[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 92 (Monday, May 13, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27937-27939]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11271]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2013-0031]


Environmental Impact Statement; Feral Swine Damage Management

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement 
and notice of public meeting.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service plans to prepare an environmental impact statement 
(EIS) to address the need for a national feral swine damage management 
program to protect agriculture, natural resources, property, and human 
health and safety. This notice identifies potential issues and 
alternatives that will be studied in the EIS, requests public comments 
to further delineate the scope of the alternatives and environmental 
impacts and issues, and provides notice of public meeting.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before June 
12, 2013. We will also consider comments received at a public meeting 
to be held on May 23, 2013, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the USDA Center at Riverside, 
Oklahoma City Memorial Conference Center, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, 
MD 20737.
    You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0031-0002.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send your comment 
to Project Managers, Feral Swine EIS, USDA APHIS-WS, 732 Lois Drive, 
Sun Prairie, WI 53590.
     At the public meeting in person at the USDA Center at 
Riverside, Oklahoma City Memorial Conference Center, 4700 River Road, 
Riverdale, MD 20737.
     By visiting http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/feral_swine/index.shtml for details on how to access the public 
meeting via the Internet and to submit comments.
    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this notice may 
be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2013-
0031 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.
    Additional information about feral swine may be viewed by visiting 
the APHIS feral swine Web page at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/feral_swine/index.shtml.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Kimberly Wagner, Staff Wildlife 
Biologist, Wildlife Services, APHIS, 732 Lois Drive, Sun Prairie, WI 
53590; (608) 837-2727.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Feral swine are a harmful and destructive invasive species. Their 
geographic range is rapidly expanding and their populations are 
increasing exponentially across the United States. Feral swine also 
occur in Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana 
Islands, and American Samoa. Feral swine can inflict significant damage 
to numerous resources including physical damage to crops and property; 
predation on livestock; disease transmission threats to livestock, 
humans, and wildlife; and other threats to human health and safety. 
Feral swine also damage natural resources including sensitive habitats 
and endangered species. The Tribes, States, and Territories have legal 
authority to manage feral swine. Executive Order 13112 directs Federal 
agencies to use their programs and authorities to prevent the 
introduction of invasive species, control populations of invasive 
species, and minimize the economic or environmental harm, or harm to 
human health caused by invasive species. The Animal Plant Health 
Inspection Service (APHIS) has been receiving increased numbers of 
requests from local governments and private entities to assist with 
feral swine damage management.

[[Page 27938]]

    APHIS-Wildlife Services (APHIS-WS) has issued a number of local 
environmental assessments (EAs) for proposed actions that incorporated 
legally available methods to manage feral swine damage. These methods 
currently include technical assistance in which APHIS-WS provides 
information and recommendations on how to minimize feral swine damage 
to the requesting public and resource management agencies, and direct 
control services in which APHIS-WS uses one or more methods such as 
live corral and cage traps, snares, dogs, and aerial and ground 
shooting to remove feral swine. APHIS-WS EAs, which include feral swine 
damage management, are available on the APHIS-WS Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/ws/ws_nepa_environmental_documents.shtml#EAs.
    Current efforts to manage problems associated with feral swine 
damage have helped to alleviate localized damage, but the overall feral 
swine population and associated damage and disease threats have 
continued to expand at a much faster rate than local governments and 
APHIS have been able to address them. We believe that a national, 
coordinated effort would more effectively address the growing problems 
associated with feral swine and would result in more efficient delivery 
of damage management programs to Tribes, States, Territories, 
individuals, and organizations that request assistance.
    The APHIS-WS program is authorized by the Animal Damage Control Act 
(7 U.S.C. 426) to work with other Federal agencies, Tribes, States, 
Territories, local governments, and private individuals and 
organizations to protect American resources from damage associated with 
wildlife. The APHIS-Veterinary Services (VS) program will be 
participating in the development of the environmental impact statement 
(EIS). The APHIS-VS program works in a variety of ways to protect and 
improve the health, quality, and marketability of U.S. animals, animal 
products, and veterinary biologics by preventing, controlling, and/or 
eliminating animal diseases and monitoring and promoting animal health 
and productivity. The authority for the mission of VS is found in the 
Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 8301 et seq.).
    Under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Federal agencies must 
examine the potential environmental impacts of proposed Federal actions 
before actions are taken. In accordance with NEPA, the regulations of 
the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for implementing the 
procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), U.S. Department 
of Agriculture (USDA) regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1b), 
and APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372), APHIS has 
decided to prepare an EIS to review potential alternatives for a 
national feral swine management strategy. APHIS will be the lead 
Federal agency in the development of the EIS in cooperation with other 
Federal, State, and Tribal entities that have jurisdiction by law and 
expertise and share a common interest in reducing or eliminating 
problems caused by feral swine.
    Several Federal agencies and national organizations have been 
invited to formally cooperate in the development of the EIS. States and 
Territories will also be contacted for input and all federally 
recognized Tribes will be provided an opportunity for consultation and 
participation. By preparing an EIS at this time, APHIS may provide 
other Federal agencies with an opportunity to adopt all or part of the 
EIS for future actions in accordance with the adoption provisions of 
the CEQ's NEPA implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.3).

Proposed Action

    APHIS is proposing to implement a nationally coordinated swine 
damage management program in cooperation with Tribes, agencies, and 
organizations at the State level to accommodate varying local laws and 
management objectives for feral swine. Program activities would be 
implemented in all or most States and Territories where feral swine 
occur. In States where feral swine are an infrequent occurrence or 
populations are low, APHIS proposes to cooperate with local and State 
agencies and Tribes to implement strategies to eliminate feral swine. 
In areas with established or high swine populations, APHIS would work 
with Tribes, and State and local agencies and organizations to meet 
local management objectives, which may include reducing statewide 
populations or eliminating swine from specific locations. The proposed 
action would incorporate an integrated approach to feral swine damage 
management issues using the latest scientific research findings, 
improvements in management methods and new techniques, and 
communication and outreach tools to manage feral swine conflicts. 
Methods that would be evaluated for potential use and/or recommendation 
by APHIS may include, but are not limited to, fencing, frightening 
devices, cage traps, corral traps, drop nets, telemetry to locate pigs, 
hunting with dogs, shooting from ground or from aircraft, the toxicant 
sodium nitrite, and public hunting.

Scoping

    We are requesting public comments to further delineate the scope of 
alternatives and environmental impacts and issues to be addressed in 
the analysis. We will be hosting a public meeting to discuss the scope 
of the EIS on May 23, 2013 (see DATES and ADDRESSES above). We are 
particularly interested in receiving comments regarding biological, 
cultural, or ecological issues that should be addressed in the analysis 
(see ``Environmental Issues for Consideration'' below), and we 
encourage the submission of scientific data, studies, or research to 
support your comments.

Alternatives

    The EIS will consider a range of reasonable alternatives that will 
include the proposed action described above and a ``no action'' 
alternative, which can be defined as a continuation of current ongoing 
management practices (40 CFR 1502.14(d)). Under the no action 
alternative, current APHIS feral swine damage management actions, as 
conducted in a number of States, would continue without expansion and 
national coordination. We welcome additional recommendations for 
management strategies to be addressed in the EIS.

Environmental Issues for Consideration

    We have also identified the following potential environmental 
issues for consideration in the EIS:
     Potential effects on feral swine populations.
     Potential direct or indirect impacts on protected and 
sensitive species and on non-target animals.
     Potential environmental effects of carcass disposal 
methods.
     Potential direct or indirect effects on tribal resources 
and values.
     Potential direct or indirect effects on hunters and others 
who benefit from feral swine.
     Potential direct or indirect economic effects.
     Potential effects on social values such as ethical 
perspectives and humaneness.
    In considering reasonable alternatives, the EIS will study the 
effects of the project on these environmental issues.

[[Page 27939]]

While the environmental issues evaluated at the local level have not 
been significant, a decision to implement the proposed action would 
expand the current program capabilities to a national scale and 
encourage additional national and local level partnerships to address 
feral swine conflicts. Comments that identify other issues or 
alternatives that should be considered in the EIS would be extremely 
helpful.
    After the comment period closes, APHIS will review and consider all 
comments received during the comment period and any other relevant 
information in the development of the EIS. All comments received will 
be available for public review. Upon completion of the draft EIS, a 
notice announcing its availability and an opportunity to comment will 
be published in the Federal Register.

Parking and Security Procedures for the Public Meeting

    Persons attending the May 23, 2013, meeting in Riverdale, MD, are 
required to register in advance at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/feral_swine/index.shtml or by contacting the person listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Travel directions to the USDA Center at Riverside are available on 
the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/general_info/directions_riverdale.shtml. Please note that a fee of $5 is required 
to enter the parking lot at the USDA Center at Riverside. The machine 
accepts bills and coins as well as credit and debit transactions. You 
must display your daily parking receipt and have it visible in your 
vehicle for parking attendants to recognize. Upon entering the 
building, visitors should inform security personnel that they are 
attending the feral swine damage management public meeting. Photo 
identification is required to gain access to the building, and all bags 
will be screened.
    For individuals who are unable to attend the meeting in person, it 
will be streamed on the Internet as a live Webcast. Information about 
how to join the live Webcast and conference line will be made available 
at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/feral_swine/index.shtml. 
We recommend that you connect at least 5 minutes prior to the start of 
the meeting.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 8th day of May 2013.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-11271 Filed 5-10-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P