 
believe they are accidental and localized, that they affect only few 
individuals, and are not likely to threaten or endanger the brown 
pelican throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.
    Offshore oil and gas development. Oil spills and chronic oil 
pollution from oil tankers and other vessels, offshore oil platforms, 
and natural oil seeps continue to represent a potential source of 
injury and mortality to pelicans (Carter 2003, p. 3). The effects of 
oil on pelicans persist beyond immediate physiological injuries. 
Survival and future reproductive success of oiled pelicans that are 
rehabilitated and released are lower than for non-oiled pelicans 
(Anderson et al. 1996, p. 715). Injury and mortality of large numbers 
of pelicans would likely result if a significant oil spill occurred 
near a nesting colony during the breeding season, or near traditional 
roost sites.
    Oil spills from oil tankers and other vessels are far more common 
than spills from oil platforms (Carter 2003, p. 3). Since 1984, twelve 
major oil spill-related seabird mortality events occurred along the 
coast of California, all of which may have adversely affected breeding, 
roosting, or migrating pelicans (Hampton et al. 2003, p. 30). Only one 
of these events was from an offshore oil platform, the rest were from 
tankers, oil barges, or non-tanker vessels (Hampton et al. 2003, p. 
30). As an example, on February 7, 1990, the oil tanker vessel American 
Trader ran aground at Huntington Beach, California, and spilled 1.6 
million liters (416,598 gallons) of Alaskan crude oil (ATTC 2001, p. 
1). An estimated 195 pelicans died as a result of the spill, and 725 to 
1,000 oiled pelicans were observed roosting in the Long Beach 
Breakwater after the spill (ATTC 2001, p. 10). The spill occurred just 
before the start of the breeding season as the birds gathered at 
traditional roosts before moving to breeding islands, making large 
numbers of birds vulnerable to the oil (ATTC 2001, p. 10).
    National Marine Sanctuary regulations prohibit vessels, including 
oil tankers, from operating within 1.85 km (1.15 mi) of any of the 
Channel or Farallon islands or in the Monterey Bay or Olympic Coast 
sanctuaries (15 CFR 922). In the event of a major oil spill, this is 
probably an insufficient distance from the pelican nesting colonies to 
prevent impacts. Vessels frequently pass through the SCB in established 
shipping lanes that are within 5 km (3 mi) of Anacapa Island to the 
north and within 50 km (31 mi) to the south (Carter et al. 2000, p. 
436). A traffic separation scheme north of Anacapa Island in the Santa 
Barbara Channel separates opposing flows of vessel traffic. The 
shipping lanes and traffic separation scheme in the SCB reduces the 
likelihood of spills because it reduces the probability of vessel-to-
vessel and vessel-to platform collisions. However, shipping traffic is 
increasing offshore of California, and this may result in increased oil 
spills and pollution events (McCrary et al. 2003, p. 48). There is also 
a shipping lane that passes within 25 km (16 mi) of the Coronados 
Islands in Mexico (Carter et al. 2000, p. 436). However, because tanker 
spills are localized, we do not believe this impact will become a 
threat that will endanger the brown pelican throughout all of its range 
in the foreseeable future.
    There are 27 offshore oil platforms and 6 artificial oil and gas 
islands off the coast of southern and central California, and there is 
currently a moratorium on new oil platforms in State and Federal waters 
(McCrary et al. 2003, p. 43). There are no platforms within the Channel 
Islands National Marine Sanctuary (McCrary et al. 2003, p. 44) and oil 
and gas exploration and development are prohibited within this 
Sanctuary, excluding a few oil and gas leases that existed prior to its 
designation. Oil and gas exploration and development are prohibited in 
the other three National Marine Sanctuaries, Olympic Coast 
(Washington), Gulf of the Farallones (California), and Monterey Bay 
(California) (15 CFR 922), with the exception of a few leases that 
existed prior to each sanctuary's creation, although new petroleum 
operations are unlikely to occur on these leases (McCrary et al. 2003, 
p. 45). The sanctuaries essentially provide a minor buffer from oil 
platform accidents, allowing time for breakup of oil discharges, and 
time to respond before the oil reaches the shore. The last major spill 
from any of the oil platforms or associated pipelines was a well 
blowout in 1969 that released 80,000 barrels in the Santa Barbara 
Channel; however, Minerals Management Service (MMS) estimates the risk 
of a spill of 1,000 barrels or more over the next 28 years at 41 
percent (McCrary et al. 2003, p. 45). However, the likelihood that a 
spill would affect brown pelicans would depend on the location, timing, 
and local conditions associated with the spill. Past spills from oil 
platforms have not limited brown pelican recovery in California.
    In the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is 
categorized into planning areas. The Central Planning Area includes 
Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Western Planning Area includes Texas 
(Ji et al. 2002, p. 19). Based on sheer volume of oil transported to 
those facilities, coastal birds and their habitats in these areas are 
at greatest risk from spills

[[Page 9428]]

originating in coastal waters. An MMS Oil Spill Risk Analysis (OSRA) 
predicted that in these Planning Areas large oil spills associated with 
OCS activities are low-probability events (Service 2003b, p. 7). The 
OSRA estimated only a 4 to 8 percent probability that an oil spill in 
the Gulf of Mexico greater than 1,000 barrels of oil would occur and 
contact brown pelican habitat in the Central Planning Area, and a 
similar spill scenario has only a 4 to 7 percent probability of 
reaching the Western Planning Area (Ji et al. 2002, pp. 56, 59). 
Estimates derived from the OSRA model are ``conservative'' in that they 
presume the persistence of the entire volume of spilled oil over the 
entire duration time and do not include cleanup activities or natural 
weathering of the spill (Ji et al. 2002, pp. 12-13).
    Beginning in the 1980s, MMS established comprehensive pollution 
prevention requirements that include redundant safety systems, along 
with inspecting and testing requirements to confirm that those devices 
are working properly (Service 2003b, p. 7). There was an 89 percent 
decline in the volume of oil spilled per billion barrels produced from 
OCS operations between 1980 and the present, compared to the total 
volume spilled prior to 1980. Additionally, this spill reduction volume 
occurred during a period when OCS oil production has been increasing 
(Service 2003b, p. 7). Spills less than 1,000 barrels are not expected 
to persist as a slick on the water surface beyond a few days (Service 
2003b, p. 8). Because spills in the OCS would occur at least 3 miles 
from shore, it is unlikely that any spills would make landfall prior to 
breaking up (Service 2003b, p. 8).
    There are a number of regulatory mechanisms within the U.S. that 
address oil and gas operations. MMS is also responsible for inspection 
and monitoring of OCS oil and gas operations (McCrary et al. 2003, p. 
46). All owners and operators of oil handling, storage, or 
transportation facilities located seaward of the coastline must submit 
an Oil Spill Response Plan to the MMS for approval (30 CFR part 254). 
Several Federal and State laws were instituted in the 1970s to reduce 
oil pollution (Carter 2003, p. 2). In 1990, State and Federal oil 
pollution acts were passed, and agencies developed programs to gather 
data on seabird mortality from oil spills, improve seabird 
rehabilitation programs, and develop restoration projects for seabirds 
(Carter 2003, p. 2). There have also been improvements in oil spill 
response time, containment, and cleanup equipment (McCrary et al. 2003, 
p. 46). In the absence of swift and effective action by the responsible 
party for a spill, the U.S. Coast Guard will initiate action pursuant 
to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to control and clean up a spill 
offshore under regional area contingency plans, which have been 
developed for this scenario (40 CFR 300 Subpart B). These measures have 
not entirely eliminated the potential for oil spills, but have reduced 
the likelihood of spills, thereby reducing pelican deaths and 
alleviating the magnitude of the impacts on pelicans and other seabirds 
if a spill were to occur (Carter 2003, p. 3).
    If an oil spill or other hazardous materials release does occur in 
the United States, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) 
process is in place to identify the extent of natural resource injuries 
(including injuries to wildlife), the best methods for restoring those 
resources, and the type and amount of restoration required. The 
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 
of 1980 (CERCLA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.), the Oil 
Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), and the Federal 
Water Pollution Control Act or Clean Water Act (CWA), as amended (33 
U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) form the legal foundation for the NRDA Restoration 
Program and provide trustees with the legal authority to carry out 
Restoration Program responsibilities. Trustees for natural resources 
include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and the 
Interior, and other agencies authorized to manage or protect natural 
resources (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a, Environmental 
Protection Agency 2007b, Department of the Interior 2007). Therefore, 
if an oil spill occurs and brown pelicans are negatively affected, 
injuries to brown pelican populations or their habitat may be restored 
through this process. For example, in California, negative effects to 
brown pelicans have been mitigated through the implementation of 
measures in the American Trader Restoration Plan, the Command Oil Spill 
Restoration Plan, the Torch/Platform Irene Restoration Plan, and the 
Montrose Settlement Restoration Plan.
    Oil spills from oilfields, pipelines, or ships have impacted brown 
pelicans in some other countries, for example, oiling related to an 
oilfield in Mexico (King et al 1985, p. 208; Anderson et al. 1996, p. 
211) and from a ship in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (Lougheed et al. 
2002, p. 5). Although 117 brown pelicans were reported as affected by 
the 2001 spill in the Galapagos Islands from the fuel tanker Jessica, 
no mortalities of pelicans were reported (Lougheed et al. 2002, p. 29). 
From these accounts, brown pelicans frequently survive these 
incidences, especially when receiving some rescue cleanup. Oil spills 
have been identified as a possibility in oil-producing areas of 
Venezuela, with concern for effects on marine productivity and the food 
supply of brown pelicans, as well as for direct oiling of birds 
(Service 2007a, p. 39). While spills outside of the United States are 
still a possibility, they would be localized and thus would not become 
a threat that would endanger the brown pelican throughout all of its 
range in the foreseeable future. In addition, there are a number of 
international conventions and their amendments, including the 
International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 
International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Co-
operation, International Convention relating to Intervention on the 
High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, and the International 
Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund of 
Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage. The majority of countries within 
the range of brown pelicans are parties to one of more of these 
international agreements (http://sedac.ciesin.org/entri/
treatyMultStatus.jsp), which would assist with prevention, as well as 
response and restoration activities in the event of oil spills outside 
the United States.
    Other much less common effects of offshore oil and gas development 
have occasionally been documented. There have been several instances in 
Louisiana of unusual and infrequent mortalities, generally involving 
juvenile brown pelicans, associated with the design and construction of 
inshore and offshore oil platforms (Fuller 2007a, p. 1). Brown pelicans 
have been observed strangling in inshore rig railings and drowning in 
uncovered casements (large pipes used in the drilling process that may 
fill with water). The number of brown pelican mortalities in these 
incidences was low. However, through consultation with the Service, 
MMS, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources those features 
were modified to virtually eliminate the problem (Fuller 2007a, p. 1). 
Because brown pelicans are also protected by the MBTA, these 
modifications to prevent mortalities are expected to remain in place.
    Oil spills and oil pollution continue to have potential impacts on 
brown pelicans, but spill prevention, response, and restoration 
activities have become more organized and effective, and the

[[Page 9429]]

breeding range is large enough that a single spill, even a major one, 
would likely only affect a small fraction of the population. 
Additionally, the death of pelicans from design flaws on platforms is 
rare and being remedied. Therefore, we believe that oil and gas 
activities, while they may occasionally have short-term impacts to 
local populations, will not become threats that endanger the brown 
pelican throughout all of its range in the foreseeable future.
    Miscellaneous. Brown pelican mortalities have been documented from 
electrocution on power lines and drowning in water intake pipes. In 
both cases, through consultation with the Service, those features were 
modified to virtually eliminate the problem (Fuller 2007b, p. 1).

Conclusion

    As required by the Act, we considered the five potential threat 
factors to assess whether the brown pelican is threatened or endangered 
throughout all of its range. When considering the listing status of the 
species, the first step in the analysis is to determine whether the 
species is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range. If this 
is the case, then the species is listed in its entirety. For instance, 
if the threats on a species are acting only on a portion of its range, 
but the effects of the threats are such that they place the entire 
species in danger of extinction, we would list the entire species.
    The primary reason for severe declines in the brown pelican 
population in the United States, and for designating the species as 
endangered, was DDT contamination in the 1960s and early 1970s. 
Additionally, pesticides like dieldrin and endrin were also found to 
negatively impact brown pelicans. Since the banning of these 
organochlorine pesticides, brown pelican abundance within the U.S. has 
shown a dramatic recovery, and although annual reproductive success 
varies widely, populations have remained generally stable for at least 
20 years. The EPA requires registration and testing of new pesticides 
to assess potential impacts on wildlife, so we do not anticipate that a 
pesticide that would adversely affect brown pelicans will be permitted 
in the future. Although DDT contamination continues to persist in the 
environment, based on the nesting population size, overall population 
stability, and improved reproductive success, the continued existence 
of brown pelicans is no longer threatened by exposure to DDT or its 
metabolites, and populations within the United States have recovered 
enough from past exposure to warrant a proposal for delisting. We have 
no evidence that brown pelicans outside the United States ever declined 
in response to persistent organic pesticides.
    Nesting and roosting colonies in the United States are expected to 
continue to be protected from human disturbance through local 
conservation measures, laws, the numerous restoration plans, and 
ownership of many of the nesting and roosting habitats by conservation 
groups and local, State, and Federal agencies. In most countries 
outside of the United States where brown pelicans occur, protection is 
expected to continue through implementation of restoration plans, 
designated biosphere reserves and parks, and land ownership by 
conservation organizations and local, State, and Federal governments.
    Some nesting and roosting habitat is expected to continue to be 
limited at certain local scales, just as some habitat destruction is 
expected to continue. However, the majority of nesting sites within the 
United States and many outside the United States are protected. While 
some nesting habitat may be lost, it is not likely to be a limiting 
factor in brown pelican reproductive success, since pelicans are 
broadly distributed and have the ability to shift breeding sites in 
response to changing habitat and prey abundance conditions. In response 
to storms, erosion, and lack of sedimentation, brown pelicans have 
exhibited their dispersal capabilities; they have established new 
colonies elsewhere, and shown an ability to rebound from low numbers. 
Additionally, there are several restoration activities, such as 
artificial island creation and enhancement with dredge material and 
barrier island restoration and protection that will continue to enhance 
and protect brown pelican habitat, particularly within the U.S. Gulf 
Coast region.
    Impacts from weather events, such as El Ni[ntilde]os and severe 
freezes, are also expected to continue. Natural factors such as these 
may adversely affect pelican reproduction and survival on a short-term, 
localized basis, but alone pose only a minimal threat to the species at 
current population numbers.
    Brown pelican prey abundance in the United States will continue to 
be monitored and managed in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. We do not have any 
information from outside of the United States on commercial fishery 
impacts to brown pelican prey abundance; however, based on population 
numbers, there is no reason to believe that commercial fisheries are 
currently limiting brown pelican reproductive success.
    Brown pelicans are not threatened with overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes. Research 
on pelicans is generally observational and noninvasive. Although 
several diseases have been identified as a source of mortality for 
brown pelicans, they appear to be self-limiting and sporadic and are 
not likely to impact long-term population trends. Predation is a minor 
threat that occurs when disturbance to nesting colonies leaves eggs and 
chicks unprotected, making it essential that nesting colonies are 
protected from disturbance, as noted above.
    Commercial and recreational fishing may adversely affect brown 
pelicans on a localized basis, but pose no rangewide threat to the 
continued existence of the species. Oil spills and oil pollution 
continue to be a potential threat, but the breeding range is large 
enough that a single spill, even a major one, would likely only affect 
a small fraction of the population. This threat has been alleviated in 
the United States to some degree by stringent regulations for 
extraction equipment and procedures, traffic separation schemes, 
shipping lanes that reduce the likelihood of collisions or spills, and 
improvements in oil spill response, containment, and cleanup. These 
measures reduce the probability of spills and also may reduce adverse 
impacts if a spill were to occur.
    In conclusion, the single most important threat to the continued 
existence of the brown pelican was from DDT, which is now banned in the 
United States, Mexico, and Canada. In Central and South America and the 
West Indies, most countries have either banned or restricted use of DDT 
or made its importation illegal (http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_
ChemReg.jsp?Rec--Id=PC33482). Although other localized threats to the 
brown pelican remain throughout its range, as discussed above, they are 
at a low enough level that none are likely to have long-term population 
level or demographic effects on brown pelican populations in the 
foreseeable future. We believe this species no longer requires the 
protection of the Act. Therefore, we propose to remove the brown 
pelican from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
    Having determined that the brown pelican does not meet the 
definition of threatened or endangered, we must next consider whether 
there are any significant portions of its range that are in danger of 
extinction or are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable

[[Page 9430]]

future. On March 16, 2007, a formal opinion was issued by the Solicitor 
of the Department of the Interior, ``The Meaning of In Danger of 
Extinction Throughout All or a Significant Portion of Its Range'' (U.S. 
DOI 2007). We have summarized our interpretation of that opinion and 
the underlying statutory language below. A portion of a species' range 
is significant if it is part of the current range of the species and it 
contributes substantially to the representation, resiliency, or 
redundancy of the species. The contribution must be at a level such 
that its loss would result in a decrease in the ability to conserve the 
species. In other words, in considering significance, the Service 
should ask whether the loss of this portion likely would eventually 
move the species toward extinction, but not necessarily to the point 
where the species should be listed as threatened.
    The first step in determining whether a species is threatened or 
endangered in a significant portion of its range is to identify any 
portions of the range of the species that warrant further 
consideration. The range of a species can theoretically be divided into 
portions in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to 
analyzing portions of the range that are not reasonably likely to be 
significant and threatened or endangered. To identify only those 
portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there 
is substantial information indicating that (i) the portions may be 
significant and (ii) the species may be in danger of extinction there 
or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. In practice, a 
key part of this analysis is whether the threats are geographically 
concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species are essentially 
uniform throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further 
consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats applies only 
to portions of the range that are unimportant to the conservation of 
the species, such portions will not warrant further consideration.
    If we identify any portions that warrant further consideration, we 
then determine whether in fact the species is threatened or endangered 
in any significant portion of its range. Depending on the biology of 
the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it may be more 
efficient for the Service to address the significance question first, 
or the status question first. Thus, if the Service determines that a 
portion of the range is not significant, the Service need not determine 
whether the species is threatened or endangered there; if the Service 
determines that the species is not threatened or endangered in a 
portion of its range, the Service need not determine if that portion is 
significant.
    The terms ``resiliency,'' ``redundancy,'' and ``representation'' 
are intended to be indicators of the conservation value of portions of 
the range. Resiliency of a species allows the species to recover from 
periodic or occasional disturbance. A species will likely be more 
resilient if large populations exist in high-quality habitat that is 
distributed throughout the range of the species in such a way as to 
capture the environmental variability found within the range of the 
species. It is likely that the larger size of a population will help 
contribute to the viability of the species overall. Thus, a portion of 
the range of a species may make a meaningful contribution to the 
resiliency of the species if the area is relatively large and contains 
particularly high-quality habitat or if its location or characteristics 
make it less susceptible to certain threats than other portions of the 
range. When evaluating whether or how a portion of the range 
contributes to resiliency of the species, it may help to evaluate the 
historical value of the portion and how frequently the portion is used 
by the species. In addition, the portion may contribute to resiliency 
for other reasons--for instance, it may contain an important 
concentration of certain types of habitat that are necessary for the 
species to carry out its life-history functions, such as breeding, 
feeding, migration, dispersal, or wintering.
    Redundancy of populations may be needed to provide a margin of 
safety for the species to withstand catastrophic events. This does not 
mean that any portion that provides redundancy is a significant portion 
of the range of a species. The idea is to conserve enough areas of the 
range such that random perturbations in the system act on only a few 
populations. Therefore, each area must be examined based on whether 
that area provides an increment of redundancy that is important to the 
conservation of the species.
    Adequate representation insures that the species' adaptive 
capabilities are conserved. Specifically, the portion should be 
evaluated to see how it contributes to the genetic diversity of the 
species. The loss of genetically based diversity may substantially 
reduce the ability of the species to respond and adapt to future 
environmental changes. A peripheral population may contribute 
meaningfully to representation if there is evidence that it provides 
genetic diversity due to its location on the margin of the species' 
habitat requirements.
    Applying the process described above for determining whether a 
species is threatened in a significant portion of its range, we next 
addressed whether any portions of the range of the brown pelican 
warranted further consideration. We noted in the five-factor analysis 
that numerous factors continue to affect brown pelicans in various 
geographical areas within the range. However, we conclude that these 
areas do not warrant further consideration because the areas where 
localized effects may still occur are small (in the context of the 
range of the species) and affect a few pelicans from one year to the 
next (such as abandonment of a single breeding colony or entanglement 
in fishing gear), thus there is no substantial information that these 
areas are a significant portion of the range. Some areas that may be 
significant experience short-term or sporadic events (such as the Gulf 
Coast region experiencing tropical storm events, or Pacific Coast 
populations experiencing reduced nesting success during an El 
Ni[ntilde]o event), but we do not have substantial information that 
brown pelicans in these areas are likely to become in danger of 
extinction in the foreseeable future.
    As discussed previously in Distribution and Population Estimates, 
Recovery Plans, and Factors A and E, declines in wintering numbers of 
brown pelicans have been noted in Puerto Rico, which superficially 
suggest that Puerto Rico warrants further consideration. However, 
Puerto Rico represents a very small portion of the global population of 
brown pelicans, both numerically and geographically. Causes for the 
apparent decline in number of wintering birds are not known and no 
specific threats to brown pelicans in Puerto Rico and the Virgin 
Islands have been identified. Although numbers of breeding pelicans in 
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands varied from year to year in both the 
1980s and 1990s, there was no trend in breeding pelican numbers that 
would suggest that the species is in danger of extinction in that area. 
Nesting sites are protected, contaminants are not affecting brown 
pelican populations (Collazo et al. 1998, pp. 63-64), and numbers of 
nesting pairs appear to be holding steady (Collazo et al. 2000, p. 42). 
Juvenile and adult pelicans from the Virgin Islands disperse to Puerto 
Rico (Collazo et al. 1998, p. 63), so proximity to breeding colonies on 
the Virgin Islands and other islands would likely re-establish the 
species on Puerto Rico even if it were lost. Brown pelicans in Puerto 
Rico belong to the subspecies of brown pelican distributed throughout 
the West

[[Page 9431]]

Indies and along the Caribbean coasts of Colombia and Venezuela. We 
currently have no information to indicate that birds in Puerto Rico are 
genetically different from other members of the Caribbean subspecies, 
or that genetic exchange among other areas in the Caribbean is limited, 
and therefore cannot conclude that brown pelicans in Puerto Rico 
contribute meaningfully to resiliency, redundancy, or representation of 
the species. In the absence of identified threats or evidence that 
brown pelicans in Puerto Rico represent a significant portion of the 
species range, we did not consider this portion of the range further. 
In summary, in our analysis of the five listing factors, we did not 
identify any significant continuing threats in any portion of the 
species range that warrants further consideration.
    In conclusion, major threats to brown pelicans have been reduced, 
managed, or eliminated. Remaining factors that affect brown pelicans 
occur on localized scales, are short-term events, or affect small 
numbers of individuals and do not have long-term effects on population 
numbers or distribution of the species. We have determined that none of 
the existing or potential threats, either alone or in combination with 
others, are likely to cause the brown pelican to become in danger of 
extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or any 
significant portion of its range. We believe the brown pelican no 
longer requires the protection of the Act, and, therefore, we propose 
to remove it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife.

Effect of This Rule

    This rule, if made final, would revise 50 CFR 17.12(h) to remove 
the brown pelican from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. 
Because no critical habitat was ever designated for this species, this 
rule would not affect 50 CFR 17.95.
    If this species is removed from the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife, the prohibitions and conservation measures 
provided by the Act, particularly through sections 7 and 9, of the Act 
would no longer apply. Removal of the brown pelican from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife would relieve Federal agencies from 
the need to consult with us to ensure that any action they authorize, 
fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of this species. It will not, however, affect the protection given to 
all migratory bird species under the MBTA. To understand the 
implications of this proposed rule, it is important to review the 
changes in protection for brown pelicans that will occur should this 
proposed rule become final.
    The take of all migratory birds, including brown pelicans, is 
governed by the MBTA. The MBTA makes it unlawful to at any time, by any 
means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt 
to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to 
barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, 
ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, 
deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry 
or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, 
carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs of any 
such bird, or any product, whether or not manufactured, which consists, 
or is composed in whole or part, of any such bird or any part, nest, or 
egg thereof (16 U.S.C 703(a)). Brown pelicans are among the migratory 
birds protected by the MBTA. The MBTA regulates the taking of migratory 
birds for educational, scientific, and recreational purposes. Section 
704 of the MBTA states that the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) 
is authorized and directed to determine if, and by what means, the take 
of migratory birds should be allowed, and to adopt suitable regulations 
permitting and governing the take. In adopting regulations, the 
Secretary is to consider such factors as distribution and abundance to 
ensure that any take is compatible with the protection of the species. 
Modification to brown pelican habitat would constitute a violation of 
the MBTA only to the extent it directly takes or kills a brown pelican 
(such as removing a nest with chicks present).

Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan

    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires that the Secretary, through the 
Service, implement a monitoring program for not less than 5 years for 
all species that have been recovered and delisted. The purpose of this 
requirement is to develop a program that detects the failure of any 
delisted species to sustain itself without the protective measures 
provided by the Act. If at any time during the monitoring program, data 
indicate that the protective status under the Act should be reinstated, 
we can initiate listing procedures, including, if appropriate, 
emergency listing. At the conclusion of the monitoring period, we will 
review all available information to determine if relisting, the 
continuation of monitoring, or the termination of monitoring is 
appropriate.
    Monitoring Techniques--We will coordinate with other Federal 
agencies, State resource agencies, interested scientific organizations, 
and others as appropriate to develop and implement an effective 
monitoring program to track the population status of the brown pelican. 
The minimum parameter to be used to evaluate population trends will be 
surveys of nesting birds to assess the number of nesting pairs and 
their productivity in each of the colonies. These types of surveys most 
efficiently overlap ongoing surveys for other sea birds and provide a 
quick overview of the status of the species. We will also cooperate 
with and encourage continued monitoring of nesting populations in other 
countries and examine survey reports with comparable data when 
available.
    In addition to the nesting bird and productivity surveys, we will 
review the following information, when available, that will help to 
evaluate the status of the species in more detail.
    (1) Contaminants--To determine if some individual pelicans are 
still experiencing reduced reproductive success caused by the presence 
of residual DDT contamination, eggshell thickness and contaminant 
concentrations in non-viable eggs will be analyzed to determine the 
current level of contaminant exposure. In addition, information will be 
gathered from work on other similar sea birds as an indicator of 
potential problems.
    (2) Prey Availability--To determine if prey availability is 
impacting pelican productivity in the future, we will obtain and 
examine the annual Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report 
written by the Pelagic Fisheries Management Council (required by the 
Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries Management Plan). This report details 
any significant changes or trends in pelagic fish populations, 
fisheries, or marine ecosystems, documents harvest levels, and assesses 
the success of state and Federal fishery management programs. 
Additionally, we will also obtain and examine any reports produced by 
either the Gulf Coast or Caribbean Fishery Management Councils.
    (3) Dietary Composition--To determine the predominant prey species, 
we will collect and analyze diet samples from brown pelicans. In 
combination with information on prey availability, this will help us to 
monitor how reproductive success is responding to prey availability.
    (4) Habitat Protection--To monitor the status of brown pelicans, we 
will review conservation and management actions taken on certain 
properties including, but not limited to, those owned by (1) the 
National Park Service;

[[Page 9432]]

(2) the Fish and Wildlife Service, including National Wildlife Refuges; 
(3) the Department of Defense; (4) international reserves or 
biospheres; and (5) private lands.
    (5) Disease--To monitor pelican mortalities from diseases such as 
West Nile virus, avian influenza, or avian botulism, we will review 
information gathered from work on other similar sea birds.
    There has never been a coordinated rangewide monitoring plan for 
the brown pelican and we do not believe a monitoring effort of this 
magnitude is necessary in order to meet our requirements under 4(g)(1) 
of the Act. Whenever possible, we will use the results of on-going 
monitoring conducted by States, Federal agencies, and other partners. 
Following are descriptions of ongoing brown pelican and/or sea bird 
monitoring efforts that we believe will continue in the future. Taken 
together, we believe these separate monitoring efforts will provide an 
overview of the status of the species as a whole.
    (1) Texas Colonial Waterbird Count (TCWC)--This program is 
organized by the Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas 
Audubon Society, and academic institutions. TCWC has tracked population 
trends in Texas for the brown pelican since 1972.
    (2) LDWF annual surveys--LDWF conducts aerial surveys annually, 
counting numbers of brown pelican nests and fledglings. These surveys 
generally begin in March and occur monthly through July. Multiple 
surveys allow for preliminary estimates of reproductive success each 
year. Additionally, LDWF periodically conducts wading and seabird 
colony surveys in Louisiana.
    (3) Roost Atlas--This effort is organized and funded by the 
Service, California Department of Fish and Game, American Trader 
Trustee Council, and private contractors. Expected to be finished by 
2009, it will collate existing brown pelican roost survey data along 
the coast of California into a roost atlas for use by managers to 
identify and prioritize important roost sites for conservation and 
restoration. Completion of the roost atlas will assist with identifying 
roost sites for continued survey or monitoring efforts.
    (4) The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)--This program is organized 
by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Four-
day surveys are conducted in February of each year.
    (5) National Health Institute--This program is managed by the U.S. 
Geological Survey. Its mission is to provide information, technical 
assistance, research, education, and leadership on national and 
international wildlife health issues. As part of this role, it collects 
data and tracks avian diseases and mortality, including data on brown 
pelicans.
    Following are descriptions of ongoing or future planned brown 
pelican and other restoration projects we expect to contribute 
information concerning the status of threats to the species. We expect 
implementation of these programs and their associated monitoring 
programs will provide such information as the amount, protection, and 
restoration of brown pelican habitat, as well as the effectiveness of 
efforts to reduce disturbance and incidental mortality of brown 
pelicans.
    (1) Coastal protection and restoration funding in Louisiana--
Because Louisiana coastal land loss has broad negative implications 
beyond solely the effects to nesting brown pelicans (e.g., to the state 
economy, oil and gas production, navigation security, fisheries and 
flyways, and strategic petroleum reserve facilities), coastal habitat 
protection and restoration has been and will continue to be a priority 
for Louisiana. Currently there are several laws and programs aimed at 
protecting and restoring coastal wetlands (including barrier islands) 
in Louisiana. They include: the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, 
and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), Coast 2050, the Louisiana Coastal Area 
Study (LCA), the Energy Recovery Act of 2005, and the Coastal 
Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana's Draft Comprehensive 
Coastal Protection Master Plan.
    (2) The Corps' Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Program in 
Louisiana--The New Orleans District of the Corps beneficially uses 
approximately 11.1 million yds\3\ (8.5 million m\3\) of dredged 
material each year in the surrounding environment (Corps 2004; p. xi) 
and these activities are expected to continue.
    (3) American Trader Restoration Plan--This plan is implemented by 
the ATTC, Service, CDFG, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (ATTC 2001).
    (4) The Command Oil Spill Restoration Plan--This plan is 
implemented by the Command Oil Spill Trustee Council, Service, CDFG, 
California Department of Parks and Recreation, California State Lands 
Commission, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
(Command Oil Spill Trustee Council 2004).
    (5) The Luckenbach Restoration Plan--This plan is implemented by 
the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach Oil Spill Trustee Council, Service, CDFG, 
National Park Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (Luckenbach Trustee Council 2006).
    (6) The Montrose Settlements Restoration Program--Implemented by 
the Montrose Trustee Council, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, 
California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Parks 
and Recreation, and California State Lands Commission (MSRP 2005).
    (7) The Torch/Platform Irene Restoration Plan--This plan is 
implemented by the Torch/Platform Irene Trustee Council, Service, CDFG, 
U.S. Department of Air Force--Vandenberg AFB, and California State 
Lands Commission (Torch/Platform Irene Trustee Council 2006).
    At the end of the post-delisting monitoring period, we will review 
all available monitoring data to determine whether relisting, 
continuation of monitoring, or termination of monitoring is 
appropriate. We will also consult with the States of California, Texas, 
and Louisiana and other partners to determine the need for future 
monitoring efforts.
    We will take appropriate action if, during or after the monitoring 
effort, if new information suggests that the brown pelican meets the 
definition of threatened or endangered. We will consider evidence of 
any factors significantly affecting the status of the species which may 
indicate that a serious decline is occurring or is likely to occur. 
These factors include, but are not limited to the following: (a) 
Contaminant-related concerns which result in mortality or effects on 
breeding activities; (b) declining numbers of occupied nesting areas; 
(c) declining reproduction; (d) significant changes in distribution; 
and (e) downward trends in overall population status not as a result of 
temporary natural factors (e.g., El Ni[ntilde]o or storm events).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR part 
1320, which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) require that Federal agencies obtain approval from 
OMB before collecting information from the public. A Federal 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. OMB approval is required if information will be 
collected from 10 or more

[[Page 9433]]

persons (5 CFR 1320.3). ``Ten or more persons'' refers to the persons 
to whom a collection of information is addressed by the agency within 
any 12-month period, and to any independent entities to which the 
initial addressee may reasonably be expected to transmit the collection 
of information during that period, including independent State, 
territorial, Tribal, or local entities and separately incorporated 
subsidiaries or affiliates. For the purposes of this definition, 
``persons'' does not include employees of the respondent acting within 
the scope of their employment, contractors engaged by a respondent for 
the purpose of complying with the collection of information, or current 
employees of the Federal government when acting within the scope of 
their employment, but it does include former Federal employees. The 
draft post-delisting monitoring plan that will be developed for the 
brown pelican may contain a requirement for information collection; 
however, we do not anticipate that it will affect 10 or more persons, 
as defined above. Therefore, OMB approval and a control number are not 
needed for the data collection contained in the monitoring plan. As the 
monitoring plan is further developed, if it becomes necessary to 
collect this information from 10 or more respondents per year, we will 
first obtain approval from OMB.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that Environmental Assessments or Environmental 
Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection 
with actions adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. We published 
a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal 
Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Clarity of This Regulation

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    a. Be logically organized;
    b. Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    c. Use clear language rather than jargon;
    d. Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    e. Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references we cited is available upon 
request from the Austin Ecological Services Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary author of this proposed rule is the Austin Ecological 
Services Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below:

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.


Sec.  17.11  [Amended]

    2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry for ``Pelican, 
brown'' under BIRDS from the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife.

    Dated: February 8, 2008.
Dirk Kempthorne,
Secretary of the Interior.
H. Dale Hall,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E8-2829 Filed 2-19-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P