[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 228 (Tuesday, November 26, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70515-70516]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28312]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 228 / Tuesday, November 26, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 70515]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

9 CFR Part 3

[Docket No. APHIS-2012-0106]


Petition To Promulgate Standards for Bears Under the Animal 
Welfare Act Regulations

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of petition.

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SUMMARY: We are notifying the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has received a petition requesting that we amend the 
Animal Welfare Act regulations to add specific standards for the humane 
handling, care, treatment, and transportation of all species of bears 
held in captivity except polar bears, for which there are already 
standards. We are making this petition available to the public and 
soliciting comments regarding the petition and any issues raised by the 
petition that we should take into account as we consider this petition.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before 
January 27, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0106-0001.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2012-0106, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, 
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1238.
    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may 
be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2012-
0106 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Barbara Kohn, DVM, Senior Staff 
Officer, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care, 4700 River Road Unit 84, Riverdale, 
MD 20737-1234; (301) 851-3751.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Animal Welfare Act (AWA, 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq.) authorizes the 
Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate standards and other requirements 
governing the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of 
certain animals by dealers, research facilities, exhibitors, operators 
of auction sales, and carriers and intermediate handlers. The Secretary 
has delegated the responsibility for enforcing the AWA to the 
Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
(APHIS). Within APHIS, the responsibility for administering the AWA has 
been delegated to the Deputy Administrator for Animal Care. Regulations 
and standards promulgated under the AWA are contained in Title 9 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 1, 2 and 3. Part 1 contains 
definitions for terms used in parts 2 and 3; part 2 contains licensing 
and registration regulations, regulations specific to research 
facilities, and regulations governing veterinary care, animal 
identification, recordkeeping, access for inspection, confiscation of 
animals, and handling, among other requirements; and part 3 contains 
specific standards for the humane handling, care, treatment, and 
transportation of categories of animals covered under the AWA. 
Currently, part 3 comprises subparts A through E, which contain 
specific standards for dogs and cats, guinea pigs and hamsters, 
rabbits, nonhuman primates, and marine mammals (including polar bears), 
and subpart F, which contains general standards for warmblooded animals 
other than the aforementioned animals.
    On September 25, 2012, APHIS received a petition from People for 
the Ethical Treatment of Animals requesting that we initiate rulemaking 
proceedings to amend part 3 to add specific standards for all species 
of bears held in captivity except polar bears, for which there are 
specific standards in subpart E. The petition states that the generic 
standards in subpart F are inadequate to ensure the humane handling, 
treatment, and care of bears, and do not address the complex and unique 
behavioral, dietary, and physiological needs of bears. The petition 
proposes specific regulatory language to, among other things, prohibit 
the use of barren and pit-type enclosures, set minimum space standards 
for primary housing, require environmental enrichment and den and pool 
access, and prescribe general feeding schedules. The petition also 
requests that APHIS hire a full-time specialist with knowledge, 
background, and experience in the proper husbandry and care of bears to 
oversee the implementation and enforcement of the requested 
regulations.
    We are making this petition available to the public and soliciting 
comments to help determine what action, if any, to take in response to 
this request. The petition and any comments submitted are available for 
review as indicated under ADDRESSES above. We welcome all comments on 
the issues outlined in the petition. In particular, we invite responses 
to the following questions:
    1. Do the current standards in subpart F adequately ensure the 
humane handling, treatment, and care of bears in captivity?
    2. In what respects are the standards in subpart F inadequate for 
captive bears?
    3. Would prohibiting pit-type enclosures adversely affect Native 
Americans regulated under the AWA?
    4. Do bears have unique needs that should be addressed by special 
handling and care? If so, why?
    5. What scientific knowledge of captive bears and their specific 
needs has been gained since the standards in subpart F were 
promulgated?
    6. Should persons holding bears in captivity be required to provide 
the bears with environmental enrichment? If so, why?
    7. Should persons holding bears in captivity be prohibited from 
housing them in pits or other similar enclosures? If so, why?
    8. Are current standards for space adequate for captive bears? If 
not, why, and what would the minimal space requirements for bears be?

[[Page 70516]]

    9. What are the physiological and psychological needs of bears in 
captivity, and would bear-specific standards address them?
    10. Is there evidence that a captive bear housed in a particular 
type of enclosure is more prone to disease or injury, or more likely to 
develop aggressive behavior habits than captive bears housed in a 
different type of enclosure?
    11. Should persons holding bears in captivity be required to 
provide bears with the means to self-groom, with enclosure mates, with 
the opportunity and means to hibernate, and with pools?
    12. Should there be a prohibition on the sale or transportation of 
infant or young bears in captivity?
    13. Should exhibitors and dealers be required to house captive bear 
cubs with their mothers until after they are naturally weaned?
    14. Should exhibitors and dealers be prohibited from declawing 
captive bears?
    15. Should exhibitors and dealers be prohibited from permitting 
public feeding of captive bears?
    We encourage the submission of scientific data, studies, or 
research to support your comments and position, including scientific 
data or research that supports any industry or professional standards 
that pertain to the care of bears. We also invite data on the costs and 
benefits associated with any recommendations. We will consider all 
comments and recommendations we receive.

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 2131-2159; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.7.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 20th day of November 2013.
Kevin Shea,
Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-28312 Filed 11-25-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P