[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 131 (Monday, July 9, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 40322-40323]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-16799]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2012-0052]


Oral Rabies Vaccine Trial; Availability of an Environmental 
Assessment

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment relative to 
an oral rabies vaccination field trial in New Hampshire, New York, 
Ohio, Vermont, and West Virginia. The environmental assessment analyzes 
the use of an experimental rabies vaccine in field safety and 
immunogenicity trials in portions of New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, 
Vermont, and West Virginia. The proposed field trial is necessary to 
evaluate a wildlife rabies vaccine that will produce sufficient levels 
of population immunity in raccoons and striped skunks. We are making 
the environmental assessment available to the public for review and 
comment.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
August 8, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0052-0001.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2012-0052, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, 
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1238.
    The environmental assessment and any comments we receive may be 
viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0052 
or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South 
Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. 
Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, 
please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.
    This notice and the environmental assessment are also posted on the 
APHIS Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/ws/ws_nepa_environmental_documents.shtml.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Richard Chipman, Acting Rabies 
Program Coordinator, Wildlife Services, APHIS, 59 Chennell Drive, Suite 
7, Concord, NH 03301; (603) 223-9623. To obtain copies of the 
environmental assessment, contact Ms. Beth Kabert, Environmental 
Coordinator, Wildlife Services, 140-C Locust Grove Road, Pittstown, NJ 
08867; (908) 735-5654, fax (908) 735-0821, email: 
beth.e.kabert@aphis.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Wildlife Services (WS) program in the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service (APHIS) cooperates with Federal agencies, State and 
local governments, and private individuals to research and implement 
the best methods of managing conflicts between wildlife and human 
health and safety, agriculture, property, and natural resources. 
Wildlife-borne diseases that can affect domestic animals and humans are 
among the types of conflicts that APHIS-WS addresses. Wildlife is the 
dominant reservoir of rabies in the United States.
    One of the activities undertaken by APHIS-WS to address rabies is 
an Oral Rabies Vaccination (ORV) program involving the distribution of 
baits containing vaccinia-rabies glycoprotein (V-RG) vaccine to stop 
the spread of specific raccoon (eastern States), coyote (Texas), and 
gray fox (Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona) rabies virus variants to new 
areas. While this vaccine has proven to be orally effective in 
raccoons, coyotes, and foxes, it does not produce detectable levels of 
population immunity in striped skunks. Because skunks infected with 
raccoon rabies likely serve as a source of perpetuating and maintaining 
this rabies virus variant (i.e., raccoon rabies), they may compromise 
the effectiveness of our ORV program.
    APHIS-WS is the lead agency regarding a proposed action that will 
test the safety and immunogenicity of a new human adenovirus type 5-
rabies glycoprotein recombinant virus (AdRG1.3) rabies vaccine in an 
effort to find a rabies vaccine that will be safe and immunogenic in a 
variety of animal species including raccoons, skunks, foxes, and 
coyotes. The proposed field trial would take place within approximately 
10,483 square miles of portions of New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, 
Vermont, and West Virginia, including portions of the U.S. Department 
of Agriculture Forest Service National Forest System lands, excluding 
Wilderness Areas. The proposed field trial is a collaborative effort 
among APHIS-WS; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the 
vaccine manufacturer (Artemis Inc.); the appropriate agriculture, 
health, and wildlife agencies for the states of New Hampshire, New 
York, Ohio, Vermont, and West Virginia; the Ontario Ministry of Natural 
Resources; and the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife.
    APHIS' review and analysis of the proposed action are documented in 
detail in an environmental assessment (EA) titled ``Field Trial of an 
Experimental Rabies Vaccine, Human Adenovirus Type 5 Vector in New 
Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and West Virginia'' (May 2012). The 
EA analyzes a number of environmental issues or concerns with the oral 
rabies vaccine and activities associated with ORV field trials, such as 
capture and handling animals for monitoring and surveillance purposes. 
The EA also analyzes alternatives to the proposed action, including no 
action (continuation of the current program, which involves field 
trials in West Virginia only) and no ORV field trials. We are making 
the EA available to the public for review and comment. We will consider 
all comments that we receive on or before the date listed under the 
heading DATES at the beginning of this notice.
    The EA may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site or in our 
reading room (see ADDRESSES above for instructions for accessing 
Regulations.gov and information on the location and hours of the 
reading room). In addition, paper copies may be obtained by calling or 
writing to the individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    The EA has been prepared in accordance with: (1) The National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.), (2) regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for 
implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-
1508), (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA

[[Page 40323]]

(7 CFR part 1b), and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR 
part 372).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 29th day of June 2012.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-16799 Filed 7-6-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P