[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 3 (Thursday, January 5, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 665-697]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33602]



[[Page 665]]

Vol. 77

Thursday,

No. 3

January 5, 2012

Part IV





Department of the Interior





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 Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Two Distinct 
Population Segments of Broad-Snouted Caiman as Endangered or Threatened 
and a Special Rule; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 3 / Thursday, January 5, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2010-0089; 4500030115; 1113F116]
RIN 1018-AT56


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Two 
Distinct Population Segments of Broad-Snouted Caiman as Endangered or 
Threatened and a Special Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
reclassify the broad-snouted caiman in Argentina from endangered to 
threatened in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA or Act). As part of 
this proposed rule, we would establish two distinct population segments 
(DPSs) of the broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris): a DPS in 
Argentina and a DPS that would encompass Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Uruguay. This second DPS would remain listed as endangered under the 
Act. We are proposing this action under the Act based on the best 
available data indicating that the Argentine population of the broad-
snouted caiman no longer meets the definition of endangered under the 
Act. Intense management of the species in Argentina has brought the 
Argentine DPS to the point where a change in status is appropriate. 
This also serves as our 5-year review.
    We also propose that the Argentine population of broad-snouted 
caiman be included in the special rule for trade in caiman species. 
Inclusion in this special rule would allow U.S. commerce in skins, 
other parts, and products of this species originating from Argentina, 
and reexport of such specimens originating in Argentina, if certain 
conditions are met prior to exportation to the United States. We are 
seeking information, data, and comments from the public on this 
proposed rule. This proposed rule to reclassify the broad-snouted 
caiman in Argentina to threatened under the Act also constitutes our 
warranted 12-month finding (status review) on a petition.

DATES: To ensure that we are able to consider your comments on this 
proposed rule, they must be received or postmarked on or before March 
5, 2012. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at 
the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT below by February 
21, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Search for docket number FWS-R9-ES-2010-0089 and then follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R9-ES-2010-0089; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 
2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will not accept comments by email or fax. 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: Janine Van Norman, Chief; Branch of 
Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 420; Arlington, VA 22203, 
U.S.A. Individuals who are hearing-impaired or speech-impaired may call 
the Federal Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339 for TTY 
assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Public Comments

    We received eight comments from the public on the 90-day finding 
(73 FR 33968, published on June 16, 2008). We received comments from 
foreign government agencies, the scientific community, and the reptile 
product industry. We received scientific literature about this species 
from members of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group. This literature 
provided additional information about the distribution, abundance, and 
conservation status of the species. The comments and information we 
received have been considered and incorporated into this proposed rule 
to reclassify the broad-snouted caiman.
    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
is based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as 
accurate and effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments and 
information from government agencies, the scientific community, 
industry, and other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. 
The comments that will be most useful and likely to influence our 
decisions are those supported by scientific data or peer-reviewed 
studies and those that include citations to, and analyses of, 
applicable laws and regulations. Please make your comments as specific 
as possible and explain the basis for them. In addition, please include 
sufficient information with your comments to allow us to authenticate 
any scientific or commercial data you reference or provide. In 
particular, we seek comments concerning the following:
    (1) New biological, trade, or other relevant information and data 
concerning any threat (or lack thereof) to the broad-snouted caiman, 
particularly whether there is information that indicates the species no 
longer meets the definition of endangered in any part of its range.
    (2) New information and data on whether or not climate change is a 
threat to the broad-snouted caiman, what regional climate change models 
are available, and whether they are reliable and credible to use as a 
step-down model for assessing the effects of climate change on the 
species and its habitat.
    (3) The location of any additional populations of broad-snouted 
caiman.
    (4) New information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size and population trends of the broad-snouted caiman in 
the wild.
    (5) New information on the current or planned activities within the 
geographic range of the broad-snouted caiman that may impact or benefit 
the species.
    (6) New information concerning captive-breeding operations in 
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
    (7) New information and data on the broad-snouted caiman in 
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay that would enhance 
our analysis of whether or not these two populations qualify as a DPS 
under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and whether or not these 
populations warrant continued protection under the Act.
    (8) Information concerning the status and results of monitoring 
actions for the broad-snouted caiman, including those implemented under 
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild 
Fauna and Flora (CITES).
    The information available emphasizes field studies and species 
management in Argentina, with little direct information on the species 
in the other range countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). 
This species is primarily being monitored in Argentina, and we were 
unable to find additional information or only able to locate a small 
amount of information regarding the broad-snouted caiman in its other 
range countries. We are seeking information and data on the status of 
the

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species throughout its range, particularly in Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay, and Uruguay as part of this proposed rule.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that a 
determination as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    Prior to issuing a final rule on this proposed action, we will take 
into consideration all comments and any additional information we 
receive. Such information may lead to a final rule that differs from 
this proposal. All comments and recommendations, including names and 
addresses of commenters, will become part of the administrative record.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment 
via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire comment--including any 
personal identifying information--will be posted on the Web site. 
Please note that comments posted to this Web site are not immediately 
viewable. When you submit a comment, the system receives it 
immediately. However, the comment will not be publicly viewable until 
we post it, which might not occur until several days after submission.
    If you mail or hand-deliver a hardcopy comment that includes 
personal identifying information, 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. To ensure that the 
electronic docket for this rulemaking is complete and all comments we 
receive are publicly available, we will post all hardcopy submissions 
on http://www.regulations.gov.
    In addition, comments and materials we receive, as well as 
supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection in two ways:
    (1) You can view them on http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter 
Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R9-ES-2010-0089, which is the docket 
number for this rulemaking. Then click on the Search button.
    (2) You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to 
view the comments and materials in person at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service's Endangered Species Program located in our Headquarters office 
(see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act provides for one or more public 
hearings on this proposed rule, if requested. The main purpose of most 
public hearings is to obtain public testimony or comment. In most 
cases, it is sufficient to submit comments through the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal, described above under ADDRESSES. We must receive 
requests for public hearings in writing at the address shown in FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by the date shown in DATES. We will 
schedule public hearings on this proposal, if any are requested, and 
announce the dates, times, and places of those hearings, as well as how 
to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal Register at least 
15 days before the first hearing.

Previous Federal Actions

    We listed this species as endangered on June 14, 1976 (41 FR 
24062), in response to a petition we received in 1975 from the Fund for 
Animals, requesting that the Service list all species that were 
included in Appendix I of CITES (See additional discussion in CITES 
section.) as endangered under the Act. In 2007, we received a petition 
from the Government of Argentina, dated November 5, 2007, requesting 
that we reclassify the broad-snouted caiman in Argentina from 
endangered to threatened. The Argentine population of broad-snouted 
caiman has been listed on Appendix II of CITES since 1997. The broad-
snouted caiman is still listed in Appendix I of CITES in Bolivia, 
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. With this petition, the Government of 
Argentina requested reclassification of the species from endangered to 
threatened in that country only. The petition contained detailed 
information about the natural history and biology of the broad-snouted 
caiman including the species' current status and distribution in 
Argentina. The Government of Argentina cited reasons for the 
reclassification such as the broad-snouted caiman populations in 
Argentina are healthy, habitat remains plentiful, caiman ranching 
programs in Argentina have proven successful (wild populations are 
increasing), and broad-snouted caiman production and harvest is 
increasing in Argentina.
    The reclassification of the species under the Act would allow for 
commercial U.S. imports of broad-snouted caiman originating from 
Argentina to occur. Because the petition from the Government of 
Argentina was for reclassification of the Argentine population only, 
the Service must first consider whether the population of Argentina 
qualifies as a distinct vertebrate population segment (DPS) under the 
Act. (See discussion in Distinct Population Segment section.). We then 
evaluate the entire species to determine if a change in status under 
the Act is warranted based on any new information since the species was 
listed under the Act. The DPS policy requires FWS to determine whether 
or not a vertebrate population is discrete and significant; and the 
population segment's conservation status in relation to the Act's 
standards for listing, delisting, or reclassification (i.e., is the 
population segment endangered or threatened). If it qualifies, the 
policy requires a status determination to determine if the population 
is endangered or threatened.
    On June 16, 2008, the Service published in the Federal Register a 
90-day finding (73 FR 33968) on the petition, stating that the petition 
provided substantial information to indicate that the requested action 
(to reclassify the Argentine population of the broad-snouted caiman) 
may be warranted. In that finding, we announced that we were initiating 
a status review of the species as required under section 4(b)(3)(A) of 
the Act, and that we were seeking comments on the petitioned action, as 
well as information on the status of the species, particularly in 
Argentina. The comment period closed on September 15, 2008. During the 
comment period, we received scientific literature about this species 
from members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature 
(IUCN) Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG), and researchers in South 
America, particularly in Argentina. This literature provided additional 
information about the distribution, abundance, and conservation status 
of the species, particularly in Argentina. The comments and new 
information have been considered and incorporated into this proposed 
rule to reclassify the

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Argentine population of the broad-snouted caiman.

Background

    The primary purpose of the Act is to prevent animal and plant 
species' endangerment and extinction. The Act requires the Service to 
identify species that meet the Act's definitions of endangered and 
threatened species, to add those species to the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR 17.11 and 17.12, 
respectively), and to plan and implement conservation measures to 
improve their status to the point at which they no longer need the 
protections of the Act. When that protection is no longer needed, we 
take steps to remove (delist) the species from the Act. If a species is 
listed as endangered, we may first reclassify it to threatened status 
as an intermediate step before its eventual removal from the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; however, 
reclassification to threatened status is not required prior to removal. 
Section 3 of the Act provides the following definitions that are 
relevant to this rule: Endangered species means any species which is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range; Threatened species means any species which is likely to become 
an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. Species includes any subspecies of 
fish or wildlife or plants, and any DPS of any species of vertebrate 
fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.
    When an endangered species (or DPS) has recovered to the point 
where it is no longer currently in danger of extinction throughout all 
or a significant portion of its range, but is likely to become so in 
the foreseeable future, it is appropriate to reclassify that species 
(or DPS) to threatened. The broad-snouted caiman was listed as 
endangered in 1976. However, recent information indicates that the 
Argentine population has increased since the time of the original 
listing.

Technical Corrections

    This proposed rule would correct errors in 50 CFR 17.11 as follows: 
The table at 50 CFR 17.11(h) does not currently list Bolivia in the 
historic range of the broad-snouted caiman. This proposed rule corrects 
the ``Historic Range'' entry to include Bolivia. In addition, we 
propose to correct errors in the entries for three other caiman 
species: brown caiman, common caiman, and yacare caiman. The entries 
for these species in the ``Special Rules'' column direct readers to 50 
CFR 17.42(g); however, the special rule for all of these species is at 
50 CFR 17.42(c).

Five-Year Review

    Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of 
listed species at least once every 5 years. A 5-year review is a 
periodic process conducted to ensure that the classification of a 
listed species is appropriate. Section 4(c)(2)(B) requires that we 
determine: (1) Whether a species no longer meets the definition of 
threatened or endangered and should be removed from the List 
(delisted); (2) whether a species more properly meets the definition of 
threatened and should be reclassified from endangered to threatened; or 
(3) whether a species more properly meets the definition of endangered 
and should be reclassified from threatened to endangered. It is based 
on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the 
review. Therefore, we are requesting submission of any such information 
that has become available since the original listing of this species. 
This serves as our 5-year review of this species.

Species Description

    The broad-snouted caiman is a medium-sized crocodilian with a body 
length usually no more than 2 meters (m) (6.6 feet (ft)), and has the 
proportionally broadest snout of any crocodile (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 
18). It is found generally in lagoons, rivers, creeks, marshes, ponds, 
and mangroves in river systems of northeast Argentina, southeast 
Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Uruguay (Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 97; 
Verdade et al. 2010, p. 18).
    According to Imhof (unpublished 2006), approximately 60 percent of 
the species' range is in Brazil, 30 percent is in Argentina, seven 
percent is in Paraguay, and three percent is in Bolivia. The percentage 
of its range in Uruguay is unknown. Broad-snouted caiman populations 
are on the Atlantic coast, connected through the Paran[aacute] and 
S[atilde]o Francisco River systems of northeast Argentina, southeast 
Bolivia, Paraguay, and northeast Uruguay. The S[atilde]o Francisco 
River is 2,914 km (1,811 mi) in length.
    The broad-snouted caiman exhibits greater climatic tolerance than 
other caiman species (Verdade and Pi[ntilde]a 2006). The southernmost 
limit of the distribution of the broad-snouted caiman is northern 
Argentina (Jenkins et al. 2006), where it is found in the provinces of 
Chaco, Corrientes, Entre R[iacute]os, Formosa, Jujuy, Misiones, Salta, 
Santa Fe, and Santiago del Estero. In Argentina, 80 percent of the 
Argentine distribution of the population occurs in the Province of 
Santa Fe. Here, the species is found primarily in the floodplain along 
the Paran[aacute] River, the Salado river watershed, and the Saladillos 
watershed (Larriera 1995, pp. 221-230).
    This species is primarily found at altitudes up to 100 m (328 ft) 
above sea level (Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 99). The broad-snouted caiman 
exhibits a high degree of flexibility in its habitat preferences. It is 
an opportunistic feeder and prefers shallow, vegetated water. It 
generally prefers shallow aquatic environments with abundant 
vegetation. In some areas, the broad-snouted caiman is sympatric 
(occurs in overlapping geographical areas) with the yacare caiman 
(Caiman yacare), but the broad-snouted caiman is usually found in 
quieter, more heavily vegetated waters (Medem 1983, Scott et al. 1990). 
C. yacare prefers large rivers with adjacent marshes (Scott et al. 
1990, pp. 43-51). Like many crocodilians, the broad-snouted caiman can 
be found in temporary bodies of water and manmade habitats, such as 
isolated cattle or agricultural stock ponds, livestock watering holes, 
and drainage ditches or areas of runoff water. It can be found in 
flooded forested areas in years of intense rains usually within 2,000 m 
(6,562 ft) from bodies of water (Larriera et al. 2008, p. 151).
    The reproductive cycle of this species is seasonal. Mating occurs 
in the spring (October through December), when polygynous males (males 
who breed with more than one female) establish territories. When laying 
eggs, this species constructs a mound out of vegetation, and it 
deposits its eggs in the center of the mound. This process is called 
``mound-nesting.'' Another characteristic of this species is that it 
exhibits communal nesting (several females laying eggs in the same 
nest). Partially divided nest chambers, each with normal clutch sizes, 
and nests with unusually large clutches (129 eggs) have been observed 
in this species which is indicative of communal nesting (Larriera 
2002). Clutch sizes range between 18 to 50 eggs, with females typically 
laying between 30 and 40 eggs (Micucci and Waller 1995). Egg laying 
occurs during the wet summer season, which occurs from December through 
February (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19). Young hatch at the end of fall and 
early winter (February-April) (Micucci and Waller 1995, p. 81).
    This species is an opportunistic feeder. The young feed on insects 
and small arthropods. As hatchlings grow, their diet becomes primarily 
aquatic mollusks and crustaceans, and then

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adults primarily feed on fish (Micucci and Waller 1995, pp. 81-112).

CITES

    The broad-snouted caiman was listed in Appendix I of CITES on July 
1, 1975. CITES Appendix I includes species that are ``threatened with 
extinction which are or may be affected by trade.'' Species listed 
under Appendix I may not be traded for primarily commercial purposes. 
These protections were put in place because the species had suffered 
substantial population declines throughout its range due to habitat 
destruction and overexploitation through the commercial crocodilian 
skin trade.
    The Argentine population was transferred to Appendix II (which 
allows for commercial trade) in 1997. CITES Appendix II includes 
species that are less vulnerable to extinction and that ``although not 
necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade 
in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order 
to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.'' Management 
activities in Argentina were reviewed by the CITES Parties prior to 
transferring this population from Appendix I to Appendix II. The review 
included assessments of population status, determination of sustainable 
harvest quotas (and approval of ranching programs), and the control of 
the illegal harvest. Management regulations imposed after harvest 
included the tagging of skins and issuance of permits to satisfy the 
requirements for Appendix-II species. For a more in-depth discussion on 
CITES, please see the International Trade and Regulation under CITES 
section under Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, 
Scientific, or Educational Purposes.

Trade

    Beginning in the 1940s, the broad-snouted caiman was hunted 
commercially for its leather, which is considered to be higher quality 
than that of other caiman species (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19). Prior 
to being protected by CITES, thousands of broad-snouted caiman skins 
were exported from its range countries, which led to the listing of the 
species in Appendix I of CITES in 1975 (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19, 
Larriera 2003, unpaginated). In 1990, ``Projecto Yacar[eacute]'' 
(``Caiman Project'') was implemented in Argentina based on a concept of 
conservation through sustainable use of broad-snouted caiman. The 
objective of the program was to improve the status of the population in 
two ways: by creating incentives for landowners and by increasing 
public awareness in the local communities to encourage the increase of 
caiman populations. Another objective was to conserve natural wetlands 
on which caimans depend (Larriera et al. 2008a, pp. 143-145). As of 
2008, four ranching programs were operating in Argentina (Larriera et 
al. 2008), producing a total of approximately 12,000 skins per year 
(Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19). As of 2010, there were seven ranching 
programs registered with the government of Argentina. These programs 
also reintroduce captive-raised individuals to the wild. Three of the 
programs function on an educational basis, with no commercial 
production. These educational ranching operations are in Entre 
R[iacute]os, Chaco, and Corrientes Provinces. Two of the commercial 
ranching programs are in Formosa; the other two are in Corrientes and 
Santa Fe Provinces. In 2010, there were 7,768 hatchlings produced in 
Argentina (Larriera 2010b, p. 1).

Conservation Status

    The broad-snouted caiman is currently listed as endangered 
throughout its range under the ESA and received protections under the 
ESA on June 14, 1976 (41 FR 24062). With respect to CITES, this species 
was placed in Appendix I of CITES due to severe exploitation for 
international trade and habitat destruction. Because the Argentine 
broad-snouted caiman population was moved to Appendix II of CITES in 
1997, commercial international trade is allowed, subject to several 
restrictions, for specimens, parts, and products originating in 
Argentina. The broad-snouted caiman is presently listed as endangered 
in its entirety under the Act (41 FR 24062; June 14, 1976), and 
importation into the United States of endangered species is prohibited 
under the Act with certain exceptions. IUCN classifies this species as 
``least concern'' (http://www.iucnredlist.org, accessed November 8, 
2010). However, IUCN rankings do not confer any actual protection or 
management.

Status in Range Countries and Population Estimates

    In part because broad-snouted caiman habitat tends to be heavily 
vegetated and is difficult to access for humans, actual numbers of the 
species have been difficult to document; some researchers believe that 
the size of the population has historically been underestimated 
(Larriera and Imhof 2000, pp. 311-313). The imprecision is reflected in 
the global wild population estimate of between 250,000 and 500,000 
individuals (http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/cnhc/csp_clat.htm, accessed 
January 18, 2011).
    It is difficult to accurately obtain population numbers for 
crocodiles due to variables such as water temperature, the nature of 
their behavior of disappearing underwater in response to certain types 
of disturbance, their respective visibility based on water depths, and 
their ability to migrate based on drought or flooding (Magnusson 1980, 
pp. 393-394; Bayliss 1987, p. 158; Graham 1988, p. 74; Pacheco 1996, p. 
44). An early journal article described ``night counts'' as a mechanism 
for surveying American alligators, which live in habitat similar to 
that of broad-snouted caiman (Wood et al. 1986, p. 263) and exhibit 
similar characteristics. This paper indicated that ``the accuracy of 
night count indices is only 20-25 percent of true population means'' 
and referred to previous research conducted by Taylor and Neal (1984, 
pp. 316-317). Night count surveys use spotlights to detect caiman eyes. 
Although night counts are not entirely precise, they are very often 
used as a method of surveying crocodile species.
    As an example of the difficulty in accurately obtaining population 
numbers for crocodiles, a review of crocodile ranching programs 
conducted for CITES by the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG) in 
2004 found that only three Parties (one of which was Argentina) to 
CITES attempted to estimate what proportion of the total wild 
production was being harvested under their ranching programs (Jenkins 
et al. 2006, p. 35). These estimates were based on production estimates 
which have wide variances and largely unknown accuracy. However, this 
report indicated that the easiest data to obtain and report to track 
population trends are those linked to the operation of the ranching 
programs (the method used by Argentina), data such as numbers of eggs 
collected from the wild. The eggs in Argentina's program are collected 
from known nest locations in the wild and are an indication of caiman 
density. This is why we use the information reported from Argentina's 
egg harvest as the best available information of population trend. The 
IUCN-CSG report also indicated that results probably indicate 
deficiencies in reporting rather than any declines of conservation 
significance in wild populations. The CSG recommended field data to 
verify this assertion, some of which has been collected over the past 
few years. However, recent surveys (Siroski 2004, 2006; Micucci et al. 
2007;

[[Page 670]]

Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2008) have found broad-snouted caiman in sampled 
populations at densities comparable to the non-threatened American 
alligator (Wood et al. 1985, p. 271). In Argentina, recent densities of 
broad-snouted caiman ranged between 5 and 238 caiman per kilometer 
(km), and almost 70 sites were surveyed.
    The map below illustrates the distribution of the species. Below is 
the best available information regarding the status of the species in 
each country.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05JA12.004

Argentina

    In Argentina, the broad-snouted caiman is found in nine provinces 
(Formosa, Santa Fe, Misiones, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Chaco, Santiago 
del Estero, Salta, and Jujuy). According to Imhof (unpublished 2006), 
approximately 30 percent of the species' range is in Argentina. 
Argentina has large areas of intact, although altered habitat with 
healthy populations (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19; Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2009). 
For example, broad-snouted caiman is thought to inhabit 2,400 of 2,700 
water bodies (Pi[ntilde]a et al, 2008, p. 4) in the Salta Province in 
Argentina. Surveys conducted in 2007 and 2008 indicated that broad-
snouted caiman habitat in Salta Province is about 3,650 km\2\ (1,409 
mi\2\). These surveys found broad-snouted caiman densities had 
increased to between 20 and 120 caiman per km in 2009; up from 2 to 8 
caiman per km in 1990 when Argentina's management program of broad-
snouted caiman first began (Siroski and Larriera 2010, pers. comm.). 
These densities are within the normal range for crocodile species. In 
Argentina, this species has been observed in a variety of habitats and 
waterways, including rivers near waterfalls such as Iguaz[uacute], and 
freshwater creeks with rocky bottoms (Micucci and Waller 1995, pp. 81-
110). In the Province of Santa Fe, the species is found primarily in 
the floodplain along the Paran[aacute] River, the Salado river 
watershed, and the Saladillos watershed (Larriera 1995). Its nesting 
areas reflect the adaptability of this species to a variety of 
habitats. Nests have been found along dikes or levees, shallow lagoons, 
still and slow-moving waters in rivers and channels, artificial ponds, 
and on small hills in wetlands (Larriera 1995, pp. 221-230). Nests have 
also been found in mature chaco forests of open or closed canopy as far 
as 300-2,000 m (984-6,562 ft) from water (Larriera 1995, pp. 221-230; 
Larriera et al. 2008, p. 151).
    Since management and monitoring of the Argentine population began, 
population estimates for Argentina have indicated an upward trend. This 
has been achieved through an organized ranching program and 
reintroduction of hatchlings into the wild (See Factors B and D 
discussion below). Through this program, a significant increase in egg 
collection and harvest has occurred in the wild; over 30,000 hatchlings 
from eggs collected have been released into

[[Page 671]]

the wild since the program began. Surveys conducted between 1991 and 
1992 indicated an average density of 12.2 individuals per km. Later 
surveys conducted during the 1999-2000 season indicated that in the 
Iber[aacute] Reserve, Corrientes Province, the density had increased to 
32.4 individuals per km (Waller 2003 in Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2010, p. 4). 
Night counts found an increase of less than 1 caiman per km when the 
program began, to almost 10 caiman per km in 2000, and over 4 caiman 
per kilometer in 2006 and 2007 (Larriera 2008c, p. 2). This decrease in 
density during 2006-2007 was attributed to drought (Larriera 2008c, p. 
3); however, natural fluctuations such as this often occur in wild 
populations (Woodward 2010, p. 2). Caiman populations, like most other 
crocodilian populations, can be adversely affected by droughts. Most 
crocodilians and prey species suffer short term declines during these 
conditions but readily respond to wetter conditions. Overall, egg 
harvest increased 750 percent between 1992 and 2007 (Larriera 2008c, p. 
2). This increase in egg production was attributed in part to caiman 
being released through this program and reaching sexual maturity 
(Larriera 2008c, p. 3). Additional surveys revealed densities found 
within its range recorded in Table 1.

                  Table 1--Densities of Broad-Snouted Caiman Observed During Population Counts
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Number of    Range of caiman
      Country/province             Years        localities       densities                   Source
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Argentina/Formosa...........       2007-2008              11  22 to 238 per    Pi[ntilde]a et al. (2008).
                                                               km.
Argentina/Corrientes........       2007-2008              10  5 to 125 per km  Pi[ntilde]a et al. (2008).
Argentina/Salta.............       2007-2008              39  3 to 5 caiman    Pi[ntilde]a et al. (2008).
                                                               per lagoon.
Argentina/Sante Fe..........       2007-2008             * *  4 per km *.....  Larriera et al. (2008).
Argentina/Santa Fe..........            2002               7  6 to 200 per km  Larriera and Imhoff (2004).
Bolivia/Pilcomayo River                 1998               6  3 to 58 per km.  Llobet-Querejazu (1998).
 Basin, Tarija.
Bolivia/Tarija Department...       2004-2005              54  6.17 per km....  Aparicio and Rios (2008).
Uruguay.....................       2001-2004              36  3.5 per km.....  Borteiro et al. (2008).
Brazil/S[atilde]o Francisco        2006-2007              64  Presence in 44   Filogonio et al. (2009).
 River Basin.                                                  percent of
                                                               areas surveyed.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Recent caiman counts suggest that populations declined somewhat during 2002-2003 and 2007-2008 (Micucci et al.
  2007; Larriera et al. 2008). This has been attributed to cyclic drought conditions during the early 2000s
  (Micucci et al. 2007; Larriera et al. 2008).
* * Not available.

Bolivia

    The population of broad-snouted caiman in Bolivia is at the far 
western edge of the species' range. According to Imhof (unpublished 
2006), approximately three percent of the species' range is in Bolivia. 
In 1983, broad-snouted caiman was found in the Pando Department 
(departments in South America are comparable to state jurisdictions in 
the United States) of Bolivia, which is at the northwestern tip of 
Bolivia (Medem 1983). In 1989, broad-snouted caiman was only found in 
the Pilcomayo River area, a tributary of the Paraguay River (King and 
Videz-Roca 1989). The Paraguay River, also known as Rio Paraguay, is 
2,621 km (1,629 miles (mi)) in length and runs through Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay, and Argentina, joining the broad-snouted caiman populations 
in these countries. Surveys in the late 1990s considered the Bolivian 
population of this species to be severely depleted (Verdade 1998, pp. 
18-19). Anecdotal reports indicate that the abundance of broad-snouted 
caiman in the Pilcomayo River region may have increased over the past 
10 years, but in the Bermejo River region, populations may have 
declined (Aparicio and R[iacute]os 2008, pp. 111, 122). It is unclear 
whether the population change is public perception or whether the 
perception represents an actual change in broad-snouted caiman 
population numbers within Bolivia.
    During a survey conducted in 2003 and 2004, 6.2 individuals per km 
were observed (Aparicio and Rios 2008, p. 104). The survey was 
conducted in 54 water bodies; 42 of which are part of the Pilcomayo 
River sub-basin, 12 water bodies were in the sub-basin of the Bermejo 
River (Aparicio and Rios 2008, p. 110). The highest abundance values 
were recorded in ``atajados'' (dikes) and artificial ponds. Broad-
snouted caiman here exhibit preferences for inhabiting shallow 
temporary water bodies that have abundant vegetation cover. The 
population of broad-snouted caiman for this area was calculated on the 
basis of 135 individuals. In 1998, an abundance of 3.3 individuals per 
km was reported (Pacheco and Llobet 1998). The 1998 data indicated that 
the population was dominated by young individuals (Aparicio and Rios 
2008, p. 110). A high level of young may indicate that the population 
is growing. Although different survey methods and timing were employed 
in the 1998 and 2003-2004 surveys, the population estimates suggest an 
increase in density of almost 3 individuals per km from 1998 to 2003-
2004. A further observation of the survey found that broad-snouted 
caiman exist in areas previously unknown to be inhabited. It is found 
in the Gran Chaco, Arce, and O'Connor Provinces (sub-basins Pilcomayo 
and Bermejo) in the Tarija Department, which is in the south of 
Bolivia. Despite information suggesting an increasing trend in the 
Bolivian population, populations of broad-snouted caiman are still 
considered to be severely depleted in Bolivia (Aparicio and R[iacute]os 
2008, p. 104; Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19).

Brazil

    Brazil has the largest range for this species; approximately 60 
percent of the species' range is in Brazil (Imhof unpublished 2006). In 
2003, Brazil established a nationwide research and development program, 
called Programme for Biology, Conservation and Management of Brazilian 
Crocodilians (Coutinho and Luz 2008 in Velasco et al. 2008 p. 80). The 
broad-snouted caiman was listed as an endangered species in Brazil 
until 2003, at which time the species was withdrawn from the Brazilian 
List of Endangered Fauna (The Brazilian Institute of Environment and 
Renewable Natural Resources [IBAMA] 2003). In 2006, it was reported 
that in southeast Brazil there were four farms involved in breeding 
this species. There were a total of 354 caiman in the farms, and in 
2006, 719 hatchlings had been produced (CSG Steering Committee Meeting 
2006, p. 6). We have no other information about the status of this 
program.
    Although there is still a lack of population data and monitoring, 
the surveys conducted indicate that broad-snouted caiman is present 
(confirmed in

[[Page 672]]

44 percent of 64 areas surveyed) throughout the S[atilde]o Francisco 
River basin, its primary habitat. A 2006-2007 survey conducted in the 
S[atilde]o Francisco River basin found the occurrence of crocodilians 
in 61 percent of 64 surveyed localities, in which the presence of 
broad-snouted caiman was confirmed in 44 percent of the surveyed sites. 
This was a survey conducted primarily to detect presence and absence, 
rather than an estimate of the population (Filogonio et al. 2009, p. 
961). Caiman occurred in both lentic (still water) and lotic (moving 
water) habitats, although caiman preferred water bodies consisting of 
small dams, oxbow lakes, and wetlands. Despite the hunting pressure and 
human impact on natural habitats, results indicated that the 
populations of broad-snouted caiman in the S[atilde]o Francisco basin 
are broadly distributed and not fragmented (Filogonio et al. 2009, p. 
961).
    No other recent survey data are known in Brazil other than in the 
northwest portion of Santa Catarina Island, in the Ratones River plain. 
In this area surveyed, a density of 0.25 caiman per km was encountered 
(Fusco-Costa et al. 2008, p. 185). Based on their size, these caiman 
were generally considered to be adults. The purpose of study was to 
primarily confirm the presence of this species in this location.
    Preliminary data indicate that this species is more widespread and 
prevalent in Brazil than previously believed. The main concern for this 
species in Brazil appears to be dams that have been constructed for 
hydroelectric stations that block water flow to wetlands. Both drainage 
of land for agriculture and river pollution have also reduced the 
availability of broad-snouted caiman habitat in Brazil (Verdade 1998, 
pp. 18-19). Hunting pressure is another factor that affects broad-
snouted caiman in Brazil. It is hunted for several reasons: Because 
caiman feed on the fish attached to fishing nets; because caiman 
destroy fishing nets; and because caiman are a source of food. Although 
Brazil has established a research and development program for the 
conservation and management of Brazilian crocodilians, data are lacking 
for this species.

Paraguay

    No recent survey data are available for Paraguay, however, 
according to Imhof (unpublished 2006); approximately seven percent of 
the species' range is in Paraguay. The latest data available indicate 
that the population of broad-snouted caiman is naturally low and 
scattered throughout eastern Paraguay and the southern half of the 
Chaco region, western Paraguay, possibly because other potential 
habitat in western Paraguay is ephemeral (seasonal, not permanent) 
(Scott et al. 1990, pp. 43-49). The Paraguayan population is found in 
seasonal marshes and livestock ponds, and has colonized manmade water 
bodies (Scott et al. 1990). There is no known conservation program for 
broad-snouted caiman in Paraguay.

Uruguay

    The broad-snouted caiman is the only caiman species found in 
Uruguay (Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 98); the percentage of this species' 
range in Uruguay is unknown (Imhof unpublished 2006). There were little 
data available regarding this species' population numbers until 
recently. New information available to the Service updates the density 
estimates of broad-snouted caiman in Uruguay. The population of broad-
snouted caiman in Uruguay is more widespread and appears larger than 
previously believed (Borteiro et al. 2006, pp. 97-108; Borteiro et al. 
2008, pp. 244-250), but it is unclear whether population growth has 
occurred or whether earlier surveys were inaccurate. In the past, it 
was suggested that a decline in population had occurred in Uruguay, but 
no strong basis for this existed (Verdade 1998, p. 20). Recent 
observations and field surveys indicate that broad-snouted caiman is 
fairly common in northern Uruguay, and is also widely distributed in 
central and western Uruguay (Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 248). This 
species is adaptable to a wide range of water sources and habitats 
(Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 102, Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 244) and is 
connected to the Argentina and Brazilian populations through the 
Uruguay River basin (Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 103).
    Previous local reports about the population status of broad-snouted 
caiman in Uruguay published since the mid 1950s suggested that this 
species was subject to extinction due to habitat destruction and 
poaching (Vaz-Ferreira 1956; Orejas-Miranda 1969; Talice 1971; Vaz-
Ferreira 1971; Achaval 1977); however, no discussion of survey data and 
methods was made to support these conclusions (Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 
247). During surveys conducted between 1981 and 2003, the species was 
found in both the Cebollat[iacute] and Tacuar[iacute] Rivers, as well 
as in the Pelotas, India Muerta, and San Miguel stream basins (Borteiro 
et al. 2006, p. 97). In the Department of Artigas (northern tip of 
Uruguay), broad-snouted caiman was found to be present in 29 out of 36 
surveyed areas (Borteiro et al. 2008, pp. 246). The area studied 
consisted of approximately 400 km\2\ (154 mi\2\) of fluvial plains in 
the Uruguay River basin, in Artigas Department, northwestern Uruguay. 
The caiman observed were predominantly sub-adults. A total of 462 
individuals were located during these surveys, and the density was 
determined to be 3.5 individuals per km.
    Although comparisons with these previous surveys are difficult 
based on unknown methodologies used in the past, the 2008 data, along 
with the population age structure of caiman, suggests that the 
population may be increasing (Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 248). The 
researcher noted that the observed caiman were predominantly subadults 
and, thus, had the potential to recruit into adult size classes (as 
opposed to very young hatchlings which have a significantly higher 
mortality rate). This observation may be due to an increase in 
agricultural and livestock activities that inadvertently had a positive 
effect on broad-snouted caiman. These previous reports about the 
population status of broad-snouted caiman in Uruguay may have been due 
to inadequate surveys or survey methodology, or the population may have 
grown.

[[Page 673]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05JA12.005

    In 2008, the number of caiman located in each area surveyed ranged 
between one and 31. The average abundance was between 1.3 and 3.4 per 
km (Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 246). Research conducted recently 
regarding the population age structure of caiman in Uruguay indicates 
that the population is increasing (Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 248). This 
may be due to an increase in agricultural impoundments that have been 
constructed in the past few decades which have unintentionally created 
suitable habitat for caiman. Each department in which broad-snouted 
caiman has recently been documented and the most recent date observed 
is below (Borteiro et al. 2008, pp. 244-250).

Dept. of Artigas (Northern Uruguay; caiman commonly found)
     Yacuy stream (2002)
     Mandiyu stream (2003)
Dept. of Cerro Largo (eastern Uruguay)
     Fraile Muerto stream (2005)
Dept. of Lavelleja
     Jos[eacute] Pedro Varela (2003)
Dept. of Paysand[uacute] (1997)
Dept. of Rocha
     San Luis (2001)
     San Miguel River stream (2003)
Dept. of Rivera (1992)
Dept. of Tacuaremb[oacute]
     Paso Bonilla (2003)
Dept. of Salto (Northwestern Uruguay, no current reports; historical 
accounts only,
    Borteiro et al. 2006, pp. 98-100)
Dept. of Treinta y Tres
     Merin Lake; Tacuari River (2002)
     Paso del Dragon (2002)
     Kiosco Tacuari (2003)

    Additionally, in Uruguay, a private farm began in 2002 that 
involved reproduction and reintroduction of this species into the wild. 
The goal of this Government-sanctioned farm was to produce skins and 
meat commercially. In 2008, there were 20 adult caiman in the farm, yet 
they had reintroduced 100 caiman back into the wild (Velasco et al. 
2008, p. 82). The Service knows of no additional information regarding 
this private farm.
    In summary, the population of broad-snouted caiman in Uruguay 
appears to be larger than previously believed, but differences in 
survey methodologies used make it difficult to assess population 
trends. The percentage of the broad-snouted caiman population that 
exists in Uruguay has still not been estimated.

Distinct Population Segment Analysis

    As indicated previously in this document, the Government of 
Argentina requested that we review the status of the species in 
Argentina in order to determine whether or not the species warrants 
reclassification to threatened status under the Act. Section 3(16) of 
the Act defines ``species'' to include ``any species or subspecies of 
fish and wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment (DPS) 
of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when 
mature'' (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). In evaluating whether the action 
petitioned by Argentina is warranted, we first must analyze whether 
this population constitutes a ``species'' as defined under the Act. 
Thus, we begin our analysis with a determination of whether the 
population in Argentina represents a DPS. A DPS is a listable entity 
under the Act, and is treated the same as a listed species or 
subspecies. It is listed, protected, and recovered just as any other 
endangered or threatened species or subspecies. The term ``distinct 
population segment'' is part of the statutory definition of a 
``species'' and is significant for listing, delisting, and 
reclassification purposes under section 4 of the Act.
    To interpret and implement the DPS provisions of the ESA and 
Congressional guidance, the Service and the National Marine Fisheries 
Service jointly published the DPS Policy (see the Policy regarding the 
recognition of distinct vertebrate population segments under the Act 
(61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). Congress included the DPS concept in 
the ESA, recognizing that a listing, reclassification, or delisting 
action may, in some circumstances, be more appropriately applied over 
something less than the entire area in which a species or subspecies is 
found or was known to occur in order to protect and recover organisms 
in a more timely and cost-effective manner. A DPS is a listable entity 
that is usually described geographically rather than biologically. By 
using international boundaries, we are able to clearly identify the 
geographic extent of the DPS listing and thereby facilitate law 
enforcement and promote public understanding of the listing. Under this 
Policy, we evaluate a set of elements in a three-step process in order 
to make our decision concerning the establishment and classification of 
a possible DPS. These elements are applied similarly for both additions 
to, reclassifications under, and removals from the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. These elements include:

[[Page 674]]

    (1) The discreteness of a population in relation to the remainder 
of the taxon to which it belongs;
    (2) The significance of the population segment to the taxon to 
which it belongs; and
    (3) The population segment's conservation status in relation to the 
Act's standards for listing (addition to the list), delisting (removal 
from the list), or reclassification (i.e., is the population segment 
endangered or threatened).
    The Policy first requires the Service to determine that a 
vertebrate population is discrete in relation to the remainder of the 
taxon to which it belongs. Discreteness refers to the ability to 
delineate a population segment from other members of a taxon based on 
either (1) Physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors 
(quantitative measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity may 
provide evidence of this separation), or (2) international governmental 
boundaries that result in significant differences in control of 
exploitation, management, or habitat conservation status, or regulatory 
mechanisms that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the 
Act--the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.
    Second, if we determine that the population is discrete under one 
or more of the discreteness conditions, then a determination is made as 
to whether the population is significant to the larger taxon to which 
it belongs in light of Congressional guidance (see Senate Report 151, 
96th Congress, 1st Session) that the authority to list DPS's be used 
``sparingly and only when the biological evidence indicates that such 
action is warranted.'' In carrying out this examination, we consider 
available scientific evidence of the population's importance to the 
taxon to which it belongs. This consideration may include, but is not 
limited to the following:
    (1) The persistence of the population segment in an ecological 
setting that is unique or unusual for the taxon;
    (2) Evidence that loss of the population segment would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the taxon;
    (3) Evidence that the population segment represents the only 
surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant 
elsewhere as an introduced population outside of its historic range; 
and
    (4) Evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly 
from other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics 
from other populations of the species.
    A population segment needs to satisfy only one of these conditions 
to be considered significant. Evidence with respect to any one of these 
scenarios may allow the Service to conclude that a population segment 
can be significant to the taxon to which it belongs. Furthermore, the 
Service may consider other information relevant to the question of 
significance, as appropriate.
    Lastly, if we determine that the population is both discrete and 
significant, then the DPS Policy requires an analysis of the population 
segment's conservation status in relation to the Act's standards for 
listing (addition to the list), delisting (removal from the list), or 
reclassification (i.e., is the population segment endangered or 
threatened). A detailed discussion is then presented for the five 
listing factors for each DPS as required by the Act. We analyze these 
factors in response to the current status of the species, which 
encompasses present and future threats and conservation efforts.
    The broad-snouted caiman has a continuous range from Argentina to 
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay (see Figure 1). We evaluated the 
status of this species to determine if two distinct population segments 
exist (one in Argentina, and the other in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, 
and Uruguay) under this Policy because its range spans several 
countries and its conservation status varies by country. We evaluated 
the species in this manner specifically for two reasons. First, the 
Government of Argentina petitioned us to reclassify the species in 
Argentina to threatened, and second, in Argentina, this species is 
listed in Appendix II of CITES, and in the rest of its range: Bolivia, 
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, it is listed in Appendix I of CITES. The 
significance of this distinction is that these two populations may be 
subject to different management regimes and may have different 
conservation statuses. Thus, we considered whether these two 
populations meet the discreteness and significance criteria under our 
DPS policy, and then whether these two potential DPSs of the broad-
snouted caiman still meet the definition of endangered, should be 
reclassified to threatened, or whether either population segment has 
recovered and is no longer either endangered or threatened.

Discreteness

    In the first step in our DPS analysis, we determine whether there 
are any populations that are discrete in relation to the remainder of 
the taxon to which it belongs. A DPS may be considered discrete if it 
meets the criteria described above under Distinct Population Segment 
Analysis. Recognition of international boundaries when they coincide 
with differences in the management, status, or exploitation of the 
species under the Act is consistent with CITES, which recognizes 
international boundaries for these same reasons.

Physical, Physiological, Ecological, or Behavioral Factors

    There are no studies or information that indicate there are 
physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral characteristics that 
would contribute to separateness between the Argentine population and 
the population in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The Paraguay 
River joins the broad-snouted caiman populations in Argentina, Bolivia, 
Brazil, and Paraguay. The Uruguay population of the broad-snouted 
caiman is connected to the Argentine and Brazilian populations through 
the Uruguay River basin (Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 103). Broad-snouted 
caiman populations are also connected through the Paran[aacute] and 
S[atilde]o Francisco River systems of northeast Argentina, southeast 
Bolivia, Paraguay, and northeast Uruguay. This is a wide-ranging 
species that occurs primarily in freshwater environments such as lakes, 
swamps, and slow-moving rivers. Because it is connected via the major 
river systems that flow through the species' range and we have found no 
information indicating separateness between the Argentine population 
and the population occurring in the remainder of the species' range due 
to physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors,, we did 
not find either population segment is discrete based on this factor.
    Moreover, we are not aware of any quantitative data of genetic or 
morphological discontinuity to indicate separateness between the two 
populations. Because of their interactions through interconnected river 
systems and a current range that mirrors their historical range, we 
find that the two populations overlap, allowing for genetic 
intermixing. Therefore, these two population segments cannot be 
delineated based on physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral 
factors.

International Differences in Species' Conservation Status

    Under our DPS policy, consideration may be given to utilizing 
international boundaries in establishing discreteness when differences 
in management, conservation status, or control of exploitation of the 
species exist between

[[Page 675]]

these population segments as a consequence of national legislation. 
Thus, we analyze below whether any of these differences exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.

Argentina

    Two clear differences in the exploitation, management, habitat 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms of this species exist 
between Argentina and the remainder of its range. This species is 
intensely managed in Argentina, and due to its improved status in the 
wild, is listed in Appendix II of CITES. In contrast, this species is 
not intensively managed in the remainder of its range, and it continues 
to be listed in Appendix I under CITES due to its unimproved status in 
the range countries outside of Argentina. The primary reason this 
species was protected by the ESA and CITES was because of the decrease 
in population numbers due to overutilization (see discussion under 
Factor B in the Evaluation of Factors Affecting the Species section 
below). Argentina's management regime has resulted in an increase in 
this species' population such that harvest for international trade may 
be conducted sustainably under proper management.
    Although all of this species' range countries have national 
protected-species and protected-areas legislation under the 
jurisdiction of specific ministries or departments that control 
activities that impact the broad-snouted caiman and its habitat, 
Argentina's national legal framework is particularly robust (See Factor 
D). In 1990, Argentina began a joint government-private initiative to 
recover this species in the Santa Fe Province (Jenkins et al. 2004, pp. 
25-28; Verdade 2010, pp. 18-20). This program was ratified by 
Provincial Law 4830, Articles 22 and 37 (CITES CoP 10, Proposal 10.1) 
and subsequently expanded in scope. Now there are seven government-
approved broad-snouted ranching programs within four provinces. This 
initiative began in order to increase this species' population size and 
to be able to sustain commercial harvest. In the proposal to transfer 
this species from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II, the proposal noted 
that although the primary threat was initially overutilization, the 
more recent and significant threat was habitat loss (CITES Cop 10, 
Proposal 10.1). The proposal indicated that a method to reduce the 
threat of habitat loss is to put an economic value on the species' 
habitat, so that the local communities and farmers would not drain the 
land (degrade the species' habitat). Thus, Argentina's caiman egg 
harvesting program began creating incentives for locals to protect and 
conserve habitat for the broad-snouted caiman (see Factor D).
    This species is also protected through legislation (Law 22.421 and 
Decree 691/81), administered by the Direcci[oacute]n Nacional de Fauna 
y Flora Silvestres. The Government of Argentina is adequately enforcing 
its legal frameworks, both at the national and international levels. 
The best available information strongly suggests that the caiman 
population in Argentina is increasing, while the population trend in 
the other range countries is unclear (Verdade et al. 2010, pp. 18-19). 
The species has significantly increased in density since the caiman 
ranching program began in 1990, and its range has expanded into areas 
where it had not been seen prior to 1990. In the Santa Fe Province, for 
example, the number of nests identified increased from 14 in 1990 to 
304 nests in 2002 (Jenkins et al. 2004, p. 27). The monitoring reports 
indicate that Argentina's management of the species is resulting in an 
upward trend in this species' population. Argentina submits reports in 
accordance with CITES and is an active participant in the IUCN's 
Crocodile Specialist Group, particularly for this species. The 
management of this species has led to significant improvement in the 
status of the species in Argentina, which has been demonstrated through 
monitoring and reporting (Jenkins et al. 2004, pp. 25-28; Verdade et 
al. 2010, pp. 18-20). Due to Argentina's management, the population of 
broad-snouted caiman is now widespread and abundant throughout its 
range in Argentina. It is relatively common in suitable habitat in the 
provinces of Formosa, Santa Fe, Corrientes, and Salta. While some 
habitat loss and degradation remain in Argentina, these threats have 
been reduced, as explained in our five-factor analysis below.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay

    Within each of these countries, not only is there a wide 
variability in the amount of information available about the species, 
but also about the level of management and monitoring of the species 
(Borteiro et al. 2006; Larriera et al. 2008, p. 152; Verdade et al. 
2010, p. 20). This species is listed in Appendix I of CITES in these 
range countries, which means that international trade originating from 
these countries of broad-snouted caiman including its parts and 
products, for primarily commercial purposes is prohibited. To our 
knowledge, none of these countries have submitted proposals to change 
the status of this species under CITES to the less restrictive Appendix 
II listing (www.cites.org, accessed July 7, 2011). Although this 
international trade restriction is in place for range countries other 
than Argentina, we remain concerned about habitat loss, the status and 
management of wild populations in those countries.
    In the remainder of this species' range (Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, 
and Uruguay), these governments either have not demonstrated an ability 
to adequately enforce their legal framework, or there is no population 
trend or monitoring data about the species to indicate the status of 
the species in these countries is improving. We found little to no 
information about the status of the species in these countries. This 
was supported by the most recent report on the status of the species 
prepared by the IUCN's Crocodile Specialist Group (Verdade et al. 2010, 
pp. 18-19). The best available information indicates that this species 
in these countries is still subject to unmitigated pressures such as 
destruction of habitat due to human encroachment, construction of dams, 
and conversion of habitat to agriculture, and, in some cases, illegal 
hunting. Conservation actions for this species may not be a priority in 
these other range countries, and these countries may be facing economic 
issues, high levels of poverty, hunting pressure, and conversion of 
caiman habitat to other uses. The lack of funding and personnel often 
makes enforcement of their legal frameworks challenging. As a result of 
differences in exploitation, management, habitat conservation status, 
or regulatory mechanisms, the broad-snouted caiman in Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay, and Uruguay remains in CITES Appendix I. Based on these 
differences in the control and management of habitat and exploitation 
as delineated by international boundaries, we consider the population 
in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay to be a separate discrete 
population.

Conclusion on Discreteness

    We have determined, based on the best available information, that 
the population of broad-snouted caiman in Argentina is discrete from 
the population in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay due to the 
significant difference in the control of exploitation, management of 
habitat, conservation status, and regulatory mechanisms between 
international boundaries. We conclude that these two populations (1) 
the population in Argentina and (2), the population in Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay,

[[Page 676]]

and Uruguay, of the broad-snouted caiman meet the requirements of our 
DPS Policy for discreteness.

Significance

    If a distinct population segment is considered discrete under one 
or more of the conditions described in the DPS policy, its biological 
and ecological significance will be considered in light of 
Congressional guidance (see Senate Report 151, 96th Congress, 1st 
Session). In making this determination, we consider available 
scientific evidence of each discrete population segment's importance to 
the taxon to which it belongs. Since precise circumstances vary 
considerably from case to case, the DPS policy does not describe all 
ways that might be used in determining the biological and ecological 
importance of a discrete population. However, the DPS policy describes 
four possible scenarios that provide evidence of a population segment's 
biological and ecological importance to the taxon to which it belongs 
(see additional discussion above under Distinct Population Segment 
Analysis).
    A population segment needs to satisfy only one of these conditions 
to be considered significant. Furthermore, other information may be 
used as appropriate to provide evidence for significance. Having 
determined that the population of broad-snouted caiman in Argentina is 
discrete from the population in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, 
we then determine the significance of these two discrete populations to 
the taxon. We evaluate the biological and ecological significance based 
on the available scientific evidence of each population segment's 
importance to the taxon to which it belongs. A population's biological 
significance is evaluated based on the principles of conservation 
biology using the concepts of redundancy, resiliency, and 
representation (see Redford et al. 2011 for additional information on 
these concepts). These concepts also can be expressed in terms of four 
viability characteristics: Abundance, spatial distribution, 
productivity, and diversity of the species.

Persistence in a Unique Ecological Setting

    The broad-snouted caiman is a wide-ranging species that occurs 
primarily in freshwater environments such as lakes, swamps, and slow-
moving rivers. Its habitat in Argentina is typical of the species' 
habitat throughout its range (including Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Uruguay). We do not have any evidence to indicate that the Argentine 
population of the broad-snouted caiman occurs in habitat that includes 
unique features not used by the taxon elsewhere in its range. 
Therefore, we conclude that neither the discrete population of broad-
snouted caiman in Argentina nor the discrete population in Bolivia, 
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay are ``significant'' as a result of 
persistence in a unique or unusual ecological setting.

Differences in Genetic Characteristics

    No data have been located that indicate that the Argentine 
population and the population in the remaining range countries are each 
significant based on genetics (Villela et al. 2008, pp. 628-635). Our 
knowledge across the range countries is sparse with respect to genetic 
diversity and integrity on the broad-snouted caiman. However, a 2008 
study indicates that genetic flux (genetic flow between members of a 
species) occurs; the species remains fairly connected through the major 
waterways within its range. River channels are important routes to 
crocodilian dispersal. The Paraguay River joins Brazil, Bolivia, 
Paraguay, and Argentina, and the populations of this species are 
connected in part through this river. The populations of this species 
are also connected between Uruguay and Argentina via the Uruguay River, 
which is the border between these two countries.
    Additionally, a 2006-2007 survey in Brazil found that C. 
latirostris is widely distributed throughout the S[atilde]o Francisco 
River basin, and its distribution pattern indicates that the 
populations within the river basin are not fragmented (Filogonio et al. 
2010, p. 964). The genetic variations of broad-snouted caiman were 
found to be closely related to patterns of these river basins, and 
indicated that there was no significant correlation between genetic 
variation and genetic distance (Villela et al. 2008, p. 6). This 
species is not only a mobile species but is also flexible in its 
habitat preferences. The river basins within its range appear to be 
sufficiently connected, despite any habitat modifications. There is no 
other information available that indicates there are significant 
differences in the populations. Based on the best available 
information, we have determined that the Argentine population of the 
broad-snouted caiman does not have any genetic characteristics that are 
markedly different from the population in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, 
and Uruguay.

Gap in the Taxon's Range

    The loss of a DPS could result in a significant gap in the range of 
a taxon, indicating that a population segment represents a significant 
resource warranting conservation under the Act (61 FR 4724). The Ninth 
Circuit Court stated ``[t]he plain language of the second significance 
factor does not limit how a gap could be important,'' National 
Association of Home Builders v. Norton, 340 F.3d 835, 846 (9th Cir. 
2003). Thus, we consider ways in which the loss of each discrete 
population of the broad-snouted caiman might result in a significant 
gap in the range of species. Its range is estimated as follows: 28 
percent in Argentina, and 72 percent in the remainder of its range: 4 
percent in Bolivia, 58 percent in Brazil, 8 percent in Paraguay, and 2 
percent in Uruguay (Larriera pers. comm. 2011).

Argentina

    We considered whether the Argentine DPS constitutes a significant 
gap in the range of the species. In 2006, the population of broad-
snouted caiman in Argentina was estimated to be 13 percent of the 
potential global population. The species is distributed in nine 
provinces in the northern part of Argentina. It is increasing within 
its range within Argentina into habitat where it had not been seen 
since the caiman ranching program began. It has been observed in a 
variety of habitats and waterways including rivers near waterfalls, 
freshwater creeks with rocky bottoms, and in agriculture and cattle 
impoundments.
    In Argentina, human impact on the species has been reduced since 
1990 through educational programs and incentives which have served to 
minimize habitat loss. The caiman ranching program (see discussion 
under Factor A below) has resulted in improvements in the quality of 
the species' habitat (such as the decrease in draining of wetlands), 
thereby increasing the range and population size of the species. Its 
rate of survival in Argentina far surpasses the normal survival rate of 
this species in the remainder of its range due to the ranching program 
(described below). Reports indicate that the Argentine population of 
this species is increasing. The captive-held stock reported in 2010 was 
39,624 (Larriera et al. 2010, p. 1), and the density of caiman surveyed 
in the wild has increased substantially (Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2009, pp. 
1-5) since surveying began in 1990.
    Argentina is the only range country that actively manages and 
conserves the broad-snouted caiman and its habitat by harvesting eggs, 
hatching the young, raising them to an age where they are more able to 
escape predators and other threats, and returning between five and ten 
percent of those hatchlings to the

[[Page 677]]

wild (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 20). Experts indicate that returning at 
least five percent of the hatchlings to the wild increases the species' 
survivability, as it mitigates for the high incidence of mortality that 
occurs in the wild even prior to hatching (Bolton 1989, Ch. 4, p. 1). 
Most caiman mortalities occur either before hatching or during the 
first few months after hatching due to factors such as flooding or nest 
predation (Bolton 1989, Ch. 4, p. 1). The release of these animals at a 
later age significantly increases their chances of survival, primarily 
due to the hatchlings' increased ability to escape predators and their 
ability to survive other factors such as nest flooding, fire ants, and 
exposure to pesticides. Because Argentina releases hatchlings into the 
wild after an age they are most susceptible to predators and flooding 
events, the population has a greater chance of survival in the wild 
than broad-snouted caiman hatchlings in the other range countries. This 
increase in survivability further distinguishes the Argentine 
population from rest of the species' range and greatly contributes to 
the resiliency (abundance, spatial distribution, and productivity) to 
the species as a whole.
    Argentina's wild caiman population is also well distributed. The 
Argentine population is considered healthy and increasing as opposed to 
the populations in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This species 
is moving into habitat where it had not been seen in many years, which 
increases the potential environmental variability within the range of 
the species. Argentina's broad-snouted caiman population helps 
contribute to the viability of the species overall; and it is providing 
a margin of safety for the species to withstand catastrophic events, 
strengthening the redundancy of the species. This expansion allows for 
adaptations in response to variations in the environment. The abundance 
of this species in Argentina contributes to the potential diversity of 
the species, particularly since Argentina constitutes the southernmost 
part of its range. Because it is at the edge of its range, this 
population may add to its adaptive capabilities, particularly if there 
is a significant gradient in temperature within the range of the 
species. Because the Argentine population is more robust than the other 
range countries, the loss of the Argentine population would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the species, particularly because it is 
believed to consist of over a quarter (approximately 28 percent) of the 
species' range.
    Argentina's active management efforts affect the quality of the 
species' habitat which subsequently contributes to the species' 
resiliency. Based on the increase in density as evidenced by the 
population counts, the significant increase of hatchlings reared in 
captivity and subsequently released, and the expansion in range, we 
find that the population of the broad-snouted caiman in Argentina 
significantly contributes to the resiliency of the species.
    We found that the success of the caiman ranching program has 
created a robust, healthy, sustainable, increasing population in 
Argentina. This distinguishes the Argentine population from rest of the 
species' range where it is not being intensely monitored and managed to 
the point where it is self-sustaining. The factors in Argentina 
including: The increase in density and population counts; large numbers 
of caiman collected from the wild, reared in captivity and subsequently 
released; and expansion in range, all contribute to the resiliency, 
representation, and redundancy of the species and its overall 
viability.
    Thus, the loss of the Argentine population would create a 
significant gap in the current range of the species. Based on this 
evaluation of this population's biological significance, we found that 
the broad-snouted caiman in Argentina is significant to the species as 
a whole. We, therefore, conclude that the population of broad-snouted 
caiman in Argentina is significant under the DPS policy because it 
contributes to the redundancy, resilience, and representation of the 
species such that the loss of this DPS would result in a significant 
gap in the range of this taxon.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay

    Because the species is widely distributed within these countries 
and constitutes 72 percent of its range, the Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, 
and Uruguay population is significant under the DPS policy because it 
also contributes to the redundancy, resilience, and representation of 
the species such that the loss of this population would result in a 
significant gap in the range of this taxon.

Conclusion on Significance

    We have determined, based on the best available information, that 
the population of broad-snouted caiman in Argentina is significant to 
the taxon and the population in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay 
is also significant to the taxon because the loss of each discrete 
population segment would create a significant gap in the current range 
of the species. Based on this evaluation of each population segment's 
significance, we found that each is significant to the species as a 
whole.

 Conclusion of DPS Analysis

    Under the DPS policy, once we have found that a population segment 
is discrete and significant, we then evaluate whether the potential DPS 
warrants endangered or threatened status under the Act, considering the 
factors enumerated under section 4(a)(1) and the statutory definitions 
for an ``endangered species'' and ``threatened species.'' Based on our 
evaluation under the DPS Policy, we propose to establish two distinct 
population segments of the broad-snouted caiman. The first is the 
population in Argentina, and the second is the population in the 
remainder of its range: Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. We will 
refer to this second population as the ``Northern DPS.'' On the basis 
of the best available information, we conclude that each of these two 
population segments meet the requirements of our DPS Policy for 
discreteness and significance. These two DPSs are each discrete due to 
the significant differences in the management of habitat, conservation 
status, exploitation, and regulatory mechanisms between the 
international boundaries of Argentina and the species in the rest of 
its range: Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. These two discrete 
population segments are clearly defined by international governmental 
boundaries and these other differences.
    The robustness of the population in Argentina significantly 
contributes to the biological and ecological health and viability of 
the species as a whole. Argentina is the only country actively managing 
the broad-snouted caiman. It also is the only country actively working 
with local people to create financial incentives to protect caiman and 
its habitat. Argentina's implementation of its ranching program 
increases the species' survivability success, which further 
distinguishes the Argentine population from the rest of the species' 
range. It was reclassified to Appendix II in Argentina, allowing for 
commercial trade in accordance with the provisions of CITES. Due to 
Argentina's intense management of this species, the survivability rate 
of the Argentine population is far higher than in the other countries 
within this species' range. This difference is further supported by the 
fact that broad-snouted caiman in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Uruguay remains listed in Appendix I of CITES as a species threatened 
with

[[Page 678]]

extinction which is or may be affected by trade, while the population 
in Argentina no longer meets the criteria for an Appendix I listing.
    We find that these two population segments meet our DPS policy for 
significance because the loss of either population (28 percent of its 
range in Argentina and 72 percent of its range in Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay, and Uruguay) would result in a significant gap in the range 
of the taxon. Based on our analysis, we find that these two populations 
meet the criteria for discreteness and significance under the DPS 
Policy due to (a) differences in management delineated by international 
boundaries, and (b) a loss of either population segment (28 percent of 
its range in Argentina and 72 percent of its range in Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay, and Uruguay) would result in a significant gap in the range 
of the taxon.

Evaluation of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4(b) of the Act and regulations promulgated to implement 
the listing provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 424) set forth the 
procedures for listing, reclassifying, 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; we must consider these same five factors in 
delisting species. Revisions to the list (adding, removing, or 
reclassifying a species) must reflect determinations made in accordance 
with these same five factors and the Act's definitions for endangered 
and threatened species Section 4(b) requires the determination of 
whether a species is threatened or endangered to be based on the best 
available science. We are to make this determination after conducting a 
review of the status of the species and taking into account any efforts 
being made by foreign governments to protect the species.
    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 following the delisting or 
downlisting and the removal or reduction of the Act's protections. 
Under section 3 of the Act, a species is ``endangered'' 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 an endangered 
species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range. The word ``species'' also includes any subspecies 
or, for vertebrates, distinct population segments.
    Following is a range wide threats analysis in which we evaluate 
whether the broad-snouted caiman is endangered or threatened in the 
Argentine DPS and the DPS which consists of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, 
Uruguay, which we will refer to as the Northern DPS.

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

    Habitat destruction and modification has increased throughout the 
species' range and is now likely the greatest threat to the survival of 
the broad-snouted caiman (Verdade et al. 2010, pp. 18-19). The 
overharvest for commercial purposes, rather than habitat destruction or 
modification, was the primary reason for the broad-snouted caiman's 
inclusion in CITES and subsequently being listed under the Act. The 
analysis of the five factors under the Act requires an investigation of 
both current and future potential factors that may impact the species, 
including the present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range. We found that data on habitat 
destruction were generally presented separately for each individual 
country. Therefore, the following analysis of the potential threats to 
the species from habitat destruction or modification generally first 
presents the specific information available for broad-snouted caiman in 
each country, and then summarizes the information that was available 
for the two DPSs.

Argentine DPS

    In some areas in Argentina, habitat destruction has significantly 
increased in recent years (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19). Argentina has 
lost substantial forested areas, and conversion of caiman habitat to 
other uses is likely to further affect the broad-snouted caiman's 
habitat in Argentina. In some cases, habitat modification actually has 
positive effects on the caiman (such as the creation of water 
impoundments, for example), and in other cases the habitat 
modifications may have a negative effect. The practice of drying swamps 
(potential caiman habitat) through channeling occurs in its habitat, 
particularly for producing soybeans (Larriera et al. 2008, p. 152). 
Landowners also commonly channelize wetlands to increase grazing land 
for cattle (which may have a positive effect). Since the early 1800s, 
Argentina's economy greatly depended on cattle grazing; however, over 
the past 10 years, Argentina has undergone significant changes in land 
use.
    The world market for soy is causing the conversion of pastures to 
soy monocultures. Soy is now Argentina's main export crop, and 
Argentina is the world's third largest producer of this commodity 
(USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) 2010a, p. 11). Argentina's 
shift toward soy has displaced cultivation of many grains and 
vegetables as well as beef production. Many established cattle ranches 
are being sold to soy investors. For example, in Salta Province, 
potential conversion to soy cropland in Northern Argentina could exceed 
over one million hectares (USDA FAS 2010b, p. 1). Cattle feed mostly on 
established introduced grasses but native grasslands also persist in 
pastures, especially along wetlands edges. Soy now covers approximately 
16.6 million hectares, more than half the country's cultivated land 
(USDA FAS 2010b, p. 10). The large scale production of soy requires the 
application of fertilizers and pesticides. As a result of this change 
in habitat use from traditional cattle grazing to primarily soy 
production in many areas, significant changes in the habitat and 
landscape occur which affect this species to the point that its former 
habitat is no longer suitable.
    Adding to this problem of habitat conversion is that Argentina's 
management of its resources is decentralized. Provincial and municipal 
governments have great autonomy, property rights are respected, and 
federal authority is relatively limited. This is particularly evident 
in control over property with respect to the conservation of natural 
resources, land use, and protection of the environment. In this 
decentralized system, there is very little comprehensive land use 
planning at all levels of government. Regulatory mechanisms that exist 
at the national and provincial levels are seldom coordinated and are 
sometimes contradictory and inefficient.
    Although habitat conversion is currently impacting the species, 
suitable broad-snouted caiman appears to exist, and the species is 
expanding into new sites, in part due to intense management of this 
species through Argentina's caiman ranching programs. For example, as 
of 2004, surveys indicated that the broad-snouted caiman population in 
Santa Fe Province increased 320 percent since the project began 
(Larriera and Imhof 2006). Observed wild population densities increased 
from an average of between 2 and 8 individuals per km in 1990, to 
between 20 and 120 individuals per km during the 2008-2009 survey 
period

[[Page 679]]

(Larriera and Siroski 2010, p. 2). The distribution of the wild 
population has expanded into areas from which the species had formerly 
disappeared (Larriera et al. 2005).
    With respect to habitat modification, some changes have positive 
effects and some have negative effects. Although this species has been 
shown to occupy disturbed habitat, much of the species' original range 
in Argentina has been altered, and significant alteration is expected 
to occur in the future due to the conversion of cattle pastures to 
monocultures such as soy, which is not desirable habitat. Increases 
have been observed in the relative abundance of the species in 
Argentina due in part to active management programs (see Factor D). 
These caiman conservation and public awareness programs have resulted 
in less habitat alteration (e.g. burned grass) and less drained 
marshland for cattle production in the nesting areas (Larriera and 
Imhof 2006). While these programs are helping, increases in habitat 
conversion to agriculture, roads and transportation, infrastructure to 
transport crops such as soy continue (USDA FAS 2010b, p. 2). Without 
additional incentives and intervention, suitable habitat for this 
species will decrease. Although it is mitigated by provincial 
governments through the caiman ranching program, habitat destruction 
and modification in Argentina is likely to continue in the foreseeable 
future. Despite the intense management of this species in Argentina, we 
conclude that the present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range continues to be a threat to the 
broad-snouted caiman.

Summary of Factor A for the Argentine DPS

    In most of the range of this species, the habitat threats are very 
similar; however, a country's management actions (refer to factor D) 
affect the status of the species. In Argentina, habitat conversion to 
agriculture continues to cause habitat degradation within the broad-
snouted caiman range, although this is being mitigated through the 
caiman ranching program. Habitat conversion is expected to increase and 
further degrade this species' habitat. The population numbers in the 
wild have significantly increased since this species was listed. Data 
collected on the distribution and abundance of the species indicate 
that the species' range has expanded and overall population numbers 
appear to be increasing (Larriera and Imhof 2006). As of 2004, surveys 
indicate that the broad-snouted caiman population in Santa Fe Province, 
Argentina, increased 320 percent since the project began (Larriera and 
Imhof 2006). Observed wild population densities here increased from an 
average of 2 to 8 individuals per km in 1990, to 20 to 120 individuals 
per km in 2008-2009 (Larriera and Siroski 2010; p. 2). The distribution 
of the wild population has also expanded into areas from which the 
species had formerly disappeared (Larriera et al. 2005). However, the 
degradation and destruction of this species' habitat continues to occur 
in Argentina. Therefore, based on the best available information, we 
find that the population in Argentina continues to be threatened by the 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat now and in the 
future.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay DPS (Northern DPS)

    In Bolivia, the broad-snouted caiman is on the edge of its range. 
Broad-snouted caiman has been found in the Pando Department, the 
Pilcomayo River area, a tributary of the Paraguay River, and in the 
Tarija department. Here, key threats, particularly in broad-snouted 
caiman habitat, include loss, conversion, and degradation of forests 
and other natural habitats and pollution of aquatic ecosystems (Byers 
et al. 2006, p. vi). Particular to this species, both agriculture and 
pollution have been indicated to be significant threats. In Bolivia, 
vast areas have been drained for agricultural purposes (also see the 
discussion under Factor E).
    Deforestation in lowland Bolivia exceeded 1,500 km\2\ (579 mi\2\) 
per year during the 1980s and early 1990s (Steininger et al. 2001, pp. 
856-866). Currently, about 300,000 ha (741,316 ac) of forest is lost 
each year for a variety of reasons including expanding agriculture, due 
both to large-scale industrial agriculture and to small-scale 
colonization and cultivation; large-scale infrastructure projects 
(roads, dams, energy infrastructure); expanding coca production; forest 
fires; illegal logging; and climate change causing changes in 
geographical and altitudinal distribution of species and ecosystems 
(Byers et al. 2006, p. vi).
    Factors such as low land prices and economic policies promoting an 
export economy have led to a rapid increase in the growth of the 
private agricultural sector (Pacheco 1998). Both large-scale and small-
scale farmers contribute to the expansion of the agriculture and 
livestock frontier, and both thrive in the near absence of regulatory 
oversight and control (Byers et al. 2008, p. 22). In Bolivia, large 
tracts of land have been cleared particularly for sugarcane plantations 
and soybean production (Aide and Grau 2004, p. 1915; Pacheco 2004, pp. 
205-225). The highest abundance values of this species were recorded in 
``atajados'' (dikes) and artificial ponds. The tropical forests of 
Bolivia are found in the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, and Pando, 
and northern areas of La Paz and Cochabamba. The deforestation to the 
north and east of Santa Cruz is primarily due to large-scale agro-
industry, whereas the areas of deforestation around Pando and Beni tend 
to be mainly a result of small-scale colonization and clearing. Large-
scale agriculture responds mainly to external market demands (e.g., 
biofuels, sugarcane, soy; principally from the United States, Brazil, 
and Argentina), while smaller farmers respond mainly to the domestic 
market.
    The government actively promotes the development of infrastructure 
projects in the Bolivian lowlands, in particular extensive road 
construction and improvement (Byers et al. 2008 p. 22). Road projects 
in northwest Bolivia are being considered, including paving of the 
``Northern Corridor,'' which is part of the Peru-Brazil-Bolivia hub of 
the Initiative for Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South 
America (IIRSA, http://www.iirsa.org).
    Contamination of water bodies due to sugar mills, which empty their 
waste into the Rio Grande (Aparicio and Rios 2008, p. 114), also 
occurs. Sugar mills are commonly known to produce high levels of air 
and solid waste pollutants as byproducts (U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency [EPA] 1997, 26 pp). Waste water from sugar mills can rapidly 
deplete available oxygen in water creating an inhospitable environment 
for aquatic life and for species that depend on aquatic environments. 
In the Bermejo River sub-basin in Tarija, Bolivia, based on the absence 
of nests and the low number of individuals recorded during nest counts, 
researchers believe that this population of broad-snouted caiman is 
probably not reproductively active due to water pollution (Aparicio and 
Rios 2008, p. 115). This particular area borders wetlands and estuaries 
in Argentina, where higher quality suitable habitat is available (OSDE 
2005b, p. 2) for the species and is likely less disturbed and polluted 
by humans. Because the Bermejo River sub-basin in Bolivia faces threats 
due to sugarcane plantations and contamination from sugar mill 
activities, it is not likely to sustain a healthy population of broad-
snouted caiman.
    Although natural resource managers recognize the importance of 
wetlands

[[Page 680]]

(Byers et al. 2008, p. 14), economic considerations usually outweigh 
concerns regarding habitat loss and destruction in Bolivia. The 
activities described under this factor, such as agricultural production 
and expansion, sugar mill activities, roads, and other infrastructure 
development, affect broad-snouted caiman habitat. Its habitat is 
primarily being affected due to agriculture and pollution. Based on the 
above factors, we find that the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range continues to be a 
threat to this species in Bolivia.
    In Brazil, agriculture, pollution, and hydroelectric dams have been 
indicated to be significant threats to the species (Verdade et al. 
2010, p. 1). In this country, vast areas have been drained for 
agricultural purposes. The effects from agricultural activities on the 
species can be either consumptive (for example, destruction of nests 
and eggs by machinery) or nonconsumptive (for example, loss of access 
to traditional nesting or feeding sites), and these effects are 
generally attributed to habitat loss or fragmentation. Pollution has 
been a considerable problem in rivers that flow through Brazil's large 
cities. S[atilde]o Paulo, Brazil's largest city, is in the center of 
the species' range in Brazil. The species exists here in artificial 
reservoirs, ponds, marshes, and small wetlands. Construction of large 
hydroelectric dams (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19) to support Brazil's 
human population has been indicated to be one of the primary threats 
here to broad-snouted caiman. Most of the natural wetlands of the 
Paran[aacute] and S[atilde]o Francisco River systems in Brazil have 
been dammed for these large hydroelectric stations. Construction of 
dams can have severe impacts on ecosystems (McCartney et al. 2001, p. 
v). For example, a dam blocks the flow of sediment downstream. During 
construction of dams, disturbance to soils at the construction site is 
one of the largest concerns. This leads to downstream erosion and 
increased sediment buildup in a reservoir.
    Because the construction of the Jupifi and Ilha Solteira Dams in 
the 1970s caused the loss of a significant amount of floodplains of the 
Paran[aacute] River, a survey was conducted prior to construction of 
the Porto Primavera Dam (also known as the Engineer S[eacute]rgio Motta 
Dam). The Porto Primavera Dam is 28 km (17 mi) upstream from the 
confluence of the Paranapanema and Paran[aacute] Rivers. This dam 
created the Porto Primavera Reservoir and was filled in two stages: The 
first in December 1998 and the second in March 2001. The purpose of the 
1995 survey was to determine what species would be affected by the 
construction. The survey was done in the Paran[aacute] River basin 
between S[atilde]o Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul states. The number of 
caiman nests found during the survey indicated that at least 630 
reproductive females were present at that time. The presence of so many 
nests suggested a large total population (Mour[atilde]o and Campos 
1995, pp. 27-29) in that area. After the study was completed, a 
recommendation was made to create a reserve to protect habitat 
downstream of the dam; however, it is unclear whether a reserve was 
established as a result of the dam being constructed.
    With the construction of Porto Primavera Dam, the last floodplains 
of the Paran[aacute] River within the state of S[atilde]o Paulo 
disappeared, and with them, those populations of wild animals dependent 
on wetlands for survival also disappeared. Lakes, swamps, and 
seasonally flooded areas contribute to hydrological ecosystem processes 
by retaining water and mitigating flooding. These wetlands and lakes 
are important ecosystem components and are particularly important to 
the broad-snouted caiman. When altered, they no longer are capable of 
supporting their unique assemblages of species and maintaining 
important ecological processes and functions, upon which the caiman 
relies. Caiman use the S[atilde]o Francisco River main channel and its 
tributaries as dispersion routes; however, populations of individuals 
of all age and sizes occur mainly in lentic (still water such as lakes, 
ponds, or swamps) environments. Studies on the impact of the 
construction of large hydroelectric stations and how they affect the 
density and reproduction of broad-snouted caiman populations were 
conducted using aerial surveys (Mour[atilde]o and Campos 1995, pp. 27-
29). The surveys indicate major damage of the habitat due to these 
dams. An unusual finding with respect to caiman was that researchers 
found that the destruction of floating vegetation is particularly 
destructive. This is likely because floating vegetation is used by 
caiman for nest construction.
    In 2001, the government of Brazil launched a plan for the 
S[atilde]o Francisco River basin in order to minimize human impacts and 
implement restoration efforts (Andrade 2002 in Filogonio et al. 2010, 
p. 962). This was a huge undertaking involving federal and local 
governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities, and 
the public. An initial report was issued in 2005 that indicated that 
progress had been made in terms of identifying these four issues to be 
addressed: (1) River basin and coastal zone environmental analysis; (2) 
public and stakeholder participation; (3) organizational structure 
development; and (4) watershed management program formulation. As of 
2005, the studies and projects had all been completed (www.oas.org/osde, accessed March 9, 2011). However, the implementation process is 
still underway (www.ana.gov.br/gefsf, accessed March 9, 2011).
    Caiman habitat is still severely degraded in Brazil. Broad-snouted 
caiman in the S[atilde]o Francisco River basin occurred not only in 
preserved habitats but also in habitats affected strongly by human 
occupation. This attests to the species' highly flexible nature. 
Researchers even found broad-snouted caiman in sewage and urbanized 
areas, showing that the species is fairly resistant to human impacts 
and that habitat modification has varied effects on the species' 
distribution. The data indicated that habitat modification may be a 
variable in determining the small size of these natural populations, 
rather than affecting the species' distribution pattern, at least in 
Brazil (Filogonio et al. 2010, p. 964). A 2006-2007 survey found that 
most of the surveyed sites presented some degree of human impact 
(Filogonio et al. 2010, p. 962). Habitat modification included: 
Conversion to pasture in 46 surveyed localities (72 percent), roads (25 
localities; 39 percent), urbanization (23 localities; 36 percent) and 
monocultures (Filogonio et al. 2010, p. 962). Of the areas surveyed, 
broad-snouted caiman was present (positively identified as broad-
snouted caiman rather than a different caiman species or unknown caiman 
species), in 39 localities surveyed (61 percent), and was widely 
distributed along the river basin. Its presence was detected in all 
lentic water body types, in the three biomes: Cerrado, Caatinga, and 
Atlantic Forest (Filogonio et al. 2010, pp. 963-964). However, the 
researchers did not attempt to estimate population size. They observed 
a number of populations with low numbers of individuals, which were 
scattered throughout the survey sites. During 2006 and 2007 surveys, 
researchers found the presence of caiman species in only 17 
municipalities in 64 locations along the S[atilde]o Francisco River 
basin in Brazil.
    The density data found in Brazil were similar to that found by 
Borteiro (2006, 2008), who also found broad-snouted caiman widespread 
in Uruguay, occurring in 29 of the 36 localities surveyed (81 percent 
of the sampled areas). Caiman in Brazil were observed in lotic 
(actively moving water) habitats,

[[Page 681]]

and considering that river channels are important routes to crocodilian 
dispersal, it is logical to predict not only physical movement of C. 
latirostris throughout its range, but also genetic flux within the 
river basin. The distribution pattern in Brazil indicates that the 
populations within the river basin are not fragmented, but seem to 
exist in low numbers. Despite this data, trend data are lacking 
regarding the population in Brazil and the health of the species 
overall. The construction of hydroelectric dams and associated habitat 
degradation such as pollution and environmental degradation is 
currently affecting broad-snouted caiman and its habitat. Pollution is 
a severe problem--caiman habitat overlaps S[atilde]o Paulo, Brazil's 
largest city, and these polluted rivers that flow through Brazil's 
large cities.
    Although a plan was initiated in 2001 to address issues associated 
with the construction of the dam in central caiman habitat, 10 years 
later, there is no evidence that caiman habitat has improved in Brazil, 
nor does it appear that caiman are a main concern of the plan. The 
conservation of broad-snouted caiman in Brazil does not appear to be a 
priority, and there is very little current information available 
regarding this species in Brazil. Based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information available, we find that the 
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of this 
species' habitat is a threat to the species and is likely to continue 
in the future in Brazil.
    In Paraguay, no recent data are available specifically for this 
species. However, we do know that over the past 60 years, widespread 
and uncontrolled deforestation practices have continued throughout 
Paraguay, particularly in the eastern region (World Land Trust 2009, p. 
1). In 1945, 8.8 million ha (21,745,273 ac) of forest covered this 
region, but currently it is estimated that less than 1.6 million ha 
(3,953,686 ac) remain (Huerta 2011, p. 1). Most of Paraguay's tropical 
moist forests are in the eastern region of the country near the 
Paran[aacute] River. This river is 4,880 km (3,032 mi) in length and 
extends from the confluence of the Grande and Parana[iacute]ba rivers 
in southern Brazil. It runs through the Atlantic rainforest, also known 
as Mata Atl[acirc]ntica. The Atlantic Forest stretches from northeast 
Brazil along the Brazilian Atlantic coastline into Uruguay, inland into 
the northeast portion of Argentina and eastern Paraguay; and partially 
overlaps the range of the broad-snouted caiman. Imhof (unpubl. 2006) 
estimated that 7 percent of the species' range is in Paraguay. Within 
Paraguay, the Atlantic Forest has been under increasing pressure from 
development. In Paraguay, the Atlantic Forest is reduced to one large 
tract, San Rafael, and increasingly numerous scattered and fragmented 
small patches. More than half of the original area of the Atlantic 
rainforests had been degraded by the turn of the last century, and more 
recently only one percent was found to be still in its original state 
(Wilson 1988, in Rivas et al. 1999, chapter 5). Conservative estimates 
have placed the remaining forest cover in Paraguay at approximately 6 
percent of the original cover (IUCN 1988a). Threats to this remaining 
forest cover include fragmentation and acceleration of large-scale 
agriculture and ranching projects, commercial logging, and the 
construction of hydroelectric dams (Rivas et al. 1999, ch. 5) such as 
the Itaipu hydroelectric dam on the borders of Paraguay and Brazil.
    Habitat destruction has increased throughout the species' range in 
Paraguay, and is believed to be one of the greatest threats to its 
survival in Paraguay (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19). Approximately 98 
percent of Paraguay's population lives in Paraguay's eastern region, 
with a population density of 18.6 per km\2\, compared with 0.2 per 
km\2\ in the western, or Chaco, region. A contributing factor is that 
in the eastern region, the soil is more suitable for cultivating crops; 
therefore, cattle production, forestry products, and agricultural crops 
are widespread in the range of this species in Paraguay. Paraguay's 
main agricultural exports are soybeans and cotton (Harcourt and Sayer 
1996; USDA FAS 2010, p. 2). Although the overharvest for commercial 
purposes, rather than habitat destruction or modification, was the 
primary reason for this species being listed under the Act, threats 
have changed. Now, the largest threat seems to be habitat destruction 
or modification due to agriculture and development of urban 
infrastructure, which still occur to a large extent in Paraguay, 
particularly within the range of broad-snouted caiman. Paraguay 
implemented a Zero Deforestation Law as of 2004; however prior to that 
law, its rate of deforestation was the second highest in the world (WWF 
2006, p. 1). Despite the enactment of this law, the best available 
information indicates that this habitat destruction and modification 
still significantly affect this species. We have no indication that 
conditions have improved in Paraguay since this species was listed 
under the Act; rather, habitat loss has increased. Therefore, we find 
that the present and threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat in Paraguay continues to be a threat to 
broad-snouted caiman. However, we will review the information we 
receive during the comment period on this proposed rule.
    In Uruguay, very little information has been collected about how 
habitat degradation affects the broad-snouted caiman. Based on 
available information, current threats to this species' habitat in 
Uruguay are likely due to agriculture and cattle ranching which occur 
within this species' range. Cattle and sheep farming in Uruguay occupy 
60 percent of its land (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United 
Nations [FAO], p. 4). Other agricultural activities such as production 
for dairy, fodder for cattle, and crops such as rice consist of 
approximately 20 percent. Secondary, related effects related to 
agriculture are habitat degradation and pollution due to pesticide use, 
erosion, and altered ecosystems. The surveys conducted in the early 
2000s indicate that caiman do exist in manmade habitats in northwestern 
Uruguay. However, the current amount of suitable habitat for this 
species in Uruguay is unknown. Researchers suggest that the apparent 
increase in this species' population may be due to the construction of 
agriculture impoundments, which provide habitat for broad-snouted 
caiman in recent decades (Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 248). In the area 
surveyed to determine caiman presence and abundance, impoundments were 
being used mainly for irrigation of rice (69 percent) and sugar cane 
crops (31 percent) in the [Ntilde]aqui[ntilde][aacute] stream basin. In 
the Lenguazo stream basin, 80 percent was used for irrigation of sugar 
cane and 20 percent was used for other food crops.
    Two other factors that likely affect caiman habitat here are 
drought and hydroelectric dams (United Nations Environment Programme 
[UNEP] 2004, pp. 78-85; Borteiro et al. 2008, p. 248; Verdade et al. 
2010, p. 20). Uruguay has experienced severe drought in the past few 
years (IPS NEWS 2011), which has had a significant effect on 
agricultural and cattle production, and this very likely affects caiman 
habitat. The construction and existence of hydroelectric dams to 
generate electricity may be an additional threat to the broad-snouted 
caiman (UNEP 2004, pp. 78-85). Uruguay is highly dependent on 
hydroelectricity, and these hydroelectric dams are within broad-snouted 
caiman habitat. Although we know these activities occur within the 
range of the broad-snouted caiman in Uruguay, there is very little

[[Page 682]]

information regarding the status of the species in Uruguay. We have no 
evidence that there has been any change to the status of the species in 
Uruguay. We do not know population trends in Uruguay, and threats to 
the species' habitat such as agricultural activities, drought, and 
hydroelectric dams exist. There is no information to indicate that 
habitat modification or destruction has decreased such that the 
population trend is stable or increasing. Researchers here recommend 
more surveys of broad-snouted caiman at a larger scale in northern 
Uruguay to assess the usage of manmade habitats by caiman in order to 
apply this knowledge to caiman conservation and management strategies. 
Given the lack of evidence that indicates that Uruguay's population of 
broad-snouted caiman has either increased or has stabilized since its 
inclusion under the Act, we find that the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range 
continues to be a threat to the species in Uruguay.

Summary of Factor A for Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay 
(Northern) DPS

    In most of the range of this species, the habitat threats are very 
similar; however, a country's management actions (refer to factor D) 
may affect the status of the species. In Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Uruguay, although these countries are making progress with respect to 
habitat modification and destruction and some have adopted relevant 
conservation laws (see Factor D), habitat loss continues to occur. 
Increasing human populations, development of hydroelectric projects, 
and draining of wetlands also have caused habitat degradation. 
Conversion of broad-snouted caiman habitat to agricultural plantations 
occurs commonly in these countries, and adequate management plans in 
these countries for this species are not in place. We seek information 
on the status of the species, particularly in Bolivia, Brazil, 
Paraguay, and Uruguay, as part of this proposed rule. Although the 
species is widespread, we have no information to indicate that the 
status of the species has changed in these four countries, and there is 
little to no population trend information available in these countries. 
Based on a review of the best available information, we find the 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range in 
these four countries is a continued threat to the species.

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

    The overharvest for commercial purposes was the primary reason for 
the broad-snouted caiman's inclusion in Appendix I of CITES and 
subsequent listing under the Act. The species suffered due to effects 
of unregulated exploitation between 1930 and 1980. Protections were put 
in place because the species had suffered substantial population 
declines throughout its range due to overexploitation through the 
commercial crocodilian skin trade. Under this factor, we examine how 
overutilization within each country has changed since the species was 
listed under the Act, and then we discuss this factor with respect to 
international trade and its regulation through CITES.

Argentine DPS

    In Argentina, illegal hunting was widespread through the late 
1980s, but decreased in the early 1990s (Micucci and Waller 1995, pp. 
81-108) due to the proliferation of caiman ranching programs and the 
enforcement of national and provincial regulations (see Factor D). 
Between the 1940s and early 1990s, reports indicate that more than 
700,000 caiman skins were produced from Corrientes Province in 
Argentina (estimated in Micucci and Waller (1995) in Pi[ntilde]a et al. 
2010, p. 4). Some of these skins were illegally obtained; however, 
there has been no report of illegal hunting since 1998 (Larriera et al. 
2008, p. 143). Since the species was listed both under CITES and the 
Act, a significant change in public perception and awareness regarding 
this species has occurred. Now, the species is thought to be managed 
sustainably in Argentina (Jelden 2010, pers. comm.; Verdade et al. 
2010, p. 19; Woodward 2010, p. 3). Local people participate in caiman 
ranching programs in which they locate nests and harvest eggs from 
these nests (Larriera et al. 2008; Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19) and take 
them to captive-rearing facilities. These individuals, primarily 
cattle-ranchers, are compensated for the eggs. The communities within 
the range of the broad-snouted caiman have an understanding of the 
caiman ranching program, and they no longer have a need or desire to 
illegally hunt these animals because individuals earn an income from 
harvesting eggs. This is due in part to a long-standing public 
awareness program and significant community involvement in protecting 
this species (Larriera et al. 2008, p. 145).
    The Government of Argentina has had a long history of research and 
active management of its population of the broad-snouted caiman, 
particularly since 1990. Currently, there are seven ranching programs 
registered with the Federal government in Argentina. Three of them 
function as educational programs, with no commercial exploitation. The 
non-commercial ranching operations are in Entre R[iacute]os, Chaco, and 
Corrientes Provinces. There are four commercial ranching programs: two 
in Formosa Province, one in Corrientes Province, and one in Santa Fe 
Province. The ranching programs in Formosa, Corrientes, and Chaco are 
for both the broad-snouted caiman and yacare caiman. The programs in 
Entre R[iacute]os and Santa Fe are for only broad-snouted caiman. Each 
ranching program showed an increase in the number of eggs collected 
since the program began. This indicates an upward trend in population 
numbers.

Ranching Programs in Argentina

    On cattle ranches in Argentina, landowners commonly channelize the 
wetlands to increase grazing land for cattle; this subsequently 
provides suitable caiman habitat. Most habitat preferred by the caiman 
(swamps with heavy vegetation) are considered unproductive agricultural 
land. In the past, the swampy areas have been drained for conversion to 
agricultural lands. However, by placing an economic value on preserving 
caiman habitat through compensation from the ranching program, habitat 
destruction can be reduced. Additionally, by providing monetary 
compensation to ranch employees for each nest they locate, there is 
incentive for ranch owners and employees to protect the wetlands and 
caiman nesting areas. As of 2006, there had been a 30 percent increase 
in the caiman nesting areas on cattle ranches where caiman egg harvest 
occurs (Larriera et al. 2006). For example, the caiman nesting area of 
the Lucero Ranch (Estancia) in Santa Fe Province was 830 ha (2,051 ac) 
in 1990, and increased to 1,060 ha (2,619 ac) in 2004. Larriera 
suggests that one reason for the increased population density may be 
due to a decline in the practice of burning and drying wetlands for 
economic reasons, in addition to the dispersion of female broad-snouted 
caiman into new habitat due to the caiman ranching program.
    In the wild, as many as 60 to 70 percent of the eggs do not hatch 
(Smith and Webb 1985; Woodward et al. 1989, p. 124). Estimated survival 
of hatchlings in the wild has been as low as 10 to 20 percent, 
depending on environmental conditions (e.g., frost and predation can 
alter survival (Aparicio and Rios 2008,

[[Page 683]]

p. 109); see discussion under Factors C and D below). In Woodward, 
researchers explained that in order to increase survival rate of 
American alligators, the practice of egg collection has been 
implemented to preclude embryo mortality due to factors such as 
depredation, flooding, and desiccation. In the Argentina ranching 
program, to increase survivability, young caiman are reintroduced to 
their former nesting site after they have passed critical life stages 
in which they are more susceptible to factors such as predation and 
nest flooding (Larriera 2003). Removal and incubation of eggs taken 
from the wild increases hatchling survivability because the larger the 
caiman is, the greater likelihood it has of long-term survival in the 
wild (Woodward et al. 1989, p. 124).
    High mortality can occur during the first few weeks of incubation 
in the wild; one study found that highest embryo mortality of alligator 
eggs occurred between days 7 and 16 of incubation (Joanen and McNease 
1987 in Woodward et al. 1989, p. 124). In the caiman ranching programs 
in Argentina, the practice is to remove all eggs from all the nests in 
collection areas that are accessible and not flooded, burned, 
depredated, or necessary for survival studies (Larriera 1995). Between 
the months of December and January, eggs are collected soon after 
laying. Caiman ranch project managers pay cattle ranch employees for 
each located nest, and each nest is assigned a number. The nests are 
marked so that young hatched and reared in captivity can be returned to 
the same area. Each ranching program maintains records of how many are 
collected, how many are reared, and how many individuals are later 
released back into the wild.
    Artificial incubation has been demonstrated to enhance hatch 
success in addition to early development of hatchlings (Ferguson 1985, 
Joanen and McNease 1987 in Woodward et al. 1989, p. 124). Caiman 
ranching programs in Argentina use various methods in artificial 
incubation to increase the success rate. For example, small temperature 
variances can be used to accelerate the growth of hatchlings. Animals 
reared at a slightly higher temperature (22.4 [deg]C; 72.3 [deg]F) grow 
faster than those maintained at a lower temperature (18.2 [deg]C; 65 
[deg]F) (Pi[ntilde]a and Larriera 2002, pp. 387-391). Hatching success 
and survival are not negatively affected by artificial incubation 
temperature, as long as it is within the appropriate temperature range 
for this species (Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2003, pp. 199-201). For broad-
snouted caiman, eggs incubated at 29 or 31 [deg]C (84-88 [deg]F) 
produced 100 percent females, while at 33 [deg]C (91 [deg]F) 100 
percent males were produced. Incubation at a higher temperature (34.5 
[deg]C; 94 [deg]F) induced production of both sexes (Simoncini et al. 
2008, p. 231).
    Young are marked by removing selected caudal scutes corresponding 
to hatch year and nest origin. Hatchlings are raised for nine months in 
concrete pools until November, when some are removed for reintroduction 
to the original nest site. The decision on how many young will be 
retained in captivity for commercial production; as well as how many 
will be reintroduced to the wild depends on the status of the wild 
population in the area from which the eggs were harvested. Argentina 
provides reports to the CITES Secretariat in accordance with CITES 
Resolution Conf. 11.16. If there is a high population density in the 
wild, more young are retained and raised for commercial purposes.

Chaco Province

    El Cachap[eacute] Wildlife Refuge (Refugio de Vida Silvestre El 
Cachap[eacute]) is a conservation and sustainable-use project developed 
through an agreement between a private landowner and Fundaci[oacute]n 
Vida Silvestre Argentina in Chaco Province. The project was established 
in 1996 for the ranching of both yacare and broad-snouted caiman (Cossu 
et al. 2007, p. 330), and it also conducts ecotourism activities. El 
Cachap[eacute] is in the center of the harvest area, and encompasses 
1,760 hectares (ha) (4,349 acres (ac)). Between 1998 and 2004, the 
Chaco program collected 4,867 eggs and released 1,236 yearlings 
(Larriera and Imhof 2006) within the Chaco Province. A population 
survey conducted over 60,000 ha (148,263 ac) of the harvest area in 
Chaco Province indicates that there was an average density of 4.0 
individuals of C. latirostris per km during the 1999-2000 study period 
(Prado 2005), but we are unaware of any additional data collected since 
that time. This conservation ranching program is working towards 
increasing population numbers of this species in the Chaco Province 
(Verdade 2010, pp. 18-22). We are requesting additional information 
pertaining to population data for all provinces, including the Chaco 
Province, as part of this proposed rule.

Corrientes Province

    An experimental program in Corrientes Province was established in 
2004, based on an agreement between a company called Yacar[eacute] 
Por[aacute] S.A. and the Direcci[oacute]n Provincial de Recursos 
Naturales (Provincial Directorate of Natural Resources, Corrientes 
Province). The experimental program initially conducted surveys and 
included a small-scale collection of eggs. Population surveys for 
yacare and broad-snouted caiman in the province were conducted to 
determine the feasibility and biological sustainability of a commercial 
ranching program (Micucci and Waller 2005) and now this is a commercial 
operation. In preparation for the experimental ranching program in the 
Province of Corrientes, the numbers of broad-snouted caiman nests in 
three study areas were surveyed. In nesting seasons 2004-2005 and 2005-
2006, one area maintained its number of nests and the other two areas 
showed increases resulting in a total of 165 nests observed in the 
first season; and 265 nests observed in the second season (Larriera et 
al. 2008). The first egg collection was conducted in 2005 (Jenkins et 
al. 2006, p. 27). In late 2010, 500 hatchlings were released. As of 
2010, there were 4,736 hatchlings and 12,793 individuals over one year 
in age in captivity (Larriera 2010, p. 1).

Formosa Province

    The program in Formosa Province (in the most northern part of the 
species range in Argentina) was established in 2001, based on an 
agreement between a company called Caimanes de Formosa S.R.L. and the 
Direcci[oacute]n de Fauna y Parques de Formosa (Directorate of Wildlife 
and Parks of Formosa) under the Ministry of Production (Jenkins et al. 
2006). The first egg collection in Formosa Province was in 2002. The 
Formosa program collected 13,050 eggs between 2002 and 2004, and 
released 1,265 young (Larriera and Imhof 2006). Surveys of the combined 
yacare caiman and broad-snouted caiman populations in Formosa have 
indicated that the wild population densities have increased from a 
range of 2.3 to 66 individuals per km in 2002 (Siroski 2003; Siroski 
and Pi[ntilde]a 2006), to 22 to 238 individuals per km in 2008 
(Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2008).

Santa Fe Province

    The Santa Fe program (in the southernmost part of the species' 
range in Argentina) is the largest of the approved programs; this 
province has the largest population of broad-snouted caiman in the wild 
in Argentina. Proyecto Yacar[eacute], in the province of Santa Fe, 
Argentina, was established in 1990, with an agreement between the 
Ministry of Agriculture of the Province of Santa Fe and a non-
governmental organization called Mutual del Personal Civil de la 
Naci[oacute]n (Benefit of Civil Personnel of the Nation) to improve the

[[Page 684]]

conservation status of the broad-snouted caiman and its wetland 
ecosystem (Larriera and Imhof 2000). The northern part of the Province 
of Santa Fe contains 80 percent of the wild broad-snouted caiman 
population in Argentina. Early on, the Caiman Specialist Group (CSG) 
identified ranching programs in Argentina as a high priority for 
species conservation (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19). It described the 
program in Santa Fe Province as a model for other Argentine provinces 
where habitat still remains and the wild population is large. In 1999, 
the management for sustainable use of broad-snouted caiman reached a 
commercial scale (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19).
    Between 1990 and 2004, the Santa Fe program harvested 1,410 of 
1,945 identified nests and produced 35,197 hatchlings from 47,948 eggs 
(Larriera and Imhof 2006). Of the hatchlings that survived, 15,120 
yearlings were returned to the wild and 14,046 were retained for 
commercial use (Larriera and Imhof 2006). The number of nests found in 
the collection area increased from 14 (1990-1991) to 439 (2003-2004), 
resulting in an increase from 372 to 12,031 eggs collected per year 
during the same time period (Larriera and Imhof 2006). Mean clutch size 
in Santa Fe Province has been reported to be 35 eggs per nest, and the 
natural incubation period is around 70 days (Larriera and Imhof 2000).
    As of 2004, monitoring the wild population in the collection areas 
indicated that the broad-snouted caiman population in Santa Fe 
increased 320 percent since the project began (Larriera and Imhof 
2006). Observed wild population densities increased from an average of 
2 to 8 individuals per km in 1990, to 20 to 120 individuals per km in 
2008-2009 (Larriera and Siroski 2010, p. 2). This program has resulted 
in increased numbers of broad-snouted caiman in the wild in areas 
surveyed and expansion of nesting areas (Larriera and Imhof 2000, 2006; 
Larriera et al. 2006). The distribution of the wild population has 
expanded into areas from which the species had formerly disappeared 
(Larriera et al. 2005).

International Trade and Regulation Under CITES

    CITES provides varying degrees of protection to more than 32,000 
species of animals and plants that are traded as whole specimens, 
parts, or products. CITES regulates the import, export, and reexport of 
specimens, parts, and products of CITES-listed plant and animal species 
(also see discussion under Factor D). Trade is managed through a system 
of permits and certificates that are issued by the designated CITES 
Management and Scientific Authorities of each CITES Party (http://www.cites.org). In the United States, the Scientific and Management 
Authorities reside in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    Under CITES, a species is listed in one of three appendices; 
listing in each Appendix has a corresponding level of protection (i.e., 
regulation of international trade), and different permit requirements 
(CITES 2007). Appendix II allows for commercial trade and includes 
species requiring regulation of international trade in order to ensure 
that trade of the species is compatible with the species' survival. At 
times a species may be listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered 
Species Act, and concurrently listed under Appendix II of CITES, rather 
than the more restrictive Appendix I, which does not allow commercial 
trade of wild specimens, except under limited circumstances. Although 
CITES Appendix II allows for commercial trade, in order for specimens 
of this species to be traded internationally, a determination must be 
made that the specimens were legally obtained; and that the export will 
not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild. CITES 
Appendix I includes species that are ``threatened with extinction which 
are or may be affected by trade.'' Appendix I has a further restriction 
that a CITES import permit must be issued by the importing country 
after finding that the specimen will not be used for primarily 
commercial purposes.
    The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) at UNEP manages a 
CITES Trade Database on behalf of the CITES Secretariat. Each Party to 
CITES is responsible for compiling and submitting annual reports to the 
CITES Secretariat regarding their country's international trade in 
species protected under CITES. The trade database (www.unep-wcmc.org/citestrade) indicates that between 2000 and 2009, 11,837 broad-snouted 
caiman parts and products (primarily leather and skins), plus an 
additional 1,210 kilograms (2,662 pounds) of such parts and products 
were exported. The vast majority of exports were from Argentina, and 
the database did not indicate any trends in the trade data to cause 
concern. There were very few exports from the other range countries 
during the period reviewed.
    If the proposed rule to reclassify the Argentine population and 
accompanying Special Rule are finalized, then commercial exports of 
broad-snouted caiman products from Argentina to the United States would 
be allowed, provided that certain conditions are met. We do not believe 
this potential increase in international trade is likely to threaten or 
endanger wild broad-snouted caiman based on Argentina's management and 
monitoring of the caiman ranching program. However, exports of broad-
snouted caiman and its parts and products from the rest of the range 
countries would still be regulated under CITES Appendix I and as 
endangered under the Act.

Summary of Factor B for Argentine DPS

    In Argentina, the legal harvest does not appear to have negative 
impacts on the species based on reported harvest, nest counts, and egg 
harvest trends (Larriera et al. 2010, pp. 1-2; Larriera and Siroski 
2010, pp. 1-5). We believe that adequate protections are in place under 
Federal and provincial law and regulations in Argentina. Broad-snouted 
caiman that hatched in captivity and were released near their former 
nesting site have successfully matured and reproduced in the wild 
(Larriera et al. 2006). For example, during the summers of 2001 and 
2002, seven females released as part of Proyecto Yacar[eacute] were 
recaptured while attending their nests. The females were between 9 and 
10 years old at the time of capture. Their clutch sizes and hatching 
success were similar to those of wild females of unknown age also 
captured during the season. Mortality of eggs and hatchlings in the 
wild can exceed 95 percent (Hutton 1984 in Larriera et al. 2008, p. 
154). This indicates that released ranched yearlings can survive and 
reproduce at least as successfully as their wild counterparts, and may 
have a greater rate of survival.
    Research also indicates that this practice of releasing a 
percentage of captive-hatched juveniles is a valuable management tool 
for crocodilian species. This is because releasing them into the wild 
at an age of 8-10 months, rather than at hatching, has been shown to 
enhance their chances of survival (Elsey et al. 1992, p. 671). 
Survivorship in juvenile alligators has been shown to be a function of 
size, with survivorship increasing as size increases (Woodward et al. 
1989, p. 124).
    Wild populations in the collection areas are increasing based on 
egg collection and density surveys (Larriera et al. 2010). Despite the 
fact that all accessible nests are harvested in the collection areas 
and the number of yearlings returned to the wild is variable, the Santa 
Fe program has resulted in higher population densities. Increased 
reproduction in released

[[Page 685]]

animals, a greater number of nests located and harvested, and the 
observation of broad-snouted caiman in areas where they had been 
extirpated (Larriera and Imhof 2006; Larriera et al. 2008, pp. 143-172) 
have also been observed. What may be most important to the survival of 
the broad-snouted caiman, however, is that nesting areas are now 
protected by local inhabitants who have an economic interest in 
maintaining the wild populations. Due to public awareness programs and 
monetary incentives for locals who collect eggs, there has been no 
report of illegal harvest since 1998.
    The information reported on ranching programs indicate increased 
population numbers in Argentina of this species based on nest counts 
and egg harvest reports (Jenkins et al. 2006, pp. 26-27). For example, 
in the 1991 season in Santa Fe, 10 nests were harvested; 14 nests were 
located, and 237 hatchlings were produced. In 2003, 228 nests were 
located, 304 were identified, and 5,638 hatchlings were produced (p. 
27). The current population survey methods used in Argentina are not 
entirely reliable as a tool for establishing direct relationships with 
populations in the wild, but they provide a general idea of the 
increase in caiman numbers. Prior determination of density or absolute 
abundance of nests prior to the removal of eggs is a more reliable way 
of determining the population numbers. Although there is not accurate 
population trend data for this species in the wild (Micucci 2010 pers. 
comm.), we consider the egg harvest data to be the best available 
information. Micucci points out that the information provided directly 
by nest counts and night surveys is more reliable and direct than egg 
harvest counts, at least in environments with large fluctuations in 
water mass, which is the case of this species, particularly in 
Argentina (2010 pers. comm.). We acknowledge that the current 
population survey methods used in Argentina are not the most reliable 
means of providing population estimates of this species in the wild; 
however, the data collected indicate an upward trend in population 
numbers for this species.
    A secondary concern in the management of this species in Argentina 
is there may be inadequate oversight by provincial governments when 
extracting eggs from nests, movement of eggs, and tracking the origin 
of these eggs (this also applies to Factor D, the Inadequacy of 
Regulatory Mechanisms). Additionally, the level of independent or 
outside evaluation of the ranching programs in Argentina is unclear and 
there may be a lack of transparency in monitoring. This may be 
indicative of a need for stronger involvement by the provincial and 
federal governments or the need for a stronger legal framework at the 
provincial level to regulate or monitor these activities. However, 
despite these concerns, the reports on the broad-snouted caiman 
conservation program in Argentina do indicate that the population is 
increasing, and the program is being actively monitored within the 
country. The government of Argentina oversees the ranching program in 
Santa Fe Province, and Santa Fe contains the largest population of 
broad-snouted caiman in the wild.
    The species is not overutilized in Argentina and overutilization is 
unlikely to be a threat to the population in the future. Annual 
reporting under CITES may alert us to any new threat of overutilization 
in Argentina. We are seeking information on the status of the species 
in Argentina as part of this proposed rule. However, based on a review 
of the best available information, and in the absence of conflicting 
new information, we find no evidence that overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is a 
threat to the broad-snouted caiman throughout its range.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay (Northern) DPS

    One of the primary threats to the species before it was listed in 
CITES Appendix I in 1975 was uncontrolled international trade. In 
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, this species is listed in 
Appendix I of CITES. International trade primarily for commercial 
purposes is restricted from Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay due 
to the species' Appendix I status under CITES. The UNEP-WCMC trade 
database did not indicate any unusual trends in the species' trade with 
respect to these countries.
    Beginning in the 1940s, the broad-snouted caiman was hunted 
commercially for international trade in its leather, which is commonly 
reported to be of higher quality than that of other caiman species 
(Brazaitis 1987 in Verdade et al. 2010, pp. 1-2). However, since the 
time the species has been protected by CITES and the Act, this factor 
is no longer a threat to the species in these countries.
    In Bolivia, caiman is used for its fat, meat, and leather products 
(Aparicio and Rios 2008, p. 112). It is also killed out of fear by 
humans. In the Chaco province of Bolivia, there were reports of the 
species attacking and killing pigs and other small cattle (Pacheco in 
Embert 2007, p. 55), but these incidences do not seem to occur 
frequently. No other recent data are available in Bolivia for this 
species.
    In Brazil, small amounts of illegal harvest are reported to still 
occur in some areas (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 19) and in Uruguay 
(Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 102). In northeastern Brazil, illegal hunting 
still supplies local markets for meat in small cities along the 
S[atilde]o Francisco River basin. The meat is sold as salted carcasses 
like codfish, and is actually called ``S[atilde]o Francisco codfish'' 
(Verdade 2001a). Hunting for meat also occurs in some parts of Uruguay 
(Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 104). However, species experts concluded that 
illegal hunting is no longer a major threat to the species due to 
improved protection, costs and consequences of illegal hunting, and the 
availability of legal skins (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19). People in the 
past justified hunting caiman primarily for food. Many fishermen also 
killed caiman because caiman feed on the fish in their fishing nets, 
and caiman also destroy their nets (Filogonio et al. 2010, p. 964). 
Thus, current levels of hunting pressure may have only localized 
impacts.
    In Paraguay, in the past, the broad-snouted caiman may have been 
subject to greater hunting pressure than C. yacare because the quality 
of its skin is considered finer (Scott et al. 1990, pp. 45-46). Hunting 
was almost uncontrolled through 1990, and some caiman populations 
almost disappeared. However, small residual populations were increasing 
in size when last surveyed in places where they and their habitat were 
protected (Scott et al. 1990, pp. 45-46).
    In Uruguay, broad-snouted caiman was never legally hunted for 
commercial purposes (Verdade 1998, pp. 18-19), although illegal hunting 
has been observed (Borteiro et al. 2006, p. 97). Uruguay's standard of 
living, literacy rate, and large urban middle class (http://www.state.gov, accessed March 14, 2011) are reported to be quite high 
compared with other countries within this species' range, which may 
account for the lack of commercial hunting in this country. There is no 
indication that overutilization occurs in Uruguay.

Summary of Factor B for the Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay 
(Northern) DPS

    We are seeking information on the status of the species in Bolivia, 
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay as part of this proposed rule. Domestic 
use still occurs, but levels remain low. Any incidence of hunting or 
harvest that may occur does not significantly affect the species. Based 
on a review of the best available

[[Page 686]]

information, and in the absence of conflicting new information, we find 
that overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes is no longer a threat to the broad-snouted caiman 
in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

Argentina

    There is little information on diseases that affect wild broad-
snouted caiman (Huchzermeyer 2003; Jacobson 2007). In 1999, the Field 
Veterinary Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society and 
Fundaci[oacute]n Vida Silvestre Argentina studied the health of caiman 
populations in the wild and in captivity at the El Cachap[eacute] 
ranching operation in Chaco Province, Argentina. There was a very low 
incidence of pathogens and no evidence of infectious disease in either 
population. Health conditions of ranched and wild animals continue to 
be monitored in Argentina (Uhart and Moreno 2000; Uhart et al. 2000).
    There is naturally a high level of predation on eggs and 
hatchlings. In the wild, an average of 60 to 70 percent of the eggs do 
not hatch, usually due to nest flooding or predation (Hutton 1984; 
Larriera 2003). One study found that the rate of depredation in a low 
rainfall season was significantly higher than normal seasons; resulting 
in over half of the nests being depredated in some areas (Larriera and 
Pi[ntilde]a 2000). During particularly dry seasons, high predation may 
occur due to easier access to nests, and the increased distance between 
the nest and the water. This may be in part due to less maternal 
attention when the mother is in the water. At such times, up to 50 
percent of entire clutches in forest nests and 80 percent of clutches 
along levees and dykes can be consumed by predators (Larriera and Imhof 
2006). Predators of eggs and hatchlings include herons (Ardea cocoi), 
storks (Ciconia ciconia), crested caracaras (Caracara plancus), iguanas 
(Tupinambis merianae), and carnivorous mammals such as the South 
American gray fox (Pseudalopex griseus) (Larriera and Imhof 2006). 
Other research found that no more than 10 percent of the hatchlings 
typically survive to adulthood (Larriera and Imhof 2006). This level of 
mortality from predation is considered normal in caiman populations.
    In Argentina, methods are taken to minimize the effects of 
predation. To decrease the death rate due to predation, ranched young 
are returned to the wild only after they are past the critical first 
year when the risk of predation is greatest (Larriera and Imhof 2006). 
Even when nests are depredated, females can rebuild these nests 
(Larriera and Pi[ntilde]a 2000). Clutch sizes can be as high as 129 
eggs in a good year (Larriera 2002, p. 202). Based on surveys conducted 
and numbers of eggs collected, it appears that caiman populations are 
continuing to increase in Argentina. Although disease and predation are 
sources of mortality, it is not a limiting factor for population 
growth.

Summary of Factor C for the Argentine DPS

    Disease and predation normally occur in populations, and the best 
available scientific and commercial information does not indicate that 
either of these factors negatively affect the broad-snouted caiman here 
such that they rise to the level of threats to the species. Neither 
disease nor predation are a significant factor affecting this species. 
Therefore, we do not find that disease nor predation threatens this 
distinct population segment of the broad-snouted caiman, now or in the 
future.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay (Northern) DPS

    In the range countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, 
there is no indication that disease and predation are affecting the 
broad-snouted caiman such that this factor threatens the species. 
Therefore, we do not find that disease nor predation threatens this 
population segment of the broad-snouted caiman.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

Argentine DPS

    The broad-snouted caiman was listed in Appendix I of CITES on July 
1, 1975. This listing (also refer to the factor B discussion) requires 
strict regulation of international movement of this species, which may 
only be authorized in ``exceptional circumstances,'' and trade for 
commercial purposes is generally prohibited. In 1990, the ``Projecto 
Yacar[eacute]'' was implemented in Argentina based on a concept of 
conservation through sustainable use of broad-snouted caiman. The 
objective of the program was to improve the status of the population in 
two ways: by creating incentives for landowners and by increasing 
public awareness in the local communities to encourage the increase of 
caiman populations. Another objective was to conserve natural wetlands 
on which caimans depend (Larriera et al. 2008a, pp. 143-145). These 
programs also reintroduce captive-raised individuals to the wild. Since 
the government of Argentina began the management and monitoring of the 
Argentine population of broad-snouted caiman, population estimates for 
Argentina have indicated an upward trend. Through this program, a 
significant increase in egg collection and harvest has occurred in the 
wild; over 30,000 hatchlings from eggs collected have been released 
into the wild since the program began.
    On September 18, 1997, at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the 
Parties (``CoP10''), the Argentine population of broad-snouted caiman 
was transferred to Appendix II based on a proposal from Argentina. The 
proposal described the increased population status of the species in 
Argentina, and a ranching program that had contributed to its increase 
(CoP10 Doc. 10.86, CoP10 Prop. 10.1, Government of Argentina 1997). 
Appendix II allows for regulated commercial trade as long as the 
exporting country finds that the specimens were legally acquired and 
that the activity is not detrimental to the survival of the species. 
Exported skins must be tagged according to the CITES Resolution on a 
universal tagging system for the identification of crocodile skins 
(Resolution Conf. 11.12 (Rev. CoP15)).
    A Resolution on a universal tagging system for the identification 
of crocodile skins was adopted by the Parties at CoP9, held in 1994. At 
CoP10 (1997, Harare, Zimbabwe), the CITES Secretariat reported that, to 
its knowledge, all range countries were effectively implementing the 
Universal Tagging System Resolution. Caiman yacare skins and products 
originating in Argentina have been imported into the United States with 
the appropriate CITES tags. This species was downlisted under the Act 
in 2000 to threatened status [65 FR 25867, May 4, 2000]. Adherence to 
the CITES tagging requirements has reduced the potential for 
substitution of illegal skins, which has reduced trade enforcement 
problems involving the similarity of appearance of skins and products 
among different species of crocodilians.
    According to CITES Resolution Conf. 11.16 (Rev. CoP15), for trade 
in ranched specimens of species transferred from Appendix I to Appendix 
II to occur, a ranching program must: (1) Demonstrate that the program 
is beneficial to the conservation of the local population; (2) identify 
and document all products to ensure that they can be readily 
distinguished from products of Appendix I populations; (3) maintain 
appropriate inventories and harvest-level controls and mechanisms in 
the program to monitor wild populations; and (4) establish sufficient 
safeguards in

[[Page 687]]

the program to ensure that adequate numbers of animals are returned to 
the wild if necessary and where appropriate.
    At the national level, Argentine Law 22.421 prohibits all use of 
fauna that is not specifically authorized (Micucci and Waller 1995). In 
2000, when the experimental operations began commercial production of 
broad-snouted caiman, Resolution 283/00 was enacted by the Government 
of Argentina under Law 22.421. This law approves the inter-province 
transit and export of caiman products from ranching operations that 
comply with CITES Resolution 11.16, but trade in specimens from any 
other sources (i.e., not from registered ranching operations) is 
illegal. Resolution 283/00 also establishes minimum requirements for 
ranching operations. One of the requirements is that there must be a 
baseline population study covering at least 40 percent of the province 
in which the operation is located. The study must be conducted for at 
least 2 years (Larriera and Imhof 2006). The study results must be 
approved by the province and then submitted to the national authorities 
(Direcci[oacute]n de Fauna y Flora Silvestres [Directorate of Wild 
Fauna and Flora]) for final approval. The Registro Nacional de 
Criaderos (National Registry of Breeding Centers, Resolution 26/92) 
lists registered ranching operations. In provinces with nationally 
approved ranching programs, the provincial government must conduct an 
annual evaluation of the population status of the species in their 
province and submit it to the Direcci[oacute]n de Fauna y Flora 
Silvestres. According to Larriera (pers. comm. 2006), all the surveys 
are conducted under the supervision of members of the CSG. Ranching 
operations and harvests of wildlife that are not transported across 
provincial boundaries or exported are controlled through regulation at 
the provincial level (Larriera and Imhof 2006).

National Legislation To Implement CITES

    Information available to the Service indicates that Argentina has 
protected-species and protected-areas legislation under the 
jurisdiction of specific ministries or departments that control 
activities that impact the broad-snouted caiman and its habitat. The 
Federal legal framework within the Government of Argentina is 
particularly robust. The CITES National Legislation Project 
(www.cites.org, SC59 Document 11, Annex p. 1) deemed that the 
Government of Argentina has national legislation that is considered 
Category 1, which means they meet all the requirements to implement 
CITES. With respect to CITES, based on the trade data (see Factor B 
discussion) and other data and information available to the Service, 
the Argentina appears to be adequately enforcing international trade 
through its legal framework.

Summary of Factor D for Argentine DPS

    Monitoring indicates that management efforts within Argentina are 
working. The population in Argentina, based on reports provided to the 
Service and the CITES Secretariat, appears to be increasing. All 
Parties that conduct ranching operations approved in accordance with 
Resolution Conf. 11.16 are obligated to report to the CITES Secretariat 
(Jenkins et al. 2006, p. 3). While some habitat loss and degradation 
remain in Argentina, these threats have been reduced based on intensive 
management efforts of this species. These reports suggest that the 
populations of this species are increasing in Argentina. While we do 
not have complete population survey information in Argentina, all 
indications suggest that the wild population is well managed and is 
increasing. Wildlife such as the caiman can be advantageously used in 
commerce if management is sufficient to maintain suitable habitats, and 
if harvest is at a level that allows maintenance of healthy and 
sustainable populations. Broad-snouted caiman, under such conditions, 
can provide revenue to pay for its own management and stimulate local 
economies. Therefore, we find that although the strong management of 
the species through local programs promoting egg harvest and hatchling 
release has reduced threats to this species and its habitat, threats 
(see factor A) do still exist. With respect to international trade of 
broad-snouted caiman parts and products, we find that CITES is an 
adequate regulatory mechanism throughout its range. We will continue to 
monitor the status of the species in Argentina; however, based on the 
best available information, we find that this factor is not a threat to 
the species in Argentina.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay (Northern) DPS

    Bolivia's current environmental legislative framework represents a 
significant improvement since the 1992 World Summit on Sustainable 
Development in Rio de Janeiro began a foundation for the sustainable 
and equitable use of the country's environmental resources and to 
control destructive practices. This framework has had a positive effect 
on Bolivia's economic development, especially in the forestry sector, 
where it provided clearly defined roles for institutional oversight and 
control. To its credit, Bolivia has become the world leader in the area 
of certified production forests (Byers et al. 2008, p. 31). Because 
there has been a growing concern regarding indigenous people's rights, 
workers' rights, and reductions in the environmental impact of logging, 
there has been an increase in third-party certifiers such as the Forest 
Stewardship Council (FSC) in the global wood trade (www.fsc.org, 
accessed March 14, 2011). FSC certification ensures that wood is 
responsibly harvested. In Bolivia, most of the FSC certified operations 
are large-scale private enterprises that are able to pay for audits and 
maintain access to international markets for certified products. 
However, management issues in Bolivia still remain. The ratification of 
autonomy statutes by the Departments of Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni, and 
Tarija, and their conflict with the National government is currently 
one of the more contentious issues (Byers et al. p. 33). The most 
important implications of this movement toward enhanced departmental 
authority and responsibility relate to land-use planning and authority 
over land tenure matters. This issue is still in flux and this transfer 
towards decentralized governance could have negative repercussions on 
the broad-snouted caiman.
    With respect to caiman management in Bolivia, a management plan for 
Caiman latirostris population recovery and conservation in Tarija 
department was proposed for 2006-2009. It is unclear whether the plan 
was implemented, and no updated data have been provided with respect to 
the species' status in Bolivia (Aparicio and R[iacute]os 2008). The 
best available information does not indicate that the regulatory 
mechanisms in place are adequate to sufficiently protect this species. 
Populations of broad-snouted caiman are still considered to be severely 
depleted in Bolivia (Aparicio and R[iacute]os 2008, p. 104; Verdade et 
al. 2010, p. 19). Habitat loss, destruction, and modification (refer to 
Factor A discussion) are still occurring and are not expected to 
decrease in the future (Anderson and Gibson 2006, p. 99), thus 
suggesting that existing regulatory mechanisms are insufficient to 
ameliorate or remove the threat from habitat destruction.
    Brazil is faced with competing priorities of encouraging 
development for economic growth and resource protection. In the past, 
the Brazilian government, through various

[[Page 688]]

regulations, policies, incentives, and subsidies, has actively 
encouraged development of previously undeveloped lands in southeastern 
Brazil, which helped facilitate the large-scale habitat conversions 
that have occurred throughout the Atlantic Forest (Ratter et al. 1997, 
pp. 227-228; Saatchi et al. 2001, p. 874; Brannstrom 2000, p. 326; 
Butler 2007, p. 3; Conservation International 2007c, p. 1; Pivello 
2007, p. 2). These development projects include logging, housing and 
tourism developments, and expansion of plantations (Collar et al. 1992, 
p. 776; Ratter et al. 1997, pp. 227-228; Barnett et al. 2000, pp. 377-
378; Saatchi et al. 2001, p. 874; Butler 2007, p. 3). These projects 
impact potentially important sites for this species and would affect 
habitat within and adjacent to established protection areas in Brazil 
(Collar et al. 1992, p. 776; Barnett et al. 2000, p. 377-378). The 
Brazilian government has encouraged development of dams for 
hydroelectric power, irrigation and expansion of agricultural 
practices, primarily for soybean production (Braz et al. 2003, p. 70; 
Hughes et al. 2006, pp. 51-56; Verdade et al. 2010, pp. 18-19). 
Brazil's competing priorities make it difficult to enforce regulations 
that protect broad-snouted caiman habitat.
    In 2003, Brazil established a nationwide research and development 
program, called Programme for Biology, Conservation and Management of 
Brazilian Crocodilians (Coutinho and Luz 2008 in Velasco et al. 2008 p. 
80). The broad-snouted caiman was listed as an endangered species in 
Brazil until 2003, at which time the species was withdrawn from the 
Brazilian List of Endangered Fauna (The Brazilian Institute of 
Environment and Renewable Natural Resources [IBAMA] 2003). Despite 
these initiatives, we have no information to indicate that regulatory 
mechanisms exist to effectively limit or restrict habitat destruction 
for this species. We do not have information indicating that impacts to 
this species (e.g., development of dams for hydroelectric power, and 
expansion of agricultural practices, primarily for soybean production) 
have been or will be adequately addressed through existing regulatory 
mechanisms at the sites where this species is found or in its habitat. 
Based on data and information available to the Service, we believe that 
the existing regulatory mechanisms in Brazil are inadequate to 
ameliorate the current threats to this species in Brazil.
    In Paraguay, the environmental situation has improved; Paraguay has 
completed many of its governmental reform objectives (USAID 2004, p. 
4). However, there are still concerns; land is still being converted to 
soybean plantations, and land ownership is still a concern in Paraguay 
(USAID 2004, pp. 3, 8). Paraguay's objectives are to work towards more 
effective regulation and utilization practices. Environmental laws, 
such as the ``Zero Deforestation Law'' and ``Valuation and Retribution 
of Environmental Services Law'' have had the most significant impact 
during the past five years. These measures have declared wild areas be 
protected from the private sector.
    While we acknowledge that Paraguay is making significant progress 
in the conservation of its resources, existing regulatory mechanisms 
are still inadequate. For example, Paraguay provides a legal framework 
for the forestry sector under the Forest Law of 1973. Some of the 
aspects of Paraguay's forest law are that it establishes incentives for 
reforestation and defines forest land in categories such as reserves, 
production forests, or semi-protected forests; and sets up regulations 
and fines to protect the forest resources. The export of logs was 
prohibited in 1972, but illegal export was still occurring in the 
1980s, especially from the northeastern part of the country (IIED and 
USAID 1985, in Harcourt and Sayer 1996). In part, this has been due to 
insufficient financial resources. The 1973 Forest law was problematic 
in the sense that not only does it allow people to colonize forest 
reserves, but it also considers forested lands unproductive, and 
therefore little attempt is made to prevent deforestation. Agricultural 
land has a much higher economic value than forested land (in some 
regions it can be as high as $1,000 U.S. dollar (USD) per ha, compared 
with $400 USD per ha for forested land), which represents an obvious 
economic incentive for deforestation. In 1991, Paraguay's annual 
deforestation rate was estimated to be 4.7 percent (WWF 1991, cited in 
Brooks et al. 1992), which at the time was higher than that of any 
other South American country.
    More recently, Paraguay enacted a Forest Conversion Moratorium 
(also known as the Zero Deforestation Law) in 2004 which is still in 
place. The law prohibits the conversion of forested areas in Paraguay's 
eastern regions. Restrictions are difficult to implement and enforce. 
For example, the area in the northernmost part of Paraguay known as the 
Alto Paraguay was once a refuge for wildlife such as the caiman. This 
was primarily due to its isolation and difficulty in accessing the 
habitat. However, when the Paraguayan government promoted a waterway in 
the Paraguay-Paran[aacute] Basin known as the Hidrov[iacute]a 
development project, the Alto Paraguay forest became an area of land 
speculation. It is unclear what is occurring in this area now and how 
this activity may affect the broad-snouted caiman.
    There is no evidence that effective protective measures have been 
undertaken to conserve the broad-snouted caiman. The existing 
regulatory mechanisms currently in place for broad-snouted caiman in 
Paraguay do not adequately address the factors threatening the species. 
We are seeking information and data on the status of the species in 
Paraguay as part of this proposed rule; however, in the absence of new 
information, we find that regulatory mechanisms in Paraguay are 
inadequate to protect broad-snouted caiman.
    Uruguay's richest biodiversity is found in its wetlands and its 
growing practice of rice production. Its economy is highly dependent on 
exports, and the agricultural sector contributes 11 percent of its 
total gross domestic product (GDP). One of Uruguay's environmental 
problems is that rice paddies are replacing marshlands, and it is 
causing degradation of these ecosystems. While some species are capable 
of adapting to these human-made ecosystems, environmental degradation 
is associated with the conversion of natural habitat to rice paddies.
    The government has taken steps to address the issue of wetland 
protection and biodiversity. Uruguay has developed methods aimed at 
improving issues associated with rice production such as harmful 
residue generated during processing and is working at methods of 
reducing the impact caused by residue accumulation. In the past, the 
rice hulls were burned which emitted toxic chemicals into the 
atmosphere and contributed to air pollution. Now, Uruguay is working 
towards composting the rice hulls, which has minimal environmental 
impact. Additionally, Uruguay became a member of the Ramsar Convention 
in 1984 and a member of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992 
in order to increase wetlands protection. Uruguay enacted law number 
16.170 which directly addresses the conservation of wetlands, and 
specifically mandates that the areas assigned for wetlands conservation 
must be respected by rice farmers.
    Although Uruguay has made progress in improving its environmental 
laws and recognizes the importance of protecting its biodiversity, 
enforcement

[[Page 689]]

of its laws regulating protection of this species may still be 
insufficient in some areas (Brazaitis et al. 1996). This has primarily 
been due to the limited resources available to local enforcement 
agencies, as well as the remoteness and inaccessibility of much of the 
caiman habitat. We have no information to indicate that the existing 
regulatory mechanisms effectively limit or restrict habitat destruction 
for this species. Although Uruguay is making progress in its protection 
of natural resources, it is unclear how this species is being monitored 
and managed in Uruguay. We do not have sufficient evidence that impacts 
to this species (e.g., conversion of wetlands to rice paddies and 
subsequent environmental degradation that occurs) have been or will be 
adequately addressed through existing regulatory mechanisms at the 
sites where this species is found or in its habitat. Based on the best 
available information, we find that the existing regulatory mechanisms 
continue to be inadequate to ameliorate the current threats to this 
species in Uruguay.

National Legislation To Implement CITES in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, 
and Uruguay

    The CITES National Legislation Project (www.cites.org, SC59 
Document 11, Annex p. 1) deemed that the Governments of Brazil and 
Uruguay have national legislation that is considered Category 1, which 
means they meet all the requirements to implement CITES. Bolivia was 
described as being in Category 2, both with a CITES legislation plan 
and draft legislation, but not enacted, and Paraguay was described as 
Category 2 with no plan and only draft legislation. Overutilization 
(unsustainable trade in skins, parts, and products) was the primary 
reason that this species was listed in CITES Appendix I and also listed 
as endangered under the ESA. However, now, overutilization is no longer 
a concern for this species. With respect to CITES, based on the trade 
data (see Factor B discussion), we find that the governments of 
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay are adequately enforcing 
international trade through their respective legal frameworks.

Summary of Factor D for Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay 
(Northern) DPS

    With respect to international trade of broad-snouted caiman parts 
and products, we find that CITES is an adequate regulatory mechanism in 
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. However, the best available 
scientific and commercial information indicates that broad-snouted 
caiman continues to be threatened by the inadequacy of the existing 
regulatory mechanisms in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay to 
ameliorate the effects of habitat loss and degradation. Management 
efforts vary within the range of broad-snouted caiman. Each country has 
both unique and overlapping factors that affect the species. In some 
cases, there was an abundance of information available regarding 
potential threats to the species, and in other cases, there was little 
to no information available, particularly regarding the adequacy of 
regulatory mechanisms with respect to this species.
    In Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the best available 
information indicates that the primary threat to the species is habitat 
loss (Factor A). Related to this factor is the inability of the 
governments, at a national, provincial, or regional level, to 
adequately enforce mechanisms to address threats. In these countries, 
there is little monitoring data on broad-snouted caiman. Based on a 
review of the information available, we were unable to find that 
regulatory mechanisms are adequate in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Uruguay to protect broad-snouted caiman from threats including habitat 
loss.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

    Following is a rangewide threats analysis in which we evaluate 
whether other natural or manmade factors affect the continued existence 
of the broad-snouted caiman throughout its range because the 
information available is not specific to each DPS. This evaluation is 
not specific to each country unless specified as such.

Pesticides and Endocrine Disruptors

    Approximately 10 to 15 percent of pesticides applied in 
agricultural activities actually reach target organisms, and the 
remainder is dispersed into the atmosphere, soil, and water (Poletta et 
al. 2009, p. 96). In Argentina, soy, which requires the application of 
pesticides, occupies 16 million hectares, and land dedicated to soy 
plantations continues to expand (Larriera et al. 2008, p. 165). A study 
regarding the genotoxicity of the herbicide formulation Roundup[reg] 
(glyphosate) was conducted in Argentina on broad-snouted caiman. 
Glyophosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide used widely in weed control. 
In this study, specimens of broad-snouted caiman were exposed to 
various concentrations and compounds of glyphosate commonly used in 
agriculture, particularly on soy plantations. Not only did the study 
result in deformities of exposed caiman, but it also resulted in 
mortalities (Poletta et al. 2009, p. 98). One form of glyphosate, 
Cycloposphamide, in particular, caused malformations in the exposed 
caiman, causing 90 percent embryo mortality (Poletta et al. 2009, p. 
97). Another study found that exposure to pesticides increases the egg 
weight loss and decreases hatchlings weight of Caiman latirostris 
(Beldomenico et al. 2007, p. 246), which negatively affects species' 
fitness. This study evaluated responses based on exposure to atrazine 
and endosulfan, which are commonly used in agriculture. Egg weight loss 
was significantly greater for those eggs treated with an 
environmentally relevant dose of atrazine (0.2 parts per million) (ppm) 
and relatively low doses of endosulfan (2 and 20 ppm) (Beldomenico et 
al. 2007, p. 249). The study was done on captive-held broad-snouted 
caiman; the impact of these pesticides on natural caiman populations is 
unknown. However, extrapolations can be made that exposed smaller 
hatchlings would have less chance of survival during their first year, 
thus affecting the population dynamics of the species. Impaired 
embryonic growth may also be occurring when exposed to contaminated 
water and food (Beldomenico et al. 2007, p. 250).
    Potential effects from contamination by commonly used pesticides 
such as aldrin, chlordane, endrin, lindane, methoxyclor, toxaphene, 
DDT, parathion, endosulfan, malathion, and carbaryl, similar to that 
found in the studies conducted on captive broad-snouted caiman, are 
likely to occur and affect this species in the wild. Farmers are not 
well trained in proper application methods, often over-applying 
agrochemicals, applying them under inappropriate physical or 
environmental conditions, and not following appropriate handling, 
washing, and storage protocols (Byers et al. 2008, p. 26). Despite 
regulations governing the use of these and other pesticides, more 
oversight and resources are needed to monitor their use and effects on 
this species. Such pesticide use is likely to occur throughout the 
species' range.
    In Bolivia, contamination of aquatic systems from agrochemicals 
occurs in some areas, particularly in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba (Byers 
et al. 2008, p. 26). In the lowlands of Santa Cruz Department, for 
example, where broad-snouted caiman may exist, agro-industrial 
development is leading to increased use of agrochemicals. Soy,

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sunflower, cotton, and sugarcane are the main crops, and to a lesser 
extent coffee, cacao, and rice are grown. Mechanized agriculture on 
large areas with poor soil has led to the increased use of 
agrochemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides that are often applied 
by aerial spraying. Despite increasing oversight, 17 pesticides have 
been banned in Bolivia but are nevertheless freely sold in local 
markets and routinely used (Byers et al. 2008, p. 26).
    Although we recognize that pesticides will result in mortalities 
and decreased fitness in some individuals, the best available 
information does not indicate that pesticides threaten this species. 
Studies have been conducted in Argentina, where similar pesticides are 
used, and reproduction and survival rates of broad-snouted caiman in 
Argentina appear to be currently robust. Populations currently remain 
stable or are increasing in Argentina; and the species has even 
expanded its range in some areas (Borteiro et al. 2008, pp. 244-249; 
Verdade et al. 2010, pp. 18-22). This is an indication of the species' 
intrinsic resilience and adaptability. Although environmental 
contaminants such as pesticides and herbicides likely affect 
individuals, there is no evidence that they currently pose a threat to 
the species.
    Specifically, with respect to endocrine disrupters, studies in 
other crocodile species have been conducted to examine their effects 
(Rainwater et al. 2008, pp. 101-109). Vitellogenin induction is a 
useful biomarker to examine exposure and response to endocrine 
disruptors, specifically environmental estrogens. The vitellogenin gene 
is a biomarker frequently used to detect estrogenic effects in male 
fish. However, this study concluded that endocrine disruptors do not 
appear to have negative effects on crocodile species in the wild. To 
the best of our knowledge, endocrine disrupters are not a threat to 
broad-snouted caiman.
    We recognize that environmental contaminants may affect 
individuals, especially given the potential for long-term 
bioaccumulation of contaminants during the species' life. However, we 
do not have information or data on the extent of the impact, if any, 
that environmental contaminants currently have on the species. An 
inadvertent aspect of the research referenced above indicated that the 
removal of eggs from the wild and hatching in a captive environment can 
actually have a beneficial effect. If eggs are negatively affected by 
exposure to pesticides through either a decrease in fitness or 
mortality in the wild, it would be of benefit to remove them shortly 
after females lay eggs to reduce or eliminate exposure to environmental 
contaminant. Regardless of this aspect, based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information available, we currently do not 
find that exposure to pesticides or other environmental contaminants is 
a threat to the species.

Human Conflict

    Although it is commonly known that human conflict with caiman 
occurs, this is not a significant factor affecting the species. The 
most recent status survey of broad-snouted caiman by the Crocodile 
Specialist Group indicates that the principal threats to this species 
are habitat destruction, illegal hunting in localized areas (in some 
states of Brazil, where caiman population is low), and construction of 
large hydroelectric dams (Verdade et al. 2010, p. 1). In Bolivia, a 
survey indicated that 92 percent of individuals said that they hunted 
broad-snouted caiman to avoid the danger of an attack. This was more 
common when caiman were found in cattle watering areas such as ponds 
and agricultural impoundments near their homes. However, the actual 
impacts are unknown; the survey was anecdotal. Most broad-snouted 
caiman populations in Argentina occur on privately owned wetlands. In 
Chaco, Argentina, local people have been known to kill caiman, not only 
for food, but out of fear that these animals will attack them or their 
livestock and poultry (Prado 2002, Aparicio and Rios 2008, p. 112). 
Based on interviews with ranchers, landowners and police, it is 
estimated that approximately 30 to 40 wild caiman per year are killed 
for food, and about 50 per year are killed out of fear (Larriera 2006, 
pers. comm.). These killings often occur during the dry season, when 
caiman move to ponds that are closer to human-populated areas. To 
counter these fears, biologists have been working with local 
communities through the caiman ranching project at the El 
Cachap[eacute] Wildlife Refuge in Argentina. One aspect of this program 
was that they developed an educational campaign in local schools. The 
students also participate in the ranching project on the refuge. The 
project has produced two educational Web sites, www.yacare.net and 
www.chicos.net, that describe the conservation and ecology of caiman 
species in Argentina.
    In Argentina, because there is incentive for local communities and 
villagers in the range of the species to conserve broad-snouted caiman, 
conflict and killing of caiman for food, although it occurs, do not 
occur to the extent that it rises to the level of a threat. Throughout 
the rest of the species' range, human conflict with broad-snouted 
caiman occurs sporadically and may result in the death of some 
individual caiman. However, the best available scientific and 
commercial information does not indicate that human conflict occurs to 
the extent that it is a threat to the species. Therefore, relative to 
the population size, human conflict does not appear to be a threat to 
the species.
    The broad-snouted caiman, like other wildlife, is a victim of 
collisions with motor vehicles while crossing roadways. This results in 
the mortality of about 200 animals per year (Larriera, pers. comm. 
2006). Broad-snouted caiman often successfully cross roads in areas 
containing sparse human developments. Development of high volume 
transportation corridors in broad-snouted caiman habitat may inhibit 
their movements between habitat patches, potentially reducing 
connectivity among water bodies generally inhabited by broad-snouted 
caiman. However, these mortality events do not occur to such an extent 
that they are a significant factor affecting the species.

Fire Ants

    The red fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is an extremely aggressive 
species. It is originally from central South America and is distributed 
throughout a large variety of habitats (Folgarait et al. 2005 in 
Parach[uacute]-Marc[oacute] et al. 2008, pp. 1-2). It completely 
occupies the area of distribution of broad-snouted caiman. This is an 
opportunistic, aggressive species and is able to reach high population 
densities. The fire ant prefers total or partial exposure to the sun, 
and apparently is attracted by sources of protein, sugar, and lipids as 
well as high levels of humidity. Because broad-snouted caiman generally 
nest in fairly open habitats, and its nests are raised, they provide an 
ideal source of protection for S. invicta colonies from rains during 
the summer. Allen et al. (1997, pp. 318-320) showed that red fire ants 
affect the success of hatching, causing the death of unborn embryos in 
the nest, and possibly preventing the female from opening the nest when 
her hatchlings call. In Argentina, these ants use broad-snouted caiman 
nests to set up their new colonies (Larriera 2006, personal 
communication), and have been documented to decrease hatching success 
by 20 percent (Parach[uacute]-Marc[oacute] et al., 2005, pp. 1-2). The 
severity and magnitude of long and short term effects of fire ants on 
broad-snouted caiman populations is currently unknown.

[[Page 691]]

Although fire ants have the potential of being a localized threat, 
particularly in disturbed areas, the best available information does 
not indicate that this factor affects the species such that it is a 
threat to the species throughout all or a significant part of its 
range.

Drought and Flooding

    This species has survived large-scale droughts and floods in the 
past (Larriera 2003), but high rainfall can lead to reduced hatching 
success from flooding (Larriera and Pi[ntilde]a 2000). Recent caiman 
counts suggest that populations declined somewhat during 2002-2003 and 
2007-2008 (Micucci et al. 2007, Larriera et al. 2008). This was 
attributed to cyclic drought conditions during the early 2000s (Micucci 
et al. 2007, Larriera et al. 2008). The harvest of broad-snouted caiman 
eggs during the 2009 season was drastically reduced in Corrientes, 
Santa Fe, and Formosa Provinces also due to a severe drought. However, 
in 2010, wetlands recovered due to heavy rains, and egg harvest in 2010 
was approximately 30 percent higher than the historical average 
(Larriera and Siroski 2010, pp. 1-2). However, drought and flooding 
does not occur to such an extent that they are a significant factor 
affecting the species.

Climate Change

    The term ``climate'' refers to an area's long-term average weather 
patterns, or more specifically, the mean and variation of surface 
variables such as temperature, precipitation, and wind, whereas 
``climate change'' refers to any change in climate over time, whether 
due to natural variability or human activity (Intergovernmental Panel 
on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, pp. 6, 871). Although changes in climate 
occur continuously over geological time, changes are now occurring at 
an accelerated rate. For example, at continental, regional and ocean 
basin scales, recent observed changes in long-term trends include: A 
substantial increase in precipitation in eastern parts of North 
American and South America, northern Europe, and northern and central 
Asia; declines in precipitation in the Mediterranean, southern Africa, 
and parts of southern Asia; and an increase in intense tropical cyclone 
activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970 (IPCC 2007, p. 30). 
Examples of observed changes in the physical environment include an 
increase in global average sea level and declines in mountain glaciers 
and average snow cover in both the northern and southern hemispheres 
(IPCC 2007, p. 30).
    The IPCC used Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models and 
various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios to make projections of 
climate change globally and for broad regions through the 21st century 
(Meehl et al. 2007, p. 753; Randall et al. 2007, pp. 596-599). 
Highlights of these projections include: (1) It is virtually certain 
there will be warmer and more frequent hot days and nights over most of 
the earth's land areas; (2) it is very likely there will be increased 
frequency of warm spells and heat waves over most land areas, and the 
frequency of heavy precipitation events will increase over most areas; 
and (3) it is likely that increases will occur in the incidence of 
extreme high sea level (excludes tsunamis), intense tropical cyclone 
activity, and the area affected by droughts in various regions of the 
world (Solomon et al. 2007, p. 8). More recent analyses using a 
different global model and comparing other emissions scenarios resulted 
in similar projections of global temperature change (Prinn et al. 2011, 
pp. 527, 529).
    As is the case with all models, there is uncertainty associated 
with projections due to assumptions used, data available, and features 
of the models. Despite this, however, under all models and emissions 
scenarios the overall surface air temperature trajectory is one of 
increased warming in comparison to current conditions (Meehl et al. 
2007, p. 762; Prinn et al. 2011, p. 527). Climate models and associated 
assumptions, data, and analytical techniques continue to be refined, 
and thus projections are refined as more information becomes available 
(e.g., Rahmstorf 2010 entire). For instance, observed actual emissions 
of greenhouses gases, which are a key influence on climate change, are 
tracking at the mid- to higher levels of the various scenarios used for 
making projections, and some expected changes in conditions (e.g. 
melting of Arctic sea ice) are occurring more rapidly than initially 
projected (Raupach et al. 2007, Figure 1, p. 10289; Comiso et al. 2008, 
p. 1; Pielke et al. 2008, entire; LeQuere et al. 2009, Figure 1a, p. 2; 
Manning et al. 2010, Figure 1, p. 377; Polyak et al. 2010, p. 1,797). 
In short, the best scientific and commercial data available indicates 
that increases in average global surface air temperature and several 
other changes are occurring and likely will continue for many decades 
and in some cases for centuries (e.g. Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 822-829; 
Church 2010, p. 411).
    Changes in climate can have a variety of direct and indirect 
impacts on species, and can exacerbate the effects of other threats. 
For instance, climate-associated environmental changes to the 
landscape, such as decreased stream flows, increased water 
temperatures, reduced snowpacks, and increased fire frequency, or other 
changes occurring individually or in combination, may affect species 
and their habitats. The vulnerability of a species to climate change 
impacts is a function of the species' sensitivity to those changes, its 
exposure to those changes, and its adaptive capacity (IPCC 2007, p. 
883). As described above, in evaluating the status of a species the 
Service uses the best scientific and commercial data available, and 
this includes consideration of direct and indirect effects of climate 
change. As is the case with all other stressors we assess, if the 
status of a species is expected to be affected that does not 
necessarily mean it is a threatened or endangered species as defined 
under the Act. Species that are dependent on specialized habitat types, 
limited in distribution, or occurring already at the extreme periphery 
of their range will be most susceptible to the impacts of climate 
change; however, the broad-snouted caiman has a wide distribution.
    The information currently available on the effects of climate 
change and the available climate change models do not make sufficiently 
accurate estimates of location and magnitude of effects at a scale 
small enough to apply to the range of the broad-snouted caiman. Below 
is a discussion of data and research available, with which we can make 
inferences on the projected impacts to the broad-snouted caiman due to 
climate change, particularly the potential impacts of shifting global 
temperatures on sex ratios as well as the species' distribution.
    A study conducted to determine climate change's projected impacts 
to the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) illustrates possible 
impacts to the broad-snouted caiman (Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n 2006, p. 
131). This is significant because the sex of crocodiles is determined 
during incubation and is temperature-dependant. This study selected 
areas in Florida and western Mexico that contain American crocodiles, 
and predicted how increased temperatures could affect the geographical 
distribution and sex ratios of the species in Florida, the Caribbean, 
and Central America. It focused on the geographic distribution and sex 
ratios of American crocodiles in the present (2006), 2020, and 2050. It 
suggested that the geographic distribution and sex ratios of American 
crocodile populations in different parts of its range would change in 
response to temperature and sea-level parameters. Optimal growth in 
crocodilians has been found to occur around 31 [deg]C

[[Page 692]]

(88 [deg]F), with appetites and effective digestion diminishing below 
29 [deg]C (84 [deg]F) (Coulson and Hernandez 1964, pp. 2-33; Coulson 
and Coulson 1986, pp. 585-588), which correlates with optimal 
temperatures for incubation.
    According to Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n et al. 2008, increased global 
temperatures and sea level could in some ways benefit the American 
crocodile by significantly increasing its potential habitat and 
distribution. Through this we could infer that similar effects could 
occur in the broad-snouted caiman species. The study predicted that the 
distribution for the American crocodile would expand 69 percent in 2020 
and 207 percent in 2050. This is an 81 percent increase in potential 
distribution from 2020 to 2050 (Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n et al. 2008, pp. 
9-10). While the American crocodile is adapted to a narrow climate 
range (Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n et al. 2008, p. 5), the broad-snouted 
caiman's geographic distribution is one of the widest latitudinal 
ranges among all crocodilians (Schmidt-Villela et al., 2008 p. 1). 
Broad-snouted caiman latitudinal range is between 5 [deg]S to 32 [deg]S 
(Simoncini et al. 2009, p. 191). As global temperatures increase, areas 
that are currently too cool to support broad-snouted caiman may become 
warm enough to support them in the future.
    The study also predicted that increased global temperatures could 
have a negative impact on the sex ratios of the American crocodile. 
Like other crocodilian species, both the American crocodile and the 
broad-snouted caiman exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination. 
Temperature determines the proportion of males to females produced in 
nests (Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n et al. 2008, p. 4). In C. crocodilus, 
incubation temperatures greater than about 34 [deg]C (93 [deg]F) or 
less than 32 [deg]C (90 [deg]F) were found to produce females while 
temperatures between 32 and 34 [deg]C (90 and 93 [deg]F) generally 
produced males (Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n 2006, p. 133; Escobedo-
Galv[aacute]n et al. 2008, p. 2). Thus, the production of males is 
entirely dependent upon a sustained incubation temperature range of 
only three degrees. In this study, incubation temperatures greater than 
36 [deg]C (97 [deg]F) were found to be at the upper end of the 
tolerance range for these eggs and resulted in both death of embryos 
and stress to the surviving hatchlings (Escobedo-Galv[aacute]n et al. 
2008, p. 2).
    Although the study with respect to C. crocodilus predicted that by 
2020, the sex ratio is expected to shift in favor of males, this did 
not appear to be the case for broad-snouted caiman. For broad-snouted 
caiman, one study indicated that eggs incubated at 29 [deg]C or 31 
[deg]C (84 or 88 [deg]F) produced 100 percent females, while at 33 
[deg]C (91.4 [deg]F) 100 percent males were produced. Incubation at 
higher temperatures (34.5 [deg]C; 94.1 [deg]F) induced production of 
both sexes (Simoncini et al. 2008, p. 231).
    There is conflicting information on how climate change could affect 
this species; it could benefit the species or have no significant 
impact. We are not able to make inferences based on a study on C. 
crocodilus in this case. Based on the data available, we do not 
currently have sufficient information to determine how changes in 
climate will affect this species at this time, particularly with 
respect to how it will affect the species' sex determination and 
distribution.
    The broad-snouted caiman's geographic distribution is one of the 
largest latitudinal ranges among all crocodilians (Verdade and 
Pi[ntilde]a 2006). Due to its variability in use of habitat, an 
expansion of the range of the broad-snouted caiman may occur, as it is 
more of a habitat generalist than other crocodile species.
    Based on scenarios that do not assume explicit climate policies to 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global average temperature is 
projected to rise by 2-11.5 [deg]F by the end of this century (relative 
to the 1980-1999 time period) (USGCRP 2011, p. 9). Optimal growth in 
crocodilians has been found to occur around 88 [deg]F (31 [deg]C), with 
appetites and effective digestion diminishing below 84 [deg]F (29 
[deg]C). Although climate change may cause changes in the broad-snouted 
caiman distribution, especially given the crocodilian requirement for 
temperature dependent sex determination, we do not have any data to 
indicate that effects on the species due to climate change would have a 
detrimental effect, nor is climate change likely to become a threat in 
the foreseeable future. However, we are seeking information and data on 
the effects of climate change on the broad-snouted caiman as part of 
this proposed rule.

Summary of Factor E

    Few, if any, other natural or manmade factors are anticipated to 
significantly affect the continued existence of the broad-snouted 
caiman in either DPS. We reviewed factors such as fire ants, human 
conflict, pesticides and endocrine disruptors, droughts and flooding, 
and climate change. With respect to climate change, we lack adequate 
local or regional models on how climate change would specifically 
affect the habitat in the broad-snouted caiman's range. Given that 
reliable, predictive models have not been developed for use at the 
local scale in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, there 
is little certainty regarding the timing, magnitude, and net effect of 
climate change's impacts. Therefore, we find it is not possible at this 
time to make reliable predictions of climate change effects on the 
Argentine population or the Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay 
population due to the current limitations in available data and climate 
models. We found no information that the other stressors evaluated 
under this factor significantly affect the survival of the species. 
Based on the best available information, we find that there are no 
other natural or manmade factors are not threats to either population 
segment.

Finding

    We have carefully assessed the best available scientific and 
commercial information regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by the broad-snouted caiman throughout its range, and we have 
separately evaluated the population in Argentina (referred to as a 
distinct population segment, or DPS) and the Northern DPS which 
consists of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Argentine DPS

    In Argentina, our status review found that, although some localized 
impacts to broad-snouted caiman still occur in Argentina, such as 
habitat modification, particularly due to agricultural development, the 
Government of Argentina has reduced threats associated with habitat 
loss and overutilization through its ranching program such that the 
species is not currently in danger of extinction. Through the five-
factor analysis, we considered the progress made by Argentina towards 
addressing previous threats to this species. We took into consideration 
the conservation actions that have occurred, are ongoing, and are 
planned. Since listing under the ESA, the species' status has improved 
in Argentina based on the following:
     National and international laws and treaties have 
minimized the impacts of trade.
     Effective community-based ranching programs have been 
established.
     Population numbers appear to be increasing in Argentina 
based on nest counts and egg harvest data.
    The primary factor that led to the listing of this species under 
the Act was overutilization. In Argentina, we find few threats to the 
species in the wild, though we find the DPS is still threatened by the 
present or threatened

[[Page 693]]

destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range 
(Factor A). However, information regarding the caiman ranching program 
in Argentina indicates that the caiman is increasing in the wild in 
Argentina such that it is no longer in danger of extinction. The 
information indicates that the broad-snouted caiman population is now 
widespread throughout its historic range in Argentina, and it is found 
in comparable densities relative to other species of crocodilians. 
Recent surveys (Siroski 2004, 2006; Micucci et al. 2007; Pi[ntilde]a et 
al. 2008) have found broad-snouted caiman in sampled populations at 
densities similar to the American alligator (Wood et al. 1985; Woodward 
2008, p. 1). This supports our finding that the broad-snouted caiman 
populations are increasing in the wild. In the region that has had the 
oldest caiman ranching program (Santa Fe province); population trend 
information based on night counts during 1990-2002 indicates five of 
six populations increased during that period (Larriera and Imhof 2004). 
Recent data tracking of the success of hatching shows the percentage of 
hatchlings born from the harvested eggs has been above 70 percent in 
recent years, sometimes exceeding 80 percent (Larriera et al. 2008, p. 
158).
    As discussed under Factor B, removing eggs from the wild, rearing 
the young, and releasing them at an age where they can defend 
themselves more readily can be advantageous, because larger size in 
young crocodilians improves survivorship. Survivorship in juvenile 
crocodilians has been shown to be a function of size, with survivorship 
increasing as size increases (Elsey et al. 1992). For crocodilians, 
supplementing wild populations with captive-reared juveniles taken from 
eggs collected in the wild is a valuable tool for crocodilian 
management, because mortality of juveniles in the wild decreases with 
age and size.
    Enforcement of existing national and international laws and 
treaties has minimized the potential impact of trade in Argentina, and 
available data strongly suggest that wild populations in Argentina are 
increasing (Pi[ntilde]a et al. 2009). Exports from Argentina are 
carefully managed and commercial exports are limited to those caiman 
from managed programs. All indications suggest that Argentina has been 
quite successful in increasing its population of broad-snouted caiman 
through intensive management efforts. The population has increased as 
evidenced by an increase in population density, the identification of 
reproductive females previously released by the program, the expansion 
of the nesting areas, the increase in the quantity of harvested nests, 
and the observation of caiman in places where they had disappeared 
(Larriera et al. 2008, p. 172). Age classes reflect healthy 
reproduction and recruitment into a wild breeding population.
    We find that the impacts previously identified in Argentina when 
the species was listed under the Act no longer are of sufficient 
magnitude such that it is endangered. Because the Argentine population 
of broad-snouted caiman satisfies both the discreteness and 
significance criteria as defined by the DPS Policy, we propose to 
reclassify the distinct population segment of the broad-snouted caiman 
(C. latirostris) in Argentina from its present endangered status under 
the Act to threatened status. As identified above, only one of the five 
listing factors currently poses a known threat to the broad-snouted 
caiman, namely, Factor A--the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range. Although not 
currently in danger of extinction due to the destruction, modification, 
or curtailment of its habitat, we find that it is likely to become so 
with the continued destruction of habitat in the foreseeable future. We 
have seen substantial progress in Argentina with respect to addressing 
threats to this species. In developing this proposed rule, we carefully 
assessed the best scientific and commercial data available regarding 
the threats facing this species, as well as the ongoing conservation 
efforts by Argentina. Consequently, we have determined that the 
Argentine DPS of the broad-snouted caiman should be reclassified to 
threatened.

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay (Northern) DPS

    In contrast, there is a lack of information about the broad-snouted 
caiman in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay (Aparicio and 
R[iacute]os 2008; Borteiro et al. 2008; Verdade et al. 2010, p. 20). In 
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the best available information 
indicates that threats remain such that the species should retain its 
endangered status under the Act due to habitat degradation and the 
inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms (Factors A and D, respectively). 
Although we have very little data about the species in these countries 
and are unable to determine population numbers or trends, the best 
available information indicates that the species continues to face 
threats under Factors A and D in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay 
such that the species remains currently in danger of extinction. 
Therefore, because this population segment satisfies the discreteness 
and significance criteria under the DPS policy, we find that the 
distinct population segment of the broad-snouted caiman in Bolivia, 
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay should remain endangered under the Act. 
We will continue to monitor the status of the species throughout its 
entire range. Additionally, the broad-snouted caiman in Bolivia, 
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay will remain listed in Appendix I of 
CITES.

Special Rule

    Section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary of the Interior 
(Secretary) may, by regulation, extend to threatened species 
prohibitions provided for endangered species under section 9. Our 
implementing regulations for threatened wildlife (50 CFR 17.31) 
incorporate the section 9 prohibitions for endangered wildlife, except 
when a special rule is promulgated. For threatened species, section 
4(d) of the Act gives the Secretary discretion to specify the 
prohibitions and any exceptions to those prohibitions that are 
appropriate for the species, provided that those prohibitions and 
exceptions are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation 
of the species. A special rule allows us to include provisions that are 
tailored to the specific conservation needs of the threatened species 
and which may be more or less restrictive than the general provisions 
at 50 CFR 17.31.
    In some cases, caiman skins and other parts are exported to another 
country, usually for tanning and manufacturing purposes. The processed 
skins and finished products are exported to the United States. The rule 
prohibits importation or re-exportation of such skins, parts, and 
products if we determine that either the country of origin or re-export 
is engaging in practices that are detrimental to the conservation of 
caiman populations. The purpose of this rule is threefold. First, the 
rule accurately reflects the conservation status of the broad-snouted 
caiman. Second, we wish to promote the conservation of the broad-
snouted caiman by ensuring proper management of commercially harvested 
caiman species in its range countries and, through implementation of 
trade controls (as described in the CITES Universal Tagging System 
Resolution), to reduce co-mingling of caiman specimens. Third, 
downlisting of the broad-snouted caiman Argentine DPS to threatened 
reconciles listings of the species in the Act and CITES.

[[Page 694]]

    This special rule: (1) Recognizes the positive recovery efforts and 
accomplishments of the government of Argentina in recovering the broad-
snouted caiman to the extent that the species no longer meets the 
definition of endangered; (2) Provides increased regulatory 
flexibility; and (3) Helps streamline or eliminate review and 
permitting requirements, thus providing a net benefit to the broad-
snouted caiman by providing incentives to countries who are conducting 
conservation efforts for the species. A special rule for this DPS 
allows U.S. commerce in their skins, other parts, and products from 
Argentina and countries of re-export if certain conditions are 
satisfied by those countries prior to exportation to the United States. 
Therefore, under section 4(d) of the Act, we determine, through this 
special rule, that it is necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of the broad-snouted caiman in accordance with applicable 
laws.
    Currently, the listing of the broad-snouted caiman from Argentina 
in Appendix II of CITES allows commercial trade under certain 
restrictions in the species, including parts and products. On May 4, 
2000, the Service reduced restrictions on a similar species, the yacare 
caiman (Caiman yacare), by reclassifying it from endangered to 
threatened under the Act (65 FR 25867). That final listing rule 
included a special rule that exempts the commercial importation and re-
exportation, under certain conditions, of yacare skins, parts, and 
products into and out of the United States from the Act's implementing 
regulatory prohibitions for threatened species under section 50 CFR 
17.31. Our regulations at 50 CFR 17.42(c) set forth this special rule 
for threatened caiman, including, among others, the yacare (C. yacare), 
common caiman (C. crocodilus crocodilus), and brown caiman (C. 
crocodiles fuscus and C. crocodiles chiapasius). Section 17.42(c) 
allows the import, export, or re-export, or the interstate or foreign 
commerce of caiman skins, parts, and products without a threatened 
species permit otherwise required under 50 CFR 17.32, provided the 
requirements of this Special Rule and parts 13, 14, and 23 of 50 CFR 
are met.
    We propose to add the Argentine DPS of the broad-snouted caiman to 
the special rule at 50 CFR 17.42(c). This special rule allows import, 
re-export, and interstate commerce of specimens and products 
originating only from Argentina. This proposed rule, in most instances, 
adopts the existing conservation regulatory requirements of CITES as 
the appropriate regulatory provisions. It would also allow interstate 
or foreign commerce. The proposed special rule would, if adopted, allow 
import and export of broad-snouted caiman parts and products and 
interstate or foreign commerce of this species without a permit under 
the Act as described at 50 CFR 17.42(c).
    Finally, this special rule does not cover the importation of viable 
caiman eggs or live caimans into the United States. Importation of 
these two types of specimens will require an Endangered Species Act 
import permit and the appropriate CITES permit. This requirement will 
allow scrutiny of individual applications for importation of live 
caimans or eggs so as to prevent accidental introduction of these 
exotic species into the United States, which may have detrimental 
effects on U.S. native wildlife or ecosystems. Reexportation from the 
United States of caiman skins, other parts, and products will continue 
to require CITES documents. We find that it is not necessary or 
advisable for the conservation of the broad-snouted caiman to regulate 
interstate or foreign commerce of this species.
    In addition, Argentina must continue to effectively implement the 
CITES Resolution on a universal tagging system for the identification 
of crocodile skins and must have adequate national legislation for the 
implementation of CITES. The special rule would also allow trade in 
broad-snouted caiman parts and products through intermediary countries 
only if the countries involved are effectively implementing CITES. Both 
the country of origin and intermediary countries must be effectively 
implementing the CITES Universal Tagging System Resolution. The intent 
of this special rule is to enhance the conservation of the broad-
snouted caiman in Argentina, which is properly managing its broad-
snouted caiman populations. By gaining access to commercial markets in 
the United States for broad-snouted caiman products, Argentina will be 
encouraged to continue its sustainable-use management programs. These 
programs require annual surveys of wild populations to ensure 
biological sustainability in participating provinces and reintroduction 
of ranched offspring to the wild. The programs also provide an economic 
incentive for local people to protect and expand broad-snouted caiman 
habitat.

Effects of This Rule

    This rule, if made final, would revise 50 CFR 17.11(h) to 
reclassify the broad-snouted caiman in Argentina as threatened in the 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This rule, if adopted, 
would also establish a special rule for the broad-snouted caiman in 
Argentina, which would allow the importation into the United States of 
skins and other parts and products from Argentina. This rule would also 
allow the import of specimens originally from Argentina reexported by 
other countries, if certain conditions are met by those countries prior 
to exportation to the United States. These conditions pertain to the 
implementation of a CITES Resolution on a universal tagging system for 
the identification of crocodile skins as well as provisions intended to 
support appropriate management for sustainable use of wild populations 
of C. latirostris. Thus, for specimens that do not qualify under the 
provisions of the special rule, prohibited activities requiring a 
permit under 50 CFR 17.32 would still include take; export or reimport; 
delivery, receipt, carrying, transport or shipment in interstate or 
foreign commerce, in the course of a commercial activity; or sale or 
offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce live animals, eggs, 
or gametes. In addition, changing the species' status under the Act 
will not decrease the level of protection provided by CITES.
    Consistent with the requirements of sections 3(3) and 4(d) of the 
Act, as described above, this proposed rule contains a special rule to 
amend 50 CFR part 17.42(c) to allow commercial importation and 
reexportation, under certain conditions, of whole and partial skins, 
other parts, and products from broad-snouted caiman from Argentina 
without a threatened species import permit otherwise required by 50 CFR 
part 17, if all requirements of the special rule and 50 CFR parts 13 
(General Permit Procedures), 14 (Importation, Exportation, and 
Transportation of Wildlife), and 23 (CITES) are met.
    The reclassification of the broad-snouted caiman from Argentina to 
threatened and the accompanying special rule allowing commercial trade 
into the United States without threatened species import permits does 
not end protection for this species, which remains listed in Appendix 
II of CITES. To the contrary, the special rule complements the CITES 
universal tagging resolution. A benefit of this special rule is that it 
would reconcile the Act's requirements for the importation and 
exportation of Argentine broad-snouted caiman parts and products 
shipments into and from the United States with CITES requirements.

[[Page 695]]

    In summary, this special rule would prohibit the importation, 
exportation, and reexportation of specimens (skins, other parts, or 
products) of broad-snouted caiman originating from Argentina or 
imported from a country of manufacture or reexport unless the following 
conditions are met:
    (1) Each Argentine broad-snouted caiman skin or part imported, 
exported, or reexported must be tagged or labeled in accordance with 
the CITES Resolution on a universal tagging system for the 
identification of crocodile skins. This does not apply to meat, skulls, 
scientific specimens, or products, or to the noncommercial import, 
export, or reexport of personal effects in accompanying baggage or 
household effects.
    (2) Any countries reexporting Argentine broad-snouted caiman skins 
or parts must have implemented an administrative system for the 
effective matching of imports and reexports.
    (3) Argentina and any intermediary country(s) must be effectively 
implementing CITES as described above. If we receive persuasive 
information from the CITES Secretariat or other reliable sources that a 
specific country is not effectively implementing CITES, we will 
prohibit or restrict imports from such country(s) as appropriate for 
the conservation of the species.
    In a limited number of situations in which the original tags from 
the country of export have been lost in processing the skins, we will 
allow whole skins, flanks, and chalecos into the United States if 
CITES-approved reexport tags have been attached in the same manner as 
the original tags and proper reexport certificates accompany the 
shipment. If a shipment contains more than 25 percent replacement tags, 
the U.S. Management Authority will consult with the Management 
Authority of the reexporting country before clearing the shipment. Such 
shipments may be seized if we determine that the requirements of the 
Convention have not been met.
    Finally, this special rule would not cover the importation of 
viable caiman eggs, gametes, or live caimans into the United States. 
Importation of these specimens would require a threatened species 
import permit and the appropriate CITES permit or certificate. This 
requirement would allow scrutiny of individual applications for 
importation of live caimans, eggs, or gametes so as to prevent 
accidental introduction of this exotic species into the United States, 
which may have detrimental effects on U.S. native wildlife or 
ecosystems. Reexportation from the United States of caiman skins, other 
parts, and products will continue to require CITES documents. 
Interstate commerce within the United States in legally imported caiman 
skins, other parts, and products would not require U.S. threatened 
species permits.
    This special rule would allow trade through intermediary countries. 
Countries are not considered as intermediary countries or countries of 
reexport if the specimens remain in Customs control while transiting or 
being transshipped through the country, and provided those specimens 
have not entered into the commerce of that country. However, the CITES 
Resolution on a universal tagging system for the identification of 
crocodile skins presupposes that countries of reexport have implemented 
a system for monitoring skins.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition of conservation status, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies and 
groups, and individuals. The protection required of Federal agencies 
and the prohibitions against take and harm are discussed, in part, 
below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
their actions that are to be conducted within the United States or upon 
the high seas, with respect to any species that is proposed to be 
listed or is listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its 
proposed or designated critical habitat, if any is being designated. 
Because the broad-snouted caiman's range does not include the United 
States, no critical habitat is being proposed for designation with this 
rule. Regulations implementing the interagency cooperation provision of 
the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, 
fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of a listed species or to destroy or adversely modify its critical 
habitat. If a proposed Federal action may affect a listed species, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the 
Service. Currently, with respect to broad-snouted caiman, no Federal 
activities are known that would require consultation.
    Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited 
financial assistance for the development and management of programs 
that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful 
for the conservation of endangered or threatened species in foreign 
countries. Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to 
encourage conservation programs for foreign listed species, and to 
provide assistance for such programs, in the form of personnel and the 
training of personnel.
    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR 
part 17.31, set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions 
that apply to all threatened wildlife. As such, these prohibitions are 
applicable to the broad-snouted caiman. These prohibitions, in part, 
make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the 
United States to ``take'' (includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or to attempt any of these) within the 
United States or upon the high seas; import or export; deliver, 
receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate commerce in the course 
of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or 
foreign commerce any threatened wildlife species. It also is illegal to 
possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife 
that has been taken in violation of the Act. Certain exceptions apply 
to agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving threatened wildlife species under certain circumstances. 
Regulations governing such permits are codified at 50 CFR part 17.32. 
Import into, export from, or reexport from the United States, as well 
as other prohibitions, including movement in the course of a commercial 
activity and sale in interstate or foreign commerce, of threatened 
species and their parts and products, are currently prohibited under 
the Act unless otherwise authorized. Authorizations for species listed 
as threatened under the Act may be made for scientific purposes, to 
enhance the propagation or survival of the species, for economic 
hardship, for zoological exhibition, for educational purposes, for 
incidental taking, or for other special purposes consistent with the 
purposes of the Act.

Monitoring

    We will continue to monitor the status of this species in 
cooperation with the range countries.

[[Page 696]]

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint peer review policy with the National 
Marine Fisheries Service, ``Notice of Interagency Cooperative Policy 
for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities,'' that published 
in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), and the Office 
of Management and Budget's Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer 
Review, dated December 16, 2004, we will seek the expert opinions of at 
least three appropriate independent specialists regarding the science 
in this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure that 
listing, downlisting, and delisting decisions are based on 
scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We will send 
copies of this proposed rule to the peer reviewers immediately 
following publication in the Federal Register. We will invite these 
peer reviewers to comment during the public comment period, on the 
specific assumptions and conclusions in this proposed downlisting of 
the Argentine population (DPS) of the broad-snouted caiman. We will 
summarize the opinions of these reviewers in the final decision 
document, and we will consider their input and any additional 
information we received as part of our process of making a final 
decision on this proposal. Such communication may lead to a final 
decision that differs from this proposal.

References Cited

    A complete list of the references used to develop this proposed 
rule is available upon request from the Endangered Species Program in 
our Headquarters office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Author

    The primary author of this rule is Amy Brisendine, Branch of 
Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, Virginia 
22203.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons described in the preamble, we propose to amend part 
17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations, as follows:

Part 17--[AMENDED]

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

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

    2. In Sec.  17.11(h), the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, revise the entries for ``Caiman, broad-snouted,'' ``Caiman, 
brown,'' ``Caiman, common,'' and ``Caiman, yacare'' under REPTILES to 
read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                     Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                         population where                      When       Critical     Special
                                                            Historic  range        endangered or        Status        listed      habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                               threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
             Reptiles
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Caiman, broad-snouted............  Caiman latirostris..  Argentina, Bolivia,   Bolivia, Brazil,      E                      15           NA           NA
                                                          Brazil, Paraguay,     Paraguay, Uruguay.
                                                          Uruguay.
Caiman, broad-snouted............  Caiman latirostris..  Argentina, Bolivia,   Argentina...........  T                     790           NA     17.42(c)
                                                          Brazil, Paraguay,
                                                          Uruguay.
Caiman, brown....................  Caiman crocodilus     Mexico, Central       Entire..............  T(S/A)                695           NA     17.42(c)
                                    fuscus (includes      America, Colombia,
                                    Caiman crocodilus     Ecuador, Venezuela,
                                    chiapasius ).         Peru.
Caiman, common...................  Caiman crocodilus     Bolivia, Brazil,      Entire..............  T(S/A)                695           NA     17.42(c)
                                    crocodilus.           Colombia, Ecuador,
                                                          French Guiana,
                                                          Guyana, Peru,
                                                          Suriname, Venezuela.
Caiman, yacare...................  Caiman yacare.......  Argentina, Bolivia,   Entire..............  T(S/A)                695           NA     17.42(c)
                                                          Brazil, Paraguay.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 697]]

    3. Amend Sec.  17.42 by revising paragraph (c)(1)(i) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  17.42  Special rules--reptiles.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Threatened crocodilian means any live or dead specimen of the 
following species:
    (A) Broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris) originating in 
Argentina;
    (B) Brown caiman (Caiman crocodilus fuscus, including Caiman 
crocodilus chiapasius);
    (C) Common caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus);
    (D) Yacare caiman (Caiman yacare);
    (E) Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus); and
    (F) Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) originating in 
Australia (also referred to as Australian saltwater crocodile).
* * * * *

    Dated: December 16, 2011.
Gregory E. Siekaniec,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-33602 Filed 1-4-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P